John Greed, 1937-2010

February 18, 2010

A popular law lecturer who wrote about topics ranging from paddle steamers to biblical prophecy has died.

John Greed was born on 18 November 1937 in Bridgwater, Somerset, and educated at Taunton School and the University of Bristol, where he read law.

After qualifying as a solicitor, he went to work for the law firm Eversheds in Birmingham, but later switched to a more old-fashioned firm in Wiltshire, where the articled clerk's duties included putting coal on the fire each morning to keep the office warm.

He went on to become a senior in-house solicitor for the Bristol and West Building Society.

This professional experience stood Dr Greed in good stead when he took up a post teaching property law, mainly to students of surveying, at the recently created Bristol Polytechnic (now the University of the West of England).

He was to remain at the institution for the rest of his life, rising to the position of senior lecturer. He worked alongside his wife Clara, an expert in urbanism, whose research on the inadequate provision of public lavatories led to the affectionate nickname "Dr Toilet".

A man of immense learning, Dr Greed had a working knowledge of at least eight languages, including Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and even Norman French.

The last of these proved particularly useful when he was researching a PhD at the University of Reading - completed in 1997 - on an esoteric aspect of land law.

As well as the four-volume Real Property Law for Beginners (1975) and other legal texts, he wrote about Glastonbury legends, turnpike roads, paddle steamers, ley lines and the Lake Poets.

A born-again evangelical Christian who later became a Baptist, he was also fascinated by religious themes, an interest that culminated in his final book, Prophecies in Parallel (2007), which compared the Christian and Islamic traditions.

"Everyone remembers John as one of our best lecturers," said Alison Hoddell, until recently associate dean in the faculty of the built environment at UWE.

"He would be waiting dressed in his sports jacket and tie with a 'Jesus Saves' badge on his lapel, arms folded and with a wide smile on his face.

"Then the theatrical performance would begin, with John acting out a series of legal scenarios, using stage props to bring them to life.

"Students rapidly found that his unorthodox teaching style, backed by a dry sense of humour, made the subject come alive."

John Greed died of lung cancer on 4 January 2010 and is survived by his wife.

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