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Jacob, Giles, 1686-1744.

Jacob's New Law Dictionary : (English Law, 1729)

Giles Jacob, JacobG-1811.jpg
The Law Dictionary

Giles Jacob was deeply affected by the philosophies of Locke and Hobbes. Both wrote often that it was essential to reach a general agreement about the definitions of words, especially complex or moral ideas in words such as "justice." Especially a follower of Locke, Jacob was inspired by his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, in which Locke suggests that the advent of an authoritative, precise dictionary would greatly aid human society. In Jacob's early published works one can perceive his Lockean political theory: his growing desire for protection of liberty and of the rights of people, and the prevention of tyranny. Sensing that confusion about the law's meaning would endanger the rights of the people, Jacob attempted to reduce the perplexing language of the law to plain and easy language whereby the people could know their law. His triumph was his dictionary.

Jacob's dictionary, begun in 1720 and published in 1729, was a more ambitious effort than other such works, as it attempted to combine a dictionary, an abridgment of the law, and a vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon and Law-French words in one piece. He wanted to give an account of the whole law. He claimed that, unlike other compilers of law dictionaries, he had not transcribed verbatim from his predecessors, and that two-thirds of his work was new material. His abridgment included writs, judicial proceedings, forms of deeds and conveyances, as he felt these "contribute to the right understanding of our law." Although much of the material was not really new, the work was a stunning improvement and provided a model for later dictionaries. It went through five editions before the author's death in 1744, and six more editions were published before the end of the century.

Gary L. McDowell has written an illuminating, as-yet-unpublished essay about the politics and philosophies behind the creation of law dictionaries titled, "The Politics of Meaning: Law Dictionaries and the Liberal Tradition of Interpretation." See also John D. Cowley, A Bibliography of Abridgments, Digests, Dictionaries and indexes of English Law, to the year 1800. (Quaritch: London, 1932).


Bibliography

  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. [London] In the Savoy : Printed by E. and R. Nutt, and R. Gosling, (assigns of E. Sayer) for J. and J. Knapton [etc.], 1729. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1729 (Gift of Judge James W. McClendon, UT Law 1897)
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 2nd ed. [London] In the Savoy : Printed by E. and R. Nutt, and R. Gosling (assigns of E. Sayer, Esq;) for J. and J. Knapton ... [and 13 others], MDCCXXXII [1732]. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1732
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 4th ed. [London] In the Savoy : Printed by E. and R. Nutt, and R. Gosling, 1739. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1739 (Gift of Joseph D. Jamail, UT Law 1953)
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. [Abridged ed.] [London] In the Savoy : Printed by Henry Lintot, (assignee of Edw. Sayer, Esq.) for R. Ware ... [and 9 others], M DCC XLIII [1743] CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1743 (Recently acquired)
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 5th ed. . [London] In the Savoy : Printed by Henry Lintot (Assignee of Edward Sayer, Esq.), for R. Ware, A. Ward, J. and P. Knapton [and 7 others], MDCCXLIV [1744]. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1744
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 6th ed. [London] In the Savoy : Printed by Henry Lintot, Law-printer to the King's most Excellent Majesty, for R. Ware ... [and 13 others], MDCCL [1750]. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1750
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 7th ed. [London] In the Savoy : Printed by Henry Lintot, Law-Printer to the King's most excellent majesty, for R. Ware, T. Osborn [and 18 others], MDCCLVI [1756]. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1756
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 8th ed. [London] : Printed by T. Osborn, 1762. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1762 (Gift of Joseph D. Jamail, UT Law 1953)
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 9th ed. London : Printed by W. Strahan and M. Woodfall, for J. Beecroft, W. Strahan [etc.], 1772. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1772
  • A NEW LAW DICTIONARY. 10th ed. London : Printed by W. Strahan and W. Woodfall for W. Strahan, J. Rivington and sons [etc.], 1782. CALL # Oversize KD 313 J32 1782 (Gift of Thomas Black and Charles Black Jr.)
  • THE LAW-DICTIONARY / NOW GREATLY ENLARGED AND IMPROVED ... by T.E. Tomlins. London : Printed by Andrew Strahan, for T. Longman ... [et al.], 1797. 2 v. CALL # KD 313 J32 1797
  • THE LAW DICTIONARY / GREATLY ENLARGED by T. E. Tomlins. 2nd ed. London : A. Strahan, for J. Johnson… [et al], 1809. 2 v. CALL # KD 313 J32 1809 (Gift of Joseph D. Jamail, UT Law 1953)
  • THE LAW DICTIONARY / NOW GREATLY ENLARGED AND IMPROVED, BY MANY MATERIAL CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS ... by T. E. Tomlins. London : C. and R. Baldwin [?], 1810. CALL # KD 313 J32 1810 (Gift of Joseph D. Jamail, UT Law 1953)