The Law of Servants and the Servants of Law

This articles uses extensive primary source materials from the judicial archives and newspaper accounts to analyze the legal and quasi-legal aspects of Montreal labor law during the early nineteenth century. While the letter of the law favored masters, courts were relatively even-handed in adjudicating master-servant disputes. Similarities and difference in adjudicative approaches by courts within and without the city limits are also analyzed.

The Law of Servants and the Servant of Law: Enforcing Masters’ Rights in Montreal, 1830-1845
46 McGill Law Journal 779 (2001)


The Law of Servants and the Servants of Law — 3 Comments

  1. As you mentioned, master-servant law was “everywhere the same and everywhere different”. I found this article particularly unusual–and useful– because you discussed the various legal regimes in play here. The research it took to do this: you must have almost superhuman patience! I realize the Quebec situation was both similar as well as quite different from U.K/Commonwealth countries, but the wealth of legal sources and structures that governed it was nothing short of amazing (for example: the interplay between provincial/municipal/customary law, the overlap with notarized contracts, etc). I thought your analysis of the role of newspapers also added a great deal to the discussion. I haven’t read your other article yet on how servants were able to enforce rights against their employers, but that strikes me as probably the most unusual aspect of 19th century labour law in Montreal: we didn’t see a lot of that in the U.K. Kudos!

  2. Law has always fascinated me and I thought this article was so interesting– labour law then seemed to be a combination of both criminal and civil in nature with jail time, specific performance, fines and the whole spectrum! Thanks for posting this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *