An Epitome of All The Common & Statute Laws of This Nation Now in Force
by William Sheppard
William Sheppard (1595-1674) was a highly influential legal and religious reformer in England during the early and middle part of the 17th century. After being called to the bar in 1629, Sheppard began his legal career and became a very well-known lawyer in the rural part of England from 1631 until 1654. During this time period, Sheppard served as steward for several manors and was an attorney of Gloucester’s local court. In addition to his practical work in the field of law, Sheppard published several legal texts. Many of these were based upon Sheppard’s own observations of the cases involved in his local practice. He also wrote several religious texts on a variety of topics.
In 1653 Sheppard was called to London by Oliver Cromwell to assist him in the creation of a law reform program. Some experts believe Sheppard’s religious publications, in addition to his legal works, were the ultimate reason for his selection by Cromwell. Sheppard served in the administration for approximately three years during which time he published nine texts in support of the administration’s agenda. Some of Sheppard’s best known works during this period included Precedent of Precedents, which contained standardized forms to register land, and An Epitome of All the Common and Statute Laws of the Nation now in Force, which was one of the earliest attempts at an abridged legal encyclopedia.
Author: William Sheppard.
Title: An Epitome of All the Common & Statute Laws of This Nation Now in Force: Wherein More Than Fifteen Hundred of the Hardest Words or Terms of the Law are Explained and All of the Most Useful and Profitable Heads or Titles of the Law by Way of Common Place, Largely, Plainly, and Methodically Handled
Published: London: Printed for W. Lee, D. Pakemann, F. Wright, H. Twyford, G. Bedell, Tho. Brewster, Ed. Dod, and F. PLace, 1656.
Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library
Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy
Bound in contemporary calf with blind rules to boards. Rebacked in period style with raised bands and lettering pieces and renewed endleaves. Contains woodcut decorated initials. Purchased from The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.
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- Nancy L. Matthews, "Sheppard, William (bap. 1595, d. 1674)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed October 10, 2013.
- Nancy L. Matthews, William Sheppard, Cromwell's Law Reformer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 31.
- Matthews, “Sheppard, William."
- "Tarlton Law Library - Law Dictionary Collection - online exhibit," Tarlton Law Library, The University of Texas at Austin, accessed October 10, 2013, http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/exhibits/dictionaries/common_law/sheppard.html.