James Ravenscroft was born in 1595, the son of Thomas Ravenscroft of Fould Park, Middlesex, and Bridget Powell. The Ravenscrofts were an ancient Flintshire family. (Thomas Ravenscroft (1563-1631) was a cousin of Lord Ellesmere's first wife, a member of Parliament in 1621, and a Cursitor in the Chancery.) James was admitted at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1613, and received his B.A. degree in 1616. He was admitted to the Inner Temple on 29 May 1617, and he was called to the bar on 21 May 1626. James was married to Mary Peck; they resided in High Holborn, and had eleven children. In addition to being a lawyer, he had a mercantile business. In 1679, he founded Jesus Hospital in Wood Street, Chipping Barnet, which was an almshouse. He had previously made a very generous donation to the rebuilding of the vestry of Barnet Church, where he was buried. He also established a trust for the maintenance of the parish church. James Ravenscroft died on 10 December 1680 at the age of 85.

James Ravenscroft's reports of cases date from 21 Jac. I (1623) to 9 Car. I (1633). This set of law reports has survived in only one known copy, British Library MS. Lansdowne 1094. This manuscript is signed by James Ravenscroft on page 135. It was owned by Edward Umfreville (d. 1786) in 1727, and purchased in 1758 by William Petty, marquess of Lansdowne (1737-1805). Lord Lansdowne's extensive collection of manuscripts, including this one, was bought by the British Museum, now the British Library, in 1807.

The cases reported here come primarily from the Court of Common Pleas. In addition, there are forty-one cases from the Court of King's Bench, four from the Court of Exchequer, two from the the Court of Star Chamber, two from the Assizes, one from the Court of Exchequer Chamber, and two from the Court of Chancery. At pages 12 to 17 is 'A charge to the Grand Enquest of Middlesex by Dandridge, Justice in the King's Bench'; this is not included herein. Ravenscroft did not report any cases from the year 1625, during which there was a virulent outbreak of the plague in London. He probably retreated from London to the country that year. There are only seventeen cases after 1631, the date of his father's death. A word- search of the English Reports Reprint comes up with no mention of him, thus, no mention of his being of counsel in any case. Perhaps, he left the practice of law to take over his father's mercantile business. Ravenscroft died in 1680, a wealthy man. However, this is speculation, because the last case reported ends in mid-sentence at the bottom of page 149; thus page 150 has been lost, and there could have been much more text that might show a continued attendance at court.

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