Edward Coke

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Sir Edward Coke

Sir Edward Coke (pronounced "cook") (1 February 1552 - 3 September 1634) was an early English colonial entrepreneur and jurist whose writings on the English common law were definitive legal texts for some 300 years.

Sourced

  • A word must become a friend or you will not understand it. Perhaps you do well to be cool and detached when you are seeking information, but I remind you of the wife who complained, 'When I ask John if he loves me, he thinks I am asking for information'.
    • Case of Swans, 7 Rep. 15, 17 (1592).
  • Fraud and deceit abound in these days more than in former times.
    • Twyne's Case (1602).
  • Every libel, which is called famosus libellus, is made either against a private man, or against a public person. If it be against a private man, it deserves a severe punishment.
    • 77 Eng. Rep. 250 (1605).
  • Law is the safest helmet.
    • Inscription in rings given by Coke to several of his friends on June 20, 1606, in anticipation of his judicial investiture; reported in Humphry William Woolrych, The Life of the Right Honourable Sir Edward Coke (1826) p. 75. Derived from a latin maxim, Lex est tutissima cassis; sub clypeo legis nemo decipitur: Law is the safest helmet; under the shield of the law no one is deceived.
  • The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose.
    • Semayne's Case, 77 Eng. Rep. 194, 195; 5 Co. Rep. 91, 195 (K.B. 1604)
  • They (corporations) cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed nor excommunicate, for they have no souls.
    • Case of Sutton's Hospital, 10 Rep. 32.; 77 Eng Rep 960, 973 (K.B. 1612)
  • Six hours in sleep, in law's grave study six,
    Four spend in prayer, the rest on Nature fix.
    • Translation of lines quoted by Coke. Compare: "Seven hours to law, to soothing slumber seven; Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven" - Sir William Jones.

Institutes of the Laws of England

  • The gladsome light of jurisprudence.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton, (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), First Institute
  • He is not cheated who knows he is being cheated.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton, (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), First Institute
  • Only this incident inseparable every custom must have, viz., that it be consonant to reason; for how long soever it hath continued, if it be against reason, it is of no force in law.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton, part 62a (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832).
  • Reason is the life of the law; nay, the common law itself is nothing else but reason... The law, which is perfection of reason.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), Third Institute. Compare: "Let us consider the reason of the case. For nothing is law that is not reason", Sir John Powell, Coggs vs. Bernard, 2 Ld. Raym. Rep. p. 911.
  • A man's house is his castle — et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium.
    • The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or, A Commentary on Littleton (London, 1628, ed. F. Hargrave and C. Butler, 19th ed., London, 1832), Third Institute, p. 162. The exact translation of the Latin portion is: "and where shall a man be safe if it be not in his own house?", quoted from Pandects, lib. ii. tit. iv. De in Jus vocando.
  • The Common lawes of the Realme should by no means be delayed for the law is the surest sanctuary, that a man should take, and the strongest fortresse to protect the weakest of all, lex et tutissima cassis.
    • Institutes of the Laws of England, Second Part, vol. 1 (1642), Notes to Ch. XXIX of the Charter [Magna Carta], paragraph 1391 [1]
  • Thought the bribe be small, yet the fault is great.
    • Institutes of the Laws of England, vol. 3.

Unsourced

  • The King himself should be under no man, but under God and the Law.
    • [Note on source: While Lord Coke certainly would have believed this, it sounds like a paraphrase from 13th-century jurist Henry de Bracton's treatise on the laws and customs of England.]
  • A witch is a person who hath conference with the Devil to consult with him or to do some act.
    • Reported in Margaret Alice Murray, The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology (2007) p. 18.
  • Those who consent to the act and those who do it shall be equally punished.
  • The intention ought to be subservient to the laws, not the laws to the intention.

External links

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