Law, #174


  174.  Nicholas Statham (fl.1472).  Abridgment. -- Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Special Collections (See fuller description below.)
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Lawyers were accustomed to compile their own commonplace books to keep track of significant points, pleadings, and decisions, but these were for generally personal use. One lawyer, Nicholas Statham, made an abridgment of cases drawn from the manuscripts of English year books, the oldest legal records of the common law, which was ultimately printed in the last decade of the fifteenth century. Statham's Abridgment dealt with cases from the reign of Henry VI (1423-1461). Cases were arranged alphabetically by subject under such topics as jurisdiction, fines, disclaimer and damages. The copy on display shows how lawyers continued to add cases to the abridgment by covering the margins with notes. The abridgment format continued to be a useful tool for lawyers until the nineteenth century, when abridgements of reports ran to 24 volumes.