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William Sharp McKechnie in United Kingdom

McKechnie was a lecturer on constitutional law and history in the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He was of Scot nationality. He was the author of Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction (Glasgow: Maclehose, 1914). It had 2 editions.

Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction (1215)

This work is a detailed and meticulous edition of the Magna Carta (or Magna Charter) with each clause in the original Latin, followed by an English translation and comprehensivily annotated by the editor.

From Preface to 1st Edition

No Commentary upon Magna Carta has hitherto been written from the standpoint of modern research. No serious attempt has yet been made to supersede, or even adequately to supplement, the works of Coke and Richard Thomson, published respectively in 1642 and 1829, and now hopelessly out of date. That this conspicuous gap in our historical and legal literature should have remained so long unfilled is the more remarkable in view of the great advance, amounting almost to a revolution, which has been effected since Coke and Thomson wrote. Within the last twenty years, in especial, a wealth of new material has been explored with notable results. Discoveries have been made, profoundly affecting our views of every branch of law, every organ of government, and every aspect of social and individual life in medieval England. Nothing, however, has hitherto been done towards applying to the systematic elucidation of Magna Carta the new stores of knowledge thus accumulated.

With this object in view, I have endeavoured, throughout several years of hard, but congenial work, to collect, sift, and arrange the mass of evidence, drawn from many scattered sources, capable of throwing light upon John’s Great Charter. The results have now been condensed into the Commentary which fills two–thirds of the present volume. This attempt to explain, point by point, the sixty–three chapters of Magna Carta, embracing, as these do, every topic—legal, political, economic and social—in which John and his barons felt a vital interest, has involved an analysis in some detail of the whole public and private life of England during the thirteenth century. The Commentary is preceded by a Historical Introduction, which describes the events leading to the crisis of 1215, analyzes the grievances which stirred the barons to revolt, discusses the contents and characteristics of the Charter, traces its connection with the subsequent course of English history, and gives some account of previous editions and commentaries.

Appendix. Documents Relative To, Or Illustrative Of, Magna Carta

I.: The Charter of Liberties of Henry I.1 (1100.)
II.: The Second Or Oxford Charter of Stephen.1 (1136.)
III.: Charter of Henry II.1 (circa 1154.)
IV.: The So–called “unknown Charter of Liberties” of John.2 (circa 1214–1215.)
V.: The Articles of the Barons.1 (1215.)
VI.: Writs Supplementary of John’s Great Charter.
VII.: The Great Charter of Henry III.2 (third Reissue, 11th February, 1225.)
VIII.: Carta De Foresta.1 (6 November, 1217.)

See Also

Magna Carta
History of Magna Carta
English Court System



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  • Article Name: William Sharp McKechnie
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  • Description: McKechnie was a lecturer on constitutional law and history in the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He was of Scot [...]

This entry was last updated: November 11, 2013

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