pleading upon which there had been argument and judicial decision; that other reporters sometimes gave the pleadings at full length; and that Coke especially made a habit of doing so.2 But, even in the preceding period, separate books of precedents of pleading, both in the manorial courts and courts of common law, had made their appearance. Precedents of pleading in the manorial courts were, as we have seen, contained in the little books on the Court Baron and the Court Leet, which were printed at this period. Similarly, the older books of precedents of pleading in the courts of common law were printed; and newer books-the Books of Entries-began to appear, and steadily continued to increase in bulk.



The earliest of these books which has survived 1 is one published by Pynson in 1510. The Bodleian copy has no title page. It begins with the alphabetical table. But another copy, described by Dibdin, has a title page, which gives an account of the contents of the book. It contains, so runs the title, the gist of divers matters and of the pleadings in real personal and mixed actions, and also information on writs and executions.5 The book consists of clxxxiv folios. It is printed in small folio, and is therefore a very much larger work than the small tracts of the preceding period. At one or two places large blanks are left; and these blanks probably represent features of the MS. The matters contained therein are not arranged in any particular order. The first precedent is of an action on the statute of Labourers, and then follows Debt against executors. Probably it is a practising pleader's precedent book which has found its way to the printers. The anonymous author doubtless jotted down precedents as he acquired them, and prefixed the index to his book that he might easily find them. The Bodleian copy shows signs of use. The paging is corrected


1 Above 371 n. I. 3 Vol iv 112-113.

2 Above 371; below 463.

The colophon runs-"Explicit opus excellentissimum et perutile in se continens multas materias omnibus legis hominibus perquam necessarias, noviter impressum, correctum, emendatum, et non minimo labore revisum, Londoniæ in vico vulgariter Flete strete nuncupato, in officina aere et impensis honesti viri Ricardi Pynson Regis Impressoris moram suam trahentis sub signo divi Georgii, Anno nostræ redemptionis M.CCCCCX Die vero ultima Mensis Februarii; this may mean that there had been a former print, see Dibdin, Typographical Antiquities ii 442 n. (ed. 1812), or it may mean that it was printed for the first time.

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5" Intrationum excellentissimus liber perquam necessarius omnibus legis hominibus: fere in se continens omnem medullam diversarum materiarum, ac placitorum, tam realium personalium quam mixtorum. Necnon multorum brevium tam executionum quam aliorum valde utilium illis hunc librum inspecturis aut inscrutandis."

f. lii.

❝ Numbered clxxxv; but the numbering is wrong as it goes straight from f. I to

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from ff. lii-f.c, and at ff. clviiib-clixa some additional precedents are inserted in the margin.


The book is the ancestor of a long line of similar books. 1546 "the old Book of Entries" was published '--so called to distinguish it from Rastell's later work. Like Pynson's book, it has an alphabetical Table prefixed; but its subject matter and arrangement show that it is a totally different collection-made, the title-page seems to tell us, by a judge. No doubt many lawyers made these collections; and the printers took any good collection which they could get. The book is anonymous; 2 but the Table is signed W.S. It is printed in small folio, and contains 244 folios. It is therefore appreciably larger than the

earlier work.

In 1564-the year before his death-William Rastell published his book of Entries.1 It is a large folio of 627 leaves; and it superseded the older books, just as his abridgment of the statutes superseded the older abridgments. The reasons why it superseded the older books are to be found, not only in its size, and in the increased number of the precedents therein contained, but also in four other conspicuous merits. In the first place, the precedents were arranged under alphabetical headings after the fashion of an abridgment-a plan followed by Coke and subsequent writers. In the second place, it was thoroughly up to date. We shall see that it contained precedents for actions of assumpsit upon a bill of exchange. In fact it was more up to date than Coke's later volume. In the third place, it was provided with notes and references. In the fourth place, the material was gathered, not only from the old printed books, but also from the most authentic source-the offices of the prothonotaries. We have seen that the prothonotaries were officials whose duty it was to enter the pleadings in an action; and that




The title-page is as follows-"Intrationum liber omnibus legum Angliæ studiosis apprime necessarius in se complectens diversas formas placitorum tam realium, personalium, quam mixtorum, necnon multorum brevium tam executionum quam aliorum valde utilium, nunc tandem in gratiam studiosorum majori cura et diligentia quam ante hac revisus et emendatus, adjectis etiam Judice multo quam ante hac castigatore, cum nonnullis aliis additamentis hactenus non excussis nec editis cujusquidem Judicis ordinem series alphabetica tibi demonstrabit.”

2 On the title-page there appear the letters W. R.; this may mean that it was put together by William Rastell; as we have seen, vol. iv 311-312, William Rastell edited an earlier work on the statutes before he produced his larger book; he may well have done the same thing in this subject.

3 Vol. iv 311.

4"A collection of entrees, of declaracions, barres, replicacions, reioinders, issues, verdits, judgements, executions, proces contynuances, essoynes, and divers other matters;" it should be noted that Rastell's collection, and most of the subsequent collections contained forms of judgments; a special book of judicial forms complied by G. Auxley from the MSS. of Brownlow Moyle and Smithier was published by Townsend 1674. 7 Below 461.

5 Below 461.

* Below 385-386.

therefore they and their clerks had unrivalled opportunities for accumulating a store of such precedents.1 Rastell seems to have been the earliest writer to make use of this store of precedents.2 He therefore produced a book of precedents in pleading of a wholly new type; and his example was copied by the numerous other books which appeared during the seventeenth century. It would be useless to enumerate all these books. A few examples will suffice.


Richard Brownlow, who made the collection of judicial writs noted above, had a great reputation as one of the ablest prothonotaries of the Common Pleas. The writers of these collections knew that his name on the title page would recommend the book to the profession. Thus in 1653 and 1654 two volumes of his pleadings were published; and Herne's Pleader, published in 1657, contains a collection of pleadings, "drawn entered and taken in the times of those famous Prothonotaries of the Court of Common Pleas Richard Brownlow, Robert Moyle, John Galston, and Thomas Cory." These books, being published under the Commonwealth, were in English; but in 1673 Brownlow's Pleadings were published in their original language, with the addition of some modern precedents.5 In 1684 a collection made under the direction of Sir Thomas Robinson, late chief prothonotary of the Common Pleas, appeared. The preface tells us that, besides his own collection, the author "had the advantage of all those many curious and learned manuscripts which were collected by the long experience and critical observation of the greatest clerk of his time, Richard Brownlowe"; he had also the MSS. of Brownlow's successor, Thomas Corey, and of William Midgley, the clerk of the judgments. In 1670 W. Brown, a clerk of the Common Pleas, had, with the approbation of Sir Thomas Robinson, published from the MSS. of the prothonotaries

1 Vol. iii 644-648, 650-653.

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2" And understand this good reader, that al the notes and refermentes, and al that is in frenche in this booke, and al the wordes in the margent, be mine and of mye studye. But none of the declaracions, pledinges and presidentes that be in latin in this booke, be of mye makinge. For al them (except a fewe which I gathered together while I was a prentice of the law, Seriant and Justice) have I taken and gathered out of fower several bookes of good presidents. First the old prented booke of entrees, the seconde, a booke of presidents of matters of the comon place, dylygentle gathered together and written by Master Edward Stubbis that was one of the prothonotaryes of the comon place, the thyrd a booke of good presidentes of matters of the kinge's benche, written and gathered bye John Lucas secundary to master William Roper prothonotary of the Kinge's benche. The fourth a booke or good presidentes which was my grandfather's Syr John More, sometime one of the justices of the Kinges bench (but not of his colleccion). And al the presidentes that be in al these fower bookes have I collected into this booke."

3 Above 380.

* In Robinson's Entries Pref. he is called "the greatest clerk of his time,"
5 Brownlow, Latine Redivus,

VOL. V.-25

of that court, and from the MSS. of eminent practitioners in the King's Bench, a collection of precedents suitable for both courts. In 1684 a selection of pleadings in the King's Bench, with an introduction showing the method of proceeding in that court, was published by Vidian, one of the clerks of the papers in that court.1

Besides these semi-official collections of pleadings, collections made by individual pleaders were also published. One example is the Liber Placitandi, published in 1674,2 which recites that some of the precedents have received the approbation of the best pleaders of the age. When the profession of the pleader became a distinct profession, when the prothonotaries and the clerks ceased to advise upon or to draw pleadings, these private collections of pleadings will gradually oust the semi-official books which held the field in the seventeenth century.1

The number of these collections made some kind of an index to them very necessary. This want was supplied by a book of Tables compiled by Townesend, a clerk of the Common Pleas, and published in 1667.5 The work was continued by Cornwall. His tables were completed after his death and published in 1705.6

Some of these collections give, by way of introduction, short notes on procedure and pleading. But they are usually very short. An attempt was made to state the modern law of pleading under alphabetical heads in a work entitled Doctrina Placitandi, written by S.E. King's serjeant, and published in 1677. It is a quarto volume of 399 pages, written in law French, and containing copious references both to the Year Books and to the modern authorities. It does for the law of pleading very

1 The Exact Pleader.


2 Another illustration is Hansard's Entries published in 1685 with introductory observations on pleadings, and the practice of the King's Bench; the author was an attorney of Clements Inn," where he practised as an entering clerk for several years, drawing declarations and other pleadings for attorneys in the Home circuit and elsewhere," Pref.; he knew Vidian; and the editor of this collection regards it as supplementary to Vidian's; see also Winch's Entries, "containing Declarations, informations, and other select and approved pleadings, with special verdicts and demurrers in most actions real personal and mixt . with references to the Book where these entries are reported," (1680); it is said in the Pref. that the original papers came to the hands of an ancient clerk of the Common Pleas, and that, after his death, the book with some additions was published with the approval of the chief prothonotary Sir Thomas Robinson. 3 Vol. iii 651-653.

4 It may perhaps be gathered from the preface to Vidian's Exact Pleader that there was some jealousy of these private collections felt by the clerks of the court"Here is no sweepings of Chambers, or bundles of wast paper obtruded upon the world; but a noble collection of precedents in causes of the greatest moment."

5 Tables to most of the printed Presidents of Pleadings, writs, and Return of Writs at the common law.

Tables to the modern printed Presidents of Pleading, Writs, and Returns of Writs etc. at the common law.

7" Doctrina Placitandi, ou L'Art et Science De bon Pleading: Monstrant lou et en queux cases et per queux persons, Pleas, cy bien Real, come Personal ou Mixt, poient estre properment Pleades; et e converso.

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8 Sampson Ever, made King's serjeant in 1640, Foss, op. cit. vi 231.

much what Theloall's Digest did for the law as to writs. Both books explain from the cases the meaning underlying the common forms used by the practitioners, and the rules which governed the use of those forms. That it was a useful book, much studied by eminent pleaders, can be seen from the interleaved and elaborately noted copy in two parts in Lincoln's Inn Library, presented by William Garrow.1 Garrow says, "all the written notes in this part are written by me; they were copied whilst I was a pupil with Mr. Crompton from his books, which I understood were formed by Mr. Justice Yates, augmented by Mr. Justice Ashhurst and Mr. Justice Buller, to the latter [of whom] Mr. Crompton was a pupil." It won high praise from Willes C.J.2


These precedents and books about pleading dealt only with cases arising in the civil jurisdiction of the courts of Common Pleas and King's Bench. In fact they covered the cases begun by original writ, and therefore corresponded to the most important of the writs dealt with in the books about writs. But just as practitioners wanted books of practice which gave information about the procedure of other courts, so they wanted books which gave them information as to the theory and forms of pleading used in these other courts. We have seen that the 1618 edition of William West's Symboleography gave this information in respect of proceedings begun in the court of Star Chamber, the court of Wards, and the court of Chancery. It also gave this information both with respect to revenue proceedings in the Exchequer," and with respect to the criminal procedure of courts exercising criminal jurisdiction according to the forms of the common law." In the latter respect it to a certain extent overlapped the sphere occupied by the books on the justices of the peace.7

Thus, by the end of the seventeenth century, we get the beginnings of the modern books on practice, a large number of precedents of writs, pleadings, and judgments in all courts, and books on the theory of pleading. As yet the books which deal with the civil procedure of the common law courts are the most numerous; but all the courts, criminal and civil, of law and of equity, are represented. And thus we can say that the modern types of this variety of legal literature have emerged.

1 Solicitor-general 1812, attorney-general 1813, Baron of the Exchequer 18171832.

2" Nota: Willes C. J. said, there is more law and learning in Doctrina Placitandi than in any book he knew; that it contained the substance of all the pleadings in the Year-books and Coke's Reports," White v. Willis (1759) 2 Wils. at p. 88. 4 Above 162, 273-274.

3 Above 381.

5 Symboleography (ed. 1618), Pt. ii 291-310. 6 Ibid 86-162b.

7 Vol. iv 113-114.

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