A General Abridgment of the Common Law, Alphabetically Digested under Proper Titles: With Notes and References to the Whole

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by Knightley D'Anvers

D'Anvers' Abridgment
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Knightley D'Anvers
Published London:
Date 1725-1737?
Edition Second?
Language English
Volumes 3 volume set
Desc. Folio

Knightley D'Anvers (c. 1670-1740) was an English barrister, deputy recorder of Northampton, and author of A General Abridgement of the Common Law, Alphabetically Digested under Proper Titles: with Notes and References to the Whole.[1] D'Anvers was admitted to the Middle Temple, later transferring to the Inner Temple from which he was called to the bar.[2] He married poet Alicia D'Anvers in 1688.

D'Anver's Abridgment is a translation of Henry Rolle's Un Abridgment des Plusieurs Cases et Resolutions del Common Ley, updated with additional cases to the time D'Anvers composed his work. The book did not initally have sufficient funding or an adequate publisher, and as such, D'Anvers only completed it up to the chapter called "Extinguishment". When it was published, it received imprimatur, an official declaration of authorization for the book to be published, from all the presiding judges except Lord Holt. Later Lord Holt not only paid D'Anvers a personal compliment from the bench, but also left him an annuity of twenty pounds each year for life.[3]

Charles Viner, in his preface to A General Abridgment of Law and Equity, gives the following account of D'Anvers' Abridgement progress through the press:

I have been credibly informed that his first volume continued seven years in the press. In eight years from publication thereof came out his second volume. The next was only a single Title, Error, and which was at first entitled a continuation of the second volume, though afterwards it was new named, and then called part of the third volume; but the Title Error did not make its appearance till fourteen years after the coming of the second volume. And after another ten years respite followed the remainder of the third volume; so that from the publication of volume first to that of volume third was not less than thirty-two years complete.[4]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Danvers’ abr. 2d. & 3d v. fol." and given by Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr. The Brown Bibliography[5] lists the second edition (1725-1737) based on the copy Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[6] George Wythe's Library[7] on LibraryThing indicates "Probably the second volume of the second edition (1725) and the third volume (1737)."

As yet, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to procure a copy of D'Anvers' Abridgment.

See also


  1. Holly Faith Nelson, "D'Anvers , Alicia (bap. 1668, d. 1725)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed January 7, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. John Gage Marvin, Legal Bibliography, or A Thesaurus of American, English, Irish and Scotch Law Books: Together with Some Continental Treatises, (Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson, Law Booksellers, 1847), 253.
  4. Charles Viner, A General Abridgment of Law and Equity, Alphabetically Digested under proper Titles; with Notes and References to the Whole. 2nd ed. (Aldershot: Printed for the Author, by Agreement with the Law-Patentees, 1741), 18: Preface.
  5. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, rev. 2014) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433
  6. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:221-222 [no.1790].
  7. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on January 7, 2015.

External Links

Read volume two, part two through volume three, part two of this book in Google Books.