Le Beau-Pledeur: A Book of Entries, Containing Declarations, Informations, and Other Select and Approved Pleadings, with Special Verdicts and Demurrers, in Most Actions, Feal, Personal, and Mixt, Which have been Argued and Adjudged in the Courts at Westminster, Together with Faithful References to the Most Authentick Printed Law-Books now Extant, Where the Cases of These Entries are Reported

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by Sir Humphrey Winch

Le Beau-Pledeur: A Book of Entries

Title page from Le Beau-Pledeur: A Book of Entries, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Sir Humphrey Winch
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: Printed by George Sawbridge, William Rawlins, and Samuel Roycroft ... for Thomas Basset ... Richard Chiswell, and Benjamin Tooke
Date 1680
Edition First
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [8], 1183 [i.e. 1067], [85]
Desc. Folio (36 cm.)
Location Shelf L-5
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Sir Humphrey Winch (1554/55 – 1625) entered Lincoln's Inn in 1573 and was called to the bar in 1581. Winch served as a Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland followed by a brief stint as Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench there before returning to England and accepting an appointment as justice of the Common Pleas.[1] However, despite his aptitude as a judge and legal authority in England and Ireland, his legacy remains tainted by his involvement in the Leicester Witch Trials of 1616 in which he sentenced nine women to death for suspected witchcraft.[2]

Initial capital, first page of text.

Winch's work, Le Beau-Pledeur: A Book of Entries continues in a tradition of published collections of precedents of pleading which dates back to as early as 1510.[3] Arranged alphabetically by the writs which begin the actions, Le Beau-Pledeur, like other works of this type, throws "overboard any notion of combining reports of cases, or notes upon the law, with the forms" which it gives.[4] Nevertheless, while Sir Humphrey Winch may have spent his last days disgraced by the Leicester Witch Trials, his collection of cases and pleadings for civil procedure graced law libraries across early America, the founding fathers, England, Ireland, and France, and preserved his legacy as a significant contributor to modern civil proceedings.[5]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Winch's entries. folio and given by Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr. The 1680 edition appears to be the only edition of Le Beau-Pledeur: A Book of Entries published.[6] Accordingly, both the Brown Bibliography[7] and George Wythe's Library[8] on LibraryThing include the 1680 edition. The Wolf Law Library moved a copy of the same edition from another rare book collection to the George Wythe Collection.

Headpiece, first page of text.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Rebound in period style with red title label. Includes the signature of "Geo: Kenyon" on the title page. Purchased through the generosity of Daniel W. Baran and Lena Stratton Baran, Class of 1936.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Full text

See also


  1. Wilfrid Prest, "Winch, Sir Humphrey (1554/5–1625)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed October 10, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Percy H. Winfield, The Chief Sources of English Legal History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925), 303-304.
  4. Ibid, 304.
  5. Howell J. Heaney, "A Signer of the Declaration of Independence Orders Books from London: Two Documents of George Read of Delaware in the Hampton L. Carson Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia," The American Journal of Legal History 2, no. 2 (1958): 181.
  6. J. G. Marvin, Legal Bibliography or a Thesaurus of American, English, Irish, and Scotch Law Books (Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson, Law Booksellers, 1847), 741.
  7. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433.
  8. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on September 16, 2013.