The Only American Abridgment Published Before the Revolution Burn, Richard [1709-1785]. Greenleaf, Joseph [1720-1810], Editor. An Abridgment of Burn's Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer. To Which is Added, An Appendix, Containing Some General Rules and Directions Necessary to be Known and Observed by All Justices of the Peace. Boston: Printed For, And Sold By, Joseph Greenleaf, 1773. [viii], 386,  pp. Includes two-page publisher advertisement. Quarto (8-1/2" x 7"). Contemporary sheep, raised bands and later lettering piece to spine, "Boston 1773" gilt-stamped to foot. Light rubbing and a few minor scuffs and stains to boards, moderate rubbing to extremities, corners bumped and somewhat worn. Moderate toning, occasional faint dampspotting, paper flaw at foot of pp. 204-204 not affecting text, early owner signature and inscription of Manessah Smith to front free endpaper and head of title page. A choice copy. $1,500. * First edition of the only abridgement of a legal treatise printed in America before the Revolution. Richard Burn was an attorney and antiquarian who edited the ninth, tenth, and eleventh editions of Blackstone's Commentaries. His Justice of the Peace, and Parish Officer (1755) was perhaps his most important work. Holdsworth considered it to be one of the best treatments of the subject, an opinion shared by Burn's contemporaries, both in England and in the colonies. The "best proof that his book...was accepted as the leading text-book on that topic is the number of editions through which it passed.... It deserved its success." Greenleaf explains the nature of his abridgement in the preface: "The London edition takes in the whole practice of England and Scotland, this renders it both bulky and dear. The circle of a justices business in those places is vastly extensive, and is founded chiefly on acts of the British parliament, which can never have any relation to this colony" [i]. Greenleaf also added an appendix of forms and general rules and directions for American courts. Manessah Smith [1748-1823] was a 1775 Harvard graduate. He served as a chaplain during the Revolution and later practiced law in Wiscasset, Maine. He was the founder of a legal dynasty. All four of his sons and many of his grandsons became lawyers in mid-coast Maine. Holdsworth, A History of English Law XII:332-333.
Book number 69121