Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chapman, Henry Samuel

CHAPMAN, HENRY SAMUEL (1803–1881), colonial judge, was born at Kennington, Surrey, in July 1803, and emigrated to Canada in 1823. He founded at Montreal, in 1833, the 'Daily Advertiser,' the first daily paper published in Canada; connected with it were the 'Courier,' a bi-weekly, and the 'Weekly Abstract.' As editor of these journals he displayed great vigour and ability, but they ceased on his leaving the colony in 1834. His first connection with public life in England was in acting as an assistant commissioner to inquire into the condition of the handloom weavers in 1838. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple on 12 June 1840, when he joined the northern circuit, and was appointed advocate to the New Zealand Company. In June 1843 he again left his native country, and became judge of the supreme court of New Zealand, which office he continued to hold until March 1802, when he was named colonial secretary of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), but vacated the secretaryship in November of the same year. Removing to the neighbouring colony, he commenced practising the Jaw in Melbourne in October 1854, and in February 1855 was elected a member of the old legislative assembly. Under the new constitution of Victoria he was named attorney-general 11 March 1857, but the O'Shanassy cabinet, of which he was a member, only held office until 29 April in the same year, on 10 March 1858, being then a member of the assembly for St. Hilda, he was called on by Sir Henry Barkly, the governor of the colony, to form a ministry, which he succeeded in doing, and William Clark Haines taking the chief secretaryship, he himself resumed his former place of attorney-general, and retained it until 27 Oct. 1859, when his party suffered a defeat. In the election of 1861 he was returned for Mornington, and during 1862-3 served the office of equity judge in the supreme court of Victoria whilst Sir Redmond Barry was absent on leave. For several years and in the intervals of office he filled the chair of law at the Melbourne University. He returned to Now Zealand in 1865, and again acted as judge of the supreme court; was afterwards puisne judge at Otago, with a salary of 1,500l. a year, and in 1877 retired on a pension. He was an occasional contributor to the 'Westminster Review,' the 'Law Magazine,' and other periodicals, and was the author of articles in the 'Encyclopædia Britannica.' As a writer in the English press he was the means of rendering important services to Canada and British North America. He died at Dunedin, New Zealand, on 27 Dec. 1881, in his 79th year.

The following works bear his name:

  1. 'Thoughts on the Money and Exchanges of Lower Canada,' 1832.
  2. 'A Petition from Lower Canada, with Explanatory Remarks, 1834.
  3. 'The Act for the Regulation of Municipal Corporations in England and Wales, with index and notes,' 1836.
  4. 'The Safety Principle of Joint Stock Banks and other Companies, exhibited in a Modification of the Law of Partnership,' 1837.
  5. 'The New Zealand Portfolio,' 1843.
  6. 'Parliamentary Government, or Responsible Ministries of the Australian Colonies,' 1854.

[Morgan's Bibliotheca Canadensis (1867), p. 71; Colonial Office List, 1876; Law Times, 25 Feb. 1882, p. 304; Beaton's Australian Dictionary (1879), p. 37.]

G. C. B.