Commentaries on the Laws of England – Blackstone

COMMENTARIES

ON THE

LAWS

OF

ENGLAND.

BOOK THE FIRST.

BY

WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, ESQ.

VINERIAN PROFESSOR OF LAW,

AND

SOLICITOR GENERAL TO HER MAJESTY.

OXFORD,

PRINTED AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.

M. DCC. LXV.

TO

THE QUEEN’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,

THE FOLLOWING VIEW

OF THE LAWS AND CONSTITUTION

OF ENGLAND,

THE IMPROVEMENT AND PROTECTION OF WHICH

HAVE DISTINGUISHED THE REIGN

OF HER MAJESTY’S ROYAL CONSORT,

IS,

WITH ALL GRATITUDE AND HUMILITY,

MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY HER DUTIFUL

AND MOST OBEDIENT

SERVANT,

WILLIAM BLACKSTONE.

PREFACE.

_THE following sheets contain the substance of a course of lectures on
the laws of England, which were read by the author in the university
of OXFORD. His original plan took it’s rise in the year 1753: and,
notwithstanding the novelty of such an attempt in this age and
country, and the prejudices usually conceived against any innovations
in the established mode of education, he had the satisfaction to find
(and he acknowleges it with a mixture of pride and gratitude) that his
endeavours were encouraged and patronized by those, both in the
university and out of it, whose good opinion and esteem he was
principally desirous to obtain._

_THE death of Mr VINER in 1756, and his ample benefaction to the
university for promoting the study of the law, produced about two
years afterwards a regular and public establishment of what the author
had privately undertaken. The knowlege of our laws and constitution
was adopted as a liberal science by general academical authority;
competent endowments were decreed for the support of a lecturer, and
the perpetual encouragement of students; and the compiler of the
ensuing commentaries had the honour to be elected the first Vinerian
professor._

_IN this situation he was led, both by duty and inclination, to
investigate the elements of the law, and the grounds of our civil
polity, with greater assiduity and attention than many have thought it
necessary to do. And yet all, who of late years have attended the
public administration of justice, must be sensible that a masterly
acquaintance with the general spirit of laws and the principles of
universal jurisprudence, combined with an accurate knowlege of our own
municipal constitutions, their original, reason, and history, hath
given a beauty and energy to many modern judicial decisions, with
which our ancestors were wholly unacquainted. If, in the pursui