Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Angliae: Tempore Regis Henrici Secundi Compositus, Iusticie Gubernacula Tenente Illustri Viro Ranulpho de Glanvilla Iuris Regni & Antiquarum Consuetudinu[M] eo Tempore Peritissimo. et Illas Solu[M] Leges Continet & Consuetudines Secundum Quas Placitatur In Curia Regis Ad Scaccarium & Coram Iusticiis Ubicunque Fuerint. Huic Adiectae Sunt A Quodam Legum Studioso Adnotationes Aliquot Marginales Non Inutiles

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by Ranulf de Glanville


Title page from Tractatus, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Ranulf de Glanville
Editor Sir William Staunford
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: in aedibus Richardi Totteli. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum
Date 1554
Edition First printed
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [6] pages, 113 (i.e. 116) numbered leaves, [34] pages
Desc. 12mo (14 cm.)
Location Shelf F-1
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Initial capital, first page of text.
Ranulf de Glanville (1120s? – 1190) was born in Stratford in Suffolk, the son of Sir Hervey de Glanville, Chamberlain to King Stephen. After serving as sheriff of Yorkshire from 1163 to 1170, he was appointed keeper of the honour of Richmond in 1171 and sheriff of Lancashire in 1174.[1] Other offices followed, including justiciar of England in 1180. With this position, Glanville effectively became Henry II's chief minister during the later part of Henry's reign. Glanville died at Acre in 1190 while on crusade with King Richard.

According to tradition, Glanville wrote Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Angliae (Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Kingdom of England), the "earliest treatise on the common law," [2] "a manual concerning royal judicial procedures."[3] The treatise was composed sometime after 1187, and many writers suggest that the attribution to Glanville is incorrect, proposing instead E. de Narbrough, Henry II,[4] or Hubert Walter.[5] Regardless of the authorship, the volume "will not cease to be regarded as a venerable historical monument, the first collected rays of the old Common Law."[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Wythe ordered "Glanville" from John Norton & Sons in a letter dated May 29, 1772. Records indicate the order was fulfilled.[7] "Glanvil. 12mo." is also listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library. This was one of the titles kept by Thomas Jefferson, who sold copies of both the first (1554) and second (1673) editions of Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Anglie to the Library of Congress. Both volumes still exist today, but neither has definitive markings linking it to Wythe.[8] The Brown Bibliography[9] includes both editions at the Library of Congress. George Wythe's Library[10] on LibraryThing and Goodwin's pamphlet[11] both list the second (1673) edition. Because we do not know which edition Wythe owned, and because the Wolf Law Library prefers first editions when the edition is unknown, the library moved a copy of the 1554 edition from another rare book collection to the George Wythe Collection.

Manuscript notes from the Wolf Law Library's copy of Tractatus.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Contemporary binding with blind tooling; fragment of early illuminated vellum manuscript used as spine lining (1/2 inch tabs visible). Includes marginalia and annotations in brown ink throughout and inscription "Ex lib: Guli: Acton 1724" at the head of 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. John Hudson, "Glanville, Ranulf de (1120s?–1190)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed November 21, 2013.
  2. William Holdsworth, A History of English Law (London: Methuen & Co., Sweet and Maxwell, 1936), 2:189.
  3. Hudson, "Glanville, Ranulf de."
  4. J. G. Marvin, Legal Bibliography or a Thesaurus of American, English, Irish, and Scotch Law Books (Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson, Law Booksellers, 1847), 336.
  5. Holdsworth, A History of English Law, 189.
  6. Marvin, Legal Bibliography, 337.
  7. 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), 242-243. The letter is endorsed "Virga. 29 May 1772 / George Wythe / Recd. 21 September / Goods Entr. pa. 163/ Ans. the March 1773."
  8. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:211-212 [no.1769-1770].
  9. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  10. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on March 5, 2014.
  11. Mary R. M. Goodwin, The George Wythe House: Its Furniture and Furnishings (Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library, 1958), XLVIII.