Institutes of the Lawes of England

Institutes of the Lawes of England

Title page of the first volume of the first edition
Author Edward Coke
Country England
Language English
Subject English law
Genre Non-fiction
Published 1628–1644
Pages Part I: 395; Part II: 745; Part III: 243; Part IV: 364
LC Class Part I: KD833.C6; Part II: KD660.C6; Parts III and IV: KD7869.C64

The Institutes of the Lawes of England are a series of legal treatises written by Sir Edward Coke. They were first published, in stages, between 1628 and 1644.[1] Widely recognized as a foundational document of the common law, they have been cited in over 70 cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States,[2] including several landmark cases. For example, in Roe v. Wade (1973),[3] Coke's Institutes are cited as evidence that under old English common law, an abortion performed before quickening was not an indictable offence. In the much earlier case of United States v. E. C. Knight Co. (1895),[4] Coke's Institutes are quoted at some length for their definition of monopolies. The Institutes's various reprinted editions well into the 19th century is a clear indication of the long lasting value placed on this work throughout especially the 18th century in Britain and Europe. It has also been associated through the years with high literary connections. For example, David Hume in 1764 requested it from the bookseller Andrew Millar in a cheap format for a French friend.[5]

First editions

The Institutes of the Lawes of England are divided into four parts, the first editions of which are as follows:

Selected later editions

Title pages of the first editions of the First, Second and Third and Fourth Parts of the Institutes
A portrait of Edward Coke from the frontispiece of The Third Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England (4th ed., 1669)[7]

See also


  1. Paul Axel-Lute (4 January 2010), Finding English Statutes & Cases & Selected "Books of Authority" at the Rutgers–Newark Law Library, Rutgers Law Library – Newark, archived from the original on 7 May 2013.
  2. LexisNexis search performed 1 May 2008.
  3. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 134 (1973).
  4. United States v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U.S. 1, 10 (1895).
  5. "The manuscripts, Letter from Andrew Millar to David Hume, 24 April, 1764. Andrew Millar Project. University of Edinburgh.". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  6. First published as Thomas de Littleton (1482), Tenannt en fee simple est celuy ... [A tenant in fee simple is he who ...], London: Imp[re]ssi p[er] nos Ioh[an]e[s] lettou [et] Will[es] de machlinia i citate Londonia[rum] [Printed by us, John Lettou and William de Machlinia in the City of London], OCLC 216889609 (the title is from the opening words of the text).
  7. The Third Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England; Concerning High Treason, and other Pleas of the Crown, and Criminal Causes. The Fourth Edition. Authore Edw. Coke, Milite (4th ed.), London: Printed for A[ndrew] Crooke, W[illiam] Leake, A[bel] Roper, F[rancis] Tyton, T[homas] Dring, T[homas] Collins, J[ohn] Place, W[illiam] Place, J[ohn] Starkey, T[homas] Bassett, R[obert] Pawlett, S[amuel] Heyrick, and G[eorge] Dawes, booksellers in Fleetstreet and Holborn, 1669, OCLC 9515015.
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