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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Irish Lawyers again

Last week I posted about a conversation about Irish lawyer emigrants to Canada in the 19th century on the Legal History Workshop listserv and invited those who had responded (and those who replied privately to Angela Fernandez) to add a comment on that post or email me to be included in a new post. This would allow us to keep those responses in the blog archive (or maybe on the Osgoode Society website) for future reference.
So far I have express permission from Chris Moore. Here's what he had to say on the subject:
There are several examples of Irish gentry families coming to Upper Canada and then taking up the law:  the Baldwins c1800), theBlakes (1830s), the McCarthys (1840s) are notable examples.  But most of them  took up the law after they came to Upper Canada, apparently having discovered that rural landholding was not going to support them here the way they expected.   Chief Justice of Ontario John Hawkins Hagarty, lawyer and judge George Skeffington Connor, and Supreme Court of Canada judge John Wellington Gwynne were all Irish-born, and all studied at Trinity College Dublin, I think, but they all articled here in Canada, not in Ireland (I think! --  DCB and other standard references should have the details.) Judge/Senator James Gowan the same.

The McCarthys were Irish lawyers before emigrating.  D’Alton McCarthy Sr (father of the politician-founder of the McCarthy law firm) had been a solicitor in Ireland and had to article 5 years to start again in Upper Canada, as there was no automatic recognition of  British (including Irishsolicitors’ credentials, though there was for barristers.  (Moore, McCarthy Tetrault, p18 – pardon me citing myself!) I’m not aware of any Irish barrister of King’s Inn asking the Law Society of Upper Canada to recognized his credentials – I’m pretty sure there were not many.

So – a fair number of individual cases of Irish-born eventual lawyers, Protestant, at the upper end of the class system, and frequently becoming high up in the UC bench and bar.  How much they formed an organized community of self-consciously “Irishlawyers in Upper Canada, I’m not sure. I was about to say not much – but maybe there are more connections to tease out than I had thought of. It’s not a thing Canadian legal historians have made much of. 
Thanks for this, Chris!

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