William Dummer Powell

William Dummer Powell, chief justice of Upper Canada (b at Boston, Mass 1755; d at Toronto 6 Sept 1834). Powell went to England with his family in 1776; he revisited Boston only after the AMERICAN REVOLUTION, in a vain attempt to claim his father's confiscated estates.

Powell, William Dummer

William Dummer Powell, chief justice of Upper Canada (b at Boston, Mass 1755; d at Toronto 6 Sept 1834). Powell went to England with his family in 1776; he revisited Boston only after the AMERICAN REVOLUTION, in a vain attempt to claim his father's confiscated estates. Called to the English Bar, in 1779 he moved to Montréal to practise law. A spokesman for Loyalists' dissatisfaction with the QUEBEC ACT, he lobbied unsuccessfully for an elected assembly and wrote the report that induced Guy CARLETON, Baron Dorchester, to set up 4 new administrative districts in what was soon to become Upper Canada. In 1789 he was appointed the first judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the district of Hesse, with headquarters at Detroit. In 1794 he became a judge of the Upper Canadian Court of King's Bench and in 1807 a member of the Executive Council. An able lawyer and a conscientious administrator, he rose to become in 1816 Speaker of the Legislative Council and chief justice, the first permanent resident of the province to hold that office. His most controversial case was the trial of Robert GOURLAY. He retired in 1825.