First Edition of the First Standard Treatise on Wills Swinburne, Henry [1560?-1623]. A Briefe Treatise of Testaments and Last Willes, Very Profitable to be Understoode of All the Subjects of This Realme of England, (Desirous to Know, Whether, Whereof, And How, They May Make Their Testaments: And by What Meanes the Same May be Effected or Hindered,) And no Lesse Delightfull, Aswell for the Rareness of the Worke, As for the Easines of the Stile, And Method: Compiled of such Lawes Ecclesiasticall and Civill, As be Not Repugnant to the Lawes, Customes, Or Statutes of this Realme, Nor Derogatorie to the Prerogative Royall. In which Treatise Also are Inserted Divers Statutes of this Land, Together with Mention of Sundrie Customes, As Well General as Particular, Not Impertinent Thereunto: Besides Divers Marginall Notes, And Quotations Not to be Neglected, Especially of Iustinianists, Or Young Students of the Civil Law: With Two Tables, The One Analytical, Describing the Generall Order of the Whole Treatise: The Other Alphabeticall, Disclosing the Particular Contents Thereof: That in the Beginning; This in the End of the Booke. London: Printed by Iohn Windet, 1590 [colophon date 1591]. [xii], 293,  ff. As in many copies, our copy lacks the errata leaf and pasted one-word slip-cancel on Leaf K5r (Fol. 65) (changing "whether" to "where"). Quarto (7-1/2" x 6-1/2"). Recent period-style speckled calf, blind rules to boards, raised bands and lettering piece to spine, endpapers renewed. Light toning to text, tiny inkspots to a few leaves, small burn hole to Leaf Kk3 (Fol. 247), mended with archival tape, with no loss to legibility, faint small library stamp to title page, brief annotations to verso. An appealing copy in a handsome binding. $1,500. * First edition. The testamentary jurisdiction of ecclesiastical law was a separate branch that produced its own literature. From the sixteenth until well into the seventeenth century Swinburne's was the standard treatise on this subject. It was the first work of canon law to be published in English. Holdsworth, who cites it often and considers it "the most practically useful book of [its] period" notes that "it is a very useful summary of the law as to wills and executors as administered in the ecclesiastical courts." Holdsworth, A History of English Law V:14. English Short-Title C.
Book number 68177