Ritchie, William Johnstone (DNB00)

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RITCHIE, Sir WILLIAM JOHNSTONE (1813–1892), chief justice of Canada, son of Thomas Ritchie, judge of the court of common pleas in Nova Scotia, and Eliza Johnstone, was born at Annapolis in that province on 28 Oct. 1813. He was educated at Pictou College, Nova Scotia, and studied law at Halifax in company with his brother, who afterwards became judge in equity for Nova Scotia. He was called to the bar of New Brunswick in 1838. In 1846 he entered the assembly as member for St. John's, retaining the same seat till 1851, but not making any special mark as a politician. After some years' successful practice he became a Q.C. in January 1854. In October 1854 he was appointed a member of the executive council of New Brunswick, but resigned on 17 Aug. 1855 on becoming a puisne judge for that province. In 1865 he was the representative of Nova Scotia on the colonial confederate council, which assembled to consider the question of commercial treaties. In December 1865 he was promoted to be chief justice of New Brunswick.

On 8 Oct. 1875 Ritchie was appointed a puisne judge of the Dominion supreme court, and on 11 Jan. 1879 was made chief justice. On 1 Nov. 1881 he was created knight bachelor. He acted as deputy governor of the Dominion during Lord Lorne's absence from July 1881 to Jan. 1882, and again in March 1884. He died at Ottawa on 25 Sept. 1892.

Ritchie married, first, Miss Strong, of St. Andrews, New Brunswick; secondly, in 1854, Grace, daughter of Thomas L. Nicholson of St. John, New Brunswick, and stepdaughter of Admiral William Fitzwilliam Owen [q. v.] He left children settled in Canada.

[Canadian Parl. Companion, 1880; Montreal Daily Herald, 26 Sept. 1892, as corrected by official record and private inquiry.]

C. A. H.