Legal change, economic culture, and imperial authority in colonial New York City

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36Compare, Brodhead, History of the State of New York, 2: 384-85 and Griswold, History of the City of New York, 2: 259-64 with Leder and Kammen, The Glorious Revolution, 84-85 and Sosin, English America, 112-13, 107; Lovejoy, Glorious Revolution, 98-121, 276-77, 360-61. Early assessments of the charter by Reich and Leder, most influential Murrin, “English Rights as Ethnic Aggression,” 1988. Dutch support noted in Lovejoy, Glorious Revolution, 114-118.

37 Voorhees, diss; Merwick, Possessing Albany; Middleton, “Leisler’s Rebellion: A Class Struggle?”

38 MCC, 1: 102-107; Wilson, Memorial, 411-426; James Kent, The Charter of the City of New York, with notes thereon. Also a Treatise on the Powers and Duties of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Assistant Aldermen and the Journals of the City Convention (New York, 1836), part two.

39 For example, the charter articulated a clear distinction between the common council and those who served as “common councilmen”, meaning the municipal corporation as a whole acting in a legislative capacity and the Mayor, recorder, and aldermen, not less than three no more than five, also who also had judicial duties when they convened as the Mayor’s Court now designated the city’s “court of common pleas”. See Van Rensselaer, History of the City of New York, 2:298-304. The charter identified the Mayor, three of aldermen, and five of the assistants were Dutch while the recorder, clerk, three aldermen and remaining assistant were English.

40 Voorhees, “Family and Faction,” 133; Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot. Dongan begins the process of manorialization, issuing patents between 1685-87 for Rensselaerswyck, land grant but lost political privileges in Albany, Lloyds Neck, Livingston Manor, Cassiltown to John Palmer and Bently Manor to Christopher Billop. Land grants picked up pace in the administration of Benjamin Fletcher.

41 Although expert representation was still far from the norm: only 19 of the earliest 51 complaints

made mention of an attorney and 16 of these cases were handled by one of four men: Isaac Swinton, Samuel Winder, John Tudor and Edward Anthill. For a recent reassessment of early legal advisors Mary Sarah Bilder, “The Lost Lawyers: Early American Legal Literates and Transatlantic Legal Culture,” Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 11, no. 47-117 (1999) and an earlier assessment in Alan F. Day, “Lawyers in Colonial Maryland, 1660-1715,” The American Journal of Legal History 17, no. 2 (1973), 145-165.

42 The calculation of damages defies any clear logic or regularity, other than the fact that slander suits brought exorbitant claims and that individuals suffered in round numbers of two or five, ten or twenty or fifty pounds, suggesting the damages figure represented something more than a precise monetary calculation of claimed wrong. . Sampling the last five years of every decade from 1695-1700 to 1755-60 gives 843 suits identifying debts and damages and indicates a slight increase in the ratio of damages claimed to debt across the period.

43 Schuyler case probably connected to negotiations surrounding granting of a charter to Albany following New York grant. Elsworth in Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot, 95.

44 “Address of New-York Merchants to the King and Queen, 19 May, 1690” in DRCNY, 3: 748-49.

45 Colonial Laws of New York from the year 1664 to the Revolution, 1: 227-230; Goebel, “Courts and the Law,” 261-262.


 See, Rosen, “Courts and Commerce,” 41-51. Compared to the preceding decade rate of legal representation 20 cases out of 51 is 39% in 1680s, 84 out of 154. 55%, 48 after 1698. James Emmot busiest with 29 of total cases run a close second by John Tudor at 24. For handwriting consistency on different complaints identifying the same attorney, 1698 Cornelius Viele v Abigail Starling and Ellis Duxbury v John Harrison, both represented by Edward Anthill and also across quite a number of complaints suggesting a court official

47 Occasional glimpses beyond the complaints in papers included for the case, such as bond in Robords v Ari van Ginne, 1715


 For example, in 1723 pre-written bailbond with the details, in this case of Thomas Short and John Cannon’s obligation to Thomas Force. Also 1739 bond for 225 16sh and 7p, condition, agreed between Abraham Hiasman Annely Lewis to William Vesey.

49 153 complaints (as against 85 trials) in the 1690s.

50 Mathias Nicolls v John Cooley 2 May 1691, MCP. Compare this, for example, to the court’s earlier judgment regarding Nicholas Bayard’s entitlement as vendue master in his disagreement with James Mathews in August 1675, in Mayor’s Court Minutes, Nov 13, 1674 - Sept 21 1675, 68. For other cases of private suits filed to satisfy municipal and provincial causes see Ducie Hungerford, Surveyor of the Province v Cornelis Quick, 1699, MCPCU for one third of the tackle, furniture and apparel of the sloop William for alleged breaches of customs and revenue law; William Janeway v David Provoost, formerly Mayor of New York, in 1701, MCP for payment on an agreement to clean the city’s streets for six months.

51 This was established practice in England because assumpsit frequently related to multiple and incomplete transactions, often over time, defendants could challenge the validity of one or more of the transactions. If the defendant challenged the first assertion, or the original agreement was lost or forgotten, it would be up to the jury to make an award under the terms of the second. Muldrew, Economy of Obligation, 264-65.

52 Middleton, From Privileges to Rights, chapter five.

53 Henretta, “Magistrates, Common Law Lawyers,” 560-61. For distinctiveness of New England, Mark

Valeri, Heavenly Merchandize. How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America (Princeton, 2010), 120-21, 137, 156. Also Jennifer J. Baker, Securing the Commonwealth: Debt, Speculation, and Writing in the Making of Early America (Baltimore, 2005), chapter one. Also compare impression in John Ruston Pagan, Anne Orthwood's Bastard: Sex and Law in Early Virginia (New York, 2003) with A. G. Roeber, Faithful Magistrates and Republican Lawyers : Creators of Virginia Legal Culture, 1680-1810 (Chapel Hill, 1981).

54 William M. Offutt, Of "Good Laws" And "Good Men": Law and Society in the Delaware Valley, 1680- 1710 (Urbana, 1995); Mann, Neighbours, 168; Nash, Urban Crucible, et al; for general comment, Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism (New York, 1999).


 The sample breaks down into subtotals of 1630 complaints relating to book debt, 154 promissory notes, 208 simple bonds, and 86 conditional bonds (excluding bail bonds). The sample is uneven: sixty percent of complaints relating to cases between 1720-1760, and just over a fifth of the complaints, and a third of the promissory notes and conditional bonds, come from the 1750s.


 Craig Muldrew, The Economy of Obligation: The Culture of Credit and Social Relations in Early

Modern England (Basingstoke, 1998), introduction.

57  Thus Mass and South Carolina pioneered in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and others followed, Rhode Island founded one in I715, New Hampshire in I717, Connecticut in I732, and North Carolina in 1729. In the middle colonies Pennsylvania and New Jersey set up a loan office in I723, and Maryland in I731. Rate of issues similar story: Massachusetts had four issues totaling £250,000 between I714 and I728; Rhode Island had nine issues totaling £469,000; I723 Pennsylvania created £45,000 and in 1746 a further £80,000; New Jersey £40,000 in I733-I735 and, after retiring about one third of the first issue, a further £60,000. New York was the last province to issue legal-tender bills of credit on loans in I737, a one-off issue of £40,000. See, Donald L. Kemmerer, “The Colonial Loan-Office System in New Jersey,” The Journal of Political Economy, 47, no. 6 (1939), 867-874; Theodore Thayer. “The Land-Bank System in the American Colonies,” The Journal of Economic History. Vol. 13, No. 2 (1953): 145-59; Joseph A. Ernst, Money and Politics in America, 1755-1775 : A Study in the Currency Act of 1764 and the Political Economy of Revolution (Chapel Hill, 1973); Mary M. Schweitzer, Custom and Contract : Household, Government, and the Economy in Colonial Pennsylvania (New York, 1987).

58 Virginia Harrington estimated that between one half to three quarters of a city merchant’s business

was conducted on credit and if the business was oversees then his entire commerce, Virginia D. Harrington, The New York Merchant on the Eve of the Revolution (Gloucester, Mass, 1964). Also see Deborah Rosen, “Commerce and Courts”; Middleton, “World beyond the workshop”. For England, Daniel Defoe, The complete English Tradesman (I726), reckoned two-thirds of English trade was conducted on credit making it “a tradesman's blessing... [and] the choicest ware he deals in.” in Hoppit, “Attitudes,” 9.

59 The first is Stanley Katz, “The Problem of Colonial American Legal History,” in Jack P. Greene and J.R. Pole, Colonial British America. Essays in the New History of the Early Modern Era (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), 468; the second is Bruce Mann, Neighbors and Strangers. Law and Community in Early Connecticut (Chapel Hill, 1987), 8-9. Paul Hamlin described his research as similarly “laborious and tedious,” Paul Hamlin, Legal Education in Colonial New York (1939; reprint Da Capo Press, 1970), xi.

60 Paul Hamlin and Milton Klein

61 Donna Merwick, Death of a Notaryand Homi Bhabha, H. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (1994), chapter 6. This argument made about Dutch but we could add slaves, indians, women, and the lower sort.

62 Hulsebosch, 90, 95.

63 Brooks, Peter fl, law Narrative and rhetoric in the, Peter Brooks, and Paul D. Gewirtz, Law's Stories:

Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law (New Haven, 1996), ??. Natalie Davis, Fiction in the Archives. Also Tomlins, law as not only about formal rules and procedures it also about the wider sense of legality or community rules, expectations, and understandings that are generated inside and outside of institutional settings and which range from formal strictures to repetitive practices that gain acceptance within a specific locale. , Many Legalities, introduction.

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