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Blackstone, Sir William, one of the most eminent of judges and the most important English legal text writer of the 18th century (if not of all time). He was the writer of the commentaries on English law, known as Blackstone's Commentaries, which to the present day retains its sterling value as an authority in the profession of the law. There have been many editions of this important work by legal writers of great ability; in the best of such editions the very text of the original work has been retained (enclosed in brackets) adding, of course, the modern law and alterations or improvements on each particular subject. Stephens' Blackstone's Commentaries is the last edition of this work, and is on the lines stated.

Sir William Blackstone was the son of a silk mercer, and was born in London in 1723. He was educated at the Charter House; at 15 years of age he was at the head of that school, and in his 16th year went to Pembroke College, Oxford. He afterwards entered the Middle Temple and wrote The Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse, as also several small pieces of verse, and obtained the gold medal for verses on Milton. In 1743 he was elected a Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, and three years afterwards was called to the bar. He afterwards withdrew to Oxford, purposing to lead an academic life, but in 1749 he was appointed Recorder of Wallingford, Berks, on the resignation of his uncle. In 1758 was appointed the first Vinerian Professor, in which character he delivered a course of lectures at Oxford on Law, which attracted many students, among whom was Jeremy Bentham. He happened to get engaged as counsel in a contested election case concerning the rights of copyholders, and he afterwards published his opinion on the subject. He denied these rights; in the result an Act of Parliament was passed doing away with them. He became so popular from his lectures and a new edition which he wrote of the Great Charter, and Charter of the Forest, that he ultimately found his way to the law courts in the metropolis, and obtained extensive practice. He became member of Parliament for Hindon in 1761. In 1762 he was granted a patent of precedence as king's counsel, and in the next year he became solicitor-general to the queen. The first volume of the original commentaries on the laws of England was published at Oxford in 1765, the other three volumes appeared at intervals shortly afterwards. In 1770 he was made one of the justices of the Court of Common Pleas (which position he filled till his death in 1780). He was the author of an Analysis of the Laws of England, a distinct work from the Commentaries, also of some law tracts and volumes of reports. As a judge he had great respect for the traditions of the bench, and his political opinions were moderate. The University of Oxford contains several memorials in his honour. In 1784 a statue of him by Bacon was erected in All Souls' College. He had nine children, seven of whom survived him.