Abstract

Colonists brought English legal culture with them to the New World just as they transplanted the English language. Drawing on their heritage and innovating when necessary, settlers fashioned distinctive legal systems for each colony. The combination of traditional English doctrines with new rules tailored to local situations produced what the historian Lawrence M. Friedman has aptly termed "a creolized dialect of the English common law-the legal equivalent of pidgin English. By analyzing the Orthwood-Kendall litigation, we can gain a clearer understanding of how the creole dialect of early Virginia law differed from the mother tongue. By viewing those differences in a broader political, social, and economic context, we can start to comprehend the complex forces that shaped law on the frontier of the English-speaking world.

Document Type

Book

Publication Date

2003

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