GerryS • Link
Being in chancery presented a real threat to financial well-being. For an explanation of "in chancery" and its continuance into the 19th Century see this BBC link.
See also Charles Dickens's novel 'Bleak House' and John Galsworthy's 'In Chancery' (1920), part of the Forsyte Saga series, looking at the personal toll such legal action can take on the individual.
Another interesting reference is from dictionary.com, quoting Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary,