1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Giles Jacob

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 18:427-28.



GILES JACOB, a poetical and dramatic writer, was the son of a considerable maltster of Romsey, in the county of Southampton, at which place he was born in 1686. He was bred to the law under an eminent attorney, and was afterwards steward and secretary to the Hon. William Blathwayt, esq. a celebrated courtier in the reign of king William, and who enjoyed great preferments in that and the subsequent reign. These are the only particulars of his life which have been handed down, and are what he inserted in his Poetical Register, where he also informs us that he was a great admirer of poets. He died May 8 1744. His admiration of poetry, although it could not make him a poet, led him to inquire into poetical history, and gradually produced his Poetical Register, or Lives and Characters of the English dramatic poets, 1723, 2 vols. which, says Baker, notwithstanding some few errors in it, is by much the best book of the kind hitherto extant; and yet so little merit had his own two dramatic pieces, Love in a Wood and The Soldier's Last Stake, that, according to Whincop, Dr. Sewel, who was by no means remarkable for ill-nature, on reading his Love in a Wood, wrote the following very severe lines in the title-page:

Parent of darkness! genuine son of night;
Total eclipse, without one ray of light
Born when dull midnight bells for funerals chime,
Just at the closing of the Bellman's rhime.

He also published several poems: A Journey to Bath and Bristol, The Lover's Miscellany, Essays relating to the conduct of Life, and An Essay on Criticism, &c. But as a law-writer, few men have left more ample testimonies of industry, and one at least of his productions still preserves his name. He published, 1. The Accomplished Conveyancer, 1714, reprinted in 1736 and 1750, 3 vols. 8vo. 2. The Clerk's Remembrancer, 1714, reprinted 1730. 3. The Grand Precedent, 1716, 8vo. 4. A Catalogue of all Writs and Processes of the Courts at Westminster, 1717, 8vo. 5. Lex Mercatoria, or the merchants' companion, 1718, 8vo, reprinted 1729. 6. The Laws of Appeals and Murder, from the MSS. of Mr. Gale, an eminent practicer, 1719, 8vo. 7. Lex Constitutionis, or the gentleman's law, 1719, 8vo, reprinted 1737. 8. The Modern Justice, containing the business of a justice of peace, with precedents, 1720, reprinted in 1726 and 1729. 9. Review of the Statutes, 1720, and again the same year. 10. A Treatise of the Laws, or a general introduction to the common, civil, and canon law, 1721, 8vo. 11. The complete Court Keeper, or lord steward's assistant, 1724, 8vo, reprinted 1740, 1752, 1764, and 1781, which last edition, much improved, is called the seventh. 12. The Student's Companion, or reason of the law, 1725, again in 1734 and 1743. 13. The Common Law common-placed, 1726, 8vo, reprinted in fol. 1733. 14. The new Law Dictionary, 1729, reprinted in 1733, and often since, with the valuable improvements of Ruffhead, Morgan, and lastly of Sir Thomas Edlyne Tomlyns, in 1797: an abridgment of it was published in 1743. 15. The complete Chancery Practitioner, 1730, 2 vols. 8vo. 16. Tables to the Law, 1736, fol. 17. The complete Attorney's Practice, 1737, 2 vols. 8vo. 18. City Libertie, 1732, and with a new title only, 1737. 19. General Law of Estates, 1740, 8vo. 20. Game Law, 1740, 12mo. the seventh edition. 21. New complete Conveyancer, 1744, 8vo. 22. The Statute Law common-placed, 1748, 8vo, fifth edition. 23. Law Grammar, 1749 and 1754, 12mo. and again in folio, to bind up with the author's Law Dictionary.