Cases Argued and Decreed in the High Court of Chancery
Great Britain. Court of Chancery.
|Cases Argued and Decreed in the High Court of Chancery|
Title page from Cases Argued and Decreed in the High Court of Chancery, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.
|Published||[London], In the Savoy: Printed by C. and R. Nutt and R. Gosling for J. Walthoe|
|Volumes||3 volumes in 1 volume set|
|Desc.||Folio (33 cm.)|
Cases Argued and Decreed in the High Court of Chancery contains records of chancery cases decided during the reigns of Charles II and James II. More specifically, it covers the period from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until James II was deposed in 1688. The reporter does not carry with it the highest reputation. Chancellor Kent referred to it as a collection of "loose, meagre, and inaccurate reports.” Other nineteenth-century commentators called it "a book of very doubtful authority" and "very incorrect." Another source acknowledges this dubious reputation but goes on to mention that the third edition, the one owned by Wythe, "has been generally considered as much the better book." Thomas Jefferson was definitely familiar with the second edition, published in 1707, as he took notes on it while compiling his Equity Commonplace Book.
Although no author is listed, it is suspected that the first edition of Cases Argued and Decreed in the High Court of Chancery was created by Sir Anthony Keck, a lawyer and politician who died in 1695. Sir Edward Ward, chief baron of the exchequer, claimed that he was responsible for its publication. Edward Foss, in his Biographia Juridica, claims that the 1697 edition was published from Keck’s collected papers. While the veracity of these claims is not entirely clear, it is known for certain that Keck collected reports of chancery cases during his lifetime, making it at least possible that he was responsible for the first edition.
Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library
Both the Brown Bibliography and Barbara Dean suggest Wythe owned the 1735 edition of Cases Argued and Decreed in the High Court of Chancery based on Millicent Sowerby's entry in Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson. Sowerby attributes notes in the copy Thomas Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress to Wythe. The copy still exists, but the book includes no other markings to verify Wythe's ownership. If it was Wythe's copy, Jefferson must have received it from him before Wythe died. The title does not appear in Jefferson's Inventory of the books he received after Wythe's death. As further evidence of Wythe's ownership of this title, if not the specific copy at the Library of Congress, Brown also cites entries in the manuscript copy of John Marshall's commonplace book.
The Wolf Law Library followed the recommendations of Brown and Dean and purchased a copy of Cases Argued and Decreed in the High Court of Chancery.
Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy
Bound in modern quarter calf with marbled boards.
- J. G. Marvin, Legal Bibliography or a Thesaurus of American, English, Irish, and Scotch Law Books (Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson, Law Booksellers, 1847), 183.
- John William Wallace, The Reporters, Arranged and Characterized with Incidental Remarks, 4th ed., rev. and enl. (Boston: Soule and Bugbee, 1882), 481.
- Edward Dumbauld, "Thomas Jefferson's Equity Commonplace Book," Washington and Lee Law Review, 48, no. 4 (Fall 1991): 1260.
- Stuart Handley, "Keck, Sir Anthony (bap. 1630, d. 1695)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed January 8, 2015.
- Edward Foss, Biographia Juridica: A Biographical Dictionary of the Judges of England from the Conquest to the Present Time, 1066-1870 (London: J. Murray, 1870), 380.
- Handley, "Keck, Sir Anthony."
- Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, rev. May, 2015) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433
- Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 3 (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).
- E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:202 [no.1744].