William Johnstone Ritchie

Samuel Henry Strong Henri Elzéar Taschereau Télesphore Fournier

Sir William Johnstone Ritchie
William Johnstone Ritchie.jpg
2nd Chief Justice of Canada
In office
January 11, 1879 – September 25, 1892
Nominated bySir John A. Macdonald
Preceded byWilliam Buell Richards
Succeeded bySamuel Henry Strong
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
In office
September 30, 1875 – January 11, 1879
Nominated byAlexander Mackenzie
Preceded bynew office
Succeeded byJohn Wellington Gwynne
7th Chief Justice of New Brunswick
In office
Preceded byRobert Parker
Succeeded byJohn Campbell Allen
Personal details
Born(1813-10-28)October 28, 1813
Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
DiedSeptember 25, 1892(1892-09-25) (aged 78)
Ottawa, Ontario
Resting placeBeechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario
Martha Strang
(m. 1843; died 1847)
Grace Vernon Nicholson
(m. 1856)

Sir William Johnstone Ritchie (October 28, 1813 – September 25, 1892) was one of the first judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. He became the second Chief Justice of the court, and the second-longest serving Chief Justice to date.[citation needed]

Life and career

Ritchie was born in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia to Thomas Ritchie and Elizabeth Wildman Johnstone. He graduated from the Pictou Academy and went to study law in Halifax in the office of his brother, John William Ritchie. He was called to the bar of Nova Scotia in 1837 but moved to Saint John, New Brunswick, and was called to the bar of that province the following year.[citation needed]

In 1846 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. In keeping with his pledge to resign if a fellow Liberal candidate failed to win a by-election, he gave up his seat in 1851, only to be re-elected three years later. In 1855 he left politics to accept an appointment to the Supreme Court of New Brunswick, and 10 years later he was named Chief Justice of New Brunswick. He was appointed to the newly established Supreme Court of Canada on September 30, 1875 and became its chief justice on January 11, 1879. He served on the Supreme Court for 17 years until he died on September 25, 1892.[citation needed]

Ritchie was twice married. He was first married at Rothesay on September 21, 1843 to Martha Strang.[1] She was the daughter of John Strang, a shipping merchant from St. Andrews. Martha Ritchie died in 1847. A son and a daughter were born to this marriage. Ritchie's second marriage was at Saint John, New Brunswick on May 5, 1856 to Grace Vernon Nicholson (1838–1911). She was the daughter of the late Captain Thomas L. Nicholson and his wife Amy (née Vernon) and stepdaughter of Vice-Admiral William Fitzwilliam Owen, R.N. Seven sons and five daughters were born to this marriage.[citation needed]

Sir William and Lady Ritchie are buried in Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa.[citation needed]

Ritchie's great-nephew, Roland Ritchie, served as a puisne justice of the Supreme Court.[2][citation needed]


  1. ^ Johnson, Daniel (21 October 1843). "Daniel F Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics". New Brunswick Courier. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  2. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Ritchie, William Bruce Almon