London: Richard Griffin and Company, 1861. First Richard Griffin and Company Edition. Octavo (220 x 170 mm). (xii), 8, 660pp. Later binding of vellum with gilt detailing; black morocco label with gilt lettering on spine; gilt detailing to borders on internal edges; top edge gilt; in a later white card slip case.
Covers scuffed, spotted and marked; 50mm faint line to spine; 4mm and 10mm scratches to label on spine; scratches and nicks to top edge of text block; previous bookseller’s pencil price and stamp on endpapers; bottom of pages are misaligned up to 5mm; some leaves roughly opened; rippling to pages; occasional foxing, light marks and creasing throughout; 3mm wide mark the length of page 25; leaves 185-188, 189-192, 397-400, 537-540 & 541-544 unopened; pages 393-396, 569-572,573-576 & 605-608 partially opened; 190 x 80mm of toning to pages 416 & 417, presumably caused by a bookmark; 10mm closed tear to page 579. Item #846
Originally published in Latin and Anglo-Norman in 1419, Liber Albus, was the first book of English Common Law. It was compiled by the Town Clerk of London, John Carpenter (1372-1442) at the request of the then Lord Mayor of London, Richard Whittington (c. 1354–1423). In his introduction, translator Henry Thomas Riley refers to Carpenter, who was clerk during the reigns of Henry V and Henry VI, as ‘Secretary’ to the city. Riley asserts that London’s Record Room at Guildhall housed the most ‘ancient and complete’ collection of archives in the world. Given Carpenter’s access to this collection of seven hundred years’ worth of knowledge, ‘combined probably with other sources of information now lost or unknown,’ Riley identifies Liber Albus or the ‘White Book’ as a book of ‘instruction and guidance’ for the governance of the City of London.