George Joseph Bell - Encyclopedia


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GEORGE JOSEPH BELL (1770-1843), Scottish jurist, was born at Edinburgh on the 10th of March 1770. He was an elder brother of Sir Charles Bell. At the age of eight he entered the high school, but he received no university education further than attending the lectures of A. F. Tytler, Dugald Stewait and Hume. He became a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1791, and was one of the earliest and most attached friends of Francis Jeffrey. In 1804 he published a Treatise on the Law of Bankruptcy in Scotland, which he subsequently enlarged and published in 1826 under the title of Commentaries on the Law of Scotland and on the principles of Mercantile Jurisprudence - an institutional work of the very highest excellence, which has had its value acknowledged by such eminent jurists as Joseph Story and James Kent. In 1821 Bell was elected professor of the law of Scotland in the university of Edinburgh; and in 1831 he was appointed to one of the principal clerkships in the supreme court. He was placed at the head of a commission in 1833 to inquire into the Scottish bankruptcy law; and in consequence of the reports of the commissioners, chiefly drawn up by himself, many beneficial alterations were made. He died on the 23rd of September 1843. Bell's smaller treatise, Principles of the Law of Scotland, became a standard text-book for law students. The Illustrations of the Principles is also a work of high value.

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