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Recent Additions to the Collection - Spring 2005

daniel r. coquillette rare book room - boston college law library

The Boston College Law Library is pleased to display for the first time a selection of rare books and other materials it has recently acquired. Many of the books on display in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Boom Room were likely to have been owned and used by a seventeenth-century practicing common lawyer - not necessarily a "typical" lawyer's library, but rather the library of a particularly wealthy and learned practitioner. Taken together with books donated in prior and future years, the collection when complete will form an unsurpassed working seventeenth-century law library.

As part of a working lawyer's library, these books were not intended merely to decorate a lawyer's shelf. They were designed to be useful, and to make the law and legal procedure accessible to lawyers of the time. In the seventeenth century, English lawyers grappled with the developing law of contracts, commercial law and the new area of environmental protection. Many of the works on display here reflect these areas of study and practice.

The seventeenth-century books on exhibit are complemented by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century books and legal documents that show the continuity of Anglo-American legal theory and practice over the centuries.

As in years past, once again the Boston College Law Library is indebted to generous faculty members and friends who have donated many of the works displayed here and others as well. The Boston College Law School and the Law Library are grateful to Professor Daniel R. Coquillette for continuing to donate his remarkable collection of rare law books, and to Robert E. Brooker III for his generous donation of early American legal and land use documents.

Below are selected highlights from the exhibit. A handout describing the entire exhibit is available here. The exhibit was curated by Karen Beck, Curator of Rare Books and Legal Information Librarian. It will remain on view through June 2005.

NEW: View a videotape of Professor Coquillette talking about the seventeenth-century law books he donated. (RealPlayer is required to view the video.)

 

Registrum Omnium Brevium CoverRegistrum Omnium Brevium Title Page

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Registrum Omnium Brevium
London, Printed by the assigns of John More, 1634. Opened to a beautifully ornate title page, this register of writs features a handsome early leather binding with gilt ornamentation on the front and back covers.
Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette.

Writ

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Writ
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1804. This American writ of attachment shows its debt to English legal forms and practice from centuries before. Here, Judge William Parker directs the Sheriff to attach the property or person of Samuel Nutting and bring him before the court to answer Jacob Rowell in an action on a plea of the case for a debt of $6.66.
Gift of Robert E. Brooker III.

Dyer's Reports Frontispiece

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Sir James Dyer, Les Reports des Divers Matters & Resolutions des Reverend Judges & Sages del Ley
London, W. Rawlins and others, 1688. A magnificent copy of one of the earliest and most influential English law reports, with a superb frontispiece portrait of Dyer.
Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette.

Bracton Title Page

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Bracton, De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae
Second edition. London, Milonis Flesher & Roberti Young, 1640. This special copy once belonged to Isaac Parker, Chief Justice of Massachusetts (1814-1830) and the first Professor of the Harvard Law School, as the inaugural holder of the Royall Chair in 1817. The title page is signed "Isaac Parker, 1795."
Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette.

Fortescue FrontispieceFortescue Title Page

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John Fortescue, De Laudibus Legum Angliae
London: In the Savoy, Printed by E. and R. Nutt, 1737. Notes by John Selden. This beautiful copy features an engraved frontispiece showing Fortescue with Prince Edward in France. The frontispiece reads: "Chancellor Fortescue following King Henry's Fortune, and attending his Son Edward into France, wrote this Book to recommend the Laws of England to the Esteem and Protection of that Young Prince." The book is structured as a series of lessons, and begins with a dialog between Fortescue and Prince Edward in which Fortescue convinces Edward of the importance of the English law.
Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette.