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Commonplace Book from Stannery Court Library, Wales, 1817

Identifier: MSS-84-10

Scope and Contents

This commonplace book, written in 1817, contains abstracts from the sixth edition of Charles Fearne's "An Essay on the Learning of Contingent Remainders and Executory Devises" edited by Charles Butler, and from the third edition of Francis Williams Sanders' An Essay on Uses and Trusts. It is in at least two hands and may have been written over a period of years.

The volume came from the Library of the Stannary Court in Wales. It has the bookplate of John Lucius Dampier, an English barrister who was Vice-Warden of the Stannaries Court. The Stannary Courts date from the thirteeth century when they were established by King John to resolve issues of ownership and control of mining. In 1896 they were abolished and their responsibiliies transferred to new county courts.


  • Creation: 1817

Biographical / Historical

The Stannary Parliaments and Stannary Courts were legislative and legal institutions in Cornwall and in Devon (in the Dartmoor area), England. The Stannary Courts administered equity for the region's tin-miners and tin mining interests, and they were also courts of record for the towns dependent on the mines. Executive authority in stannary areas was exercised by the Lord Warden of the Stannaries.

The separate and powerful government institutions available to the tin miners reflected the enormous importance of the tin industry to the English economy during the Middle Ages. Special laws for tin miners pre-date written legal codes in Britain, and ancient traditions exempted everyone connected with tin mining in Cornwall and Devon from any jurisdiction other than the Stannary Courts in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

As the tin mines of Cornwall and Devon lost their economic importance during the 18th and 19th centuries, their political institutions also waned in power and ultimately faded away, until recent efforts to restore them.

Charles Fearne was born in London in 1742, and educated at Westminster School. His 1772 work, Essay on the Learning of Contingent Remainders and Executory Devices, is deemed to have done "more than any other to preserve the Rule in Shelley’s Case as black letter law (as distinguished from a rule of construction)."

Francis William Sanders was born in 1769. After some years of pupilage to John Stanley, attorney-general of the Leeward Islands, and M.P. for Hastings, 1784–1801, he began practice as a certificated conveyancer. Sanders was author of a professional treatise of deservedly high repute entitled An Essay on Uses and Trusts, and on the Nature and Operation of Conveyances at Common Law, and of those which derive their effect from the Statute of Uses, London, 1791, 1799.


1 items

Language of Materials



Commonplace book manuscript in two or more hands containing abstracts from Fearne on Contigent Remedies, 6th edition and Saunders on Uses, 3rd edition.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Neill H. Alford, Jr. in 1984.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States