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Sir Thomas de Littleton - English Jurist

Hartwell Davis
Published by in Wheat Relatives · 4 June 2019
Sir Thomas de Littleton or de Lyttleton (c.1407 '96 23 August 1481) was an English judge and legal writer from the Lyttelton family.
Thomas de Littleton was the eldest son of Elizabeth Littleton, sole daughter and heiress of Thomas de Littleton, Lord of Frankley, and Thomas Westcote or Heuster, esquire, chief prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas.[1] The date of Littleton's birth is uncertain; a MS. pedigree gives 1422, but it was probably earlier than this. If, as is generally accepted, he was born at Frankley Manor, it could not have been before 1407, in which year Littleton's grandfather recovered the manor from a distant branch of the family.

Elizabeth Littleton and Thomas Westcote had four sons. Thomas, the eldest son and heir, took his mother's surname, likely as a condition of her marriage settlement as heir to the manor of Frankley. Two of his brothers, Nicholas and Guy, retained the surname Westcote. Nicholas Westcote married Agnes Vernon, the daughter and heiress of Edmund Vernon, and was ancestor of the Westcotes of Staffordshire, while Guy Westcote married the daughter of one Greenevill of Gloucestershire, and was ancestor of the Westcotes of Devon and Somerset.[2]

His Treatise on Tenures  was probably written after he had been appointed to the bench. According to tradition it is addressed to his second son, Richard, who went to the bar, and whose name occurs in the year books of the reign of Henry VII ; it has however been argued that the words mon filz (my son) were simply a conventional way of addressing law students. The book, both historically and from its intrinsic merit, may be characterised as the first text-book upon the English law of property. The law of property in Littleton's time was mainly concerned with rights over land, and it was the law relating to this class of rights that Littleton set himself to digest and classify. The time was ripe for the task: ever since the Norman conquest, regular courts of justice had been at work administering a law that had grown out of an admixture

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Hartwell Taylor Davis, Ed.S., MA, M.Min
Oviedo, FL  32765
(407) 285-6644
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