Commentaries on the Laws of England


Category: Liberty & Dignity/Politics

By Sir William Blackstone

Published in 1771-1772

Reference #0040-0043

Commentaries on the Laws of England. In Four Books.

First American Edition, in four volumes. “Commentaries on the Laws of England. In Four Books” was written by English jurist and judge William Blackstone and was first published in Oxford between 1765 and 1770. This volume was published in Philadelphia in 1771 and 1772.

Blackstone’s “Commentaries” were the first methodical treatise on the common law suitable to be read by the public since the Middle Ages. At the time of composure, the English common law relied heavily on precedent and less on statute and was regarded as far less amenable than civil law, which was structured based off of Roman law.

Blackstone’s work was revolutionary during the time period since it brought the law to the public in an easy to read and understand manner, which had previously not existed. The volumes are subdivided based on the laws addressed in each. These sections are as follows: The Rights of Persons (Individual Rights), The Rights of Things (Property Law), Of Private Wrongs (Torts), and another section also titled Of Private Wrongs which addressed criminal law.

“Commentaries” is often regarded as the definitive pre-Revolutionary source of common law by United States courts and is still looked to when historical reference is needed or desired in the court room in order to arrive at an appropriate verdict.