Hagarty, Judge John Hawkins
b. 1816-09-17
d. 1900-04-27
Judge John Hawkins Hagarty was born on 17 September 1816 in Dublin Ireland. Hagarty was known for being a teacher, lawyer, author, politican, but formost a judge.1 Due to Hagarty's father's position as an examiner for the Court of Prerogative in Ireland, Hagarty was privately educated at Trinity College in Dublin in 1832 -- he remained here for only a year as he soon immigrated to Upper-Canada in 1834.2 He then enrolled in law school where he worked in the office of George Duggan in Toronto, here Hagarty was a law student for five years until he was officially called to the Bar in 1840.3
In 1846, Hagarty worked with John Willoughby Crawford -- the future lieutenant governor of Ontario -- while simultaneously holding the position of president of the St. Patrick's Society which was dedicated to Irish Canadians.4 By 1852, Hagarty expanded outside of his work as a lawyer into teaching. He became a professor of law at Trinity College in Toronto until 1855, wherein the same year he was awarded a DCL (Doctorate of Civil Law).5 His expansive career not only included teaching but also writing. Throughout his career, Hagarty wrote poetry which was often published in the Maple-Leaf and the Canadian Annual; a Literary Souvenir.6
However, Hagarty's major and main contributions are alloted to his 41 years serving on the bench as Puisne Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Judge of the Court of the Queen's Bench, and other positions.7 Hagarty remained on the bench until his retirment in 1897 when he was knighted and praised in the Canada Law Journal.8 The Journal praised Hagarty's long service while writing about his contributions, saying that he was sincerely solicitous of administering the law as he found it.9 Hagarty was highly remembered and praised until, and even after, his death on 27 April 1900.
Hagarty's work as a judge is most remembered in his direct influence of a specific case. The case is that of John Anderson, a “fugitive slave” who found solace in Upper-Canada but who was consequently charged for the murder of a white man in Missouri. When Anderson was presented in front of Hagarty, Hagarty sided with the accused claiming that the evidence against him was faulty and that this was of overwhelming importance to the prisoner's life and liberty.10 Overall, Hagarty is remembered and, what his knighthood demonstrates, is his incredible work on the bench.11
  • 1. Graham Parker, Hagarty, Sir John Hawkins, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Ibid.
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