Le Primer Report des Cases & Matters en Ley resolues & adiudges en les Courts del Roy en Ireland. Collect et digest per Sr. Iohn Dauys Chiualer Atturney Generall del Roy en cest Realme.

Published: Dublin: Printed by Iohn Frankton Printer to the Kings most excellent Maiestie

Date: 1615

first edition folio (26.3 x 17.3 cms,) [1 (title leaf)], [11 leaves (dedicatory preface) ], [1 leaf (blank)], 96 leaves, printed in 'black letter' and Roman types, head and tail-pieces, woodcut diagram, decorative woodcut initial letters, modern tan polished calf, spine panelled by gilt highlighted raised bands and direct gilt lettered, double gilt fillet border on sides,lacks the preliminary blank leaf [pi1], title page and last page a little dust soiled, else a very good fresh copy. Rare.

ESTC S107361 locates 24 copies only (with more than 1 copy in a few institutions) STC 6361 Sweeney 1327 ('Important & Rare'). Collation: pi², *¹², A-3B² with the leaves pi1 and *12 blanks (with the latter present in this copy). In this copy, as in most, leaf 84 has caption title "Hill. 4. Iacobi The case of præmunire .." and the preceding page (2T1v) has no tailpiece. There exists a variant issue in which the book ends on 2T1v which in that case then has a tailpiece. Davies (1570-1626), distinguished poet, lawyer and historical writer, came to Ireland as Solicitor General 1603-6, and as Attorney General, 1606-19. He travelled extensively throughout Ireland, both on circuit and in the preparations for the Ulster Plantation after the Flight of the Earls in 1607, and he spent much of his leisure studying the Irish history and institutions. From these twin sources was derived the knowledge of the country and interest in its affairs that distinguish his writings. Best known is his Discovery of the True Cause why Ireland was never entirely Subdued, 1612, which was followed in 1615 by this important Reports of Cases. Davies "worked to consolidate and perpetuate the military conquest by a series of judicial decisions which transformed the legal and administrative structure of the island. In cases brought before the central law courts in Dublin, Davies' arguments compelled the Irish judiciary to eliminate the Gaelic law and to assimilate the autonomous Gaelic lordships, to reduce corporate liberties and franchises, to impose religious conformity, and to create a national monetary system. In 1615 the attorney general presented these revolutionary decisions in his publication of the Irish Law Reports" [Pawlisch]. The woodcut diagram shows the genealogical succession in tanistry case. The book was reprinted in 1628, and 1674 but "the significant difference though is that the eloquent commentary on the common law prefaced to this, the first book of Irish case law, is to be found only in the 1st edition. Sadly though the Common Law offered no protection to 'the mere Irish', as one had to belong to one of the 'quinque sanguines', ie. the O'Neills, O'Connors, O'Briens, O'Meloghlins or MacMurroughs to be able to bring a miscreant to justice" [Sweeney Ireland and the Printed Word 1475-1700]. The cases range over such as tanistry, taxes on merchandise, legal tender, legitimacy and 'bastardy', the custom of gavelkind, etc. Franckton (fl. 1600 - d1620), King's Printer in Ireland 1604 - 1618, was one of the most significant of early printers in Ireland. His output was small but included most importantly the first edition of the New Testament in Irish Tiomna Nuadh (1603) and the Book of Common Prayer in Irish Leabhar na nurnaightheadh gcomhchoidchiond (1608), both with Irish types partly paid for by Queen Elizabeth, as well as this work by Davies. Vide: Hans S. Pawlisch 'Sir John Davies, the Ancient Constitution, and Civil Law', in The Historical Journal, 23, 3 (1980), p.689-702 H. S. Pawlisch Sir John Davies and the Conquest of Ireland: A Study in Legal Imperialism, Cambridge Univ. Press (1984).


Offered by P & B Rowan