Legal precedent book belonging to John Watson, solicitor of Nottingham (d 1889), 1848-1880

Scope and Content

The collection consists of a legal precedent book, copy book or formulary (MS 100/1) containing copies of deeds and other legal documents kept by and for John Watson for training and reference purposes.

The inside front cover is inscribed with the name 'John Watson Junr' and the date 1848. 'Watson Wadsworth & Ward' has also been written inside.

The first 116 folios consist of neatly written examples of standard deeds and documents dating from 1844-1850, probably written out by John Watson as part of his legal training. Names and places are commonly given by initials only.

The remainder of the volume consists of further examples, written in a number of different hands, and dating from around 1854 to 1880. They have been added in roughly chronological order. The documents include examples of conveyances, assignments, affidavits and statutory declarations, certificates, letters of attorney and transfers of shares. Printed notices and sample forms are also pasted into the volume. Subjects cover the range of legal business, but those particular to the Nottingham area include diversion of the Stapleford to Bramcote footpath, 1867; agreement as to patronage of the new church of All Saints in Nottingham, 1864; granting of a licence to celebrate marriages in Bestwood Park church in the parish of Lenton, 1870; granting of a faculty for erecting a memorial in Stapleford churchyard, 1871; conveyance of land in the parish of St Mary, Nottingham, for the new benefice of New Radford, 1871; granting of a faculty for restoring and re-seating the parish of St Mary, Nottingham, 1866; agreement as to patronage of the new church of St Andrew in Nottingham, 1871; conveyance of land for St Peter's (Nottingham) School, 1854; and rearrangement of portions of the parishes of Lenton and Radford in Nottingham Poor Law Union, 1880.

One copy letter dated 1891 has been added to the end of the volume in a different hand.

The volume is accompanied by a loose leaf index (MS 100/2).

Administrative / Biographical History

In the 1881 census for Nottingham, John Watson was aged 51. In around 1854 he had became a partner in the solicitors' firm Wadsworth and Watson, joining John Wadsworth who had begun practising as a solicitor in Nottingham in the early 1830s. The firm, which was based in Weekday Cross in Nottingham, went through a number of changes of name. By 1862, it was Wadsworth, Watson and Wadsworth; by 1866 John Watson was the senior partner and the firm's name had become Watson and Wadsworth; by 1881 the firm was known as Watson, Wadsworth and Ward; and by 1920 it was Watson, Crewdson and Wadsworth. In the 1930s or 1940s, the name Watson was dropped, and by 1956 the firm, still operating from Weekday Cross, was Dowson, Wadsworth and Company.

John Watson was appointed as Registrar for the Archdeaconry of Nottingham, as 'John Watson junior', in 1866. He was sworn in again in 1878 as 'John Watson'. His death in Nottingham, aged 59, was registered in the March quarter of 1889. In February 1890 his partner Frederic Wadsworth became Registrar in his place.


No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers.

Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright on the description belongs to the University of Nottingham.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Good, but binding is fragile

Conditions Governing Use

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email

Custodial History

The volume was acquired by the library of University College Nottingham in June 1943.

Related Material

University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections: Records of the Archdeaconry of Nottingham, 1556-1942. Reference code: AN