George Wythe Collection

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Architects' rendering of the proposed Wythe Rare Books Room at the College of William & Mary's Wolf Law Library (ARIVE Architecture & Interiors).

In 2005, the Wolf Law Library began a project to replicate the library of William & Mary's (and America's) first law professor, George Wythe, who assembled one of the most important libraries in eighteenth-century Virginia. Wythe's library of more than 450 titles, including Western classics, history, philosophy, science, mathematics, and law had a direct impact on the development of Virginia law and the law of the new nation.

The George Wythe Collection focuses on items of a legal nature, but we also actively collect titles in history, philosophy, and political science. The chancellor’s library consisted of more than 450 titles. Although roughly half of the titles Wythe owned fall outside the primary goals of our collection—geography, mathematics and science, for example—we do acquire some of them to illustrate the breadth of Wythe's interests.

Collection Priorities:

  1. Titles showing a definite connection to George Wythe: The Wolf Law Library makes every attempt to duplicate the exact edition and impression of all items with a proven connection to Wythe. This group includes titles written by Wythe; those he collaborated upon; volumes known to possess Wythe’s signature, his armorial bookplate, or inscribed notes attributed to him; and works that include Wythe’s name among the published list of subscribers.
  2. Titles identified in Jefferson’s manuscript list: We collect titles identified by Thomas Jefferson’s manuscript list detailing his dispersal of George Wythe’s library. Where the specific edition Wythe owned is unknown, we limit consideration to those works published before Wythe’s death in 1806 and prefer those titles/editions known to have been owned by Jefferson (see Sowerby) or the recipient he listed. If no specific edition/title information exists for these copies, we prefer those editions/titles identified in contemporary Virginia libraries. When none of these options identifies an edition or title, we will collect the most valuable edition of a given work that might have been part of the Chancellor’s collection.
  3. Titles noted in the commonplace books or other writings of Wythe’s students: We collect those titles specifically noted by Wythe’s students in existing papers and commonplace books that do not fall into categories 1 or 2. If the student note postdates that student’s educational association with Wythe, every attempt will be made to verify the title through other resources.
  4. Titles quoted or mentioned in Wythe’s case reports: We collect those titles to which the Chancellor refers or alludes in his published case reports if the titles do not fall into categories 1, 2, or 3.
  5. Titles representative of Wythe’s time: We collect titles represented in law libraries of the eighteenth century if those titles do not fall in the above categories.

Titles in the Wolf Law Library's Collection



Case Reports, Digests, and Statutes



  • Bacon, Matthew. A New Abridgment of the Law. 3rd ed. corrected. London: Printed by His Majesty's Law-Printers for J. Worrall and Co. ..., 1768.

Court of Chancery

Court of Common Pleas

Court of Exchequer

Court of King's Bench

Multiple Courts

  • Ventris, Peyton, Sir. The Reports of Sir Peyton Ventris. 4th impression, carefully corrected. London, In the Savoy: Printed by E. and R. Nutt and R. Gosling for D. Browne ..., 1726.

House of Lords

United States



Dictionaries and Encyclopedias



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Economics and Finance

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Geography and Travel

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  • Caesar, Julius. C. Julii Caesaris Quae Exstant. Edition tertia. Londini: E [sic] typographaeo Mariae Matthews : Impensis J. & B. Sprint, B. Tooke, D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth, J. Bowyer, H. Clements, Gul. Taylor, T. Ward, Gul. & J. Innys, & Gul. Churchill, 1719.
  • Plutarch. Plutarch's Lives. Translated with notes historical and critical from M. Dacier. London: Printed for J. Tonson, 1727.
  • Potter. John. Archæologia Græca: or, The Antiquities of Greece. 5th ed. London: Printed for J. Knapton, R. Knaplock, J. and B. Sprint, D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth, R. Robinson, W. and J. Innys, J. Osborne, T. Longman, W. Mears, and A. Ward, 1728.




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Language and Rhetoric

  • Cicero, Marcus Tullius. M.T. Ciceronis Orationes Quaedam Selectae. Editio quarta, auctior & emendatior. Londini: Typis Gulielmi Sayes, impensis J. Knapton, R Wilkin, J. & B. Sprint, B. & S. Tooke, D. Midwinter, B. Cowse, G. Mortlock, W. & J. Innys, & A. Ward, 1722.
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Legal Treatises


  • Blackstone, William, 1723-1780. Law Tracts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1762.
  • Breton, John le. Britton. 2nd ed. London: Printed by the assignes of John Moore Esquire, 1640.
  • Kames, Henry Home, Lord. Historical Law-Tracts. 2nd ed. Edinburgh and London: Printed by A. Kincaid, His Majesty's Printer, for A. Millar, London, and A. Kincaid and J. Bell, in Edinburgh, 1761.

Administration of Criminal Justice

Civil Law

Civil Procedure

Commercial Law

Constitutional Law



Criminal Law

  • Beccaria, Cesare. An Essay on Crimes and Punishments. Translated from the Italian, with a commentary, attributed to Mons. de Voltaire, translated from the French. London: Printed for J. Almon, 1767.
  • Fitzherbert, Anthony. The New Natura Brevium. 8th ed., carefully revised. London, in the Savoy : printed for Henry Lintot ... and sold by J. Shuckburgh, 1755.
  • Gilbert, Geoffrey. The Law of Evidence. 2nd ed., corrected. London, In the Savoy : Printed by Catherine Lintot ... for W. Owen, 1760.

Ecclesiastical Law

  • Burn, Richard. Ecclesiastical Law. 4th ed. London: Printed by W. Strahan and M. Woodfall, Law-Printers to the King's Most Excellent Majesty for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1781.


  • Ballow, Henry. A Treatise of Equity. London, in the Savoy: Printed by E. and R. Nutt, and R. Gosling, (assigns of Edward Sayer) for D. Browne, at the Black Swan without Temple-Bar; and J. Shuckburgh, at the Sun next the Inner Temple gate in Fleetstreet, 1737.
  • Kames, Henry Home, Lord. Principles of Equity. Edinburgh: Printed by Alexander Kincaid, His Majesty's printer. For A. Millar, London; and A. Kincaid and J. Bell, Edinburgh, 1760.

International Law


Roman Law

Virginia Law


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  • Butler, Samuel. Hudibras. London: Printed for John Baker, at the Black-Boy in Pater-noster-Row, 1710.
  • Sterne, Laurence. The Works of Laurence Sterne. London : Printed for W. Strahan, J. Rivington and Sons, J. Dodsley, G. Kearsley, T. Lowndes, G. Robinson ... 1780.
  • Town, Mr., pseud. The Connoisseur. 3rd ed. London: Printed for R. Baldwin, 1757.



  • Anacreon. Odes of Anacreon. Translated by Thomas Moore. Philadelphia: Printed and published by Hugh Maxwell, opposite Christ-church. 1804.
  • Homer. Tēs tou Homērou Iliados. Edited by J. Moor and G. Muirhead. Glasguae: In aedibus Academicis, Excudebant R. et A. Foulis, 1756.
  • Homer. Tēs tou Homērou Odysseias. Edited by J. Moor and G. Muirhead. Glasguae: In aedibus Academicis, Excudebant R. et A. Foulis, 1758.
  • Theocritus. The Idylliums of Theocritus. Translated by Francis Fawkes. London: Printed for the author by D. Leach and sold by J. and R. Tonson ..., 1767.


  • Juvenal and Persius. D. Junii Juvenalis et A. Persii Flacci Satyrae. Interpretatione ac notis illustravit Ludovicus Prateus. Londini: impensis Tho. Dring, contra Hospitium Templariorum in vico Fleetstreet dicto, & Abel Swalle, ad insigne Monocerotis in Ludgatestreet, 1691.


  • Macpherson, James. The Poems of Ossian. A new ed. London: Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1784-85.


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Mathematics and Engineering

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  • Plutarch. Plutarch's Morals. 3rd ed. corr. and amended. London: Printed by Tho. Braddyll, and are to be sold by most Booksellers in London and Westminister, 1694.
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  • Grotius, Hugo. De Veritate Religionis Christianae. Editio novissima, in qua ejusdem annotationes ipsius textus verbis subjectae sunt. Amstelaedami: Apud Henricum Wetstenium, 1696.
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Science and Medicine

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