canon law. 1. A body of western ecclesiastical law that was compiled from the 12th to 14th centuries. • It has grown steadily since that time, and is now codified in the Codex Juris Canonici of 1983, replacing that of 1918. — Also termed corpus juris canonici; papal law; jus canonicum. 2. A body of law developed within a particular religious tradition. — Also termed church law; canonical law. Cf. ECCLESIASTICAL LAW. [Cases: Religious Societies 5.C.J.S. Religious Societies § 6.]
“The indirect contributions of the canon law to the development of English law were as great as, and the direct contributions far greater than, those made by the civil law. Indirectly the canon lawyers gave much even to the purely secular law of England, because, during the early Middle Ages, most of the judges or the royal courts were ecclesiastics acquainted with the chief doctrines of canon law…. The direct influence of the canon law in England resulted from its being the law which was administered in the courts of the Church.” W.J.V. Windeyer, Lectures on Legal History 41 (2d ed. 1949).
“Canon law has its roots in theology. But, so far as England is concerned, it may be defined as so much of the law of England as is concerned with the regulation of the affairs of the Church of England.” E. Garth Moore & Timothy Briden, Moore’s Introduction to English Canon Law 9 (2d ed. 1985). [Blacks Law 8th]