William Buell Richards

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The Honourable
Sir William Buell Richards
William Buell Richards.jpg
The Honourable Sir William Buell Richards, portrait by his niece Frances Richards
1st Chief Justice of Canada
In office
September 30, 1875 – January 10, 1879
Nominated by Alexander Mackenzie
Succeeded by William Johnstone Ritchie
Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada for Leeds
In office
Preceded by Ogle Robert Gowan
Succeeded by The electoral district was abolished.
Personal details
Born (1815-05-02)May 2, 1815
Brockville, Upper Canada
Died January 26, 1889(1889-01-26) (aged 73)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political party Reformer[citation needed]
Relations William Buell, uncle
Stephen Richards, brother
Albert Norton Richards, brother
Alma mater St. Lawrence Academy

Sir William Buell Richards, PC (May 2, 1815 – January 26, 1889) was the first Chief Justice of Canada.

Richards was born in Brockville, Upper Canada to Stephen Richards and Phoebe Buell. He earned law degree at the St. Lawrence Academy in Potsdam, New York and then articled with his uncle Andrew Norton Buell in Brockville. He was called to the bar in 1837 and continued to practice in Brockville with George Malloch until 1853 and then with his uncle again.

In 1848 Richards was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada and by 1848 he became the Attorney General for the province. Leaving politics in June 1853, he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas of Canada West and by 1863 he became Chief Justice.

In November 1868 Richards was appointed to Chief Justice of the province which was the highest court in Ontario at that time, the Supreme Court not yet having been created.. It was during this time that he heard the appeal of Patrick James Whelan for the murder of Thomas D'Arcy McGee.

With the creation of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1875 Richards was appointed directly to the position of Chief Justice which he stayed at until his retirement on January 10, 1879.

His brother Albert Norton Richards served in the Canadian House of Commons and was Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.

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Preceded by
Robert Baldwin
Attorney General of Canada West
Succeeded by
John Alexander Macdonald