The Virginia Court of Appeals embraced, on the whole, the English legal heritage, despite the violent separation from Great Britain in 1776. This loyalty to English precedents was an illustration of the conservative tenor of the Revolution in Virginia. The English common law continued to be revered because it was perceived to be a bulwark of English, and hence American, liberty. Adherence to English precedent also maintained stable rules of law, which in turn protected existing property rights. At the same time, however, the Court of Appeals was not slavishly devoted to the common law, and the court's departures from accepted precedent illustrate the nature of Virginia's revolutionary settlement.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2006 Duncker & Humbolt. This chapter first appeared in Ratio Decidendi: Guiding Principles of Judicial Decisions.

The definitive version is available in Ratio Decidendi: Guiding Principles of Judicial Decisions

Please note that downloads of the book chapter are for private/personal use only.

Purchase online at Duncker & Humblot.

Wren, J. Thomas. "The Common Law of England in Virgina from 1776 to 1830." In Ratio Decidendi: Guiding Principles of Judicial Decisions, edited by W. Hamilton Bryson and Serge Dauchy, 151-68. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2006