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DS from His Chambers in Serjeants Inn, London

Signed by William Blackstone

Item: 22298
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BLACKSTONE, WILLIAM. (1723-1780). English jurist, statesman, and author of Commentaries on the Laws of England, the first comprehensive treatment of English and constitution law. Partially printed DS. (“Wm. Blackstone”). 1p. Oblong 12mo. [London], February 15, 1773.

Let the Pl[ain]t[iff’]s Attorney or Agent attend me at my Chambers in Serjeants Inn tomorrow morning at 9 of the clock in the forenoon to show cause why the Def[endan]t should not have till ten o’clock same day to plead in this cause…”

With a related docket signed by an attorney on the verso:

I consent the Def[endan]t shall have till tomorrow Ten oClock to plead in this cause subject to the Forms in the … of Court, Basil … Pl[ain]t[iff’]s Atty 15 Febry 1773”

Blackstone portrait

William Blackstone

It was as Oxford’s first Vinerian Professor of English Law (1758-1766) that Blackstone achieved his greatest renown, captivating his listeners “by the lucidity and charm of his style and by the simplicity with which he presented the subject” of law, (Encyclopedia Britannica). These lectures, the first on English law ever offered at a university, later became the basis for his four-volume Commentaries, published between 1765 and 1769. Eight editions of this highly successful work appeared during Blackstone’s lifetime, and its influence, particularly in the United States, was significant and lasting. Academic Robert Ferguson notes that “all our formative documents – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and the seminal decisions of the Supreme Court under John Marshall  – were drafted by attorneys steeped in Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. So much was this the case that the Commentaries rank second only to the Bible as a literary and intellectual influence on the history of American institutions,” (quoted in “Some Thoughts on Blackstone, Precedent and Originalism,” Vermont Law Review, Bader). As late as the end of the twentieth century, the Commentaries were routinely cited in Supreme Court decisions.

Blackstone also played a public role: while representing Hindon in Parliament beginning in 1761, he assumed the principalship of New Inn Hall, a chancery inn, before receiving George III’s patent of precedence at the bar as King’s Counsel. In 1763, he was named solicitor-general to the queen. He retired from academic life in 1766, devoting his final fourteen years to writing and civic affairs. Our document regarding a delay in proceedings with another attorney, was written after Blackstone joined Serjeants Inn, one of London’s Inns of Court, in 1770.

With normal age-related wear and minor mounting traces on the verso; in fine condition.

DS from His Chambers in Serjeants Inn, London

Signed by William Blackstone

$1100 • item #22298

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