Modus Intrandi Placita Generalia: the Entring Clerk's Introduction: Being a Collection of Such Precedents of Declarations, and Other Pleadings, with Process as well Mesn as Judicial, as are Generally Used in Every Days Practice

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by William Brown

Modus Intrandi Placita Generalia
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author William Brown
Published London: Printed by the assigns of R. and Edw. Atkins Esquires for J. Walthoe ...
Date 1702-1703
Language English
Volumes volume set
Desc. 8vo

William Brown (fl. 1671-1705) was an English legal clerk and writer, little known aside from producing several manuals and compendiums in the late seventeenth century. His place and date of birth and the circumstances of his childhood are unknown. Brown likely took up his clerkship shortly after the Restoration and held that position until at least as late as 1704.[1] Because this was not a high status position, Brown most likely did not receive his education at any of the Inns of Court.[2] His date of death is unknown but there is some evidence that he died in October of 1712[3]

As with most of Brown's other works, Modus Intrandi Placita Generalia was a compendium of precedent and tutorials meant to aid aspiring clerks.[4] Law books of this era were often seen as prompts to aid in the recollection of common law precedent.[5] Brown wrote in the preface that Modus would serve as a "constant help to their memories upon all occasions."[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Thomas Jefferson listed "Brown’s Modus intrandi. 2.v. 8vo." in his inventory of Wythe's Library in the section of titles he kept for himself. He later sold a copy of the 1702-1703 edition to the Library of Congress in 1815.[7] Unfortunately, this copy no longer survives to establish Wythe's prior ownership. Both Brown's Bibliography[8] and George Wythe's Library[9] on LibraryThing include the 1702-1703 edition and mention the missing Library of Congress copy.

As yet, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to obtain a copy of Brown's Modus Intrandi Placita Generalia.

See also


  1. Stuart Handley, "Brown, William (fl. 1671–1705)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed December 6, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Richard J. Ross, "The Memorial Culture of Early Modern English Lawyers: Memory as Keyword, Shelter, and Identity, 1650-1640," Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 10 (1998): 279.
  6. Ibid.
  7. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:270 [no.1885].
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, revised May, 2014) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  9. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on May 14, 2015.