Legal Files Created by Solicitor Dr. Lovro Toman
Lovro Toman (1827-1870) is nowadays known as a poet and a politician, but his primary source of income was working as a solicitor. During his practice, Toman dealt with various legal matters, most of them similar to what solicitors deal with today. Most of the files of his law firm are now kept by the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. He also dealt with legal matters of his extended family, namely his wife Josipina, born Urbančič, and her relatives, both during her life and after her untimely death. One of the more extensive files among his records refers to the division of inheritance among near and distant relatives and other rightful claimants of the late Ksaverija Jelovšek von Fichtenau, born Dietrich, who died intestate on April 20, 1811.
Files created by law firms can only rarely be found among archival records. It is therefore all the more surprising that the files created by Lovro Toman, whose primary source of income was acting as a solicitor, although nowadays he is better known as a poet and a politician, managed to be preserved until the present day. Archival records, created during his work at his law firm and during his literary career, are now kept by several Slovenian cultural institutions. Material stored at the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia was donated to us in 1948 by the Federal Collection Centre, while his poetry-related records and most of his correspondence is kept by the National and University Library in Ljubljana. Having finished selecting Toman’s records on August 19, 2013, the latter handed over to the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia also the material created by his law firm.
Lovro Toman was born in Kamna Gorica on August 10, 1827. He was the ninth of eleven children born to mother Helena and father Janez, who ran a successful ironworks. When he was nine years old, his father died, but his mother was determined to make sure he got proper education. He attended primary school in Ljubljana and then continued his education at the Ljubljana grammar school. He enrolled at the University of Vienna, and finished his studies in Graz, where he also got his doctorate in 1852. Already during his studies he became known for his poetry and spokesmanship and got his start in the politics as well. He practiced law in Ljubljana, Kranj, Graz and Radovljica, and was a member of provincial and state diet from 1861 on. In 1853, he married Josipina Urbančič of Turn Castle, who was an exceptionally educated and talented young girl of her generation, also known as the first Slovenian female writer, a poet and a composer.
Although not always described in favourable light by his contemporaries, Toman’s character can only be judged based on known historical facts and his preserved correspondence. He appeared ambitious, vain and as someone who could hold a grudge. After arguing with his future mother-in-law about the fortune that Josipina was to bring into the marriage, he also came across as rather greedy. As to his literary work, many thought that it was shallow, linguistically unfinished and rather brutal.
Archival records of Toman’s law firm, which also include some earlier legal documents, are currently stored in 46 archival boxes. Apart from some files created after Toman’s death, when the firm was run by Ivan Murnik, records cover a period of time between 1658 and 1915. During his practice, Toman dealt with various legal matters, most of them similar to what solicitors deal with today. His clients were suing each other for debt collection, legacies, handing over of property and for failing to stick to agreements, for guardianship, paternity, trespassing, thefts, and in rare cases for divorce settlements. He was a liquidator and represented his clients in repossession cases and at auctions, as well as handled land registry matters, such as entering or removing a client’s name from land registers or various prenotations. The preserved files reveal that for some peasant families he appeared to be a sort of “family lawyer”, representing different family members in various court proceedings. Because he understood and spoke Slovenian and because he was familiar with the life of peasants, many villages, neighbourhoods and farmers turned to him for his help and his representation in the procedures of land redemption and repurchasing of servitudes. In doing so, he was often faced with a criticism of not working in favour of his peasant clients; this was believed to be one of the main reasons why no tabori (mass outdoor political gathering) were organized in Upper Carniola. However, it seems more likely that in his work he was primarily following the rules of legal profession, and perhaps, somewhat pragmatically, also his career ambitions.
As a solicitor, Lovro Toman represented himself as well. Namely, he often came into conflict with his clients due to their delays in paying for his services and covering other court expenses. He also dealt with legal matters of his extended family, namely his wife Josipina, born Urbančič, and, during her lifetime and after her untimely death, her relatives.
The noble family of Urbančič, who lived at Turn Castle during the period of land redemption and other reforms regarding ownership of land and property, were related to some of the other wealthier Upper Carniolan families. As a result, they were entitled to a share of the inheritance in cases, when a particular related family branch became extinct due to lack of legitimate heirs. One of the more extensive files, preserved by the Archive, refers to the division of inheritance among near and distant relatives and other rightful claimants of the late Ksaverija Jelovšek von Fichtenau, born Dietrich, who died intestate on April 20, 1811 at the Zalog (Breitenau) Castle in Straža near Novo mesto. According to court decision of 1830, her heirs became Jožef Dietrich, Vincenc Dietrich, Rebeka Dietrich, Konstancija Urbančič, Terezija Planinc, Antonija Homann and Dr. Rajmund Dietrich. In the event of their death, the inheritance was to be transferred to their heirs. Each claimants was to receive one seventh of her property. The file that we are presenting here also includes some documents that describe other inheritance cases in which family relations played a major part. One of them deals with the inheritance after the death of Vincenc Dietrich, the owner of the Strmol Seigniory. Because the inheritance case of Ksaverija Jelovšek von Fichtenau took a rather long time, which led to an increase in the number of legitimate heirs, the legal file also contains a table showing how individual heirs were related to the deceased and the approximate hereditary share of individual beneficiaries. It also points to the intertwining of inheritances, as it clearly shows that Janko, Fidelis and Josipina Urbančič were all entitled to inheritance through several different family lines.
Alenka Kačičnik Gabrič