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 Authorsort descending Date
Instructor clericalis R. G., 1715
Reports of cases argued and determined in the High Court of Admiralty 1812
Virginia Law School Report - Summer 1983 1983
An essay on privateers, captures, and particularly on recaptures, according to the laws, treaties, and usages of the maritime powers of Europe Martens, G. F. de 1801
An essay on the law of patents for new inventions. Collier, John Dyer 1803
Reports of cases adjudged in the Court of King's Bench 1728
The country justice: containing the practice, duty and power of the justices of the peace Dalton, Michael 1690
A collection in English, of the statutes now in force Rastell, William 1621
A collection of tracts relative to the law of England Hargrave, Francis 1787
Principes du droit naturel Burlamaqui, J. J. 1747
A treatise on the law of insurance Marshall, Samuel 1808
UVA Lawyer - Spring 2010 2010
An analysis of the laws of England Blackstone, William 1758
Lex parliamentaria Petyt, George.
The rights of juries vindicated Erskine, Thomas Erskine 1785
UVA Lawyer - Winter 1997 1997
The interpreter, or Book containing the signification of words Cowell, John 1658
Reports of cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia 1812
Virginia Law School Report - Fall 1983 1983
An essay on the law of usury Ord, Mark 1809
Reports of cases adjudged in the Court of King's Bench 1741
Doctrina placitandi, ou, L'art & science de bon pleading Eure, Samson 1677
Genesi Del Diritto Penale Romagnosi, Giandoxnenico 1807
Commentaries on the laws of England Blackstone, William 1793
Principles of equity Kames, Henry Home 1825
A treatise on the law of obligations, or contracts. Pothier, Robert Joseph
Virginia Law Weekly - December 17, 1959 1959
An analytical digest of the reported cases in the courts of equity, and the High Court of Parliament Bridgman, Richard Whalley 1822
Un livre des entries 1704
The rights of war and peace Grotius, Hugo 1738
UVA Lawyer - Spring 1997 1997
An introduction to the law, relative to trials at nisi prius Buller, Francis 1817
Reports of cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia 1808
Virginia Law School Report - Summer 1984 1984
An essay on the learning of contingent remainders and executory devises. Fearne, Charles 1824
Reports of cases adjudged in the Court of King's Bench 1800
Code de l'humanité, ou La législation universelle, naturelle, civile et politique Yverdon, 1778
The Dialogue in English, Betweene a Doctor of Diuinitie, and a Student in the Lawes of England Saint German, Christopher 1575
The common law of Kent, or, The customs of gavelkind Robinson, Thomas 1822
Privilegia parliamentaria senatus consensu sublata Brown, William 1704
A treatise on the parties to actions, the forms of actions, and on pleading Chitty, Joseph 1825
The antient right of the Commons of England asserted; or, A discourse proving by records and the best historians, that the Commons of England were ever an essential part of Parliament. Petyt, William 1680
Maximes of reason Wingate, Edmund 1658
The rules of evidence on pleas of the crown MacNally, Leonard
UVA Lawyer - Fall 1997 1997
Ioannis Seldeni Mare clausum seu De dominio maris libri duo. Selden, John 1635
Reports of cases decided in the Court of Appeals of Virginia Gilmer, Francis Walker 1821
Virginia Law School Report - Fall 1984 1984