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Joseph Chitty (12 March 1775 – 17 February 1841) was an English lawyer and legal writer, author of some of the earliest practitioners' texts and founder of an important dynasty of lawyers.

Life and practiceEdit

He was himself the son of a Joseph Chitty (1729–1795), and his wife, Sarah née Cartwright. He initially practised as a special pleader before being called to the bar by the Middle Temple on 28 June 1816. He never became a KC but built a huge junior practice at 1 Pump Court and published many books.[1]

Chitty was also pupil master to a generation of lawyers, including:

In fact, at the time, the Inns of Court were in decline and Chitty organised lectures and moots, in 1810 being given permission to use the hall of Lincoln's Inn.[2]

Personality and later lifeEdit

Despite his successful practice, by 1831, Chitty had amassed extensive debts that were costing almost GBP2,000 per year to service. Further, Chitty's health was in decline and he was becoming increasingly anxious about his parlous state. Much of his energy became taken up in avoiding the attentions of his creditors. He retired from practice in 1833 but continued to publish. He died in London[2] and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.


He married Elizabeth Woodward, and they had eight children. Of those, Joseph Chitty the younger, Thomas Chitty, Edward Chitty, and Thompson Chitty were lawyers and legal writers:[2] Joseph the younger and Thompson were the first editors of the standard textbook Chitty on Contracts.[6] The judge Joseph William Chitty was a son of Thomas Chitty.


By ChittyEdit

  • Chitty, T. (1799) Treatise on Bills of Exchange
  • — (1808) Precedents of Pleading
  • — (1811a) Treatise on the Law of Apprentices
  • — (1811b) Treatise on the Game Laws
  • — (1812) Treatise on the Law of Nations
  • — (1818) Treatise on Commercial Law
  • — (1820) Treatise on the Law of the Legal Prerogatives of the Crown
  • — (1826) A Practical Treatise on the Criminal Law
  • — (1829–37) Statutes of Practical Utility
  • — (1833) The Practice of the Law in All its Principal Departments


  1. ^ Hamilton, John Andrew (1887). "Chitty, Joseph" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 10. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. ^ a b c d Lobban (2004)
  3. ^ Hedley, S. (2004) "Alderson, Sir Edward Hall (bap. 1787, d. 1857)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 22 July 2007 (subscription required)
  4. ^ [Anon.] (1911) "Thomas Noon Talfourd" Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ [Anon.] (1911) "Henry Havelock" Encyclopædia Britannica
  6. ^ Chitty on Contracts. 1 (31st ed.). London: Sweet & Maxwell. 2012. p. iii. ISBN 9780414047990.