Series GR-1714 - Election writs and other material

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Election writs and other material

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  • textual record

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  • 1856-1866 (Creation)
    Vancouver Island. Sheriff

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Physical description

Originals, 15 cm

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Biographical history

The office of Sheriff of the Colony of Vancouver Island was established in 1857 when Governor James Douglas appointed Andrew Muir to the position. Prior to that, the affairs of the colony were also the affairs of the Hudson’s Bay Company and were administered by employees of the company and the chief factor of Fort Victoria. The first law enforcement was initiated for the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1853 when Governor Douglas commissioned four citizens to serve as magistrates and justices of the peace. The Sheriff was appointed just prior to the gold rush on the Fraser River in 1858 that increased the population of the colony from a few hundred to many thousand, almost overnight. The Sheriff was responsible for suppressing unlawful assemblies and riots, for pursuing and arresting felons, and for summoning juries. The Sheriff was also the returning officer for parliamentary elections and reader of royal proclamations. The offices of coroner, local constable, and justice of the peace devolved from the duties of the Sheriff. The first election of a Legislative Assembly for the Colony of Vancouver Island took place in 1856, prior to Muir’s appointment, under the orders of Governor James Douglas. Before the second election of representatives in 1859, the Registration of Voters Act was passed, outlining detailed procedures to be followed by the Sheriff when compiling voters’ lists. At the same time, the Representation Act established electoral boundaries and representation for seats in the Legislative Assembly and the Franchise Act established qualifications for voters. Muir was followed as Sheriff by George W. Heaton (1859-1860) and William B. Naylor (1860-1866). The position was also known as High Sheriff. Peter O’Reilly was Sheriff of the Colony of British Columbia (1858-1866). Joseph A.R. Homer was appointed the first Sheriff of the united colony of British Columbia (1866-1871).

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Scope and content

Election writs, voters' lists, poll books and related correspondence, 1856-1866. Poll books give electors' names and indicate the candidates for whom each elector voted. This unit should be used in conjunction with GR-0484 [Voters' Lists, 1865-1866] and GR-1666 [Voters' Lists and Poll Books, 1862-1866].

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General note

Accession number(s): G87-056

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  • Box: GR1714-0001