An exposition of certaine difficult and obscure words, and termes of the lawes of this realme. Newly amended and augmented, both in French and English, for the helpe of such young students as are desirous to attaine to the knowledge of the same.

London, Printed [by Adam Islip] for the Company of Stationers, 1615


8vo. ff. [iv], 196, double column. English in Black letter, French in Roman letter. Small typographical ornament on t-p, engraved bookplate of Edward Jackson Baron, on pastedown. Light age yellowing, small closed tear at gutter of title, title and verso of last a bit dusty. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties.

A finely printed and well preserved copy of John Rastell’s immensely popular and useful legal dictionary; both the first English dictionary and first English law dictionary. “John Rastell (1470?-1536), a printer and barrister of Lincoln’s Inn, wrote and then published the first edition of this book in 1527. Originally, it was in Law Latin and Law French. In the second edition of 1530, a parallel English translation was added – perhaps by Rastell’s son William (1508 – 1565), who had been studying law at Oxford and would soon become a barrister himself. This [present] edition reflects the joint efforts of father and son. A reviser named Paget (a barrister of the Middle Temple may also have contributed to the work … . The Rastells’ work is notable in several ways. First, it is a lexicographic landmark because it antedates by 11 years the first general English dictionary, written by Sir Thomas Elyot. Second, for the its time it was a sophisticated piece of lexicography that would provide definitions for legal terms in other dictionaries for generations to come. (..John Bullokar (1616), Thomas Blount (1656), Edward Phillips (1658) and Henry Cockeram (1670) borrowed heavily from Rastell – and through the 18th century still other writers borrowed from them). Third, the side by side translations marked a typographic innovation for dictionary-makers; apart from the typefaces, the columns look surprisingly modern more than 400 years later. Fourth, the dictionary had an extraordinary life through 29 editions that spanned a period of 292 years (the final American edition having appeared in 1819) – a longevity that few if any other lawbook can rival.” Bryan A. Garner. ‘Garner on Language and Writing.’ As Marvin observes, it remains a useful dictionary because it “reflects the common law at the close of the year-book period with much fidelity.” A very good copy.

STC, 20715. ESTC S115775


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