Plowden, Edmund

, a celebrated lawyer, the son of Humphrey Plowden, of Plowden, in Shropshire, of an ancient and genteel family, was born in that county, in 1517, and fjrst studied philosophy and medicine for three years at Cambridge but removed after a time to Oxford, where he continued his former studies for four years more, and in 1552, according to Wood, was admitted to the practice of physic and surgery. Tanner says, that when he left Cambridge, he entered himself of the Middle Temple, and resuming the study of physic, went then to Oxford. It appears, however, that he finally determined on the law as a profession, and entered the Middle Temple, where he soon became reader. His first reading was in autumn, 4 and 5 of Philip and Mary; and his second was in Lent, 3 Eliz. In queen Mary’s time he was called to the degree of serjeant; but, being zealously attached to the Romish persuasion, lost all further hopes of preferment, on the accession of Elizabeth. He continued to be much consulted in private as a counsellor. He died Feb. 6, 1584-5, and was buried in the Middle Ternple church. By a ms note on a copy of his Reports once in the possession of Dr. Ducarel, it appears that he was treasurer of the Middle Temple in 1572, the year in which the hall was built. It is added that “he was a man of great gravity, knowledge, and integrity; in his youth | excessively studious, so that (we have it by tradition) in three years space he went not once out of the Temple.

The work by which Mr. Plowden is best known by the profession, is his “Commentaries or Reports, containing divers cases upon matters of law, argued and determined in the reigns of Edward VI., Mary, Philip and Mary, and Eliz.” These were originally written in French, and the editions of 1571, 1578, 1599, 1613, and 1684, were published in that language. It was not until 1761, that an English translation appeared, improved by many original notes and references to the ancient and modern Common Law books. To this edition were added his “Queries, or Moot-Book for young Students,” and “The Argument,” in the case of William Morgan et al. v. Sir Rice Manxell. Mr. Daines Harrington calls Plowden the most accurate of all reporters; and Mr. Hargrave says that his “Commentaries” deservedly bear as high a character as any book of reports ever published in our law. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. I. new edit. Fuller’s Worthies. Tanner. Lloyd’s State Worthies. -Dodd’s Ch. Hist. Uridgman’s Legal Bibliography.