A catalogue of notable Middle Templars, with brief biographical notices/Blackstone, Sir William


Legal Writer and Judge.


Admitted 20 November, 1741.

Third son of Charles Blackstone, citizen and bowyer (arcuarius) of London. He was born in Cheapside 10 July, 1723. In 1735 he was admitted to the foundation of Charterhouse School on the nomination of Sir Robert Walpole, and on 30 Nov. 1738, was entered at Pembroke College, Oxford. He at first devoted himself chiefly to Greek and Latin literature, and to the study of architecture, but on his entry at the Temple, he applied himself solely to the study of the law. He was called to the Bar 28 Nov. 1746. In 1753 h& commenced at Oxford a course of lectures, which soon became attended by "a crowded class of young men of the first families, characters, and hopes." In 1758 he was appointed to the newly founded Vinerian Professorship. These lectures were the substance and foundation of his celebrated Commentaries. The publication of these lectures brought him great practice, and he entered Parliament at first for Hindon, and then for Westbury. In 1770 he was offered but declined the place of Solicitor-General, but in the same year he accepted a seat on the Bench of Common Pleas, with the honour of knighthood. He died 14 Feb. 1780.

The following is a list of the principal works of this learned author: Essay on Collateral Consanguinity (1750); Analysis of the Laws of England (1754); Considerations on Copyholders (1758); A Discourse of the Study of Law, 4to, Oxford (1758); Magna Charta and Charta de Foresta (1759); Reflections on Lord Leitchfield's Disqualifications (1759); On the Right of the University to make new Statutes (1759); On the Law of Descents in Fee Simple (1759); Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765—1768); Reply to Dr. Priestley (1769); Tracts chiefly relating to Antiquities and Laws of England [containing many of the previous publications] (1762); Reports in the King's Bench and Common Pleas, with a Preface containing the Memoirs of his Life, by James Clitherow (1781). His famous Commentaries have been edited by some of the most learned writers, and have gone through at least twenty-four editions.