The Reports of that Learned Sir Henry Hobart Knight, Late Lord Chiefe Justice of His Maiesties Court of Common Pleas at Westminster

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by Sir Henry Hobart

Hobart's Reports

Title page from The Reports of that Learned Sir Henry Hobart Knight, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Sir Henry Hobart
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: Printed by the assignes of Iohn More
Date 1641
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages 489 (i.e. 463), [6]
Desc. 8vo (22 cm.)
Location Shelf E-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Armorial bookplate of Clark, Knedlington, Yorks., front pastedown.

Henry Hobart (1554 – 1625) was born in Norfolk to Thomas and Audrey Hobart.[1] In 1570, he was admitted to Peterhouse, Cambridge.[2] Later, he studied at Furnival's Inn, and entered Lincoln's Inn on July 30, 1575.[3] Hobart was called to bar in 1584 and returned to Parliament for the Cornish Borough of St. Ives in 1589.[4] The following year, he married Dorothy Bell, with whom he eventually had twelve children.[5]

Hobart quickly rose to prominence.[6] In 1603, he had the twin distinctions of becoming a serjeant-at-law and being made a knight, in 1606 was appointed attorney general and in 1611 was made a baronet by King James I, one of the first to receive the distinction after the King's revival of the practice.[7] In 1613, Hobart was appointed the chief justice of the court of common pleas.[8] In addition to the aforementioned honors, Hobart served in numerous other roles during his lifetime, including serving as a member of the Virginia, North West Passage, and East India Companies.[9] He also served as chancellor to Charles, prince of Wales.[10] During his life, Hobart amassed great wealth, leaving behind houses at Highgate and St. Bartholomew’s in London and Chapel in the Fields, Norwich.[11] Hobart died in 1625.[12]

Hobart's reports were carelessly edited and published posthumously.[13] They became more valuable after Lord Nottingham revised them and added an index.[14] One scholar remarked, "we have only to turn to the Reports of Hobart themselves, fragmentary as they are, to see the evidences of his genius and lofty dignity and morals."[15] The reports reveal his "pure love of justice triumphant over the subtleties of chicanery."[16] Hobart, as a serjeant-at-law, had great affection for the art of pleading, writing in his reports that it is, "the principle art of law, for pleading is not talking. Therefore it is required that pleading be true; that is the goodness and virtue of pleading. And that it be certain and single; that is the beauty and grace of pleading." [17]

Initial capital, first page of text.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Hobart's [reports]" and given by Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr. Multiple editions were published from 1641 to 1724.[18] We do not have enough information to identify the precise edition owned by Wythe. Barbara Dean[19] lists the 5th edition (1724) based on notes in John Marshall's commonplace book and also the 1st edition (1641) following a reference in Alan Smith's dissertation "Virginia Lawyers, 1680-1776: The Birth of an American Profession" which cites Thomas Jefferson's commonplace book.[20] Brown's Bibliography[21] includes the 3rd edition (1671) based on the edition sold by Thomas Jefferson to the Library of Congress. George Wythe's Library[22] on LibraryThing) notes "Precise edition unknown." Because we do not know which edition Wythe owned and because the library prefers first editions, the Wolf Law Library purchased a copy of the first (1641) edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in simply ruled early dark calf, recently rebacked, with raised bands and title label on spine. Includes the eighteenth or nineteenth century armorial bookplate of "Clark, Knedlington, Yorks." with the motto "The time will come." on the front pastedown. The front flyleaf features an inscription from 1693.

Inscription, front flyleaf.

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. Stuart Handley, "Hobart, Sir Henry (c. 1554, d. 1625)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed February 28, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. John William Wallace, The Reporters, Arranged and Characterized with Incidental Remarks, 4th ed. (Boston: Soule and Bugbee, 1882), 220.
  14. Ibid., 220-21
  15. Ibid., 222
  16. Ibid., 223
  17. Ibid., 227
  18. Sweet & Maxwell's Complete Law Book Catalogue, comp. W. Harold Maxwell, vol. 1, A Bibliography of English Law to 1650, Including Books Dealing with that Period, Printed from 1480 to 1925 (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1925), 199.
  19. Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 11, 12 (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).
  20. Alan McKinley Smith, "Virginia Lawyers, 1680-1776: The Birth of an American Profession" (PhD diss., The Johns Hopkins University, 1967), 263.
  21. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  22. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on June 28, 2013.