Old Printed Editions of the Year Books

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 many 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.

For more than a century, many of the best scholars of English legal history have tended to emphasize the value of manuscript sources, to the neglect of old printed books. This database is an attempt to redress this imbalance. The printed editions on which these database records are based combine the best of modern editorial practice (those printed in the Selden Society and Ames Foundation volumes) with the traditional common learning of the English legal profession (those printed in the standard or Vulgate edition of 1678-1680).

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.

The following list includes every Year Book edition known to have been printed before 1700. The list was compiled by Susannah Vale in 2003. It is based on the work of Charles Soule, Joseph H. Beale, John Cowley, Jennifer Nicholson, the editors of the Short-Title Catalogue, and Sir John Baker. Year Books are listed first, by regnal year, followed by Abridgements of the Year Books.

For Year Books, the list includes the Short Title Catalogue number, the microfilm reel number in the Early English Books microfilm project, the Beale number, and an indication whether the Harvard University and Bodleian (Oxford University) collections include the particular edition. Suggestions, corrections, and additions are welcome. Please e-mail dseipp@bu.edu.