The Statutes at Large, in Paragraphs, and Sections or Numbers, from Magna Charta, to the End of the Session of Parliament, March 14. 1704, in the Fourth Year of the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Anne, Carefully Examined by the Rolls of Parliament; with the Titles of Such Statutes as are Expired, Repealed, Altered, or Out of Use

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edited by Joseph Keble

The Statutes at Large
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Great Britain.
Editor Joseph Keble
Published London: Printed by C. Bill
Date 1706
Edition Second
Language English
Volumes 3 volume set
Desc. Folio

Joseph Keble (1632-1710), a lawyer and writer, was born in London, the fourth son of Richard Keble (d. 1683/4), the Commissioner of the Great Seal from 1649 to 1654. Keble was educated at the parish school of St. Andrews and later entered Jesus College, Oxford. He matriculated at All Souls on March 22, 1651 and granted BCL in 1654. Keble was admitted to Grey’s Inn on May 6, 1647 and called to the bar on June 29, 1653.[1] Keble chose not to practice law; instead, he attended the court of the King’s Bench to report on cases. However, Lord Hardwicke remarked that Keble "though far from being an accurate, was a pretty good Register."[2] He had a regimented routine that heavily emphasized his studies. Keble’s first publication came from creating a new chart for the statute book which was printed in 1674, and later used again in 1706. He was paid £300 for this work.[3] A contemporary biographer remarked on the book's importance, writing, “This book is likely to continue his name to posterity longer than any Marble Grave-stone that can be given him.”[4] Keble also published other works, such as An Explanation of the Laws against Recusants (1681), and An Assistance to Justices of the Peace (1683). He also published Reports of the Queen’s Bench ... from the 12th to the 30th year of the reign of Charles II (1685). Keble died on August 28, 1710 at the Gray’s Inn Gate while awaiting a coach. He is buried at Tuddenham, near Ipswich. Keble left much unpublished and left twenty volumes of notes to Gray’s Inn.[5]

Edited by Joseph Keble, The Statues at Large was published in 1706 in three volumes and included laws from the Magna Carta until March 14, 1704. In the preface, Keble expressed how the tables were organized by general topics, and then by Kings Time in which they were made, to ease the time spent searching for a specific statute. Every topic, emphasized by Keble, had its place somewhere in the table, even if particular subheadings are left out. Furthermore, these statutes were not abridged, but were published as they were in the rolls. As a help to the reader, Keble also included Pulton’s or Rastal’s Abridgement text in the margins of the work.[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Both Dean's Memo[7] and Brown's Bibliography[8] list the 1706 three volume set of The Statutes at Large as a part of Wythe's library. Dean cites William Clarkin's biography of Wythe which states "In his actual readings under Wythe, we cannot place exactly the books that Jefferson read. But we do know that he studied the statutes of English law..."[9] Brown suggests Jefferson needed his own copy of the statutes for his studies under Wythe, citing a January 19, 1764 letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Page. In the letter Jefferson writes, "As I suppose you do not use your Statutes of Britain if you can lend them to me till I can provide myself with a copy it will infinitely oblige me."[10] Brown also notes that Wythe cited to the statutes in his arguments for the plaintiff in Bolling v. Bolling.[11] Using this evidence as well as knowledge of Wythe's careers and library-building habits, it seems completely reasonable to assume Wythe owned the The Statutes at Large set published in 1706. It is strange, however, that neither Dean nor Brown include any of the subsequently published volumes of the statutes which Wythe must have tried to acquire as well.

To date, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to locate an appropriate copy of The Statutes at Large.

See also


  1. Stuart Handley, "Keble, Joseph (1632-1710)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004-), accessed on February 24, 2015.
  2. Richard Whalley Bridgman, A Short View of Legal Bibliography: Containing Some Critical Observations on the Authority of the Reporters and Other Law Writers (London: Printed for W. Reed, 1807), 181.
  3. Handley, "Keble, Joseph (1632-1710)."
  4. A Brief Account of Joseph Keble, late of Grays-Inn, Esq. (London, 1711), 5.
  5. Handley, " Keble, Joseph (1632-1710)."
  6. The Statutes at Large, ed. Joseph Keble (London: Printed by C. Bill, 1706).
  7. Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 6a (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  9. William Clarkin, Serene Patriot: A Life of George Wythe (Albany, New York: Alan Publications, 1970), 42.
  10. Founders Online, s.v. "From Thomas Jefferson to John Page, 19 January 1764," accessed on May 2, 2023.
  11. Bernard Schwartz, Barbara Wilcie Kern, and R. B. Bernstein, eds., Thomas Jefferson and Bolling v. Bolling: Law and the Legal Profession in Pres-Revolutionary America (San Marino, CA: The Huntingdon Library; New York: New York University School of Law, 1997), 303.