Edward Coke

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Sir Edward Coke

Sir Edward Coke (1 February 15523 September 1634) was an early English colonial entrepreneur and jurist whose writings on the English common law were definitive legal texts for some 300 years.

Sourced[edit]

  • A word must become a friend or you will not understand it. Perhaps you do well to be cool and detached when you are seeking information, but I remind you of the wife who complained, 'When I ask John if he loves me, he thinks I am asking for information'.
    • Case of Swans, 7 Rep. 15, 17 (1592).
  • Fraud and deceit abound in these days more than in former times.
    • Twyne's Case (1602).
  • Every libel, which is called famosus libellus, is made either against a private man, or against a public person. If it be against a private man, it deserves a severe punishment.
    • 77 Eng. Rep. 250 (1605).
  • Law is the safest helmet.
    • Inscription in rings given by Coke to several of his friends on June 20, 1606, in anticipation of his judicial investiture; reported in Humphry William Woolrych, The Life of the Right Honourable Sir Edward Coke (1826) p. 75. Derived from a latin maxim, Lex est tutissima cassis; sub clypeo legis nemo decipitur: Law is the safest helmet; under the shield of the law no one is deceived.
  • The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose.
    • Semayne's Case, 77 Eng. Rep. 194, 195; 5 Co. Rep. 91, 195 (K.B. 1604).
  • They (corporations) cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed nor excommunicate, for they have no souls.
    • Case of Sutton's Hospital, 10 Rep. 32.; 77 Eng Rep 960, 973 (K.B. 1612).
  • Six hours in sleep, in law's grave study six,
    Four spend in prayer, the rest on Nature fix.
    • Translation of lines quoted by Coke. Compare: "Seven hours to law, to soothing slumber seven; Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven" - Sir William Jones.

Institutes of the Laws of England[edit]

  • The gladsome light of jurisprudence.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton, (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), First Institute.
  • He is not cheated who knows he is being cheated.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton, (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), First Institute.
  • Only this incident inseparable every custom must have, viz., that it be consonant to reason; for how long soever it hath continued, if it be against reason, it is of no force in law.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton, part 62a (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832).
  • Reason is the life of the law; nay, the common law itself is nothing else but reason... The law, which is perfection of reason.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), Third Institute. Compare: "Let us consider the reason of the case. For nothing is law that is not reason", Sir John Powell, Coggs vs. Bernard, 2 Ld. Raym. Rep. p. 911.
  • A man's house is his castle — et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), Third Institute, p. 162. The exact translation of the Latin portion is: "and where shall a man be safe if it be not in his own house?", quoted from Pandects, lib. ii. tit. iv. De in Jus vocando.
  • The Common lawes of the Realme should by no means be delayed for the law is the surest sanctuary, that a man should take, and the strongest fortresse to protect the weakest of all, lex et tutissima cassis.
    • Institutes of the Laws of England, Second Part, vol. 1 (1642), Notes to Ch. XXIX of the Charter [Magna Carta], paragraph 1391 [1]
  • Thought the bribe be small, yet the fault is great.
    • Institutes of the Laws of England, vol. 3.
  • The King himself should be under no man, but under God and the Law.
    • Prohibitions del Roy, 12 Co. Rep. 63, quoting Henry de Bracton's treatise on the laws and customs of England. [2]

Attributed[edit]

  • A witch is a person who hath conference with the Devil to consult with him or to do some act.
    • Reported in Margaret Alice Murray, The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology (2007) p. 18.

About[edit]

The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904)[edit]

Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 30-31.
  • The greatest lawyer, Sir Edward Coke.
    • Mallet, J., Harrison's Case (1660), 5 How. St. Tr. 1030.
  • The learning and industry of that great man Sir Edward Coke, whose name ought never to be mentioned in a Court of law without the highest respect.
    • Eyre, C.J., Jefferson v. Bishop of Durham (1797), 2 Bos. & Pull. 123.
  • Jeo concede que est le opinion Seigniour Coke, mes salva reverentia al ey grand sage et pere del ley. (I grant that it is the opinion of Lord Coke, but salva reverentia to so great a sage and father of the law).
    • Vaughan, J., Tustian v. Roper (1670), Jones's (Sir Thos.) Rep. 35.
  • That great lawyer was much heated in the controversy between the Courts at Westminster and the Ecclesiastical Courts. In every part of his conduct his passions influenced his judgment. Vir acer et vehemens. His law was continually warped by the different situations in which he found himself.
    • Heath, J., Jefferson v. Bishop of Durham (1797), 2 Bos. & Pull. 131.
  • Don't quote the distinction, for the honour of my lord Coke.
    • Lord Mansfield, Campbell v. Hall (1774), Lofft. 16. Exclamation in reference to Calvin's Case (7 Co. 17), wherein appears a distinction between counties vesting by conquest and descent. It was argued that "the doctrine imputed to the Judges by my Lord Coke was not entirely extra judicial," and this brought forth the above remark.
  • Yet we are obliged, to regard a man with so little about him that is ornamental or entertaining, or attractive, as a very considerable personage in the history of his country. Belonging to an age of gigantic intellect and gigantic attainments, he was admired by his contemporaries, and time has in no degree impaired his fame. He is most familiar to us as an author. Smart legal practitioners, who are only desirous of making money by their profession, neglect his works, and sneer at them as pedantic and antiquated; but they continue to be studied by all who wish to know the history and to acquire a scientific and liberal knowledge of our judicial and political institutions. His Opus Magnum is this Commentary upon Littleton, which in itself may be said to contain the whole common law of England as it then existed. Notwithstanding its want of method and its quaintness, the author writes from such a full mind, with such mastery over his subject, and with such unbroken spirit, that every law student who has made, or is ever likely to make, any proficiency, must peruse him with delight.
    • Lord Campbell, Lives of the Chief Justices, Vol. 1, 338.

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