Archibald, Thomas Dickson (DNB01)

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ARCHIBALD, Sir THOMAS DICKSON (1817–1876), judge, born at Truro, Nova Scotia, in 1817, was sixth son of Samuel George Williams Archibald, LL.D., of Nova Scotia, by Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Dickson of Onslow, Canada. Like Sir Adams George Archibald [q. v. Suppl.], he was descended from Samuel Archibald who emigrated to Nova Scotia from Ireland. The father was attorney-general of Nova Scotia, 1831–41; advocate-general, 1837–41; master of the rolls and judge of the vice-admiralty court, 1841–6; and sometime speaker of the assembly.

Thomas was educated at Pictou Presbyterian College, and in 1837 qualified for practice as attorney and barrister-at-law in Nova Scotia. A visit to Europe, however, in the following year resulted in his settling in England, and on 11 Nov. 1840 he was admitted at the Middle Temple, where, after some years of practice as a certificated special pleader, he was called to the bar on 30 Jan. 1852. He was one of the favourite pupils of Serjeant Petersdorff, whom he assisted in the compilation of his ‘Abridgment.’ At the bar his perfect mastery of the technicalities of pleading (then a veritable black art) stood him in such stead that, though not an especially persuasive advocate, he slowly gained a lead on the home circuit. In 1868 he was appointed junior counsel to the treasury, and on 20 Nov. 1872 he succeeded Sir James Hannen [q. v. Suppl.] as justice of the queen’s bench, being at the same time invested with the coif. On 5 Feb. 1873 he was knighted. Transferred to the common pleas on 6 Feb. 1875 (vice Sir Henry Singer Keating, resigned), he retained his place and acquired the status of justice of the high court on the subsequent fusion of the courts by the Judicature Act. He died at his residence, Porchester Gate, Hyde Park, on 18 Oct. 1876, leaving a well-merited reputation for sound law, unfailing conscientiousness, and courtesy.

Archibald married, in 1841, Sarah, only daughter of Richard Smith of Dudley Priory, Worcestershire, by whom he left issue.

He was author of ‘Suggestions for Amendment of the Law as to Petitions of Right: a Letter to William Bovill, Esq., M.P.,’ London, 1859, 8vo.

[Law Mag. and Rev. Feb. 1877; Ann. Reg. 1876, p. 155; Gent. Mag. 1841, i. 645; Royal Kalendars, 1831–46; Law List, 1852; Law Times, lxii. 11, 15; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Haydn’s Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby.]

J. M. R.