Osgoode, William (DNB00)
OSGOODE, WILLIAM (1754–1824), Canadian jurist, son of William Osgoode of St. Martin's, London, was born in England in 1754. According to the French Canadian writer Garneau, who does not state any authority, he was a natural son of George II. Osgoode matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1768, graduated B.A. in 1772, and M.A. in 1777. He became a law student at Lincoln's Inn in 1773, and was called to the bar in 1779. In the same yearhe published 'Remarks on the Laws of Descent,' criticising the views of Mr. Justice Blackstone on this subject. In 1791, after the Canada Bill, Osgoode was appointed chief justice of Upper Canada. He sailed thither in April 1792, accompanied by General Simcoe, the lieutenant-governor of the Upper Province. In 1794 Osgoode was made chief justice of the province of Lower Canada, and settled at the capital, Quebec. Besides the chief-justiceship, he was given the office of president of the committee for the management of the public lands. He excited great dissatisfaction among the French Canadians by the partiality with which he assigned the largest grants to English settlers. The French settlers complained of Osgoode to General Prescott, who became lieutenant-governor of the Lower Province in 1797. The latter promptly took up their side, and a bitter dispute ensued between him and the chief justice. The executive council, which at that time held the supremacy in the colonial government, was closely allied with Osgoode. General Prescott was thus isolated, and his attempts to reform the management of the public lands proved a failure. Both parties eventually appealed to the Duke of Portland, home minister for the colonies, and, after a long correspondence, General Prescott was recalled in 1800. In 1801 Osgoode resigned his office of chief justice of Lower Canada, and returned home. He received a large pension, and lived for the rest of his life in London. He was a strong tory in politics, and on good terms with the chiefs of the government; but he took no part in law or politics beyond twice sitting on royal commissions on the courts of law. He died at his chambers in the Albany on 17 Jan. 1824. The building now occupied by the four superior courts at Toronto is known as Osgoode Hall.
[Garseau's Histoire du Canada; Morgan's Sketches of Celebrated Canadians; Foster's Alumni Oxon.]