Recent Additions to the Collection - Spring 2008
Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room
The Boston College Law Library is delighted to display this selection of works it has recently acquired. Many of them were purchased to strengthen the library’s collection of works likely to have been owned and used by working English and American lawyers who lived during the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries, while others were purchased to enhance bequests of books and gifts of manuscripts donated to the library in recent years.
This year, the library is grateful to the following individuals who have donated works on display here: the Honorable Morris Arnold, Karen S. Breda, Robert E. Brooker III and James Nagelberg. In addition, a very special gift of rare works by and about Francis Bacon from Professor Daniel R. Coquillette will be on display in the near future.
The exhibit begins with a facsimile edition of the famous DOMESDAY BOOK. It continues with English and American legal treatises, a very early copy of Massachusetts laws, works on slavery, and magnificent first American editions of Blackstone’s COMMENTARIES and Joseph Story’s COMMENTARIES ON THE CONSTITUTION. It concludes with a potpourri of law books intended for students, a volume of Edward Coke’s Reports in verse, a signed first edition of Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD, a document appointing Daniel Webster a Justice of the Peace, and a handwritten record of cases heard by Justice of the Peace Solomon Keyes.
Below are a few highlights from the exhibit. A handout describing the entire exhibit is available here.
The exhibit was curated by Karen Beck, Curator of Rare Books. It will be on view through mid-June 2008.
THE CHARTER GRANTED BY THEIR MAJESTIES KING WILLIAM AND QUEEN MARY bound with
ACTS AND LAWS OF HIS MAJESTY’S PROVINCE OF THE MASSACHUSETTS-BAY IN NEW ENGLAND Boston, 1726.
This very rare and very old collection of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s laws provides a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of some of our country’s earliest settlers. It enhances the library’s rich collection of rare books about the early laws of Massachusetts.
Comprising a complete record of the colony’s laws from 1692 to 1725, this book includes laws about Indians, “Free Negroes,” piracy, buggery, bestiality, incest, “Jesuits and Popish priests,” the killing of bastard children by their mothers, “misspending money in taverns,” keeping the Lord’s day,” adultery, polygamy, and a host of other topics – as well as more mundane matters such as highways, taxes, and weights and measures.
The book is arranged very much like its modern counterpart, the ACTS AND LAWS OF MASSACHUSETTS. Laws appear in chronological order by date of enactment. Within a given year, each law is given a Chapter number. Shown here is Chapter VII: “An Act against Jesuits and Popish Priests,” which was enacted in 1700, the twelfth year of King William’s reign.
The Preamble says: “Whereas divers Jesuits, Priests and Popish Missionaries have of late come, and for some time have had their Residence in the remote Parts of this Province, and other His Majesties Territories near Adjacent; who by their Subtile Insinuations, Industriously labour to Debauch, Seduce and Withdraw the Indians from their due Obedience unto His Majesty; and to excite and stir them up to Sedition, Rebellion and Open Hostility against His Majesty’s Government ….”
The Act ordered “all and every Jesuit, Seminary Priest, Missionary, or other Spiritual or Ecclesiastical Person Made or Ordained by … the Pope or See of Rome” to leave the Province of Massachusetts by September 10, 1700, or risk perpetual imprisonment.
THE REPORTS OF SIR EDWARD COKE, KNT. IN VERSE; WHEREIN THE NAME OF EACH CASE AND THE PRINCIPAL POINTS ARE CONTAINED IN TWO LINES
London, 1826. 3rd edition.
This little volume was first published in 1742 by the publisher and bookseller John Worrall. In the Preface he wrote that “an ancient manuscript of the following verses falling accidentally into my hands, in which no small pains must have been taken; the publication thereof needs little apology, when it is considered these lines may at the same time not only refresh the memory, and instruct, but also afford a pleasing recreation to gentlemen of the law …. “
Each of Coke’s reports is summarized in a two-line rhyming couplet, as illustrated here on the Frontispiece by the four cases Archer, Caudrey, Foster and Boulston. The verses appear in the same order as the cases appeared in volumes 1-11 of Coke’s REPORTS.
DOCUMENT APPOINTING DANIEL WEBSTER A JUSTICE OF THE PEACE FOR SUFFOLK COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS
Boston: June 7, 1830.
This handsome document appoints the famous lawyer and statesman Daniel Webster a Justice of Peace for a term of seven years. It bears the signature of Governor Levi Lincoln, who owned several law books that now reside in the library’s Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room. Note the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts above Governor Lincoln’s autograph in the upper left part of the document.
SOLOMON KEYES’S BOOK OF RECORDS AS JUSTICE OF THE PEACE IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF WINDSOR, STATE OF VERMONT, 1793-1814
This completely handwritten notebook of approximately 100 pages contains Solomon Keyes’ records of the cases that came before him in his capacity as a Justice of the Peace. At the back of the book he also recorded about fifty marriages. Thus, the notebook is a fascinating glimpse into the way ordinary people interacted with the law during the early days of our nation. Shown here is page 15, an account of the case Rice v. Page. The text is as follows:
Henry Rice versus John Page
Personally appeared John Page before me the subscriber this 12th Day of Sept 1793 and Confessed himself indebted to Henry Rice the full & just sum of £ 1:15:10 –
Damages & £ :0 cost of suit
Solomon Keyes Just Peace
Execution given out April 2d 1794
Purchased with funds donated by Robert E. Brooker III.