Sir Mathew Hale(s) (1609-1676), judge and writer, was born at Alderley, Gloucestershire. He matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1626. Hale married twice, first to Anne Moore (1621-1658?) who bore him ten children, and then to a family servant, Anne Bishop (d. 1694) in 1667. He is remembered for his witchcraft trials, which often lead him to be painted as a misogynist; however his dealings with his wives and children, and the will that he left seem to paint him in a more favourable light.
Hale was called to the bar in 1636 and his professional progress was much accelerated by England's political troubles.
Cromwell appointed Hale a justice of the court of common pleas in January 1654, thereafter Hale's behaviour suggested a qualified support for the protector. Hale sat for Oxford University in Richard Cromwell's parliament and for Gloucestershire (again) in the Convention. He seems to have played no significant part in the former, but was one of the leading members of the latter until he was named chief baron of the exchequer in November 1660, one motive for appointing him chief baron was probably to remove him from the House.
Hale was knighted in 1661 and after the Restoration, he enjoyed virtually universal reverence and was seen as a relaxed and thoughtful lawmaker. In May 1671 Charles made Hale the chief justice of king's bench, an appropriate appointment for someone who was writing a great digest of criminal law, but one that necessarily involved him in numerous politically sensitive cases.
Aside from his judicial contribution, Hale's influence on the course of legal history has rested upon two substantial achievements: his unfinished Historia placitorum coronae, and his History and Analysis of the Common Laws of England. He was not published during his lifetime but wrote widely on law, science and religion.
On his death in 1676 Hale left a place in national memory as a virtuous lawyer and incorruptible judge. This image was cemented by Gilbert Burnet's hagiography, The Life and Death of Sir Matthew Hale (1682), a book that soon achieved a classic status. In modern times he is remembered for his witch trials but this is by no means the sole item of note in a long career.
'Copyed from the Bishop of Worcester's copy that was taken after the originall under My Ld Ch. Justice Hales own hand before it was abused.'
pp. ii-vi, 105-10: blank.
Purchased from G. David, 26 May 1899.