Fort Pitt Museum: An Inquisition in the "Town of Fort Pitt"


In early April 1773, John Proctor, "high Sheriff" of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, assembled an inquisition of "twelve honest & lawful Men" of his "Bailiwick" to determine how a suit for debt brought by John Greer against Jacob Bousman would be resolved. Having already found Bousman liable for the debt, Proctor and his jurors now fulfilled the requirements of a 1705 Pennsylvania act, which placed certain protections on an individual’s real estate as a means to resolve debts. The inquisition—made up largely of Bousman’s neighbors in the "Town of Fort Pitt"—determined that, within the course of seven years, his holdings in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area would generate enough revenue to cover his debt to Greer. As a result, Bousman surrendered his lands, but was given a chance to recover them, as long as his debt to Greer was paid off in the time allotted.

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