Class actions today are largely the creatures of statute and rule. Extant statutes and rules can be divided by content into three types: (1) those which are patterned on the class action rule in the 1849 amendments to the New York Field Code, (2) those which follow the 1938 version of the federal class action rule, and (3) those which have adopted the 1966 revision of the federal class action rule. All trace their origins, however, to the unwritten practices of English Chancery at a time before the adoption of our own judicial system.
Raymond B. Marcin, Searching for the Origin of Class Action, 23 CATH. U. L. REV. 515 (1974).