The Clerks Guide: Leading into Three Parts

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by Sir Thomas Manley

The Clerks Guide
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Sir Thomas Manley
Published London: Printed by John Streater, Henry Twyford, and E. Flesher, assigns of Richard Atkins and Edward Atkins, Esquires
Date 1672
Edition First
Language English
Volumes volume set
Pages [8], 729, [15]
Desc. 8vo (18 cm.)

Thomas Manley (c. 1628-1676), an English legal and political writer, was admitted to the Middle Temple on February 6, 1655, and called to the bar on January 24, 1673. After his admittance to the Middle Temple, Manley was appointed its librarian in May 1655, but by June 1658, he had been padlocked out of the library and dismissed from his position.[1] Manley entered service with the scriveners John Morris and Robert Clayton in 1658, which led to the publication of some of his works.[2]

Published in 1663, Manley’s first legal publication was The Sollicitor, a handbook based on his work For Morris and Clayton.[3] Manley also produced an abridgment of volumes twelve and thirteen of Coke’s reports, which supplemented an abridgment of the other volumes by Edward Trotman.[4] Manley updated John Cowell’s The Interpreter of Words and Terms, originally published 1607, keeping with Cowell’s purpose of favoring the importance of the civil law.[5] In 1676, Manley published an appendix to Thomas Wentworth’s Office and Duty of Executors. Manley also authored numerous political books, including works which illustrated his isolationist economic views.[6]

The Clerk’s Guide, published in 1672, is a book of forms with Manley's annotations.[7] In the preface, Manley wrote about the surplus of writings on clerkships which led "the clerk in a maze, [rather] than to lead his client in a safe and well-beaten path."[8] The Clerks Guide, Manley emphasized, was not just repeating what had already been produced, but was instead getting rid of what was useless, polishing what was unnecessary, and adding what was profitable in the profession.[9] The Clerk’s Guide contains four parts, each addressing areas necessary for clerks. Part 1 covers indentures, leases, and the like, while part 2 includes letters of attorney, warrants of attorney, mortgages, and licenses. Part 3 addresses bills, answers, replications, and rejoynders in chancery, with a fourth part covering fines, recoveries, statutes, recognisances, and judgments.[10]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Thomas Jefferson listed "Clerk’s guide by Manly. 8vo." in his inventory of Wythe's Library in the section of titles he kept for himself. He later sold a copy of the first edition (1672) to the Library of Congress in 1815.[11] Both Brown's Bibliography[12] and George Wythe's Library[13] on LibraryThing include the first edition based on this copy. Jefferson's copy still exists and may be Wythe's volume, but the book includes no markings to verify Wythe's ownership.

The Wolf Law Library has yet to acquire a copy of Manley's The Clerk's Guide.

See also


  1. C.E.A Cheesman, "Manley, Thomas (c.1628-1676)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed March 17, 2015.
  2. Frank T. Melton, "Absentee Land Management in Seventeenth-Century England," Agricultural History 52, no. 1 (Jan. 1978): 149, accessed March 17, 2015.
  3. Cheesman, "Manley, Thomas (c.1628-1676)"; Melton, "Absentee Land Management in Seventeenth Century England," 149.
  4. Cheesman, "Manley, Thomas (c.1628-1676)."
  5. Cheesman, "Manley, Thomas (c.1628-1676)"; Gary L. McDowell, "The Politics of Meaning: Law Dictionaries and the Liberal Tradition of Interpretation," The American Journal of Legal History 44, no. 3 (Jul. 2000): 265.
  6. Cheesman, "Manley, Thomas (c.1628-1676)."
  7. Ibid.
  8. Thomas Manley, The Clerks Guide (London: Printed by John Streater, Henry Twyford, and E. Flesher, assigns of Richard Atkins and Edward Atkins, Esquires 1672).
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:232 [no.1812].
  12. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, revised May, 2014) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  13. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on March 24, 2015.