[George Colwell Oke, legal author, Chief Clerk to the Lord Mayor of London.] Four Autograph Letters Signed to George Edward Frere, alleging editorial prejudice, and discussing statute on weights and measures, killing of horses.

George Colwell Oke (1821-1874), Chief Clerk to the Lord Mayor of London, author of legal works including ‘Oke’s Magisterial Formulist’ [George Edward Frere (1807--1887) of Roydon Hall, Norfolk]
Publication details: 
All four from 1861: 26 and 31 January; and 17 and 20 June. All four letters on letterhead of Mansion House Justice Room, London, EC.
SKU: 23590

All signed ‘George C: Oke’. At the time of writing Oke was Assistant Clerk to the Lord Mayor, a position he had held since 1855; in 1864 he would assume the Chief Clerkship. For details of the recipient, barrister and F.R.S, elder brother of Sir Bartle Frere and nephew of Canning’s friend the satirist John Hookham Frere, see the Law Times, 31 December 1887. The four letters total 10pp, 12mo, all on letterheads with engraved arms of the City of London. All in good condition; very lightly aged; with folds. Closely and neatly written. The first letter is a short one, concerning Frere’s ‘admirable suggestion’ with regard to Frere’s ‘forthcoming Edition of my “Formulist”’; in the letter he expands on the matter, accusing the publishers of the ‘Justice of the Peace’ as ‘publishers of Archbold’s & other competing Books with mine’, of exercising ‘most illiberally, an influence over the several Contributors Editors prejudicial, to some extent, to myself or my Works, for both my Publishers and myself have failed to obtain a review of any of my Books in that paper since the publication of the first edition of the “Synopsis” in 1848’. He also claims that none of the ‘[m]any contributions’ he has submitted have ever been ‘allowed a place’ in the ‘Justice of the Peace’. Consequently he is ‘not in a position to ask for any favor, or even common courtesy, from that Journal’. The third letter is headed ‘Weights & measures’, and touches on several points, including his view that it is ‘one offence to have one or several light weights and unjust measures; and that it is but one other offence to have one or more incorrect Steelyards and weighing machines’. The final letter begins on the same subject as the third, with reference to a case pointed out by Frere. Oke concedes that he did overlook it, but states that it does not alter his opinion. He goes into some detail concerning his difference of opinion from ‘the Editors’, concluding: ‘if the legislature intended that the penalty might be imposed on each while found, it would have enacted it in express terms, according to the usual practice’. The remainder of the letter concerns legislation on ‘killing of horses’.