THELOALL, Simon Le digest des briefes originals, et des choses concernants eux, compose per Simon Theloall

London, In ædibus Richardi Tottelli, Octobris decimo quarto, 1579


FIRST EDITION 8vo. ff. [viii], 424: [par.]⁸, A-3G⁸. Roman letter, typographical ornament on title, woodcut white on black criblé initials, contemporary autograph crossed out at head of t-p, price and date “pr: 5s-8d empt 84” at side. Light age yellowing, very minor light waterstain in the odd lower margin. A very good, crisp copy, with good margins in handsome early seventeenth-century calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine a little wormed, fly somewhat loose.

First edition of a scarce register of writs, dedicated to the lord chancellor Sir Thomas Bromley “from my poore house neere Ruthin in Wales the first of October 1579”. “The author was the first to reduce all the readings and discourses upon writs into a methodical Common Place Book.” Marvin. ‘Legal Bibliography, Or a Thesaurus of American, English, Irish, and Scotch law books.’ The earliest printed attempt appeared in 1531 (Register brevium) but it was too bulky a volume for the student. On the other hand, the students hand book, ‘the Natura Brevium’ was, in spite of the efforts to correct it, somewhat out of date. Theloall’s Digest established itself as the accepted Register of Writs, effectively filling a crucial vacuum “The common law had…grown up round the royal writs. They formed the ground plan upon which its builders worked; and it is for this reason that the learning of writs was the first thing taught to students of the law. Seeing that the choice of a wrong or inappropriate writ meant loss of the action, this learning continued to be of the utmost importance to the practitioner all through his career. … It (this work) deserved to be printed, as it is the most orderly treatise on procedure, founded on the Year Books, that had yet appeared… Historically, it comes between the older commentaries upon writs and the modern books on procedure.’ Holdsworth, A history of English law. Theloall’s Digest owes its origin to the suggestion of Staunford that it would be a good idea if lawyers would write treatises on the other titles of the abridgements, similar to his study of Prerogatives. Staunford illustrated his meaning by showing how Briefs might be treated. Theloall chose this title, and wrote a treatise on it for his own use. The manuscript, having been lent, eventually found its way to a printer. A second edition was published in 1678. The dedicatory epistle is written in English and printed in Black letter, unlike the rest of the work which is in law French. A very good copy of this scarce work.

ESTC S118369. STC 23934. Beale T499.
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