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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New from Osgoode Society/UTP: Petty Justice by Paul Craven

Just in through my mailbox, Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick 1785-1867, by Paul Craven of York University.

Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, 1785-1867I admit to having some advance knowledge of the contents--which are admirable, the result of awe-inspiring archival research--but was pleasantly surprised by the physical charms of the book design. The cover illustration is lovely, as is the type face, a departure from the standard Osgoode Society/UTP norm, which I have always found elegant, but a tad cold, and not terribly conducive to close reading. This font/size is very readable (which may offset the 500+ pages of text, charts, tables, bibliography and index somewhat). The choice of footnotes over the usual endnotes also adds to the accessibility,

Here's the publisher's blurb:

Until the late nineteenth-century, the most common form of local government in rural England and the British Empire was administration by amateur justices of the peace: the sessions system. Petty Justice uses an unusually well-documented example of the colonial sessions system in Loyalist New Brunswick to examine the role of justices of the peace and other front-line low law officials like customs officers and deputy land surveyors in colonial local government.
Using the rich archival resources of Charlotte County, Paul Craven discusses issues such as the impact of commercial rivalries on local administration, the role of low law officials in resolving civil and criminal disputes and keeping the peace, their management of public works, social welfare, and liquor regulation, and the efforts of grand juries, high court judges, colonial governors, and elected governments to supervise them. A concluding chapter explains the demise of the sessions system in Charlotte County in the decade of Confederation.

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