Joseph Chitty

Joseph CHITTY (1775-1841), elder son of Joseph of Smyrna and Chadwell, and elder brother of Charles of Muntham, was founder of the great line of CHITTY lawyers.

For the professional achievements of this line, we shall quote, without detailed references, from The Law Journal (1925 Feb 14), The Times (1930 Feb 17) and the English and Empire Digest, among other more obvious sources.

Serjeant BUCKRAM (in The Law Journal) says:- 'I have heard of a coloured practitioner who maintained that "Mr CHITTY" was the greatest lawyer that ever lived, being under the impression (which I think a good many white brethren have shared in a vague sort of way) that all the CHITTYs were the same CHITTY'. - 'A contemporary and rival of the famous William TIDD, he [Joseph] had a far more capacious and muscular mind, and Tidd's Practice (in spite of the encomiums of Mr Uriah Heep) was gradually ousted by CHITTY's'.

Born 1775 Mch 12 at Dagenham and privately baptised on Apr 8, Joseph was admitted to the Middle Temple 1794 Jan 17, was a Special Pleader on the Home Circuit and (1810) a lecturer of Lincoln's Inn Hall, and was called to the Bar 1816 Jun 28. Of 6 Chancery Lane, 1827-38, at his death he was of the Inner Temple.

In 1795 he inherited his father's freehold lands, formerly his uncle Josiah
's, including the Chadwell lands - Wangey Manor - which he presumably sold at some later date.

He had a large junior practice at 1 Pump Court, but failing health diverted him to legal authorship, CHITTY's 'STATUTES' being the best remembered of over a score of works on many aspects of the Common Law, and even International Law and Medical Jurisprudence.

At the age of 18, and before entering the Middle Temple, he precociously married, 1799 Sep 26 at St Dunstan's, Stepney. So early a marriage must have been very unusual in the professional classes at that time; and if his bride Elizabeth WOODWARD's age was correctly reported by the Gentleman's Magazine at her death, then she cannot have been more than 16 at her marriage, also unusual. As their first child was born more than eleven months after the marriage, it does not seem that there was any embarrassing urgency for the marriage.

continued ...

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Page created 29 Sept 2001 by Mike Chitty, based on the late Erik Chitty's 1975 text