All of the Year Books were originally reported in manuscript form, and all of them circulated among the legal profession for decades and often centuries in manuscript before they were printed. This database indexes and paraphrases Year Books in their most recent printed form, but to settle questions of interpretation and accuracy, manuscripts can often be checked. Manuscripts may provide variant reports of these printed cases, some longer and some shorter than the case in print. Where modern editors have given manuscript references, these are included in the Manuscripts field in these database records.
One who is researching particular cases for which no modern scholarly edition or translation is found in the Translations/Editions field can consult manuscripts and early printed editions for the relevant regnal year. Manuscripts known or believed to contain Year Book reports for a given year or reign, though not necessarily every printed case in that year, are listed in the Table below. Some manuscripts will contain reports that have never appeared in print, and so are not indexed in this database. Some manuscripts will contain variant reports that differ markedly and provide new speeches, names of parties, and other information that have never appeared in print.
The following list has been compiled in 2003 by Susannah Vale. It will be completed and supplemented in future months and years. Suggestions, corrections, and additions are welcome. Please email dseipp at bu.edu.
Many manuscript Year Books can be found in IDC’s microfiche English Legal Manuscripts and are listed in:
Baker, Sir John. English Legal MSS. in the U.S.A. 2 pts.
Baker, Sir John. Catalogue of English Legal Manuscripts in Cambridge University.
Nicholson, Jennifer. Register of Year Books.
Note: For the reign of Edward I, for the years 1–13 of Edward II, and for the reign of Richard II, modern scholarly editions collated all or some of the known manuscripts for those years, and these manuscripts are listed in the individual records for cases in those years.