Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

May 20, 2014

Colonial Dames chapter honors Lily

THOMASVILLE — Roy M. Lilly Jr., attorney, judge and community leader, presented an interesting and informative program on colonial jurisprudence to the John Lee of Nansemond Chapter, Colonial Dames XVII Century.

In the early days of American colonization, lawyers were looked on as unnecessary evils. The colonists felt that if crime existed, the bad were dealt with according to biblical standards and some ministers served as judges and legal council.  It was not until after the 1700s that lawyers were well-accepted by the colonists.

As time passed, more colonists immigrated to America for economic reasons and religious freedom. The need grew for lawyers and courts to help settle disputes over land titles. The first trained lawyers were usually graduates of English Inns of Court.

This worked well, because most of the laws were taken from English Common Law. Common law is based upon previous decisions of a court. The other type of law is by legislative action and is called statutory law.

A person could also become a lawyer by “reading the law” with a trained lawyer, a practice that existed up until more modern times.

By the 1740s, Pennsylvania regarded lawyers as one of the colony’s treasures. Pennsylvania was a proprietary colony and the most sophisticated.

The term “Philadelphia Lawyer” was coined to mean a lawyer of exceptional skill.

The colonial period ended with the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the end of the Revolutionary War.

Four of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence were lawyers and the second through the eighth presidents were lawyers.

By the middle of the 19th century, the legal profession was firmly established.



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