Life and Law in Early Modern England - The Lawyers Logike

Michael Widener

Abraham Fraunce, 1559-1592/93. The lawiers logike, exemplifying the praecepts of logike by the practise of the common lawe (London, 1588). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; gift of Mary Kane Blair in memory of Waring Roberts, Law 1940.

Abraham Fraunce was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn and practiced law in Wales, but is better known as a minor poet and rhetorician. A member of Sir Philip Sidney’s circle, his works summarized classical and continental writers for English readers. In The Lawyers Logike, Fraunce applied French understandings of rhetoric and logic to the practices of English common lawyers to show that law and logic, when properly applied, could work together. In the introduction to the text he wrote:

If Lawes by reason framed were, and grounded on the same;

If Logike also reason bee, and thereof had this name;

I see no reason, why that Law and Logike should not bee

The nearest an the dearest friends, and therefore best agree.

     – Justin Zaremby

“Life and Law in Early Modern England,” an exhibition marking the Centenary of the Elizabethan Club, is curated by Justin Zaremby with Mike Widener, and is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library Yale Law School.

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