Orphan's Legacy

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Godolphin, John. The Orphan's Legacy: Or, A Testamentary Abridgment. In Three Parts. I. Of Last Wills And Testaments. II. Of Executors And Administrators. III. Of Legacies And Devises. Wherein The Most Material Points Of Law Relating To That Subject, Are Succintly Treated, As Well According To The Common And Temporal, As Ecclesiastical And Civil Laws Of This Realm. London: Printed by the assigns of Richard and Edward Atkins, esquires, for Robert Vincent, 1701.

Fourth, final and best edition. A one-time judge of the English court of admiralty, Godolphin enjoyed a reputation as a staunch defender of civil law.[1] This work, first published in 1674, covers a "subject dear to the civilian lawyers: the law of testate."[2]

"The first really able books upon ecclesiastical law as a whole were written by Godolphin in the latter half of the seventeenth century. (...) [one of them is his] Orphan's Legacy [which deals with the subject] from the point of view not only of the ecclesiastical law, but also of the common law, and of the rising jurisdiction of the Chancellor."[3]

Place in Wythe's Library

Quoted in John Marshall's notes while he studied law under Wythe. Used in Wythe arguments in Bolling v. Bolling.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Early nineteenth-century three-quarter calf over marbled boards, raised bands and lettering piece to spine, endpapers renewed. Some rubbing to boards and extremities, corners bumped and lightly worn, partial crack to text block between title page and following leaf. Toning, minor scribbling (a child's signature?) to margins of a leaf, tiny inkspots to a few others. Purchased from the Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.


  1. Jeffrey R. Collins, ‘Godolphin, John (1617–1678)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008,accessed 20 April 2013
  2. Collins, 'Godolphin.'
  3. Holdsworth, A History of English Law, V:12; Sweet & Maxwell, Bibliography of the British Commonwealth 1:492 (13).