FITZHERBERT, Anthony. La Graunde Abridgement.

[London], In aedibus Ricardi Tottell, 1565.


Folio. 3 parts in 1, ff. [1], 379, [1], 128, 207. Black letter. Historiated initials. Titles within architectural woodcut borders by Hans Lutzelberger (McKerrow & Ferguson 122), some worm holes to centre of first, mostly blank, and next. Light yellowing, f. 238 (part I) torn and repaired without loss, f. 131 (part I) and f. 89v (part III) corrected with printed overslips. Occasional contemporary annotations to first part, decreasing in second and third, same hand as autograph Rowland Hynd 1571 on first titlepage. A good copy bound in contemporary limp portfolio vellum, modern eps, yapp edges, with unusual extension to top, bottom and sides. Covers decorated by ruled gilt border with floriated corners, stamped initials ‘R.D.’ (most probably Sir Robert Drury) around fleuron centre-stamp; spine gilt-ruled with floral details, inked title. A few marks to covers, and cracks to edges.

Interesting copy in most unusual binding of the second edition of Anthony Fitzherbert’s (1470-1538) highly influential ‘Graunde Abridgement’ of medieval English case law. Written while he was appointed king’s serjeant, the ‘Abridgement’ boosted Fitzherbert’s reputation as a legal scholar and in 1522 he was made judge of common pleas. Written in Law French, ‘La Graunde Abridgement’ was the first attempt of its size to abridge the Year Books, and substantiated the growing importance of the medieval cases as the basis for English common law. Expanding significantly on the style of a typical lawyer’s commonplace book, Fitzherbert abridged 13,485 cases to 265 alphabetized chapters, preserving and updating medieval learning for future generations of English lawyers.

Autograph on the first title of Rowland Hynd, 1571. An Inner Temple barrister, Hynd made unobtrusive but fairly frequent annotations throughout the first part, with occasional notes in the latter 2 parts, ranging from small symbols and underlined passages to in-line glosses and comparative references to other texts. Notes throughout the chapter concerning ‘Dett’ might be related to the lawsuit he successfully brought against Ludovic Greville for recovery of £300 and compensation for forged acquittance.

Briefly MP of St Mawes, and later Lord of the Manor in Hedsor, Buckinghamshire, Hynd’s 1565 marriage linked him to the legally and politically influential Drury family, after whom Drury Lane is named. Hynd’s father-in-law, Sir Robert Drury (1503-77) was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn, following precedent set by the senior Sir Robert Drury (1456-1536) prominent both within the Inn and as former speaker of the House of Commons.

STC 10956; ESTC S122166; Cowley, Bib. English Law, 55. [rest WIP]
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