Biography of William Blackstone (1727-1780)

Lawyer, University Professor and political English, born 10 July 1723 in Cheapside (London) and died on February 14, 1780 in Wallingford, whose work, Commentaries on the Laws of England (comments to the laws of England), was a classical text on legal College in England and the United States.

Posthumous son of a merchant of silks, at the age of twelve was also orphaned of mother. His uncle Thomas Bigg, who took it over, sent it to complete his education at the Charterhouse and then to Pembroke College, Oxford. From 1741 studied at the Middle Temple, and from 1743 at All Souls College (Oxford), where he/she soon had important responsibilities: one of his tasks was the complete organization of the Codrington library. Titled Doctor of Civil law in 1750, worked for a few years as a municipal judge in Wallingford - since 1749 - (and as an Assistant) in the Chancellor completo Court - 1751 to 1759-, before retiring and engage in legal education (1753).

He specialized in English common law (common law) and became the first to teach on this subject in the University. In 1756 he/she published his first book: An Analysis of the Laws of England (analysis of the laws of England), which gathered of his University lessons that serve Guide to their students. In 1758, Blackstone held the newly created Chair of common law. New classes in the same constituted the essentials of a second work, his famous Commentaries on the Laws of England (published in four volumes between 1765 and 1769). These, being a systematization of the English laws of the time, had great acceptance in the education legal, not only English, but also American; Despite this, some spots like the dissent - that he/she considered contrary to the law--were criticized.

On the other hand, was also Director of University publications from 1755, since contributing to better management and technical training (typographic innovations) of the service. By then, Blackstone made its academic activities with the legal and policy: judge at the Middle Temple and Parliament for Hindon in 1761.

This same year he/she married Sarah Clitherow and entered New Inn Hall as director. In 1763 he/she was appointed Prosecutor of the Queen. A few years later, in 1766, he/she left University for having rejected its proposal to constitute the New Inn Hall in Center of teaching of common law - combined with strenuous attention to different fields, Oxford and London-. Since then focused, although without too much enthusiasm ("a moderate man", defined the same), in his work as a member of the House of Commons on behalf of the districts of Hindon (1761-1768) and Westbury (1768-1770); It is attached to the tory party, whose candidates by Oxford had already supported above. How parliamentary objected in 1766 to the Stamp Act ('law label' that tasaba all processing of legal documents by the American colonists); in 1769, was involved in the Wilkes case: during the elections of Middlesex that year supported the expulsion of John Wilkes in the House of Commons, subsequently - mattifying received criticism - that it not impossible to return if it was newly elected.

Judge since 1770, entitled sir and with great prestige, this was no obstacle so that during the last decade of his life would be more well off his public activity. In Wallingford, where he/she lived, lent their assistance in the construction of two new roads and repair and completion of the Church of Saint Peter (1777). His last work was the Hard Labour Bill (forced labour project), which proposed that they will smother the living conditions in the prisons, which was approved in 1779. He/She died the following year and was buried in Saint Peter.

Few years before his death, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham had attacked it harshly - and their Commentaries-through publishing A Fragment on Government (1776); It was considered contrary to reforms by its consideration of English laws as valid in general. This was not completely true, as Blackstone criticized some of them, defended the sovereignty of Parliament, and even in the promoters of reforms were inspired. The result was that in England his thinking was considered negatively, until recovery in the mid-19th century. However, in America - where did not criticism of Bentham - this always maintained great weight.


BOORSTIN, D.J.: The mysterious science of the law: an essay on Blackstone completo commentaries...(Chicago: University Press, 1996).

HANBURY, H.G.: "Blackstone and his Commentaries in Retrospect", Law Quarterly review, 66 (1950), pp. 318-347.