Author Topic: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?  (Read 796 times)

Offline Geordie daughter

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What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« on: Saturday 19 January 19 13:42 GMT (UK) »
Nothing I have googled so far gives any specifics about what sort of tasks a solicitor's clerk would be required to do, apart (obviously) from processing paperwork on a daily basis. I am curious to find out a little more, as an ancestor of mine on my father's side was one. What has sparked my curiosity about his job was finding two separate articles in Lloyd's Lists, yesterday, which listed him as subscriber (in the earlier article) and signatory (in the later one) to two new companies which were being registered, and I'm not sure if this was in his legal capacity or as a private individual, as his home address was supplied. Both companies involved shipping and brokering in some form or another, so perhaps the firm he worked for specialised in these areas? I'd be grateful if anyone with knowledge of the legal system could help me out with this one.

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Offline ainslie

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 22 January 19 12:08 GMT (UK) »
In those days he would have done what he was told!  This may have included having his name on start-up companies until the rightful people were available, as you thought.
A managing clerk would probably be responsible to the firmís partners for all the work behind the scenes.
A

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Online Rena

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 22 January 19 13:39 GMT (UK) »
It's my understanding that they can do everything that a solicitor (or a barrister) would do - EXCEPT they can't advise a client.  I suppose in very early years they would be kept very busy writing legal jargon documents and then working their way up to signing as witnesses to wills, etc.

Leeds university has a webpage for jobs undertaken by modern day paralegal employment:

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/paralegal
Aberdeen: Findlay-Shirras,McCarthy<br />MidLothian: Mason,Telford,Darling,Cruikshanks,Bennett,Sime, Bell<br />Lanarks:Crum, Brown, MacKenzie,Cameron, Glen, Millar
Ross, Urray:Mackenzie<br />Moray: Findlay; Marshall/Marischell<br />Perthshire: Brown Ferguson<br />Wales: McCarthy, Thomas<br />England: Almond, Askin, Dodson, Harrison, Maw, McCarthy, Munford, Pye, Shearing, Smith, Smythe, Speight, Strike, Wallis/Wallace, Ward, Wells<br />Germany: Flamme,Ehlers, Bielstein, Germer, Mohlm, Reupke

Offline Geordie daughter

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 23 January 19 09:32 GMT (UK) »
Thanks to both of you for your answers, and for the link to that website, Rena. This particular ancestor is something of a mystery. As no mention has ever been made of who he worked for, in any of the census returns, I can't track down any employment records that might exist. The 1911 described him as a "shorthand writer" so I would guess that perhaps by then he was secretary to more senior members of the firm, and/or took notes during meetings. He never progressed beyond being a clerk as far as I can tell (death cert. says "formerly a solicitor's clerk"), and lived for most of his life with his parents. The only thing of note is that he got married, at the grand old age of 62 (after his parents' deaths), to his spinster cousin who had been part of the household since her early twenties.

Online Rena

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 23 January 19 13:36 GMT (UK) »
I've always understood a legal shorthand writer was the person who sat in court in front of the judge tapping on a little machine.

My friend's daughter's ambition was to be a solicitor and gained a place at university to study law.  Eventually she was required to find a position as a junior legal clerk with a solicitor.  This position meant her attending court every day to take notes on the cases her employer was working on. I never thought to ask if she used a small machine or used longhand abbreviations, or Pitman's shorthand.   In other words she was a "a court reporter".(she did eventually become a solicitor employed by a police force).

I once looked on the historical directories website in an effort to discover which solicitor had looked after my grandfather's affairs but as he lived in a very large town the list was endless.  As a junior in the 1950s I know their practices are usually in an area in the centre of town.  If your ncestor resided in a small place you might have more luck than me.
Aberdeen: Findlay-Shirras,McCarthy<br />MidLothian: Mason,Telford,Darling,Cruikshanks,Bennett,Sime, Bell<br />Lanarks:Crum, Brown, MacKenzie,Cameron, Glen, Millar
Ross, Urray:Mackenzie<br />Moray: Findlay; Marshall/Marischell<br />Perthshire: Brown Ferguson<br />Wales: McCarthy, Thomas<br />England: Almond, Askin, Dodson, Harrison, Maw, McCarthy, Munford, Pye, Shearing, Smith, Smythe, Speight, Strike, Wallis/Wallace, Ward, Wells<br />Germany: Flamme,Ehlers, Bielstein, Germer, Mohlm, Reupke

Offline Geordie daughter

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 23 January 19 16:23 GMT (UK) »
That option had never occurred to me, Rena. I do so wish I knew something about his employers. As I mentioned when I first posted this thread, Henry's name was on two documents relating to new companies that had been registered, and on the basis of them, I've speculated that perhaps he was working for a solicitor's firm specialising in marine insurance and related branches, or something similar. Interestingly, Henry's younger brother Alfred married into a family who built up a very successful wholesale grocery business which later involved importing and exporting goods, and several of the wife's relatives were solicitors. However, as far as I can tell, the marriage came some time after Henry first started to work as a clerk, so I don't know if there's a link there.


Sadly, Henry and his family lived in various parts of North London over the years, so my odds of narrowing down possible employers, using the directories, is very slim. The family lived fairly close to train stations and large thoroughfares with tramways for most of their lives, as the father and Alfred jointly ran a cork cutting business in Liverpool Road, and later in Holloway Road, so it's entirely likely that Henry travelled into the City every day.

Online Rena

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #6 on: Wednesday 23 January 19 22:59 GMT (UK) »
I wonder if he was listed in the registered clerkship records

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/lawyers/
Aberdeen: Findlay-Shirras,McCarthy<br />MidLothian: Mason,Telford,Darling,Cruikshanks,Bennett,Sime, Bell<br />Lanarks:Crum, Brown, MacKenzie,Cameron, Glen, Millar
Ross, Urray:Mackenzie<br />Moray: Findlay; Marshall/Marischell<br />Perthshire: Brown Ferguson<br />Wales: McCarthy, Thomas<br />England: Almond, Askin, Dodson, Harrison, Maw, McCarthy, Munford, Pye, Shearing, Smith, Smythe, Speight, Strike, Wallis/Wallace, Ward, Wells<br />Germany: Flamme,Ehlers, Bielstein, Germer, Mohlm, Reupke

Offline Geordie daughter

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #7 on: Thursday 24 January 19 08:52 GMT (UK) »
Thank you for that link, Rena! The Clerkships in the Court of Common Pleas (1713-1867) list is just too early, but I checked anyway, on the off-chance that something useful might pop up. The Articles of Clerkship (1756-1874) list might contain what I need, as Henry was a solicitor's clerk by 1871 (aged 16), but is on Ancestry, unfortunately, and I subscribe to the "opposition."

Offline Geordie daughter

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Re: What did a solicitor's clerk actually do?
« Reply #8 on: Thursday 24 January 19 09:36 GMT (UK) »
I think I might have cracked it! I tried Googling the companies mentioned in the Lloyd's List articles to see if they'd offer any clues, and discovered that "Parker & Co., St. Michael's Rectory, Cornhill, E.C" is a solicitor's office. More fully they are "Parker, Garrett & Co," and S. Garrett of that address pops up next to Henry in the notice declaring the registration of the "Delagoa Bay Agency Company (Ltd.)"