About William Blackstone

Sir William Blackstone (originally pronounced Blexstun) (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780) was an English jurist and professor who produced the historical and analytic treatise on the common law called Commentaries on the Laws of England, first published in four volumes over 1765–1769. It had an extraordinary success, reportedly bringing the author £14,000, and still remains an important source on classical views of the common law and its principles.

The patronage in his life

William Blackstone made English law readable and intelligible for the layperson, and influenced the American Revolution as well as the U. S. Constitution.
Blackstone was just an unsuccessful lawyer until he began to deliver lectures on English Law at the suggestion of the Solicitor General, later Lord Mansfield.
In 1755, Charles Viner willed £12,000 to the University of Oxford to establish a Professorship of the Common Law. Blackstone received the first Vinerian Professorship. Later, his popular lectures were compiled and published as the Commentaries.

Commentaries on the Laws of England

The Commentaries on the Laws of England are an influential 18th century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765-1769.

The Commentaries were long regarded as the leading work on the development of English law and played a role in the development of the American legal system. They were in fact the first methodical treatise on the common law suitable for a lay readership since at least the Middle Ages. The common law of England has relied on precedent more than statute and codifications and has been far less amenable than the civil law, developed from the Roman law, to the needs of a treatise. The Commentaries were influential largely because they were in fact readable, and because they met a need. The work is as much an apologia for the legal system of the time as it is an explanation; even when the law was obscure, Blackstone sought to make it seem rational, just, and inevitable that things should be how they were.

The Commentaries are often quoted as the definitive pre-Revolutionary War source of Common Law by US courts; in particular, the United States Supreme Court quotes from Blackstone's work whenever they wish to engage in historical discussion that goes back that far, or further (for example, when discussing the intent of the Framers of the Constitution). Blackstone's work is divided into four volumes, on the rights of persons, things, of private wrongs and public wrongs.

[Source: Wikipedia]


William Blackstone