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by William Lambarde

Lambarde was put on the county commission of the peace on 6 August 1579 (sworn on 3 June 1580) and became of the quorum in 1584. For the first eight years of his service in the western division of Kent he kept a memorandum book, his ‘Ephemeris’, containing notes on some aspects of his work, including the issuing of recognizances for keeping the peace, the licensing of ale houses, and provision for bastards. Twenty-nine of his erudite, contemplative charges to the quarter session juries and local commissions between 1582 and 1601 survive in the Folger Shakespeare Library; they probably represent only a quarter of those he actually delivered. He praised English justice, but was sharply critical of the shortcomings of the juries, which had led government to circumvent them through such agencies as Star Chamber, and thus curtail liberty. Extolling the blessings of peace and deploring the disorders attendant on war, he showed a dislike of foreigners and inveighed, among other things, against ale houses, vagabonds, and engrossers, but he made little reference to national problems and none to felony or murder. His own activities in local government, alongside his friends and associates William Brooke, Lord Cobham, Sir Thomas Fane, Thomas Leveson, and Thomas Wotton, included the recusancy commission (not mentioned in ‘Ephemeris’), the organization of musters, beacons, and markets, prerogative taxation, the stewardship of the manor of Gravesend, and the wardenship of Rochester Bridge corporation. His desire to study the historical development of every office he held led to the highly praised Eirenarcha, or, The Office of the Justices of Peace (1582). Reprinted twelve times before 1620, this treatise long remained the standard authority. [1]

Bibliographic Information

Author: William Lambarde, (1536-1601)

Title: Eirenarcha, or, Of the Office Of The Iustices Of Peace: In Foure Bookes

Published: F. At London Printed by Thomas Wight, and Bonham Norton, 1599.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary full calf with recent blind calf reback; red leather label with binder's title "Lombard's Eirenarcha"; text trimmed cutting into running title; bookplate: W. Radcliffe.


  1. J. D. Alsop, ‘Lambarde, William (1536–1601)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 7 June 2013