William Higgins (high constable)

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William Higgins
High Constable of Toronto
In office
Preceded by Position Created
Succeeded by George Kingsmill

William Higgins was the first high constable (or high bailiff) of the Toronto Police Department.

Higgins was appointed High Constable of the Home District in 1826, a position that included being inspector of police for York, Upper Canada at a salary of ₤40 a year. When the City of Toronto was incorporated in 1834, the new city council unanimously appointed Higgins High Bailiff, including the responsibility of being city inspector, with a salary of ₤125 a year while remaining High Constable (as well as the only constable) for the region.[1][2][3]

Higgins' term ended in scandal when he was implicated in the death of a man during election day anti-Tory rioting by largely disenfranchised Irish Catholic minority which was put down by a party of Protestant Orangemen, led by Higgins. Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie, in his role as chief magistrate, held a police court investigation and laid charges against Higgins. He was exonerated by the grand jury in April 1835 but, by that point city council had already chosen not to reappoint him.[4][5]

He was subsequently appointed High Constable of York County and served for many years.[6]


  1. ^ Nickerson, J. (2010). Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada: A Researcher's Guide. Dundurn. p. 149. ISBN 9781770704619. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  2. ^ "Archives description detail display". gencat4.eloquent-systems.com. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  3. ^ Filey, M. (2008). Toronto: The Way We Were. Dundurn. p. 41. ISBN 9781459703087. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  4. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20141011075246/http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-birth-of-toronto-feature/. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Biography – SULLIVAN, DANIEL – Volume XI (1881-1890) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography". biographi.ca. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  6. ^ Denis Larionov & Alexander Zhulin. "Read the eBook Landmarks of Canada. What art has done for Canadian history; a guide to the J. Ross Robertson historical collection in the Public reference library, Toronto, Canada. This catalogue of the by Toronto Public Libraries online for free (page 23 of 89)". ebooksread.com. Retrieved 2014-10-05.