The Law of Covenants: a Treatise Explaining the Nature and Rules of the Several Sorts of Covenants

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The Law of Covenants

Title page from The Law of Covenants, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author The Author of The Law of Ejectments
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London, In the Savoy: Printed by John Nutt, for Samuel Butler
Date 1712
Edition Second
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [32], 512 (i.e. 496), [22]
Desc. 8vo. (20 cm.)
Location Shelf F-3
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

In the early eighteenth century, a covenant was "defined to be the Agreement or Consent of Two or more by Deed whereby either of the said Parties doth Promise to the other, That something is done already, or shall be done hereafter."[1]

The unidentified author of The Law of Covenants attempts to define and distinguish the various forms of covenants as they exist in the common law, including the difference between express and implicit covenants, personal and real covenants, joint and several covenants, and affirmative and negative covenants.[2] The book also delves into the procedure for bringing an action for breach of covenant, including identifying the parties against whom a suit may be brought, rules for joinder or severance, and determining damages.[3] Each chapter addresses a specific legal issue regarding covenants, and the margins of the book are often filled with the author’s tips and notes on the text; either defining terms and cases or reminding the reader that a principle might not be applicable in certain circumstances.[4]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as [Law of] Covenants 8vo. and given by Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr. The Brown Bibliography[5] includes the second edition (1712) based on the copy Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[6] George Wythe's Library[7] on LibraryThing indicates "Precise edition unknown. The first edition was published in 1711; the second, with similar imprint, in 1712." The Wolf Law Library followed Brown's suggestion and purchased a copy of the 1712 edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary full calf. Includes signatures of previous owners, "John Macpherson, Jr. 1771" and "Charles Swift" on the title page. Purchased from The Bookpress, Ltd.

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. The Law of Covenants (London: J. Nutt, assignee of Edward Sayer Esq., 1713), 1.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  6. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:309-310 [no.1983].
  7. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on September 16, 2013.