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South Carolina Archives
Series Description

Petitions to Practice Law, 1752-1778


CALL NUMBER:        S 142004

CREATOR: Court of Chancery.

TITLE: Petitions to practice law

DATE: 1752-1778

VOLUME: 0.33 cubic ft. and 0.01 cubic ft.

ARRANGEMENT: Series arranged chronologically. For indexing purposes, the petitions have been assigned numbers.

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE: With the exception of the April 1698 version, all versions of the Fundamental Constitutions prohibited pleading for fee or reward, though these provisions had no effect. Although attorneys in fact (agents appointed by deed for the transaction of specific business) practiced in the early years of the colony, there were no professional attorneys in South Carolina until the arrival of Nicholas Trott on 3 May 1699. By general instructions in S.C. Statute 1712(2)401, attorneys were to be examined, enrolled, sworn, and dismissed at the discretion of court justices. S.C. Statute 1721(7)166 required that attorneys be admitted and sworn to the bar by the General Court.

An act of 24 July 1769 provided that a lawyer could not practice or solicit unless he was a resident of the colony and admitted as a barrister at law or attorney by the court of common pleas or the court before which he wished to practice.

S.C. Statute 1785(4)668 required applicants for certification as attorneys to have been citizens of the United States for four years and to petition the justices of common pleas for examination. Applicants could be examined by common pleas judges or chancellors and were required, upon acceptance, to take the oath of allegiance to the state and the attorney's oath. Failure to take the oaths could be met by a fine of 100 pounds. The act recommended three years study abroad, four years clerkship, or two years practice before a supreme court prior to application.

SUMMARY SCOPE NOTE: The series contains thirty-six petitions to practice law before the Court of Chancery. The petitions are addressed to the court, state the applicant's background and qualifications, bear the filing date, and, occasionally, the date the applicant was admitted to practice. Twenty of the petitions contain no annotation as to the disposition of the petition.

INDEX/FINDING AID: The names of the applicants are indexed in the repository's On-line Combined Index to Multiple Record Series, 1675- 1929, and in the Combined Alphabetical Index produced by the repository on computer output microfilm (COM) in 1991. In the computer output microfilm index this series is represented by the numeric code 0031 002.

ADDITIONAL FORM: The entire series has been digitized.  The digital images are linked to index hits from the On-line Records Index on the repository's website.

GENERAL NOTE: 1752 boxed with Court of Appeals (1859-1868), Petitions to Practice Law, 1867.

HIERARCHICAL NOTE: Forms part of the records of the Court of Chancery.