Tracing Your Legal Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 192 pages
Author: S. Wade
Year: 2010
ISBN: 9781848842267
Other: b&w photos, glossary, bibiliog, index
Publisher: Pen & Sword

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 an ancestor who was associated with it.

How to Use This Book
- The professions explained
- An overview of sources
- Professional bodies
- A survey of the courts system
1. Understanding the Legal Professions
- The origins of the English legal system
- The coroner (‘crowner’)
- Notaries and attorneys
- The assizes
2. The Community of Lawyers
- The Bar
- Specialisation and local history sources
- Some early publications
- Case study: Staple Inn
3. The Judges and the Courts
- Judges: an historical survey
- Officials in the criminal justice system
- Civil courts
4. The Magistracy
- The Quarter Sessions
- The creation of the magistracy
- Information on magistrates
- Case Studies: Edmund Tew and H. Rider Haggard
5. A Survey of Sources I
- The Surtees Society and the Selden Society
- Coroners
- Almanacs and biographical reference works
- Case study: A Leeds coroner, John Cooper Malcolm
6. A Survey of Sources II
- The National Archives (TNA)
- County Record Offices
- Newspapers and reports
- Parliamentary papers
- State papers
- Case study: A family of solicitors
7. The Literature of the Judiciary
- Biography
- Memoirs
- Obituaries
- Case study: More listings in specialist publications
8. The servants to the Law Machine
- Other professions: ancillary groups
- Adminstrators
- Women women in the law
- Case study: Ernest Pettifer, Clerk to the Justices
9. Lawyer Ancestors in Scotland and Ireland
-The Scottish legal system
- Sources for Scotland
- The Irish State and its law
- Sources for Ireland
- Case Study: Writer to the Signet
10. Approaches and Methods: A Summary
- Summary of procedures
- Quick help alternatives
Bibliography and Sources

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Tracing Your Legal Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians


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