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Early law dictionaries of the united states

US Law Dictionaries

Examination of the contents of the founding fathers’ libraries – as much as is known – reveals that if one was to have an English law dictionary in the eighteenth century, it was likely to be that by Giles Jacob. The two other most commonly held legal dictionaries were that of Timothy Cunningham, and Malachy Postlethwayt’s translation of the commercial dictionary by Jacques Savary des Brûlons. The 1743 edition of Jacob's law dictionary was included in John Adams’ library.

Jacobs 1743, title page
Giles Jacob. A New Law Dictionary. [Abridged ed.]
[London]: Printed by Henry Lintot, for R. Ware et. al, 1743.


For information on these and other non-US law dictionaries in the Tarlton Law Library's collection please visit our Law Dictionary Collection online exhibit.

Reconstructions of US Founding Father's Libraries online:

John Adams (also Library Thing)

Benjamin Franklin 

Alexander Hamilton

Thomas Jefferson (also Library Thing)

James Madison

George Washington