SOON after my retirement from the Bench, at the commencement of the year 1862, I was requested by James Kent, Esq., of New York, the grandson of the distinguished Chancellor, to prepare a new edition of these Commentaries.

The work had already been copiously annotated, first by the author, and afterwards by his son, Judge William Kent, himself an accomplished lawyer and jurist. To the tenth edition fresh notes had been added of the more recent decisions and statutory enactments.

These annotations greatly relieved the task which would otherwise have been imposed upon me. Of course it was necessary to explore the field of judicial decisions made and statutory laws enacted since the last edition. This has been done, I think I may say, with fidelity, and the results added to the pre-existing Where the notes of former editions could be conveniently condensed or incorporated with the new matter this has also been done, and I have not hesitated to correct occasional inaccuracies in the deduction or statement of principles derived from the cases referred to. No change, however, has been made in the text or in the notes prepared by the commentator himself. As in the previous editions, published since his death, these have been left untouched. In a very few instances, where the doctrine of the text has seemed to me opposed to the existing rule on the same subject, I have ventured to set forth the conflicting view in the notes with appropriate references to authority.

In performing these labors I have been more than ever impressed with the accurate and consummate learning of the author, and the great alue of his volumes to the student and the profession. My utmost wishes are attained if I have been able to add anything to the usefulness of a work already so highly and universally appreciated.

SYRACUSE, December, 1865.




THE seventh edition of Kent's Commentaries is the first that has been published containing any additions or alterations not made. by the Author. As the work has become, in a great degree, a Digest of American Law, of practical use to the lawyer as well as the student, the Editor has endeavored to collect the principal decisions and statutory enactments that have been made since the appearance of the last edition. In some few instances, he has attempted, in a very limited manner, to illustrate or qualify some of the doctrines of the text.

The Editor is aware that this mode of collecting authorities is incompatible with exact method, and is, indeed, condemned by the Author himself; and it is quite possible that the original notes to the Commentaries, which were made at successive times, without regard to strict order, might be advantageously regulated and compressed. But, on reflection, he has not felt himself authorized to impair, in any degree, the integrity of the Commentaries, and the text and notes are presented in this edition as they were left by the Author.

The great increase of the work has rendered the Author's index altogether too limited. A new and enlarged index has accordingly been added; and, as a necessary effect of this index, a new numbering of the pages has been adopted. For the convenience of those possessing the previous publications of the work, the original numbers of the pages have been placed in the margins of the volumes.

It remains only for the Editor to mention, that the present edition has been prepared by him, with the full and equal co-operation of his friend Dorman Bridgman Eaton, Esq., who has recently become a resident of New York; and whose learning and talents must hereafter, in their independent exercise, become manifest to the profession.

NEW YORK, May, 1851.





IN compiling these volumes, (originally intended, and now published for the benefit of American students,) I have frequently been led to revisit the same ground, and to follow out the same paths, over which I have so often passed with you as a companion to cheer and delight me.

You have reported every opinion which I gave in term time, and thought worth reporting, during the five-and-twenty years that I was a Judge at Law and in Equity, with the exception of the short interval occupied by Mr. Caines's Reports. During that long period I had the happiness to maintain a free, cordial, and instructive intercourse with you; and I feel unwilling now to close my labors as an author, and withdraw myself finally from the public eye, without leaving some memorial of my grateful sense of the value of your friendship, and my reverence for your character.

In inscribing this work to you, I beg leave, sir, at the same time, to add my ardent wishes for your future welfare, and assure you of my constant esteem and regard.


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