Elisha Cornish, 18th Century Man of Law

Volume 7 Issue 2 Summer 2000

His Ledger Lists More Than Two Thousand Legal Services

Elisha Cornish’s account book shows the multiplicity of occupations that men often had during the late colonial and Revolutionary War periods, but his interest in all aspects of the law predominates. The account book, along with public records, reveals that he evolved over the years from holding law enforcement positions to serving as an attorney. He began the account book in 1752 and made his last entry in 1793, a year before his death. In it he recorded accounts for at least 573 clients and mentioned over 2900 names of individuals. They are a mix of Simsbury townspeople and others whose residence cannot always be determined. A few, like Oliver Ellsworth, are very distinguished persons. A few are debtors or criminals whom he must commit to prison. The preponderance of the entries are for legal services, but a significant number of entries record various other types of assistance that he provided for his clients and their animals.

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