Justice’s handbook, ca. 1575, V.a.247

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This article features a transcription of a Folger Shakespeare Library manuscript, The Justice's handbook, V.a.247 , (ca.1575), featured in the Age of Lawyers Exhibition, September 13, 2015-January 3, 2016.

This handbook from about 1575 provides practical guidance to justices of the peace, with many examples from Essex. These pages at the beginning, however, are filled with poetry and sayings about the law—including a line from the 5th century Roman author Macrobius, "Ex mali moribus lege procreantur" (From bad habits come good laws).


Below is a semi-diplomatic transcription of folio 6 verso and folio 7 recto of Folger manuscript V.a.247. The transcription below was created by the Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) project. To access an image of the original leaf, click on each transcription's heading.

V.a.247, fol 6v

I judge hym werthy Mydas y eares

that good from yll cannot discerne

Syth nature lendes vs somvche witt

the worste to leave the best to learne

I thanke you for your good advise

which semes to come of fryndly mynd

ffrom play to studye your entent

ys altogether me to bynde

Not euery one that goeth astraye

Is straightwey domed to be loste

Before the shipp her Iorney endes

by wynd to sondrye coast is caste

ffrom Este to weste from North to sowth

with every gale or blaste of wynd

yet prosperouslie atteynes at laste

The shore wherto she was assignde

your barke perhappes doth bend her course

wherto my shipp was never bound

ffor sundry shippes haue sondry costes

The world is very large & round

If so yt be that bothe our barkes

are bound to anker at one porte

The hyndmost shipp maye formest be

yf wynde do serue in prosperous sorte sort

Snyde you yourself lett me alone

Tys saide that all thinges haue a tyme

I like your Councell very well

though sensles written were your ryme

But well: wher wordes sufficientlie

cannot expresse the meaners mynde

we muste accepte them curtuouslie

And take them as we them do fynde.

V.a.247, folio 7r

In nomine patris et filij et spiritus Sancti. Amen

Serue god devoutley credit______________________ hereste

___________________ saie________________________ thinkest

___________________ desiere___not all that thou____seeste______honor thie prince ./.

___________________ spend______________________ haste

___________________ doe________________________ mayeste

But in all thinges take heed in the begynnynge.

Se the myddle and praise the endinge.

Do that is good, saie that is true

Cheryshe olde ffryndes, change for no newe

Quod sibi quisque serit presentis tempore vite

Hoc sibi messis erit cum dicitur, Ite, venite. /

Tantum erit luctus Iudex cum dixerat. Ite.

Tantum erit fructus cum dixerat ille venite /

Infelix genus est meminisse fuisse beatum /

Lex uarba rei publica

Lex vita Reginis

Lex vnicula malorum

Ex malis moribus bone leges pireantur

Lex est defuncta cum Iudicis est manus vncta.

Et propter vnguentum Ius est in Carrere tentum

Vino forma perit vino corrumpitur [a]etas

Vino saepe suum nescit amica virum R

Mors tua, mors Christi, fraus mundi, gloria Celi

Et dolor inferni sint memoranda tibi.