Thomas Craig's Jus Feudale

The 1828 Catalogue Law Books Collection is an ongoing effort of Special Collections at the University of Virginia Law Library. For the past forty years, we have been quietly working to amass the 375 law titles included in the Catalogue, an inventory of books in the University of Virginia Library compiled by University librarian William Wertenbaker and published by Gilmer, Davis, & Co. of Charlottesville in 1828. Most of the 8,000 books in the Catalogue were purchases made under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, who in 1824 compiled a list of 6,860 volumes he believed should form the core of the new library. The 375 titles in the law section of the Catalogue reflect Jefferson’s broad familiarity with the law literature of his time and provide insight into the variety of texts that informed Jefferson’s understanding of the role and mechanics of government.

Fire and time destroyed and scattered these foundational texts of the University of Virginia Law Library. Placed in the Rotunda Annex in 1894, some original law books suffered the fate of most of the University of Virginia Library when the Rotunda and Annex burned in 1895. Although students and professors saved many law books from the flames, the poor provenance of surviving texts makes it impossible to bring together the original 375-volume law library. The 1828 Catalogue Law Books Collection is a reconstitution of this library through the assemblage of exact editions of the law books listed in the Catalogue. Fortunately, Wertenbaker noted the edition year of nearly every work in his Catalogue, facilitating efforts to recreate the law portion of the first University of Virginia Library as closely as possible.

An original copy of the 1828 Catalogue

The 1828 Catalogue Law Books Collection is part of a larger effort among a variety of institutions to study and celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s lifelong passion for books. In 1999, the Library of Congress began efforts to reassemble its original purchase of Jefferson’s 6,487-volume library at Monticello, which Congress acquired in 1815 to replace the collection burned by the British as part of their occupation of Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812. “Thomas Jefferson’s Library,” currently on display at the Library of Congress, contains both original volumes from the Monticello library and duplicate volumes to replace the Monticello texts destroyed in an 1851 fire at the national Capitol. In 2004, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello began the Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries database, a digital clearinghouse of “books Jefferson owned, desired to own, knew about or recommended to others at different times in his life.” Apart from libraries Jefferson recorded in the form of extant manuscript catalogues, this project aims to reconstruct Jefferson collections that are far less well documented, such as the Shadwell library, which burned in 1770, and the library at Poplar Forest, sold by his grandson in 1873. The database will eventually include the complete contents of Jefferson’s 6,860-volume “wish list” for the University of Virginia Library, preserved in an 1825 document penned for Jefferson by his grandson-in-law, Nicholas Philip Trist.

Highlights from the Collection

Robert Brooke, La Graunde Abridgement (1576 edition)
This two-volume work is an abridgement or collection of abstracts of legal cases compiled by Robert Brooke, English judge and speaker of the House of Commons during the reign of Mary I.  It is written in Law French, an archaic Anglo-French dialect used in English law into the 1600s.  Such books greatly facilitated the task of finding and citing legal cases.  Brooke modeled his work on Anthony Fitzherbert’s 1514 tome, also titled La Graunde Abridgement, improving upon Fitzherbert’s organization.  First published in 1568, subsequent editions appeared in 1570, 1573, 1576, and 1586. 

William Lambarde, Eirenarcha, or Of the Office of the Justices of Peace (1614 edition)
This treatise, first published in 1581, is an early example of English manuals produced for local legal officials lacking legal training.  Revised in 1588, it remained popular well into the 1600s.  By Jefferson’s time the information in the book was obsolete but would have been useful in legal history.

Hugo Grotius, De Mari Libero (1633 edition)
This is a later edition of Mare Liberum (“On the Freedom of the Seas,” 1609), an early classic of international law.  Written in Latin by Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius, the work presented the thesis that the sea is international territory.  Aside from its important content, the book is notable for its striking engraved title page depicting a ship in full sail.  Also included in the 1828 Catalogue Collection is John Selden’s answer to Grotius, Mare Clausum (“On the Dominion of the Seas,” 1635).

Henry Care, English Liberties (1719 edition)
First published in 1682, this treatise on the rights of Englishmen greatly influenced the Founding Fathers’ ideas about liberty and government.  Care considered England a land of liberty because its constitution, the Magna Carta, restricted the arbitrary will of the sovereign.  Little known today, Care was among the most influential political writers of Restoration-era England. 

John Selden, Opera Omnia (1726)
This three-volume work contains the vast scholarly output of a man considered the most learned Englishman of the mid-17th century.  The first and second volumes are in Latin, the third in English.  Most of it would have been of little or no use to any 19th-century Virginia law student (Hebrew marriage law, Anglo-Saxon law).  It is considered a masterpiece of 18th-century English printing.

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Currently, the 1828 Catalogue Law Books Collection contains 317 duplicate copies of the original 375 University of Virginia law texts. For the list of these texts, see below. We have provided a list of the 58 missing texts here. The following list is also available through UVA's Virgo Search.

Title Author Date
Virginia Law School Report - Spring 1990 1990
Virginia Law School Report - Fall 1990 1990
Virginia Law School Report - Winter 1991 1991
Virginia Law School Report - Summer 1991 1991
Virginia Law School Report - WInter 1992 1992
Virginia Law School Report - Summer 1992 1992
Virginia Law School Report - Winter 1993 1993
Virginia Law School Report - Summer 1993 1993
UVA Lawyer - Summer 1994 1994
UVA Lawyer - Winter 1995 1995
UVA Lawyer - Spring 1995 1995
UVA Lawyer - Fall 1995 1995
UVA Lawyer - Winter 1996 1996
UVA Lawyer - Spring 1996 1996
UVA Lawyer - Winter 1997 1997
UVA Lawyer - Spring 1997 1997
UVA Lawyer - Fall 1997 1997
UVA Lawyer - Spring 1998 1998
UVA Lawyer - Fall 1998 1998
UVA Lawyer - Spring 1999 1999
UVA Lawyer - Fall 1999 1999
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2000 2000
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2000 2000
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2001 2001
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2001 2001
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2002 2002
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2002 2002
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2003 2003
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2004 2004
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2004 2004
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2005 2005
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2005 2005
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2006 2006
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2012 2012
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2012 2012
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2013 2013
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2013 2013
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2007 2007
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2008 2008
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2009 2008
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2010 2010
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2006 2006
UVA Lawyer - Fall 2011 2011
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2008 2008
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2009 2009
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2011 2011
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2010 2010
Virginia Law Weekly - December 17, 1959 1959