A Lawyer of Kent: Barzillai Slosson and His Account Books, 1794-1812

A Lawyer of Kent: Barzillai Slosson and His Account Books, 1794-1812

A Lawyer of Kent: Barzillai Slosson and His Account Books, 1794-1812

A Lawyer of Kent: Barzillai Slosson and His Account Books, 1794-1812

Excerpt

If the constant round of petty litigation which fills the daybook brought its owner very little money, the fact that many of the cases were tried in justice's courts shows that it profited the principals scarcely more; for at that time only such civil cases as involved a sum not to exceed fifteen dollars and only criminal cases which carried a penalty of not more than seven dollars could be tried by a justice. Slosson's practice was not confined to justice's courts, however, and late in the second year covered by his accounts, he began to list separately in the daybook his cases in County Court. In Litchfield during these years the court usually met in March, September, and December. The hilly and boulderstrewn road that lay between Barzillai Slosson's home in Kent and the county seat was not likely to be at its best during those months. There was a bridge over the Housatonic--the covered bridge "over Bull's Falls" which had given Barzillai one of his first fees--but many streams between Kent and Litchfield must be forded if they were still open, or crossed on the ice if they were frozen over. Farmers went in oxcarts or sleds if, and as, the condition of the roads permitted; or they walked as the furnace workers did. Oliver Ellsworth, in his day, had walked, too--twenty miles to and from Hartford--when court met; but times had changed since then. Now gentlemen went on horseback, unless they were elderly and permitted themselves the doubtful luxury of a "pung." Barzillai always rode his own horse, carrying his briefs and a few law books in his saddlebags. Whitney's horse, or even Hopson's, either of which might be hired for six shillings a day, were all very well for riding about the countryside or even for the odd trip to the county seat . . .

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