Scope and Content

Photostat copy of the Harvard manuscript of Thornton's Summa deLegibus....Anglie.

Includes copy of Theodore F.T.Plucknett 'The Harvard Manuscript of Thornton'sSumma', 1938.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gilbert de Thornton was sent to Ireland on Edward I's service in 1284. In1290 he was appointed chief justice of the King's Bench, and in 1295 he wassummoned to parliament. He died the same year. Thornton wrote Summa deLegibus et Consuetudinibus Anglie which dealt with the subject of legalhistory, in about 1290. The manuscript remained relatively unknown until1647,when John Selden referred to it in his work Dissertatio Historica.The manuscript at Harvard is a copy of Thornton's original work. It is likelythat the original perished in a fire of 1679 at Lincoln's Inn in which manyof Selden's books and manuscripts were destroyed.

Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett 1897 - 1965 was a legal historian. He wasborn in Bristol and educated at Leicester and Newchurch, Leicester. From 1923to 1926 he was Instructor in Legal History at Harvard Law School. In 1926 hebecame Assistant Professor. In 1931 he left Harvard for the London School ofEconomics, where he remained until 1965. Until 1963 he was Professor of LegalHistory, when he became Emeritus Professor. From 1954 - 1958 he was Dean ofFaculty of Laws.

Plucknett was also Ford's Lecturer at Oxford University 1946 - 1947,Creighton Lecturer at London University in 1953 and Wiles Lecturer at BelfastUniversity in 1958. He served on a number of prominent bodies, as jointliterary editor of the Selden Society in 1937, Chairman of the Master of theRolls' Archives Committee in 1937, and President of the Royal HistoricalSociety from 1948 to 1952.

His works include:

  • Concise History of the Common Law (1929)
  • Legislation of Edward I (1949)
  • Early English Legal Literature (1958)
  • The Mediaeval Bailiff (1954)
  • Edward I and Criminal Law (1960)


The copy and pamphlet are bound in a single volume.

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Harvard Law Library

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