Black’s Law Dictionary was first published in 1891 and it is widely used by students and laypeople who wish to learn about the law and its specialized jargon. It is currently in its ninth (9th) edition of publication. Because it is so widely used and notable, Black’s Law Dictionary can be used as a secondary legal authority and is often referenced in legal briefs, memos and court opinions.
However, before Black’s Law Dictionary, there was no central authority for legal definitions and scholars often published their own dictionaries to publicize and try to make uniform various definitions. Of the many dictionaries that have, the oldest one that the UNC Law Library holds is from 1670.
Nomolexikon: A Law-Dictionary, interpreting such difficult and obscure Words and Terms as are found either in our Common or Statute, ancient or modern Laws (RBR KD313 .B65 1670) was published in 1670 by Thomas Blount, English antiquarian and lexicographer (author of dictionaries). He devoted much of his life to compiling dictionaries and studying the English language and set out to compile a law dictionary in the late 1660s. The result can be seen in the following images from Nomolexikon: A Law-Dictionary.
Here is the title page of the book:
Here are various pages with definitions that still have relevance in government, the law and current events today:
Judgement and Jury
Livery of Seisin
If you would like to see this book, please request it from the Reference Desk. For more information about this book or others in the Rare Book Room, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mortimer, Ian. “Blount, Thomas (1618–1679).” Ian MortimerOxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Oct. 2008. 22 Oct. 2013 (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/2697).
Posted by Tamia Grace Taylor on Mon. October 28, 2013 5:55 PM