Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax

By James Muir

© 2016

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.

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Product Details

  • 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
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SKU# SP004478

  • PUBLISHED MAR 2018

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    Regular Price: $34.95

    ISBN 9781487523169
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    ISBN 9781487501037
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Quick Overview

In the early history of Halifax (1749-1766), debt litigation was extremely common. 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.

Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax

By James Muir

© 2016

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.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • 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
  • Reviews

    ‘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.’


    Ashton Butler
    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.’


    Barry Cahill
    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 Information

    James 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

    Bibliography