Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1742570
 


 



The Ancient and Honorable Court of Dover: Mock Trials, Fraternal Orders, and Solemn Foolery in Nineteenth-Century New York State


Angela Fernandez


University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

January 17, 2011


Abstract:     
This article is about a fraternal order operating in the first half of the Nineteenth Century in New York called “The Ancient and Honorable Court of Dover.” This group organized a mock trial, probably in 1834, to prosecute one of its members. A prosecutor was appointed and the President of the group gave a long speech. At issue was whether or not non-members could participate in the trial. After a description of these records and an account of their discovery, this article explains who the individuals involved in the trial were, Jacksonian politicians and lawyers with connections to the Custom House and the Tammany Society in New York City. It then describes what a “Court of Dover” was, asks about what the offence here was, and explores the connections between this group and the most famous “Ancient and Honorable” society, the Freemasons. It argues that the records of a group like this should be understood as a kind of “legal literature” that is best understood in relationship to the notion of “solemn foolery,” a phrase that has been used in connection to the legally-themed theatricals at the Inns of Court.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 84

Keywords: legal history, law and humanities

working papers series


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Date posted: January 18, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Fernandez, Angela, The Ancient and Honorable Court of Dover: Mock Trials, Fraternal Orders, and Solemn Foolery in Nineteenth-Century New York State (January 17, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1742570 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1742570

Contact Information

Angela Fernandez (Contact Author)
University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )
78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
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