Front Page Titles (by Subject) A Note on the Texts, Editions, and Translations - Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
A Note on the Texts, Editions, and Translations - Sir Edward Coke, Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I 
The Selected Writings and Speeches of Sir Edward Coke, ed. Steve Sheppard (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). Vol. 1.
About Liberty Fund:
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
A Note on the Texts, Editions, and Translations
This anthology of the writings of Edward Coke is designed to present a sampling of the works that chronicle his career and its influence on issues of law, constitutions, politics, government, economics, and liberty. In culling from the vast corpus of his writings, some materials, such as cases dealing with the struggle for judicial independence and jurisdictional primacy in the courts of law, are overrepresented as a portion of his works. Other materials, such as his writings on English history, titles, and estates, are quite underrepresented. Regretably, argument and opinions of Coke’s reported by others have been omitted owing to the limits of space and cost. It is hoped that a collected scholarly edition of his works may one day remedy these and the other omissions that were necessary to achieve an edition even as short as the present one. The emphasis of this edition being on the influence of his works, it is constructed largely from the writings as they were printed in his generation and the next, without regard to a new comparison to the references that will one day be mandatory for a thorough reappraisal of his works, when such an edition is attempted.
Thus, certain limitations have been accepted in the development of this edition of Coke’s writings. The most important was to limit the project to the reproduction of printed materials, without attempting further comparisons of those sources with manuscripts. This limitation also means that certain of Coke’s writings that have never been published are not within the scope of this edition.
The texts have been chosen preferring the following criteria: Editions without notes, editing, or annotations by later writers are preferred; later editions that would have been overseen by Coke and corrected by him or under his supervision take precedence over earlier editions; editions that were translated by Coke or by lawyers working in his tradition are preferred to those in French and Latin; and earlier translations are preferred to later translations in order to diminish the degree of anachronism, although corrected editions of early translations have been consulted. Further, certain spelling and typographic conventions have been modernized in order to increase the clarity of the text for the modern reader, and some of these modernizations of the selected texts have been adopted in the light of modernizations employed in later editions. In particular, conventions adopted from the 1793 edition and from the preparation of the Coke volumes of the 1907 English Reports have been occasionally applied in the editing of the 1658 Reports here, the intent being to present an edition based predominately on the 1658 text, but including such improvements as may enhance its comprehensibility for the modern reader. The orthographic change that will most trouble specialists are the conversions of i, j, u, v, and the long s to modern usage.
The most significant alteration of the texts occurs in the quotations of statutes, particularly in the excerpts from the Second Institute. Coke’s original editions quoted the Latin text of statutes in received forms from manuscript and printed editions. Here, the statutes have been replaced with translations from canonical sources produced in the generations following Coke’s, which would have been consulted by lawyers employing Coke’s materials. Magna Carta is taken from Magna Charta (Edward Cooke, trans., London, Printed by the assignees of R. and E. Atkins for T. Simmons, 1680), the translation by Edward Cooke, the barrister. The reader is cautioned that this edition is neither authoritative as a matter of current law nor the most accurate translation as a linguistic exercise, but its selection is consonant with translations that would have reflected the understandings of these texts in the generations immediately following Coke’s work. Other statutes are taken from The Statutes of the Realm, 1810–28, a nine-volume edition of official, if not always precise, translations into English, or from The Statutes at Large of 1743, an edition edited by Owen Ruffhead that was the commercial predecessor to the official edition of 1810.
All other translations are relegated to the notes and have been provided newly for this edition.
Applying these principles, selections have been taken from the following texts:
II. His Speech and Charge at the Norwich Assizes
From the second edition, 1607
VI. Appendix I: Official Acts Related to Coke’s Career
Orders of Privy Council Acts of the Privy Council, HMSO, 1906