Donate SIGN UP

Attorney in the Nineteenth Century

Avatar Image
gdalessandro | 17:08 Mon 03rd Mar 2008 | History
4 Answers
I have been reading a lot of period novels recently. I already think I know the answer but I would appreciate clarification.

As an example I will use the situation in Pride and Prejudice where Miss Bingley, Mrs Hurst and Mr. Darcy all frown upon Mr Gardiner being an attorney. I was wondering why this was, as I was of the opinion that it was a respected profession.

Did they frown upon him merely because he had not inherited wealth and had to work in a trade to earn a living? I also wondered did attorneys have to be university educated like nowadays?

I would really appreciate any response or clarification.

Thank you.


1 to 4 of 4rss feed

Best Answer

No best answer has yet been selected by gdalessandro. Once a best answer has been selected, it will be shown here.

For more on marking an answer as the "Best Answer", please visit our FAQ.
If we understand 'attorney' to be what is now termed a 'solicitor' then it was not then, and is not now, a requirement that they be university educated. (The present qualification for someone who has no degree takes a minimum of six years)

Before the present rules, and well into the C20, it had been possible for an ordinary solicitor's clerk to become a solicitor, simply by dint of long service in a solicitor's firm.

Furthermore, back in the days of Pride and Prejudice, there were few universities. Oxford and Cambridge may have been the only ones in England (I haven't looked). Students there were either the sons of the wealthy and the gentry (if the former their parents may have 'in trade' and frowned upon ) or poor scholarship boys. If they became lawyers it is almost certain that they would have been called to the Bar. The Bar was the 'senior profession' of the Law. Only barristers could become judges . The first years in practice were poorly rewarded, if at all, and so the profession was itself only suited to those of private means.

So, being in the Law was not a matter for snobbish disapproval, but being in the wrong branch of it was.
At the time of Pride and Prejudice, Oxford and Cambridge were the only two universities in England. There were 4 in Scotland but other than for Medicine, I don't think they would have been "rated" by those south of the border as the equal of Oxbridge.

Attorney, in England, is 'an obsolete term for a solicitor' [Collins' English Dictionary ] so it is the same.
Question Author
thank you very much for your help :)

1 to 4 of 4rss feed

Do you know the answer?

Attorney in the Nineteenth Century

Answer Question >>

Related Questions

Sorry, we can't find any related questions. Try using the search bar at the top of the page to search for some keywords, or choose a topic and submit your own question.