Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Music from Christmas service in Corpus Iuris

I recently did a presentation in our Rare Book Room for students, and one of the items on display was a beautifully bound Corpus Iuris Civilis, 3 vols, Paris, 1559. The set was bound for one "RB", whose initials are gold-stamped into the lovely leather bindings, and the printing is magnificent. Another notable feature is that all three volumes have scrap sheet music as endpapers.

One of the students, 2L Stephen Kelly, was fascinated by these endpapers and took a photo. Stephen, a regular in the Rare Book Room, forwarded the photo to his former professor, Dr. Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak, a medieval studies professor in the NYU history department. Dr. Bedos-Rezak in turn made an inquiry to Dr. Consuelo Dutschke, Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at Columbia. Dr. Dutschke identified the endpapers as English and from the first half of the 15th century. The leaf was formerly part of a breviary with musical notation and part of the service for Christmas. She noted that this type of evidence of the Catholic liturgy didn't survive well due to the actions of Henry VIII. This makes it even more exciting that these beautiful leaves made their way into our collection!

These little discoveries make my job so thrilling! I'm so grateful to Stephen, Dr. Bedos-Rezak, and Dr. Dutschke for shedding some more light onto this treasure from our collection. Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

New acquisition: Brownlow's Entries

We recently acquired a 1693 edition--the first in Latin--of A Book of Entries, from Richard Brownlow (1553-1638), chief protonotary of the court of common pleas. This was a lucrative and important clerical office during a booming time for that court. This work is a compilation of precedents or forms for plea roll entries, derived from Brownlow's meticulously maintained records. Originally published in English in 1653 (presumably in line with Cromwell's dictate that law books be published in English instead of Latin or Law French), the work is arranged alphabetically by subject and provides specific references to the court records, most of which date from c.1600–1615.

The book was published in English several times during the 17th century before being published for the first time in the original Latin in 1693. The publisher's note to the Reader states "You have here, Reader, Return'd to their Original Language, after a long and unhappy Transmigration, the Presidents of the Great Brownlow, whose Name stamps them Current, and renders Impertinent all other Recommendations."

Much of the information in this post comes from Christopher W. Brooks, ‘Brownlow, Richard (1553–1638)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/3715, accessed 10 Dec 2012].

Monday, November 19, 2012

Law Among Nations exhibit

Please take the opportunity to come visit the current exhibit, Law Among Nations, in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room. It will remain on display through the end of the fall semester.

This exhibit features some of Boston College Law School’s beautiful works relating to the law among nations, more commonly referred to in modern times as international law.

The exhibit aims to trace the development of the legal literature in this area of the law. We start with the Roman law concept of jus gentium and then move through important phases in the law’s development—to the Spanish scholars of the 16th century; Hugo Grotius and John Selden; the naturalist school led by Samuel Pufendorf; the positivists helmed by Richard Zouche and Cornelius Bynkershoek; the contributions by William Blackstone and Jeremy Bentham; and finally, a look at what early American lawyers were reading as our new nation struggled with issues of international law.

We welcome visitors on weekdays from 9am through 5pm!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reminder: student event in Rare Book Room tomorrow, Tuesday 10/23!!

On Tuesday, October 23rd, any interested law student is invited and encouraged to meet in the Law Library Conference Room at 12:30 (back behind the Rare Book Room). We will have cookies and drinks, drop off backpacks and book bags, and then head to the Rare Book Room! Curator of Special Collections, Laurel Davis, has selected some treasures from our collection that students can interact with and discuss.

Some featured items will include a 1475 edition of Justinian's Codex, a lovely illuminated Book of Hours from around 1400, a first edition of Blackstone's Commentaries, and several law student notebooks from the early 1800s.

The Boston College Law School community is so fortunate to have such a beautiful and rich collection of rare legal materials, and we are looking forward to sharing these gems with the students. We hope to see you!

*The photo above is from our Book of Hours (a popular devotional text for laypeople during the Middle Ages), generously donated by Professor Daniel R. Coquillette.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Legal History Roundtable in the Rare Book Room

In the fall of 2012, the Boston College Law School Legal History Roundtable started its eleventh successful year. The Roundtable draws on Boston College Law School’s and Boston College’s strength and interest in legal history. The Roundtable offers an opportunity for Boston College faculty and faculty from other area institutions, students, and members of the Boston College community to meet and discuss a pre-circulated paper in legal history. Meeting several times each semester in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room, the Roundtable seeks to promote an informal, collegial atmosphere of informed discussion.

Open to the BC community, tonight's talk begins at 4:30 pm in the Rare Book Room. Refreshments are available at beginning at 4:15 pm. Our guest tonight is Professor Emily Kadens, the Baker and Botts Professor in Law at the University of Texas at Austin. She specializes in pre-modern European legal history. Her current research focuses on the problem of how custom functioned as law in medieval and early modern Europe. Professor Kadens' talk will be about “The Continuing Problem of Custom from the Medieval Jurists to Public International Law.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

Magna Cartas, Bracton, and Domesday!

I was happy to host another visit from Professor Daniel R. Coquillette's Anglo-American Legal History class last week. The focus of this visit? Magna Cartas, Henry Bracton, and the Domesday Book! The volumes on display included a 1539 pocket edition of the Magna Carta printed by Robert Redman; a 1556 Magna Carta printed by Richard Tottel and purchased at auction several years ago; a beautiful 1632 Pulton's statutes, opened to the text of the Magna Carta; Roscoe Pound's personal copy of Bracton's De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae (London, Richard Tottel, 1569); and another edition of Bracton's great work with interesting provenance--a 1640 edition owned by Isaac Parker, the first faculty member at Harvard Law School. Our Alecto edition of the Great Domesday was displayed open to a page in the Devonshire section--students enjoyed the authentic silver penny from the reign of William the Conqueror that was inserted in the front cover when the book was published. As always, it was a pleasure to host Professor Coquillette's class!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rare Book Room closes at 12:30pm today

The Rare Book Room will close at 12:30 due to a classroom visit. I am hosting the first visit of the semester from Professor Dan Coquillette's Anglo-American Legal History course--one of my favorite activities as curator. Today, we will look at the influence of Roman law on the development of the Anglo-American legal system. Students will be able to look at the Pisan Pandects (1583), a 1475 Justinian Codex, several editions of Justinian's Institutes, and a beautiful three volume Corpus Juris Civilis from 1559. The class exhibit will also feature some important canon law volumes, including Gratian's Decretum (1518) and an incunable Decretals of Gregory IX (1496). As always, I'm looking forward to the class visit and hope to have many more students engage with our collection in the future.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Zouche and RBR news

The Rare Book Room will be closed through Thursday, August 23, as I endeavor to mount a new exhibit featuring some of our international law materials. In the meantime, take a look at a new acquisition for the exhibit: a first edition of Richard Zouche's Iuris et Iudicii Fecialis, published in Oxford in 1650. Zouche is considered by some to be the first positivist in the field of international law, as custom and contemporary precedents are at the forefront of his writings. He did not coin the phrase "jus inter gentes" ("law among nations") but did popularize the term, which is seen by many as more apt than "jus gentium" ("law of nations"). The volume, in a contemporary calf binding, is bound with a second work by Zouche, his Specimen Quaestionum Juris Civilis, the only edition, published in 1653 and also at Oxford. The second work is an outline of a reading list on the civil law for students. We are very excited to add this Zouche volume to our collection and welcome you to come see it in the upcoming exhibit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New acquisition: 1746-47 complaint against a black servant in Hatfield, Massachusetts

One of the main focuses of BC Law’s special collections involves documents created and used by working lawyers in colonial and early America. I recently purchased a complaint for our collection related to a 1746-1747 Hatfield case brought by one Ichabod Allis against a black servant (perhaps slave?) of a man named Seth Dwight. The defendant, referred to in the complaint as Medad Negro, is accused of burning down Allis's barn. Medad apparently confessed to the crime. On the back of the complaint, we can see that three witnesses, Elisha Allis (presumably the son of Ichabod, the complainant), David Belding, and Jonathan Bardwell, put up 10 pounds bond each to testify. That would have been quite a sum of money in 1747!
Israel Williams, the Justice of the Peace who wrote up the complaint, references Medad being jailed and bound over for trial in Springfield Superior Court. I'm investigating what happened in the aftermath of the complaint and will report back with any pertinent discoveries!
Images of the entire complaint, along with my transcription, will be posted on our Facebook page!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

1819 partnership agreement

One of our recent acquisitions is an 1819 agreement of co-partnership between two Boston attorneys, William Thurston and John M. Fiske. It is a 4 page folio manuscript, in good condition, with quite legible handwriting. Reading between the lines, the agreement seems to indicate that Thurston was easing out of the lawyering business due to health or a natural interest in retiring, and Fiske was to relieve him of some of the everyday tasks of a law practice. A large portion of the agreement concerns who will receive what fees for which services. One of my favorite passages comes from the 6th Article of Thurston's obligations--he was to retain responsibility for the expenses of the office, including the cost of wood and candles. It really conjures up images of Bartleby the Scrivener!

The photo above is of the first page. Other images are available on our Facebook page!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Recent Gift

We are excited to introduce this new gift from a long-time friend and benefactor, Professor Michael Hoeflich, the John H. & John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas Law School. Professor Hoeflich gifted the BC Law rare books program a lovely collection of Roman law books in 2009, and has now followed that gift with the donation of this 1616 Heidelberg edition of Fragmenta XII Tabularum by Iacobi Gothofredo. This important work represents Gothofredo's attempt at reconstructing the fragments of the Twelve Tables, the ancient Roman law that was carved into ivory tablets and publicly displayed in the Roman Forum. This rare volume contains plates with reconstructions of those tables.

Gothofredo (often referenced as Gothofredus or as Jacques Godefroy) was born in France in 1587 to a family of legal scholars and historians. In addition to this work, he also is responsible for an incredibly influential edition of the Codex Theodosianus, an important compilation of Roman law prepared under Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II in the 5th century.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Recent events

The last couple of weeks have been busy ones in the Rare Book Room. I was thrilled to host two classes--Mary Ann Neary's Bankruptcy Research Class and Karen Breda's Insurance Research class. For the bankruptcy students, we looked at several classic treatises, including William Cooke's A Compendious System of the Bankrupt Laws (London, 1785), a first edition. Several documents from our Brooker Collection were also on display, including letters from the Boston Overseers of the Poor to the overseers in other towns, asking for reimbursement for housing citizens of the other towns.

For the insurance research class, we looked at some classic insurance treatises, among them the first American edition of Samuel Marshall's Treatise on the Law of Insurance (Boston, 1805). From the Brooker manuscript collection, students viewed an 1803 marine insurance policy, insuring a ship and her cargo for $1700 on a journey from Connecticut to Puerto Rico and back.

On Wednesday, March 28, I was happy to have several law students join me in the Rare Book Room for a look at some of our treasures. We looked at our Book of Hours, a beautiful Ethiopian bible, a 1475 edition of Justinian's Codex, a 1539 Robert Redman Magna Carta, a 1569 Bracton, a 1639 edition of Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum (with the New Atlantis included in the back), the first edition of Blackstone's Commentaries, several law student notebooks from the early 1800s, and many others. Thanks to all of the students who participated!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Students invited to see Rare Book Room treasures

On Wednesday, March 28th at noon, any interested law student is invited and encouraged to meet in Law Library 253. We will have cookies and drinks, drop off backpacks and book bags, and then head to the Rare Book Room! Curator of Special Collections, Laurel Davis, has selected some treasures from our collection that students can interact with and discuss.

Some featured items will include a 1475 edition of Justinian's Codex, a lovely illuminated Book of Hours from around 1400, a first edition of Blackstone's Commentaries, and several law student notebooks from the early 1800s.

The Boston College Law School community is so fortunate to have such a beautiful and rich collection of rare legal materials, and we are looking forward to sharing these gems with the students. We hope to see you on Wednesday!

*The photo above is from our Book of Hours (a popular devotional text for laypeople during the Middle Ages), generously donated by Professor Daniel R. Coquillette.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Treasures in the Stacks: Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments

Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) was an Italian philosopher, economist and criminologist, whose great work Dei delitti e delle pene (On Crimes and Punishments) was published in 1764. The book, an incredibly influential treatise on criminal justice and penology, advances the utilitarian principle that governments should seek the greatest good for the greatest number when punishing criminal offenders. Beccaria believed that this goal could be achieved most effectively by focusing on deterrence--not retribution. He advocated for swift punishment (thus creating a strong association between the commission of a crime and the resulting punishment) and for proportionality. Any punishment beyond which was absolutely necessary was deemed tyranny by Beccaria. He ardently opposed torture and advanced early and sustained arguments in opposition to the death penalty. Voltaire contributed extensive commentaries on the work, which are included in the back of the volume.

We own several editions of Beccaria's famous work, but featured here is the first edition published in English (London 1767). The volume was donated to the collection by the late Kathryn Preyer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New acquisition-American Precedents of Declarations

The first book attributed to Harvard Law Professor and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story was A Selection of Pleadings in Civil Actions (Salem 1805). However, many scholars attribute this earlier 1802 gem to him as well. It was published anonymously in Salem, where Story was working as a practitioner. In the preface, the editor (also anonymous) thanks a mystery gentleman for his help in collecting, transcribing and correcting the manuscripts that form the basis of the book. It is a compilation of precedents, or common forms that lawyers could use for pleadings or motions without having to create them from scratch. The photo on the right is of the title page and captures a quote from Littleton about the importance of knowing how to properly plead an action.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Croke's Reports

Professor Daniel R. Coquillette, namesake of our beautiful rare book room and benefactor extraordinaire, recently donated a full set of Croke’s Reports (London, 1683) with original bindings. Also included in this generous gift is a single volume from an earlier 1657 edition of the Reports.

Sir George Croke (c. 1560-1642) was a judge under Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I, and one volume is dedicated to each of their reigns. The reports were written by Croke in French, reporting on the cases that he had heard as judge or collected from other lawyers. Croke’s son-in-law, Sir Harebottle Grimston, revised and published the reports in English in the years following Croke’s death. The 1657 volume, mentioned above, covers the cases that Croke heard during the reign of Charles I.

The full set of Croke’s Reports has a fabulous provenance: the books were owned by Levi Lincoln (1749-1820) and contain marginalia in his hand. In the photo above, you can see Lincoln's signature in the upper right-hand corner. The page pictured is the first case reported in volume 1, which covers the reign of Elizabeth I. Levi Lincoln was a 1772 graduate of Harvard College and fought for the Patriots in the American Revolution. After the Revolution, he became a Massachusetts Judge of Probate and was one of the Drafters of the Massachusetts Constitution. In 1781, he declined election to the Continental Congress in favor of becoming a distinguished practitioner. Levi Lincoln was instrumental in representing black clients in the key slavery cases of 1781, where it was determined that holding African-Americans to slavery in Massachusetts violated the Bill of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.

In 1800, Lincoln was elected to the United States Congress. He was re-elected in 1802 but declined his seat when Thomas Jefferson appointed him Attorney General of the United States (1801-1804). He soon returned to political life in Massachusetts, even serving as governor following the death in office of James Sullivan. In 1812, he was offered a place on the United States Supreme Court by President Madison, but declined because of failing eyesight. His two sons, Levi and Enoch, both had distinguished political careers.

Many, many thanks to Professor Coquillette for donating these lovely volumes to our collection.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New acquisition discusses laws affecting Roman Catholics

The most recent acquisition for the Rare Book Room is a lovely copy of Thomas Chisholme Anstey's Guide to Laws of England Affecting Roman Catholics, V. & R. Stevens and G. S. Norton, London, 1842. This is the only edition of a quite rare work, which Anstey represents as the first treatise on the law of Roman Catholics in England and its colonies. Anstey was an Middle Temple barrister and one of the first Catholic parliamentarians--a member of the House of Commons for Yougal, a UK constituency in County Cork, Ireland.

Anstey provides citations to the many statutes affecting the rights of English Catholics, and discusses the requirement that Catholics take an oath in order to have many legal disabilities removed.

Our copy was owned by Sir George Jessel, a British jurist who is considered on the greatest English trial judges in equity. The volume includes notations in Jessel's hand, particularly in the index, where he noted repealed laws.