The maner of kepynge a court Baron and a Lete wyth dyvers fourmes of entreis (etc.).London, Nicholas Hill , 1546
8vo., 36 unumbered ll. A-D8, E4. Black letter. Title within charming architectural border, probably metal rather than woodcut (McKerrow and Ferguson 33), large white on black criblé initials, W.A. Foyle’s label on pastedown, Adolfo Tura’s below. Light age yellowing, upper outer corner a bit dusty on a few ll., very minor waterstain in blank upper margin of a few leaves. Generally a very good, clean copy in modern natural crushed morocco by Bayntun and Rivière of Bath, covers bordered with a single blind rule, small fleurons to corners, spine with title gilt in long, small blind fleurons at head and tail, blind inner dentelles, a.e.r.
A very rare edition of this practical guide to pleadings and procedure in manorial courts; its authorship is unknown. It was a very popular work going through a dozen editions between c. 1538 and 1552 all of which have survived in only two or three known copies, often imperfect. The older writers such as Coke held that a manor had two courts; the court baron, by common law, the freeholders being its suitors, and the leet, a customary court for the copyholders. The first was the means by which the lord of the manor exercised feudal jurisdiction over his men and the second a customary court whose chief business was to admit new tenants who had acquired copyholds by inheritance or purchase and on taking possession had to pay a fine to the lord of the manor. Maitland doubted this dichotomy concluding that at least by the end of the C13 there was no distinction of courts though there could be of jurisdiction, which is what the difference of name indicated. Manorial courts survived as an active part of the English legal system until the abolition of copyholds in the 1920s and would have been of very considerable practical importance in the C16 following the nationalisation and distribution of monastic lands when there would have been a great number of new copyholds to be entered. An uncommon imprint. Hill was a Dutchman who printed in London between c. 1542 and 1553 and for a short time thereafter in Emden. His London premises were in Clerkenwell, not far from the Inns of Court, and a large proportion of his small production was for the legal market.ESTC records two copies only of this edition, one at Harvard the other at the University of Minnesota.ESTC S4219. STC 7717.4 (2 copies in US, none elsewhere). Not in Ames.