Dickson, James
James Dickson was born in Donegal, Ireland and later traveled with his family to Vancouver Island in 1859. Governor James Douglas appointed Dickson as Coroner of Vancouver Island on 9 January 1860. In his commission, Dickson was placed as the Coroner for the district of Victoria, Esquimalt, and all the districts adjacent.1 At the time of his position, Dickson was the only known person in the colony to hold this office. Due to this authority, and his responsibility on cases of death, he was recognized as an equal by the Executive and Medical departments.2 Through this recognition, Dickson could impanel a jury in order to look into causes of death if they warranted a further investigation -- leading to trials and convictions based on Dickson’s depositions and authority.3
As Coroner, Dickson also sat as a member of the Legislative Assembly for the district of Victoria in 1864.4 His involvement in politics led to his share of opinions such as: an introduction of a bill for proper provisions for Marriage License Fees, and advocating for the abolition of the imprisonment of people on the basis of their debt.5
Although Dickson held a position with high authority and even claimed to be a medicinal doctor beyond Coroner -- alleging to be the medical attendant of Major Humphreys,6 his position was, for many years, on the edge of removal. Governor Kennedy pursued the issue of the removal of Dickson in 1866. Kennedy’s said motive for Dickson’s removal focused on the concept of retrenchment -- to cut back on the colony’s spending -- and on amalgamating the Coroner’s Office with that of the Stipendiary Magistrate of Victoria.7 Other members of the Legislative Assembly decided that it was against English Law to remove Dickson without a concrete cause; nonetheless, others considered the removal of Dickson a good riddance.8 It is unclear if or when Dickson’s removal occurred, what was more often stated in newspapers, such as the Chronicle, was primarily the debates over his imminent dismissal.9 Due to this uncertainty, it is unclear how long Dickson held his position besides the known six years he was Coroner, and because his death is also unknown -- Dickson and his later life remain a mystery.
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Douglas, James

Kennedy, Arthur

Places in this document

Esquimalt

Vancouver Island

Victoria

The Colonial Despatches Team. Dickson, James. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/dickson.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)