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The Charles Read and Joseph Read Commonplace Book

Identifier: MSS-91-1

Scope and Contents

This collection contains a commonplace, or precedents, book in two hands, arranged alphabetically by subject from abatement to warrant. Most precedents are British; however, New Jersey law of the 1790s is also cited. The volume begins with an inscription that indicates the volume was given by Charles Read to Joseph Read "of Mount Holly."


  • Creation: undated


Biographical / Historical

Charles Read was a lawyer, landowner, and ironmaster who attained prominence as a jurist and statesman in colonial New Jersey. He was born ca. 1713 in Philadelphia, the son of Charles Read who served as mayor of Philadelphia from 1726 to 1727.

Around 1736, after a liberal education under private tutors, Read was sent to London and was subsequently appointed midshipman in the British Navy. Around 1739 he returned to America and became clerk of the city of Burlington, and shortly after was made collector of the port of Burlington. In 1749, he was appointed associate justice of the supreme court of New Jersey and for a brief period in 1764 he held the office of chief justice on appointment by Governor Franklin.

In addition to affairs of state, he was engaged in many enterprises. His law practice was one of the best in the province. A land speculator on a large scale, he was party to more than one hundred recorded land transfers involving many thousands of acres in western New Jersey. He was interested in agriculture, and carried on experiments to improve farm practices. Around 1765 he took up the manufacture of iron from bog ore, setting in motion an important industry.

Charles Read was a jurist, statesman, farmer, and manufacturer in colonial New Jersey.


1 items

Language of Materials



Commonplace book containing British legal precedents and some citations of New Jersey law.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Kane Antiquarian Auction on June 2, 1991.

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