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History General

Law, Debt, and Merchant Power

The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax

edited by James Muir

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2018
General, Legal History, History & Theory
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2016
    List Price

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In the early history of Halifax (1749-1766), debt litigation was extremely common. People from all classes frequently used litigation and its use in private matters was higher than almost all places in the British Empire in the 18th century.


In Law, Debt, and Merchant Power, James Muir offers an extensive analysis of the civil cases of the time as well as the reasons behind their frequency. Muir’s lively and detailed account of the individuals involved in litigation reveals a paradoxical society where debtors were also debt-collectors. Law, Debt, and Merchant Power demonstrates how important the law was for people in their business affairs and how they shaped it for their own ends.

About the author

James Muir is an assistant professor of History and Law at the University of Alberta. He works on Canadian legal and labour history, with publications on 18th- and 19th-century Nova Scotia, 20th-century Manitoba and Alberta and the practice of teaching legal history.


James Muir's profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘James Muir presents an articulate, nuanced approach to the development of civil procedure in Canada… He has collected an impressive amount of historical data in order to reconstruct patterns of litigation in eighteenth-century Halifax.’

Saskatchewan Law Review vol 80:2017

"This is the 103rd book published by the Osgoode Society for Legal History since 1981, part of a sustained effort to understand the law, the courts, and practitioners over the whole of Canadian history from many perspectives."

Canadian Business History Association Newlsetter, July 2018

‘At the higher methodological level, the work both fascinates and provokes… Muir’s book is an interesting, original, and important work, part of the new wave of regional scholarship that integrates greater Nova Scotia into the history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic.’

Acadiensis February 2017

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