Reports of Select Cases in All the Courts of Westminster-Hall: Also the Opinion of All the Judges of England Relating to the Grandest Prerogative of the Royal Family, and Some Observations Relating to the Prerogative of a Queen Consort

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by John Fortescue-Aland

Fortescue's Reports

Title page from Reports of Select Cases in All the Courts of Westminster-Hall, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author John Fortescue-Aland
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published [London] In the Savoy: Printed for H. Lintot
Date 1748
Edition First
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [2], [8], 440, [24]
Desc. Folio (33 cm.)
Location Shelf G-5
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Sir John Fortescue (1670 – 1746) served as Baron of the Exchequer, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and sat on the King's Bench.[1] He was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1688 and called to bar in 1695.[2] He married in 1707 and transferred to the Inner Temple in 1712.[3] Partially on account of his noble bloodline, his political ascension was rapid.[4] In 1715 he became not only the King's council, but also the solicitor general to both the King and the Prince of Wales.[5] He became Baron of the exchequer in 1717 and was knighted in the same year.[6]

However, his political fortunes waned after he took the King's side in a dispute between the monarch and his heir.[7] Although this earned him the King's favor and a seat on the King's Bench, he lost favor with the Prince of Wales.[8] When George II ascended to the throne, he was the only judge who was not reappointed.[9] It took over a full year for him to become a justice of common pleas.[10]

His Reports of Select Cases in All the Courts of Westminster Hall reveal his interest in logic and mathematics and his preference for scholarly work over politics.[11] Compared to his contemporaries, they are well prepared and meticulously written.[12] It is most likely that Fortescue himself prepared them before his death, although his work was not published until 1748, two years after his death.[13]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Ordered by Wythe from John Norton & Sons in a letter dated May 7, 1770. Records indicate the order was fulfilled.[14] Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Fortescue's rep." and given by Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr.[15] Three of the Wythe Collection sources (Dean's Memo[16], Brown's Bibliography[17] and George Wythe's Library[18] on LibraryThing) list the 1748 edition of Fortescue's Reports. The fourth Wythe Collection source, Goodwin's pamphlet,[19] includes instead the author's treatise De Laudibus Legum Angliae, 2nd edition, 1741. The Wolf Law Library agreed with Brown, Dean, and LibraryThing and moved a copy of the first edition (1748) of Fortescue's Reports from another rare books collection to the George Wythe Collection.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Rebound in quarter-calf and brown buckram. Signature of Thos. Chippindale on the title page. Purchased through the generosity of Daniel W. Baran and Lena Stratton Baran, Class of 1936.

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. David Lemmings, "John Fortescue Aland (1670–1746)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed December 9, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. John William Wallace, The Reporters Arranged and Characterized with Incidental Remarks (Boston: Soule and Bugbee, 1882), 410.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Frances Norton Mason, ed., John Norton & Sons, Merchants of London and Virginia: Being the Papers from their Counting House for the Years 1750 to 1795 (Richmond, Virginia: Dietz Press, 1937), 133-134. The letter is endorsed "Virga. 7th May 1770 / George Wythe / Rec'd 18 June pr Dixon / goods Entd. pa. 220/ Ans. the 28th July / pr Emperor / wrote again pr Goosley."
  15. English Short Title Catalog,, search of "Fortescue" and "Reports" reveals only one folio edition.
  16. Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 7 (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).
  17. 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:
  18. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on June 28, 2013.
  19. Mary R. M. Goodwin, The George Wythe House: Its Furniture and Furnishings (Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library, 1958), XLVII.