In 2015 I bought a legal document from the French ancien regime on eBay for the princely sum of $10.00. I recently translated it. I thought it may be of interest to other lawyers.
Translation was not straightforward: The script is hard to read and words often run into each other. In addition, a number of the words appear to be French legalese or archaic (or both). Often accents are not where one would expect them to be.
I have transcribed and translated the document line by line below. Doubtful points are marked by asterisks and question marks. Interpolations and educated guesses are marked by square brackets.
Le S[eigneu]r Dourif avoué en tribunal de Paris
Lord Dourif solicitor in the Tribunal of Paris
Declare au Jean Godot avoué du Citoyen Nivelle
Declares to Jean Godot solicitor for Citizen Nivelle
Que sans aucune approbation prejudicielle
That without any prejudicial consent
et sous touttes [sic] reserva de droit meme de demandes
And under all [reservations?] of law and also of claims
la nullite de l’assignation et accupera[?] pour le
the nullity of the summons and ******** for the
jean[?] peyrou ancien negotiant à paris sur l’assignation
Jean Peyrou former trader at Paris on the summons
à la Donnée au tribunal du de*reme arrondissement
at the [finding?] of the tribunal of the [2nd?] district
du Department de Paris aus funde requete
of the Region of Paris *** ***** request
et ordonnance des place des quinces fermès derniers
and judgment of the place of the ******* ****** last
*** novembre prefere **if à requie n’ent
*** November prefers **** to ****** *’***
ignore du *** acte.
ignores from the *** act.
F. Donnet Bourgeois De eglucerne [Signature?]
F. Donnet gentleman of *********
**u au * Godot afre*e le
*** of the Godot ****** the
vingt j[ui]l[le]t[?] 1792 [Signature?]
20 July 1792
[Stamp:] La loi le roi
The law, the king
D[epartment] de Paris
D[epartment] of Paris
Minute / note
2 sols 6 deniers [probably the filing fee].
a *ier au
to **** to the
J Godot avoué
J Godot solicitor
Context and Comment
This document appears to be a waiver of a claim (or part of a claim) between a trader named Peyrou and a man named Nivelle, or perhaps a waiver of the benefit of a procedural point. Presumably the dispute was a commercial one.
The document is a good artefact from its time. The seal marked La loi, Le Roi is appropriate for the date 1792: at that time the motto of the Kingdom of France was La Nation, la Loi, le Roi.
The conventional date “20 July 1792” would not long continue: on 22 September 1792 the Republican calendar recommenced with Year I. I’m intrigued that the document seems to use both the titles “Seigneur” (Lord) and Citoyen (citizen).
I have no idea of the current value of the filing fee of 2 sols 6 deniers. It could have been (and perhaps was) paid using coins:
Looking at the rest of that year, one notes that in 1792 France entered upon wars with Austria and Prussia, that the Paris mob stormed the Tuilleries and conducted the September massacres, and that the trial of King Louis XVI commenced. This document is a useful reminder that even when the great events of world history occur, ordinary men and women still go on earning a living and leading a life.