The Law of Commons and Commoners, or a Treatise shewing the Original and Nature of Common, and several Kinds thereof ...

London, assigns of Richard and Edward Atkins for John Walthoe, 1698.

8vo, pp. [2 (blank, advertisement)], [22], 255, [8], [1 (blank)], 8 (Walthoe advertisements); parts printed in blackletter; occasional light foxing, a few marks, 2 marginal paper flaws; contemporary British calf, skilfully rebacked and recornered; superficially worn, corners bumped, nonetheless a good copy; ‘Barth Beale 1706’ (ownership inscription to front free endpaper).


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First edition of an unattributed popular treatise on the law of common land. The text discusses, with reference to and explanations of previous cases, ‘the daily Controversies that arise about the Rights and Titles of Commoning, the Torts and Damages done to Commoners, and the various Prescriptions and Claims which are made to it, and the nicety of Pleading them’, being ‘particular in the matter of Apportionement and Extinguishment of Common, the want of a due Knowledge whereof, has occasioned the loss of many Commons’, so that ‘a Man may know when he fails in his Prescription, or not, upon the Evidence; the Ignorance of such Directions having oftentimes proved fatal to such who might have good Cause of Action’ (Preface).

The present copy was perhaps owned by Bartholomew Beale (1656-1709), son of the portraitist Mary Beale (c. 1595-1699, née Cradock), who worked in his mother’s studio and is shown in her earliest known work, the c. 1662 family portrait in the Geffrye Museum. Though Bartholomew went on to study medicine and later wrote on the subject, he is best known for his involvement in his mother’s artistic career, and for the ‘unique record of the London art world’ of the second half of the seventeenth century provided by the ‘exceptional documentation’ of the family (Grove Art).

ESTC R5473; cf. Goldsmiths’ 5625 (1720 2nd edition only).

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