By David Murray

In 1791 whilst the Constitutional Act created a legislative meeting for top Canada, the colonists and their British rulers decreed that the working legal justice method within the region be followed from England, to prevent any undue impact from the within reach usa. during this new learn of early Canadian legislations, David Murray has delved into the court docket documents of the Niagara District, one of many richest units of legal courtroom documents surviving from top Canada, to research the legal justice procedure within the district through the first half the 19th century.

Murray explores how a ways neighborhood features affected the operation of a felony justice process transplanted from England; his research comprises how felony procedures affected higher Canadian morality, the therapy of the insane, welfare situations, crimes devoted within the district, and an exam of the jobs of the Niagara magistrates, constables, and juries. Murray concludes by way of arguing that whereas the foundations and tradition of British justice have been firmly implanted within the Niagara district, this didn't hinder justice from being unequal, particularly for ladies and visual minorities. Integrating the tales of the contributors stuck up within the criminal procedure, Murray explores legislations from an area viewpoint, and illuminates how the Niagara region's legal justice method operated below hybrid affects from either Britain and the United States.

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Additional info for Colonial Justice: Justice, Morality, and Crime in the Niagara District, 1791-1849

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The Erie Canal stimulated a dynamic economic growth that soon enabled Buffalo to become the dominant city on the New York side of the Niagara river. From some 2,500 in 1825 Buffalo's population grew to over 81,000 by I860, making the city the tenth largest in the United States on the eve of the Civil War. Its commercial ascendancy was based primarily on the shipment of grain from the American mid-west. '33 From its initial eminence as the capital of the new colony, and in direct contrast to Buffalo, the town of Niagara steadily declined in political and economic importance.

Magistrates were not required to be lawyers and in this early period of Upper Canadian history most were not. They were appointed on the basis of character and standing in the local community. From the earliest period this usually equated to possession of substantial property. The Act of 1842 setting out the qualifications for justices of the peace stated that they 'shall be of the most sufficient persons' in the district17 and specified a property qualification of £300. In each district and community magistrates constituted a local elite, or local oligarchy, who were willing and, in some cases, eager to use their status and their powers as magistrates to enhance their positions, wealth, and influence.

These could prove long and unpleasant. 68 Dr James Muirhead, who originally came out to Upper Canada as an army surgeon and son-inlaw to Colonel Butler of Butler's Rangers, which entitled him to substantial land grants in the 1790s, was chairman of Niagara's court of quarter sessions in 1832. He tried criminals, sentenced them to jail, ministered to their medical needs, and when one, Isaac Ducket, died in jail, he performed the autopsy. 69 Although personally arresting suspects did not form part of a magistrate's duties, arrests could give rise to proud boasts.

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