Tracing Your Legal Ancestors

Overview

The law had as much influence on our ancestors as it does on us today, and it occupies an extraordinary range of individuals, from eminent judges and barristers to clerks and minor officials. Yet, despite burgeoning interest in all aspects of history and ancestry, lawyers and legal history have rarely been looked at from the point of view of a family historian. And this is the main purpose of Stephen Wade's accessible and authoritative introduction to the subject.

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Tracing your Legal Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

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Overview

The law had as much influence on our ancestors as it does on us today, and it occupies an extraordinary range of individuals, from eminent judges and barristers to clerks and minor officials. Yet, despite burgeoning interest in all aspects of history and ancestry, lawyers and legal history have rarely been looked at from the point of view of a family historian. And this is the main purpose of Stephen Wade's accessible and authoritative introduction to the subject.

Assuming that the reader has little prior knowledge of how or where to look for such information, he traces the evolution of the law and the legal professions. He describes the parts played in the system by solicitors, officers of the High Court registrars, recorders, town clerks, clerks of the peace, proctors, coroners, notaries, parliamentary agents, judges, barristers and magistrates. Also he identifies the various archives, records and books that the family researcher can turn to, and discusses other sources including the internet.

Stephen Wade's concise account of legal history and research resources will be an invaluable guide for anyone who is studying the subject or seeking and ancestor who was associated with it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781848842267
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Limited
  • Publication date: 2/19/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

How to Use this Book xi

Introduction 1

The professions explained 1

An overview of sources 7

Professional bodies 7

A survey of the courts system 9

Chapter 1 Understanding the Legal Professions 17

The origins of the English legal system 17

The coroner ('crowner') 20

Notaries and attorneys 21

The assizes 24

Chapter 2 The Community of Lawyers 29

The Bar 29

Specialisation and local history sources 34

Some early publications 36

Case Study: Staple Inn 38

Chapter 3 The Judges and the Courts 41

Judges: an historical survey 41

Officials in the criminal justice system 48

Civil Courts 49

Chapter 4 The Magistracy 51

The Quarter Sessions 51

The creation of the magistracy 58

Information on magistrates 58

Case Studies: Edmund Tew and H Rider Haggard 59

Chapter 5 A Survey of Sources I 63

The Surtees Society and the Selden Society 63

Coroners 65

Almanacs and biographical reference works 67

Case study: A Leeds coroner, John Cooper Malcolm 74

Chapter 6 A Survey of Sources II 77

The National Archives (TNA) 77

County Record Offices 81

Newspapers and reports 85

Parliamentary papers 87

State papers 90

Case study: A family of solicitors 90

Chapter 7 The Literature of the Judiciary 95

Biography 95

Memoirs 100

Obituaries 102

Case study: More listings in specialist publications 103

Chapter 8 The Servants to the Law Machine 109

Other professions: ancillary groups 109

Administrators 113

Women working in the law 118

Case study: Ernest Pettifer, Clerk to the Justices 119

Chapter 9 Lawyer Ancestors in Scotland and Ireland 121

The Scottish legal system 121

Sources for Scotland 125

The Irish State and its law 132

Sources for Ireland 135

Case study: Writer to the Signet 139

Chapter 10 Approaches and Methods: A Summary 145

Summary of procedures 146

Quick help alternatives 147

Glossary 151

Bibliography and Sources 157

Index 171

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