Guide to the Notebook of Richard Wayne Stitesca.1822 MG 450
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Laura Ruttum as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. February 2004. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
Richard Wayne Stites, (1802-1877) born November 24, 1802, graduated from the first law school in the United States, the Litchfield Law School in Connecticut, in 1822. During his time at Litchfield he took detailed notes of the lectures delivered by Judge James Gould (1770-1838). Stites later practiced law in Morristown, New Jersey, formerly known as West Hanover.
The Litchfield Law School is known as the first official school of its kind in the United States: before it was founded by Tapping Reeve, in 1784, law had been taught largely through private tutors and apprenticeships. The early years of the school saw Reeve himself teaching a varied legal curriculum, with the responsibilities of instruction being transferred to Judge James Gould, Reeve’s partner, in 1798. The school graduated many elite lawyers, politicians and judges before it closed in the 1830s. In 1966, the Department of the Interior labeled the school the first U.S. law school.
While no detailed information is available for Stites’ biography before 1822, it is possible that he was originally from Savannah, Georgia. He was married to Elizabeth Cooke, (born ca. 1800) and their eldest daughter, Elizabeth Wolcott Stites (1827-1907) married Cortlandt Parker (1818-1907) in September 1847. Mr. Parker was a noted attorney in New Jersey who later served as a founder of the Republican Party in New Jersey as well as president of the American Bar Association. He died on July 7, 1877 in Morristown, New Jersey.
This collection consists of one notebook of lecture notes, taken by Richard Wayne Stites while he was studying law at the Litchfield Law School of Litchfield, Connecticut. He is listed as attending and graduating the school in 1722, although it is not known if the notes date from previous years (it appears that the program was only one year in duration).
The notebook originally existed as loose sheets, but these were later bound together, with an index to each section, perhaps by Stites himself, although this too not known.
Among the topics included in the lecture notes are sections entitled: How far illegality of one considera can affect Bona fide holder, Bills of exchange, Constru of bills-promissory, Settlement of accounts, Requisites of a deed, Registering of deceased, Gould’s Title Usary, Title by execution, “What the Statute of Frauds enacts,” Rebutting an equity, Invocation of a bill, Jurisdiction of court, Chancery powers, and “Husband and wife.”
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.
Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.
The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.
For related collections on Richard Wayne Stites at the New Jersey Historical Society, see:
For related collections on Richard Wayne Stites at other institutions, see:
The Richard Wayne Stites Papers, 1809-1828, Georgia Historical Society
For related materials on the Litchfield Law School in print, see:
Litchfield Law School 1774-1833: Biographical Catalog of Students. (1946) New Haven: Yale Library Publications No. 11.
Coleman, Ronald. (September 1960) “Learning the Law at Litchfield.” Connecticut Bar Journal 34, 3:270-76.
Fisher, Samuel. (1933) The Litchfield Law School, 1775-1833. Tercentenary pamphlet XXI.
Goetsch, Charles. (1981) The Litchfield Law School: A Modern View. Hartford: University of Connecticut Law School Press
Found in the library of Cortlandt Parker, son-in-law of Richard Wayne Stites, and donated to the New Jersey Historical Society by Charles W. Parker.
The materials in this collection are in poor condition. Researchers are encouraged to consult the photocopies first before examining the originals.
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 450, Richard Wayne Stites Notebook, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Gift of Charles W. Parker, 1916