Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia

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Welcome to the George Wythe Encyclopedia, a project of The Wolf Law Library at the College of William & Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law in Williamsburg, Virginia. The encyclopedia provides historical and bibliographic information for the George Wythe Collection, The Wolf Law Library's ongoing re-creation of Wythe's Library, and is a compilation of material relating to the life of George Wythe, signer of the Declaration of Independence, chancellor for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and first professor of law in America.

The George Wythe Room

Title page from John Dalrymple's Essay Towards a General History of Feudal Property in Great Britain, London: Printed for A. Millar, 1757.

Explore the George Wythe Room, the Wolf Law Library's re-creation of George Wythe's library. Pages for each title in the collection include information about the work and its author, evidence for why the library believes George Wythe owned each title, and descriptions and photos of the copy held at The Wolf Law Library.

You can also find entries for the various people who received Wythe books after Thomas Jefferson inherited them and learn more about the copies of Wythe books that survive to this day.


Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

Shelf from the re-creation of George Wythe's library.

The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Portrait of George Wythe in the Wolf Law Library's Nicholas J. St. George Rare Book Room.
George Wythe is preeminent in the list of Virginia's revolutionary founding fathers, and his life and careers as a teacher and judge gave him the opportunity to have a profound impact on the history of the Commonwealth and the United States.
Featured Case
WytheAylettVAylett1852.jpg

Aylett v. Aylett, Wythe 219 (1793), is an opinion from the Virginia High Court of Chancery that discussed whether a leasehold could be inherited.

George Wythe took the opportunity to write an extensive discourse on why poorly-decided cases should not be considered binding precedent, using references to literature, to contemporary legal authorities, and to ancient Greek and Roman works.

Featured Article
BazileHanoverCoCourthousePortrait.jpg
A "Discourse Refuting Statements Made That George Wythe at One Time Led a Life of Dissipation": an essay by Leon M. Bazile — the judge who presided over Loving v. Virginia in 1959.
Featured Picture
WytheShoebuckle.jpg

A shoe buckle once owned by George Wythe, with ruby-colored stones and a pin added later to turn it into a brooch. From the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William & Mary.

About The Wolf Law Library

The law library at the College of William & Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law was rededicated in 2006 as The Wolf Law Library. The current facility was built in 1980, but the library was expanded and completely renovated in 2005-2007 to include space for over 400,000 volumes, seating for more than 500, 12 group study rooms, and the Nicholas J. St. George Rare Book Room, where some of the library's materials relating to John Marshall and George Wythe are on display. The library's mission includes providing access to law and law-related resources, as well as a wide range of services that support the law school curriculum and programs, promoting the advancement of legal scholarship, and fulfilling the information needs of students, faculty, and the local legal community.

For a detailed history of the library, see "America's First Law School Library: A History of the College of William and Mary's Marshall-Wythe Law Library, 1779-1995" by James S. Heller, in Law Librarianship: Historical Perspectives, ed. Laura N. Gasaway & Michael G. Chiorazzi (Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1996), 43-76.