Thomas Chitty

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Thomas Chitty (1802 – 13 February 1878) was an English lawyer and legal writer who was pupil master to a generation of eminent lawyers and played a significant role in documenting the legal reforms of the 19th century.

Early life[edit]

Thomas was the third son of Joseph Chitty and his wife, Elizabeth née Woodward. He was never called to the bar but began to practise as a special pleader in 1820 at the early age of nineteen.[1]

Legal practice[edit]

Chitty practised at 1 King's Bench Walk[1] where he educated a generation of eminent pupils including:

– and sundry future judges and politicians.[1]

The practice of special pleader demanded mastery of detail and the technical intricacies of the law and Chitty's career spanned huge changes from the Common Law Procedure Acts 1852-4 to the Judicature Acts 1873-5, reforms that changed the ancient regime of forms of action into, essentially, the modern system. Chitty exploited the opportunity in publishing a number of practitioners' texts including preparing new editions of:

  • John Frederick Archbold's The Practice of the Court of King's Bench in Personal Actions and Ejectments, despite Archbold's objections;
  • His father's Treatise on the Parties to Actions;
  • Richard Burn's Justice of the Peace (1845);

– and publishing several works in his own right including Forms of Practical Proceedings (1834). His grandson T. Willes Chitty edited the 11th edition in 1879.[1]

Family, personality and death[edit]

"Chitty was known as a kind and genial man, a keen whist player and musician, and an energetic volunteer."[1] He retired in 1877, and died at home in London.[1]

In 1826, he had married Eliza née Cawston, and the couple had two sons who followed in their father's legal footsteps:[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hamilton (2004)
  2. ^ Barker, G. F. R. (2004) "Shee, Sir William (1804–1868)", rev. Hugh Mooney, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 24 July 2007 (subscription or UK public library membership required)


  • Obituaries:
    • Annual Register (1878), 136
    • Solicitors' Journal, 23 (1877–78), 329
    • Law Journal, 23 Feb 1878, 131–2; 2 March 1878, 148