Skip to Main Content
Tarlton Law Library logo Texas Law Home Tarlton Law Library Home
Today's Operating Hours:
Law Dictionary Collection

David Houard (1725-1802)

David Houard. Dictionnaire analytique, historique, etymologique, critique et interpretive de la coutume de Normandie. 4 vols. Rouen: Le Boucher, 1780-1782. 26 cm.

David Houard was born in Dieppe, where it appears he spent most of his life. He was admitted as an advocat to the Parlement at Paris in 1745, admitted to the bar in Dieppe in 1747, and served as Conseiller Echevin of the town of Dieppe. From 1785 he was a member of the Parisian Order of Barristers and the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres. He died in Abbeville in 1802.

The work is substantial, four quarto volumes, and is as much a historical work as it is linguistic. Houard's Dictionnaire is both a dictionary and a digest of the Grand Coutumier de Normandie. The Grand Coutumier is an anonymous compilation dating from the thirteenth century, and attributed to an unknown inhabitant of the Contentin named Maucael. The customary laws of Normandy were reformed towards the end of the sixteenth century.

Although all four volumes are primarily dedicated to the explication of legal terms, the substance of the first volume begins with a chronology of the sovereigns of Normandy beginning in 912, and the fourth volume includes a thirteenth-century coutumier of Normandy in verse. The work also provides a biographical account of the lawyers of Normandy.

Houard wrote two other works reflecting his interest in Norman and Anglo-Norman legal history: Anciennes loix des François conservées dans les coutumes angloises recueillies par Littleton (1766) and Traités sur les coutumes anglo-normandes, publiés en Angleterre (1776).


Michel Claude Guibert and Michel Hardy. Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de la ville de Dieppe: Avec une introduction, des suppléments jusqu'à 1790 et des notes historiques. Dieppe: A. Renaux, 1878, vol. 1, pp. 384-385.

John Le Patourel. "The Authorship of the Grand Coutumier de Normandie." The English Historical Review 56 (1941): 292-300.