A group of 30 legal notices for bail, dated between 1798 and 1802, and signed by Jacob de la Montagnie (1765-1823), a member of the New York City Court of Aldermen and one of the judges for the Common Court of Pleas. Montagnie held a variety of elected positions in New York but is best known for serving in 1804 on the committee overseeing the funeral arrangements for Alexander Hamilton.
Before 1831, most defendants in civil actions in which an exact amount of debt or damages was demanded were required to obtain special bail, or sureties, for satisfaction of a judgment, according to the book “Duly and Constantly Kept: A History of the New York Supreme Court, 1691-1847 and An Inventory of Its Records, 1797-1847 (1991). “The special bail piece is a memorandum filed with the court stating that the defendant has been delivered to special bail. The special bail piece states the names of the defendant and plaintiff; the name, occupation or rank, and residence of the bail (two persons are named, but generally one is fictitious - ’John Doe’ or ‘Richard Roe’); and the type of common-law action. The bail piece is signed by the bail and acknowledged before a judge or other court officer.”
In this group there are eight bail notices for the Supreme Court of New York, each signed by James Fairlie, the appointment clerk for the court, along with Montagnie. A few of these handwritten documents, dated between 1798 and 1799, are also signed by New York Sheriff James Morris.
This collection also includes fifteen printed bail notices for the New York Mayor’s Court that are filled in with holographic annotations, indicating the date bail was posted, who was arrested, who made the complaint, the nature of the suit, and the amount of the bail. There are also holographic notes on the verso of each of these half page notices, all signed between 1798 and 1801 by Montagnie. An additional seven notices for the Mayor’s Court, all signed by Montagnie and Benson, are dated between 1799 and 1801.
Among the crimes listed on these notices are assault, battery, trespass, and debt. Many of the notices are contemporary copies and include a handwritten note along the bottom: “a true copy of the original bail piece on file in my office.” The notices range from half page to legal-size. They are uniformly toned with some wear and creasing from prior folds, a few with splits, but all are otherwise in very good condition. Item #73837