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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

M.A. Thesis on Legal Practice in New France

A thesis by Alexandra Havrylyshyn of the Department of History at McGill (available on Proquest Theses & Dissertations ) focusses on ancien regime low law. The title is "Troublesome Trials in New France: The Itinerary of an Ancien Regime Legal Practitioner, 1740--1743."

Here's the abstract:

This microhistory on one legal practitioner seeks to begin to fill the lacunae in the understanding of legal practice in New France by relying on the richness of Québec's archives. Jacques Nouette de la Poufellerie originated in France but practiced in the colony of Canada between the years 1740-1743. In this short time span, over 100 parties hired him as their legal proxy. A collective biography of Nouette's professional network of practitioners, as well as his clientèle, is first performed. The more socially controversial among Nouette's cases, including the only freedom suit to take place in the Ancien Régime period in early Canada, are then examined in detail. Finally, Nouette's precarious social standing and his eventual expulsion from the colony are investigated. By focusing on the itinerary of one of the agents who shuttled between people and the courts of New France, this thesis also contributes to a re-conceptualization of black-letter legal history as "legality" contingent on its socio-historical context.

Nouette's story sounds fascinating. But legality contingent on its socio-historical context? Who knew? :)

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