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Article
Making Claims: Indian litigants and the expansion of the English legal world in the eighteenth century
Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History (2014)
  • Arthur Mitchell Fraas, University of Pennsylvania
Abstract

This paper explores the British Imperial legal world of the mid-eighteenth century. Within this period, the previously confined spaces of English law and legal institutions became open to an ever widening set of legal subjects, both people as well as places. The paper focuses on what was at the time perhaps England’s most remote and murkily defined legal space, the East India Company (EIC) settlements at Madras, Bombay and Calcutta. The paper shows how a series of legal actors: metropolitan judges, Indian litigants and elite lawyers, first bridged the legal worlds of England and the subcontinent. I argue that by the 1750s, through nearly constant interaction and contestation, these actors helped expand the boundaries of English legal procedure and practice. This process of defining legal spaces and subjects was far from abstract and the paper examines the lived experience of actors at a number of different levels including the tenacity of Sikh and Hindu merchants in taking disputes over bad debts all the way to the courts of Westminster and the Privy Council, to arguments spanning both continents over the ability of new types of imperial subjects to participate in the English legal order.

Keywords
  • India,
  • Privy Council,
  • Law
Disciplines
Publication Date
Spring 2014
Citation Information
Arthur Mitchell Fraas. "Making Claims: Indian litigants and the expansion of the English legal world in the eighteenth century" Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History Vol. 15 Iss. 1 (2014)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mitch_fraas/12/