The Orphan's Legacy

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by John Godolphin

A one-time judge of the English court of admiralty, John Godolphin enjoyed a reputation as a staunch defender of civil law.[1] The Orphan's Legacy, 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

The law library's copy is the fourth, final and best edition. The volume is bound in early nineteenth-century three-quarter calf over marbled boards with raised bands with a lettering piece to the spine. Minor scribbling (a child's signature?) to margins of one leaf. 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).