Wilson, Adam (DNB00)

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WILSON, Sir ADAM (1814–1891), Canadian judge, was born at Edinburgh on 22 Sept. 1814, and educated in that city. He emigrated in 1830 to Trafalgar, co. Halton, in Upper Canada, and went into the employ of his uncle, who owned mills and stores at that place; but after three years he decided to go to the Canadian bar, and in 1834 became articled to Robert Baldwin Sullivan; he was called in Trinity term 1839 to the bar of Upper Canada, having already made such an impression on his tutor that he was in 1840 admitted into partnership with him and Robert Baldwin, the reform leader. He was successful in practice, and became Q.C. in 1850; he was shortly afterwards elected a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada. In 1856 he was appointed to the committee for revising the public statutes of the Canadas.

Wilson removed to Toronto before 1855, and in 1859 and 1860 was mayor of that city. In 1859 he entered the legislative assembly of Upper Canada as member for the North Riding of York. Joining the reform party, he became an uncompromising opponent of the Cartier-Macdonald ministry, chiefly on the question of their views as to popular representation. In 1860 he was again returned, but in 1861 was defeated in the election for West Toronto. In 1862 he was elected for his old constituency, and on 24 May of that year became solicitor-general in the coalition ministry led by John Sandfield Macdonald.

On 11 May 1863 Wilson resigned political life on his appointment as puisne judge of the court of queen's bench for Upper Canada. On 24 Aug. he was transferred to the court of common pleas; but at Easter 1868 he again returned to the court of queen's bench. In 1871 he was a member of the law reform commission. In 1878 he was appointed chief justice of the court of common pleas, and in 1884 chief justice of the court of queen's bench of Ontario. He was knighted in 1888. He died at Toronto on 29 Dec. 1891. He was author of ‘A Sketch of the Office of Constable,’ 1861.

Wilson married the daughter of Thomas Dalton, editor of the Toronto ‘Patriot.’ His adopted daughter, Julia Isabella Jordan, married George Shirley.

[Rose's Cyclopædia of Canadian Biogr.; Morgan's Canadian Legal Directory, 1878; Montreal Gazette, 30 Dec. 1891.]

C. A. H.