DAVIES, Sir John. Les Reports des Cases & Matters en Ley Resolves & Adjudges en les Courts del Roy en Ireland: Collect and digest per Sir John Davis Chivaler, Atturney Generall del Roy en cest Realm.
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London: Printed by C. Flesther, J. Streater, and H. Twyford, Assigns of Richard Atkyns and Edward Atkyns, Esquires, 1674. Small folio. pp. [xxviii], 198. Title within ruled border. Contemporary full calf. Spine professionally rebacked. Early owner’s signature ‘Christopher Tuckey’ on front free endpaper. Early bookplate of Robert Jocelyn, Esq. on verso of titlepage. Professional paper repair to corners of blanks and titlepage. Some early marginalia in ink. Old inoffensive water stain. A very good clean copy. Exceedingly rare. Wing D 408/D 398. Sweeney 1327 lists the Dublin edition of 1615.
Sir John Davies (1569-1626), political writer and historian, was born in Wiltshire and educated at
Winchester and Oxford. He was called to the bar in 1595 but was disbarred in 1598 for beating a
fellow-student in the public hall. He was author of a well-known poem Nosce Teipsum, and other
writings flattering to the vanity of Queen Elizabeth, which restored him to favour. He was an active
member of the English Parliament of 1601, and James I, in testimony of his admiration of Nosce
Teipsum, appointed him Solicitor-General of Ireland in 1603, and Attorney General in 1606, in which
capacity he was one of the first judges who administered the English law in Ulster. His works afford
the most candid, graphic, and able summary of the vicissitudes of Ireland at the beginning of the
seventeenth century. He was speaker of the Irish Parliament of 1615 that repealed the Statute of
Kilkenny. He died in London in 1626 shortly after being appointed Lord Chief Justice of England.
Allibone says “In versatility of talent, brilliancy of imagination, political wisdom, and literary taste,
few Englishmen have equalled Sir John Davies.”
The eloquent commentary on the common law prefaced to this, the first book of Irish case law, is to be
found only in the folio editions. The cases seem to have been heard between 1604 and 1612 and Hans
S. Pawlisch writing in ‘The Historical Journal’ in 1980 notes that Davies had “worked to consolidate
and perpetuate the military conquest by a series of judicial decisions which transformed the legal and
administrative structure of the Island.”
Provenance: From the library of Robert Jocelyn, 1st Viscount Jocelyn (c. 1688-1756) Anglo-Irish
politician and judge and member of the Peerage of Ireland, best known for serving as Lord Chancellor
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