CHANDLER, JAMES WATSON, lawyer, politician, and judge; b. 18 July 1801 in Cumberland County or Colchester County, N.S., son of Samuel Chandler, loyalist, and Susan Watson, and cousin of Edward Barron Chandler*; m. 5 Jan. 1843 at St Andrews, N.B., Julia Hatheway, and they had at least one daughter and three sons; d. 3 Oct. 1870 at Moncton, N.B.
James Watson Chandler was educated in public schools in Nova Scotia and studied law. He moved to New Brunswick about 1829 and was admitted to the bar of that province as an attorney in the same year and as a barrister two years later. He established a law practice in St Andrews in 1829 and remained there until 1867.
Chandler took an active interest in the affairs of Charlotte County and held a number of important local offices. He served as judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas (1838–40, 1860–64), justice of the peace (1860–65), judge of the Court of Probate (1864–66), and commissioner for taking affidavits in the Supreme Court (1865–66). He also served from 1852 to 1854 with William Boyd Kinnear and Charles Fisher* on a commission appointed by the provincial government to consolidate and codify provincial statutes and to examine the courts of law and equity and the law of evidence. The results of this study were published in three volumes in 1853–54.
After unsuccessfully contesting a Charlotte County seat for the assembly in the elections of 1846 and 1854, Chandler was elected for that county in 1857 and served until his defeat in the election of June 1861. In May 1858 Chandler requested Samuel Leonard Tilley*’s support in obtaining the position of speaker of the assembly but when the office became vacant in 1859 he was not nominated. In politics Chandler was a liberal; during the election campaigns of 1854 and 1857 he declared that he was in favour of the principle of responsible government, extension of the franchise, universal education, and free trade. In 1866 he supported confederation and was re-elected.
Chandler served in the legislature until 19 June 1867 when he gave up his seat to accept an appointment as county court judge for Westmorland, Kent, and Albert counties. He was one of five district court judges appointed for New Brunswick at confederation. Subsequent to his appointment, Chandler moved to Dorchester, N.B., and continued in his capacity as judge until his death in October 1870.
A man of considerable ability in his profession, he made a significant contribution in matters affecting the jurisprudence of the province. The Morning News noted on 4 Oct. 1870: “While in the Legislature he was considered a standard authority on intricate questions of law during the passage of bills through the House of Assembly affecting the jurisprudence of the country.”
N.B. Museum, Ralph Hewson, “Chandler family” (typescript). PAC, MG 27, I, D15, Chandler to Tilley, 18, 21, 26 Nov., 2 Dec. 1857; 12 Jan., 17 May, 13 Aug., 26 Oct. 1858; 9 May, 4 July, 20 Sept. 1859; 25 April 1860; 18 Jan. 1861; 9 July 1866; 11 July 1867. PRO, CO 193/25–48, blue books, 1842–65. PANB, J.C. and H.B. Graves, “New Brunswick political biography” (copy at UNBL). Daily Morning News (Saint John, N.B.), October 1870. St. John Daily Telegraph and Morning Journal (Saint John, N. B.), October 1870. Standard (St Andrews, N.B.), January 1843; October 1846; May, June 1854; June 1861; March 1865; June 1866; May, June 1867; October 1870. Hutchinson’s New Brunswick directory, for 1865–66 . . . , comp. Thomas Hutchinson (Saint John, N.B., ). The merchants’ and farmers’ almanack . . . (Saint John, N.B.), 1840–41, 1843–46, 1852–53, 1855–63. New-Brunswick almanac, 1864–66. Lawrence, Judges of N.B. (Stockton). W. C. Milner, History of Sackville, New Brunswick (Sackville, 1934).