This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
4 Y. B. 46, Ed. III, 19 (Trinity Term), pi. 19.
5 Y. B. 22, Liber Assisarum, pl. 41, fol. 94.
6 Y. B. 43, Ed. HI, 33, pl. 38 (Michaelmas Term).
7 Reeves (Finlason), III, 434, 435. 8 Y. B. 2 Hen. IV, 3 b. and 4, pl. 9.
9 Y. B. 11 Hen. IV, 33, pl. 60. 10 Y. B. 3 Hen. VI (Hilary Terra), 36, pl. 33.
11 Samerton'e case is reported in fragments which should he read in the following order: Y. B. 11 Hen. VI, 55, pl. 26; Y. B. 11 Hen. VI, 18, pi. 10; Y. B. 11 Hen. VI, 24, pl. 1. See also, Y. B. 19 Hen. V1, 24h, pl. 47; Y. B. 20 Hen. VI, 34, pl. 4; Y. B. 22 Hen. VI, 43, pl. 28; Y. B. 16 Ed. IV, 9, pl. 7.
12 Somerton's case, Y. B. 11 Hen. V1, 55, pl. 26; Y. B. 11 Hen. VI, 18, pl. 10; Y. B. 11 Hen. V1, 24, pl. 1. See also, Y. B. 20 Hen. VI, 34, pl. 4; Y. B. 16 Ed. IV, 9, pl. 7.
13 For cases in which an action on the contract was apparently denied, though often in obiter, see Y. B. 20 Hen. VI, 25, pl. 11; Y. B. 21 Hen. VI, 55, pl. 12; Y. B. 2 Hen. VII, 11, pl. 9; Y. B. 2 Hen. VII, 12, pl. 15; Y. B. 18 Hen. VII (Keilw.), 50, pl. 4. Of these cases Y. B. 20 Hen. VI, 25 pl. 11, seems to have been a gratuitous promise to act as an attorney. In Y. B. 21 Hen. VI, 55, pl. 12, the parties compromised after the discussion in court that is reported. Y. B. 2 Hen. VII, 11, pl. 9, was an action for negligence in guarding sheep. The action was held to lie; comments on simple executory promise, prior to performance are obiter. Y. B. 2 Hen. VII, 12, pl. 15, was a contract for the sale of land which was broken by the vendor. A denial that the defendant had made feoffment of this land to others without denying the promise, was held sufficient. The difficulty in the absence of a measure of damages, was to give a remedy against the vendor unless he could bring debt for the value of the land against the vendee, to whom the land had not been conveyed.
14 History of Assumpsit, by James Barr Ames, 2 Harvard Law Review, 1, 63; 3 Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, 259.
15 Statham's Abridgment (Actions sur le case), 11, 20; Disceipte, 8; Brooke's Abridgment (Action sur le case), 7, 40; Rolle's Abridgment (Action sur case), 1 (p. 0 [p]); Sur assumpsit. En quel cases gist, 1.
In some of the oases of this period in which relief was denied, the plaintiff is obliged to concede that the defendant's promise may have been gratuitous: See Y. B. 20 Hen. VI, 25, pl. 11. The early abridgment compilers may have had the earlier tradition as to the significance of these cases and as to the distinction between the apparently conflicting lines of authority.
The bar seemed inclined to adopt the same distinction. See argument in Sharington v. Strotton, Plowd. 298.
Subsequent cases treat these cases as promises to be accepted by doing an act, and as imposing no liability until the act is done. See discussion in Coggs v. Bernard, 2 Lord Raymond 909 (919), and Elsee v. Gatward, 5 T. R. 143.
16 Y. B. 19 Hen. VI, 24b, pl. 47; Y. B. 20 Hen. VI, 34, pl. 4; Y. B. 22 Hen. VI, 43, pl. 28.