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.

Titlesort descending Author Date
The history and practice of civil actions, particularly in the Court of common pleas Gilbert, Geoffrey
The history and practice of the High Court of Chancery. Gilbert, Geoffrey 1758
The history and practice of the High Court of Chancery. Gilbert, Geoffrey 1758
The history of the common law of England Hale, Matthew 1820
The history of the Roman or civil law. Ferrière, Claude Joseph de
The Institutes of Justinian. 1812
The interpreter, or Book containing the signification of words Cowell, John 1658
The jurisdiction of the Lords House, or Parliament Hale, Matthew 1796
The Law and practice of distresses and replevin Gilbert, Geoffrey 1780
The law and practice of patents for inventions Hands, William. 1808
The law of bills of exchange, promissory notes, bank-notes, and insurances Cunningham, Timothy 1778
The law of charitable uses Duke, George 1805
The law of commons and commoners 1720
The law of costs. Sayer, Joseph. 1777
The law of devises, last wills, and revocations. Gilbert, Geoffrey 1773
The law of evidence Gilbert, Geoffrey 1795
The law of executions. Gilbert, Geoffrey 1763
The law of libel Holt, Francis Ludlow 1816
The law of nations Vattel, Emer de 1793
The law of tenure Gilbert, Geoffrey 1824
The law of uses and trusts Gilbert, Geoffrey 1811
The law-dictionary Jacob, Giles 1797
The law-dictionary Tomlins, Thomas Edlyne 1820
The Laws Respecting Travellers and Travelling Bird, James Barry 2012
The mirrour of justices Horne, Andrew 1768
The nature and practice of real actions Booth, George 1811
The new retorna brevium Gardiner, Robert. 1728
The office and duty of executors Wenthworth, Thomas 1774
The orphan's legacy Godolphin, John 1701
The posthumous works of Charles Fearne, Esquire, barrister at law Fearne, Charles 1797
The practical conveyancer Lilli, John 1742
The practical conveyancer Lilli, John 1742
The practice of the spiritual or ecclesiastical courts. Conset, Henry. 1700
The principal grounds and maxims Noy, William 1821
The report of several cases argued and adjudged in the Court of King's bench at Westminister
The reports and arguments [1665-1674] of that learned judge, Sir John Vavghan, kt. 1677
The reports of Edward Bulstrode ... 1657
The reports of Richard Brownlow and John Goldesborough, Esquires 1675
The reports of several cases argued and adjudged in the Court of King's Bench at Westminster 1732
The reports of several special cases adjudged in the courts of King's bench and Common pleas at Westminster, in the reign of King Charles II. [1667-1684] 1729
The reports of Sir Edward Coke, Knt. in English Coke, Edward 1776
The reports of Sir Henry Yelverton, knight and baronet ... 1735
The reports of Sir Peyton Ventris ... 1726
The reports of Sr. Creswell Levinz, knt. ... 1722
The reports of that reverend and learned judge, Sir Richard Hutton ... 1656
The reports of that reverend and learned judge, the Right Honourable Sir Henry Hobart, knight and baronet, lord chief justice of his Majesty's Court of Common Pleas 1724
The reports of the most learned Sir Edmund Saunders, knt. 1824
The revised code of the laws of Virginia 1819
The rights of juries vindicated Erskine, Thomas Erskine 1785
The rights of war and peace Grotius, Hugo 1738
The rules of evidence on pleas of the crown MacNally, Leonard
The solicitor's assistant in the Court of Chancery Hands, William. 1809
The statutes at large 1809
The statutes at large, of England and of Great Britain 1811
The student's law-dictionary: or compleat English law-expositor: The whole collected from the best dictionaries, and other authorities hitherto 1740
The Transactions of the High Court of Chancery Tothill, William 1820
The trial of John Peltier, Esq., for a libel against Napoleon Buonaparté, First Consul of the French Republic Peltier, Jean-Gabriel 1803
Thesaurus brevium, or, A collection of approved forms of writs, and pleadings to those writs, and entries of those writs and pleadings 1687
Théorie des peines et des récompenses Bentham, Jeremy 1818
Tracts Blackstone, William
Tracts written by John Selden of the Inner-Temple, esquire. Selden, John 1683
Trials per pais Duncombe, Giles. 1766
Two tracts shewing, that Americans, born before the Independence, are, by the law of England, not aliens Reeves, John 1816
Un abridgment des plusieurs cases et resolutions del common ley Rolle, Henry 1668
Un livre des entries 1704
Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce Postlethwayt, Malachy 1766
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