Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax
In the early history of Halifax (1749-1766), debt litigation was extremely common. People from all classes frequently used litigation and its use in private matters was higher than almost all places in the British Empire in the 18th century.
In Law, Debt, and Merchant Power, James Muir offers an extensive analysis of the civil cases of the time as well as the reasons behind their frequency. Muir’s lively and detailed account of the individuals involved in litigation reveals a paradoxical society where debtors were also debt-collectors. Law, Debt, and Merchant Power demonstrates how important the law was for people in their business affairs and how they shaped it for their own ends.
- Series: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History
- Division: Scholarly Publishing
- World Rights
- Page Count: 302 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
‘James Muir presents an articulate, nuanced approach to the development of civil procedure in Canada… He has collected an impressive amount of historical data in order to reconstruct patterns of litigation in eighteenth-century Halifax.’
Saskatchewan Law Review vol 80:2017
‘At the higher methodological level, the work both fascinates and provokes… Muir’s book is an interesting, original, and important work, part of the new wave of regional scholarship that integrates greater Nova Scotia into the history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic.’
Acadiensis February 2017
"This is the 103rd book published by the Osgoode Society for Legal History since 1981, part of a sustained effort to understand the law, the courts, and practitioners over the whole of Canadian history from many perspectives."
Douglas McCalla, University of Guelph
Canadian Business History Association Newlsetter, July 2018
"Law, Debt, and Merchant Power is a path breaking analysis of how civil law was used in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Muir’s meticulous analysis of civil suits illustrates how important the law was and how bourgeois merchants shaped the administration of law to their needs."
Elizabeth Mancke, Department of History, University of New Brunswick
"This book is admirably accurate about the ways the law actually worked in practice, and refreshingly careful to avoid anachronism and over-reach. Muir demonstrates an impressive knowledge of eighteenth-century judicial procedures, and he offers a persuasive analysis of colonial legal culture."
Jerry Bannister, Department of History, Dalhousie University
Author InformationJames Muir is an associate professor in the Department of History and Classics as well as the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta.
Table of contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Halifax, a community of litigants
Chapter 3: Initiating Actions
Chapter 4: Avoiding Trial
Chapter 5: Going to Trial
Chapter 6: Ending the Action
Chapter 7: Appeals and Other Courts
Chapter 8: Conclusion
Appendix 1: Sources and Methods
Appendix 2: Interpreting Occupational and Status Data
Subjects and Courses