Collection of Entries

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by William Rastell

Collection of Entries
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author William Rastell
Published London: Printed by John Streater, James Flesher, and Henry Twyford, assigns of Richard Atkins and Edward Atkins ... and are to be sold by George Sawbridge [and 13 others]
Date 1670
Volumes volume set

William Rastell (1508–1565) was a printer and legal writer. He was born in Coventry to John and Elizabeth Rastell.[1] Elizabeth was the sister of Sir Thomas More.[2] As a young man, William became a prominent member of More's circle.[3] He set up his own press in 1529, and was More's principal publisher.[4] Rastell ceased printing in 1534, to focus on his legal studies.[5] He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1532, and was called to the bar in 1539.[6] In 1544 he married Winifred Clement.[7] Rastell was called to the bench of Lincoln's Inn in 1546.[8] In 1549, after being elected as treasurer of the inn, he and Winifred left the country for religious reasons and moved to Leuven, in present day Belgium, until 1553. In July 1553, while in Leuven, Winifred died of a fever.[9]

Rastell then returned to England and served for three years in parliament as member for Hindon, Ripon, and Canterbury respectively.[10] In 1555 he was made a serjeant-at-law, and the following year became standing counsel to the city of Canterbury.[11] Rastell was appointed as a justice of the Queen's Bench on October 27, 1558.[12] In 1563 he again fled to Leuven, where he died in 1565.[13]

Rastell's A Collection of Entries was the best source of precedents of pleading and court-forms printed in the sixteenth century.[14] Rastell says in his preface that "This book, entitled A Collection of Entries, contains the form and manner of good pleading which is a great part of the cunning of the law of England."[15] It combined precedents from the manuscript collections of his grandfather Sir John More, Edward Stubbe, chief protonotary of the common pleas, and John Lucas, secondary of the King's Bench under William Roper, adding a few of his own.[16] The book was compiled in Leuven ("out of England, and lacking conference with learned men"), where the preface was written on March 28, 1564, and was published posthumously in 1566, with new editions in 1574, 1596, and 1670, the edition which George Wythe owned.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Wythe definitely owned this title—a copy of the 1670 edition at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library at Colonial Williamsburg includes his bookplate and an inscription on the inside front board, "Given by Thos. Jefferson to D. Carr, 1806." Thomas Jefferson also listed it in the inventory he made of Wythe's Library as "Rastell's entr. fol." in the section of titles given to his nephew Dabney Carr. Both Brown's Bibliography[17] and George Wythe's Library[18] on LibraryThing list the 1670 edition of this title.

See also


  1. J. H. Baker, "Rastell, William (1508–1565)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed February 18, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. William Rastell, A Collection of Entries of Declarations, Barres, Replications, Rejoynders, Issues, Verdicts, Judgements, Executions, Proces, Continuances, Essoynes, and Divers Other Matters (London: Printed by John Streater, James Flesher, and Henry Twyford, assigns of Richard Atkins and Edward Atkins ... and are to be sold by George Sawbridge [and 13 others], 1670.
  16. Baker, "Rastell, William (1508-1565)."
  17. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  18. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on July 11, 2023

External Links

Read this book at Google Books