Les Ans ou Reports del raigne du Roye Edward le quart, nouelment reuieu et corrigee en diuers lieux…..Auxy vous aues in cest Impression les cases icy referres al Abridgement de Brooke, & as auters Lieurs del common Ley.

London, Thomas Wight & Bonham Norton 1599.


Folio, ff. [i], 10, 29, 28, 44, 8, 12, 32, 25, 53, 19, 11, 21, 10, 8, 33, 12, 8, 30, 10, 19, 84, 51; [xl] (separate foliation for each year) A-5A⁶, ²A-F⁶ ²G⁴. Black letter, some Roman.  Title within elaborate woodcut border, floriated woodcut initials, “Tho. Burman” in a near contemporary hand at head of title page with his price to side, extensive marginal notes in his very neat and minuscule hand, letter of accounts in C19th hand loosely inserted. Title page, first and last two leaves a little dusty, browned and chipped at foredge,  rust spot on A2, front flyleaves backed, rear fly-leaf renewed, upper margins dusty in places, occasional spots to outer margin, one or two thumb marks. A good copy, crisp and clean with good margins, upper cover in contemporary calf bordered with a triple blind rule, lower cover replaced with a later board in tree calf, spine with raised bands, part of the original spine laid down. a.e.r.

An extensively annotated copy of these yearbooks that covers the reign of Edward IV, 1461-1483, with an index of cases, side-notes and cross-references. An extremely important source for our knowledge of medieval common law. The Year Books were the first English reports and the primary source for the great works of Littleton, Hobart, Hale and Coke. The first printed editions appeared in 1481-1482. Substantial numbers of manuscripts circulated during the later medieval period containing reports of pleas heard before the Common Bench. These publications constituted the earliest legal precedents of the common law. They are extant in a continuous series from 1268 to 1535, covering the reigns of King Edward I to Henry VIII. The language of the original manuscripts and editions was either Latin or, as here, in Law French. Maitland and others have considered that the medieval manuscripts were compiled by law students, rather than being officially sanctioned accounts of court proceedings. In any case, from the later Middle Ages onwards English lawyers were reporting cases so as to provide a permanent record of how they had been decided, and in the form of annual volumes they had become by 1500 an important source of reference. They combine eyewitness accounts of “procedural tactics [and] the personality of the pleader and the judge” with “scandal, idle conversation, [and] details upon the weather” (Rostenberg, ‘Publishing, Printing & Bookselling in England’).

This copy has been extensively annotated by a certain Thomas Burman who has cross referenced the cases with other collections such as Coke, Dyer etc. Unfortunately we have not as yet been able to discover his identity, but he must have been a legal scholar as his notes are remarkably thorough, covering nearly every case in the work, in a very neat and legible hand.

ESTC. S121407. STC 9769.


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