Columbia Library columns (v.7(1957Nov-1958May))

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  v.7,no.3(1958:May): Page 15  

The Salzer Collection of Mayor's Court Papers      15

son is that the privilege of practicing in that court was so highly
prized that it was closely restricted. Under the A'lontgomerie
Charter of 1731 seven attorneys, all of whose papers are available
in considerable quantities in the Columbia collection, were given
a monopoly of practice in the court during good behavior. F.ven
though later legislation liberalized admission to practice, a select
coterie of attorneys kept the lion's share of the practice down to
the Revolution. The Salzer Papers tell us something about the
manner in «hich the very earliest attorneys conducted their
lawsuits. They tell us about the legal pioneers, like Samuel
Winder who practiced between 1685 and 1688, and John Tuder,
Barne Cosens, James Emott, and Edward Antill, making court
appearances at the end of the 17th century. They reveal that in
the first decade of the i8th century the practice was fairly evenly
split between Jacob Regnier and that salty character, David
Jamison, who had previously been condemned to be hanged in
Scotland as a blasphemous Bible-burner. The papers further re¬
veal that on the eve of the Revolution the practice was chiefly
in the hands of James Duane, Benjamin Kissam, and Thomas
Smith. But those famous pre-Revolutionary leaders of the bar,
John Morin Scott and William Smith, are also represented in this
collection. With the reopening of the court in February, 1784,
all vestiges of legal monopoly vanished. The names of the leading
federal lawyers appear among the Salzer papers for the years
1784 to 1819, including Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Egbert
Benson, and Robert Troup.

In theory the Mayor's Court was restricted in jurisdiction to
actions which arose within the city of New York, but actually
in certain transitory suits it wis the common practice, just as in
the Mayor's Court of London, to allege an act having taken place
outside the realm and then to assert that the foreign place was
located "in the out ward of the City of New York." The Salzer
Papers contain suits brought for money received "att Port Royall
in Jamaica (to A^'itt) at the Dock A^'ard of the City of New
York," for freight received "in the River Thames (to Witt) att
  v.7,no.3(1958:May): Page 15