James Armstrong

James Shearer Armstrong, lawyer, author, judge (b at Sorel, LC 27 Apr 1821; d there 23 Nov 1888). An able but undistinguished Québec advocate, James Armstrong was given an unprecedented promotion in 1871 when he was appointed chief justice of St Lucia in the West Indies.

Armstrong, James

James Shearer Armstrong, lawyer, author, judge (b at Sorel, LC 27 Apr 1821; d there 23 Nov 1888). An able but undistinguished Québec advocate, James Armstrong was given an unprecedented promotion in 1871 when he was appointed chief justice of St Lucia in the West Indies. On its cession to Britain in 1803, the island had retained its prerevolutionary language and law. With the appointment of British judges trained in the common law who could neither speak nor read French, the legal system and laws became increasingly confused. Selected for the appointment by the COLONIAL OFFICE because he was bilingual and trained in civil law, Armstrong not only performed his judicial duties but also codified the laws of St Lucia, using the civil and procedural codes of Québec as his models. Hence Québec became, and remains, a prime source of jurisprudence for St Lucia. Resigning in 1881, Armstrong returned to Canada, where he was later appointed chairman of the Royal Commission on Capital and Labour, one of the most important government investigations in the 19th century.