Les Plees del Coron: Diuisees in Plusours Titles & Common Lieux. Per Queux Home Plus Redement et Plenairemẽt Trouera, Quelqz chose que il Quira, Touchant les Ditz Plees

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by Sir William Staunford

Les Plees del Coron
StaunfordPleesDelCoron1583 Title.jpg

Title page from Les Plees del Coron, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Sir William Staunford
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: in aedibus Richardi Tottelli
Date 1583
Language Latin, French and English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [12], 196 [i.e. 198], 84 leaves
Desc. 4to (19 cm.)
Location Shelf G-2
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Bookplate of G.C.L Ross, front pastedown.
Sir William Staunford (1509-1558) was an English jurist who was called to the bar sometime before 1536. One of his first appointments in the 1530’s was as steward of St Mary’s College, Stafford. In 1545 Staunford was elected to parliament for Stafford.[1] In 1542 he was appointed attorney-general to the newly established court of general surveyors of crown lands and obtained a grant of arms. The following year he became a justice of the peace for Middlesex. Staunford became a bencher of Gray's Inn in 1545, and was created serjeant-at-law in 1552.[2] In 1553 Queen Mary appointed him one of the queen's serjeants. The following year she appointed him a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Staunford went on to receive knighthood in 1555, and died in 1558.[3]

Staunford’s best work, Les Plees del Coron, was a textbook on criminal law. It was heavily based on the material gathered in the title "Corone" in Fitzherbert's Graunde Abridgment. Staunford arranged it in chapters in the form of a continuous text, with passages quoted from Glanvill, Bracton, and relevant acts of Parliament. It was the first legal textbook in England to adopt the practice of citing specific authorities for every proposition, and as such had a major influence on legal literature.[4]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Both Dean's Memo[5] and the Brown Bibliography[6] include Staunford's Les Plees del Coron based on Alan Smith's assertion that Thomas Jefferson cites the work in his commonplace book.[7] Dean suggests the first edition (1560), while Brown prefers the 1583 edition based on Jefferson's copy at the Library of Congress.[8] Brown lists the title as questionable, as his study of Jefferson's commonplace books revealed no references to the Les Plees del Coron.

Title page of an included, bound-with title, An Exposition of the Kinges Praerogatiue (1590).

The Wolf Law Library received a copy of the 1583 edition as part of a gift collection and placed that copy on loan to the Wythe Collection.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary calf, rebacked, with blind rules and large arabesque to boards. Includes the bookplate of G.C.L. Ross on front pastedown. On loan from the library's Sid Lapidus Collection. The Lapidus Collection copy is bound with Sir William Staunford's An Exposition of the Kinges Praerogatiue: Collected out of the Great Abridgement of Iustice Fitzherbert, and Other Old Writers of the Lawes of Englad [sic]. Imprinted at London: In Fleet-streat within Temple Barre at the signe of the hand & Starre by Richard Totthil, 1590. Several of the existing copies of the 1583 Plees del Coron also include the 1590 Exposition, most notably Thomas Jefferson's copy at the Library of Congress. It's entirely possible George Wythe's copy would have been a bound-with version as well.

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.

See also


  1. J. H. Baker, "Stanford, Sir William (1509–1558),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed January 6, 2014.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 14 (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).
  6. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, rev. May 2014) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433.
  7. Alan McKinley Smith, "Virginia Lawyers, 1680-1776: The Birth of an American Profession" (PhD diss., The Johns Hopkins University, 1967), 263.
  8. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:293-294 [no.1945].