Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia

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Welcome to the George Wythe Encyclopedia, a project of The Wolf Law Library at the College of William & Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law in Williamsburg, Virginia. The encyclopedia provides historical and bibliographic information for the George Wythe Collection, The Wolf Law Library's ongoing re-creation of Wythe's Library, and is a compilation of material relating to the life of George Wythe, signer of the Declaration of Independence, chancellor for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and first professor of law in America.

The George Wythe Collection

Title page from John Dalrymple's Essay Towards a General History of Feudal Property in Great Britain, London: Printed for A. Millar, 1757.

Explore the George Wythe Collection, The Wolf Law Library's recreation of George Wythe's library. Pages for each title in the collection include information about the work and its author, evidence for why the library believes George Wythe owned each title, and descriptions and photos of the copy held at The Wolf Law Library.

You can also find entries for the various people who received Wythe books after Thomas Jefferson inherited them and learn more about the copies of Wythe books that survive to this day.

The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Portrait of George Wythe in the Wolf Law Library's Nicholas J. St. George Rare Book Room.
George Wythe is preeminent in the list of Virginia's revolutionary founding fathers, and his life and careers as a teacher and judge gave him the opportunity to have a profound impact on the history of the Commonwealth and the United States.
Featured Case
Commonwealth v. Caton, 8 Va. (4 Call) 5 (1782), is an opinion from the Virginia Court of Appeals that included an early version of the doctrine of judicial review, holding that the highest court in the Commonwealth of Virginia had the power to invalidate laws that contravened the Virginia Constitution.
Featured Article
"Oration, Pronounced at the Funeral of George Wythe" is a newspaper account of the speech delivered by William Munford, George Wythe's friend and former student, at Wythe's state funeral in the Capitol building in Richmond, Virginia, at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, June 9th, 1806.

The article originally appeared in the Richmond Enquirer in two parts published a week apart on June 13th and 17th, and was subsequently republished in several newspapers including the Raleigh Register and North-Carolina State Gazette.

Featured Picture
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
George Wythe's bookplate from volume 7 of The Reports of Sir Edward Coke, Kt., Special Collections, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

More about known surviving Wythe volumes in the George Wythe Wiki.

About The Wolf Law Library

The law library at the College of William & Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law was rededicated in 2006 as The Wolf Law Library. The current facility was built in 1980, but the library was expanded and completely renovated in 2005-2007 to include space for over 400,000 volumes, seating for more than 500, 12 group study rooms, and the Nicholas J. St. George Rare Book Room, where some of the library's materials relating to John Marshall and George Wythe are on display. The library's mission includes providing access to law and law-related resources, as well as a wide range of services that support the law school curriculum and programs, promoting the advancement of legal scholarship, and fulfilling the information needs of students, faculty, and the local legal community.

For a detailed history of the library, see "America's First Law School Library: A History of the College of William and Mary's Marshall-Wythe Law Library, 1779-1995" by James S. Heller, in Law Librarianship: Historical Perspectives, ed. Laura N. Gasaway & Michael G. Chiorazzi (Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1996), 43-76.