Sir William Blackstone


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Blackstone, Sir William,

1723–80, English jurist. At first unsuccessful in legal practice, he turned to scholarship and teaching. He became (1758) the first Vinerian professor of law at Oxford, where he inaugurated courses in English law. British universities had previously confined themselves to the study of Roman law. Blackstone published his lectures as Commentaries on the Laws of England (4 vol., 1765–69), a work that reduced to order and lucidity the formless bulk of English law. It ranks with the achievements of Sir Edward Coke and Sir Matthew Hale, Blackstone's great predecessors. Blackstone's Commentaries, written in an urbane, dignified, and clear style, is regarded as the most thorough treatment of the whole of English law ever produced by one man. It demonstrated that English law as a system of justice was comparable to Roman law and the civil law of the Continent. Blackstone has been criticized, notably by Jeremy Bentham, for a complacent belief that, in the main, English law was beyond improvement and for his failure to analyze exactly the social and historical factors underlying legal systems. Blackstone's book exerted tremendous influence on the legal profession and on the teaching of law in England and in the United States. In his later life Blackstone resumed practice, served in Parliament, was solicitor general to the queen, and was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

Bibliography

See The Sovereignty of the Law, selections from Blackstone's Commentaries, ed. and with an introd. by G. Jones (1973); biography by O. A. Lockmiller (1938); J. Bentham, A Comment on the Commentaries (ed. by C. W. Everett, 1928); P. Lucas, Essays in the Margin of Blackstone's Commentaries (1962).

References in periodicals archive ?
5) Sir William Blackstone explained that trial by jury "preserves in the hands of the people that share, which they ought to have in the administration of public justice, and prevents the encroachments of the more powerful and wealthy citizens.
In 1765 the legal scholar Sir William Blackstone wrote that, when sending kids to school, Dad "may also delegate part of his parental authority, during his life to the tutor or schoolmaster of the child; who is then in loco parentis, and has such a portion of the power of the parents committed to his charge.
influences on the creation of the Executive Branch of the United States government, particularly the contributions of John Locke, Montesquieu, and Sir William Blackstone.
The great commentator on the English common law, Sir William Blackstone, makes no reference to such an exception.
Kent's Commentaries on the point in question was in fact only restating, rather broadly, the formulation in the more famous Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone.
In going on to say that the sea by its nature cannot be owned, he is following two great jurists, Hugo de Grotius and Sir William Blackstone.
The framers of the Constitution rejected the prevailing models of John Locke and Sir William Blackstone, which placed virtually unfettered control over foreign affairs and the war power in the hands of the executive.
This book focuses on six men - Thomas Tyrwhitt, editor of Chaucer; George Tollet, country gentleman; Sir William Blackstone, distinguished lawyer; Thomas Holt White, retired ironmonger; Samuel Henley, translator of Vathek; and Francis Douce, Keeper of Manuscripts in the British Museum - who provided more than 1300 notes, some of them extended discussions of passages in the plays of the Renaissance dramatist.