The Second Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England


Written in the late 1620s, Sir Edward Coke’s Institutes was a pioneering four-volume treatise on English common law. While the first volume was published in 1628, the final three volumes appeared only posthumously, because the manuscripts in question had been confiscated on the orders of Charles I. The confiscation of these documents was prompted by Coke’s Second Institute, which included an extensive clause-by-clause analysis of Magna Carta. As stated in the Proeme, this book eulogised the Great Charter, explaining that, ‘It is called Magna Charta, not that it is great in quantity … but in respect of the great importance and weightinesse of the matter.’ King Charles I’s efforts to suppress the work proved short-lived. Recognising its potential for propaganda, Parliament ordered in 1640 that Coke’s papers be recovered and published. Coke’s Second Institute was finally printed in 1642 on the eve of the English Civil Wars.

Full title:
The Second Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England. Containing the exposition of many ancient, and other statutes, etc. [With the portrait by J. Payne.] MS. notes [by Serjeant Hill and others].
1642, London
Book / Illustration
Edward Coke, George Hill Serjeant-at-Law
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Magna Carta and jury trial

Article by:
Geoffrey Robertson
Magna Carta today

Geoffrey Robertson QC charts the history of jury trials and their relationship to Magna Carta. From medieval justice to the trial of Charles I, and the trials of John Lilburne to the Human Rights Act, discover the evolution of one of the most venerated features of Anglo-American law.

Related collection items