David John Hughes, Judge of the county of Elgin, was born in Kingsbridge, Devonshire, England, May 7, 1820, his father being the Rev. David Hughes, a dissenting minister, and of a very old family from the South of Wales. His mother, whose maiden name was Jane Morrish Higman, belonged to an old Cornish family. In 1832 the father of our subject came with his family to Lower Canada, and two weeks after reaching Montreal, died of cholera at Coteau du Lac, and the widow returned to England with a daughter. The son, then twelve years of age, was afterwards adopted and educated by his brother-in-law, Hon. John Wilson, an eminent lawyer in London, Ont., and subsequently one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. After going through the London grammar school, young Hughes commenced the study of law with Judge James Givins, then a barrister at law, residing in London; in 1837 became a member of the Law Society of Osgoode Hall, Toronto, and near the close of that year, with other students, volunteered to aid in putting down the rebellion. Though only in his eighteenth year, he was on guard during five consecutive nights, with no opportunity to lie down.
Mr. Hughes was called to the Bar in August, 1842; practiced at Woodstock from December of that year until September, 1847, having the leading business there in his profession, and then entered into partnership with his brother-in-law at London, practicing there until October 1, 1853, At this date, the county of Elgin having been set off from the county of Middlesex, he was appointed judge, and removed to St. Thomas, the county town. He is the only county judge that Elgin has ever had, having been on the Bench nearly twenty-seven years. He is an unusually well read lawyer, and possesses a great deal of legal acumen; on the Bench he is dignified and impartial, and is very lucid and clear in his charge to a jury. He is highly esteemed by his associates on the bench, and has been called upon to hold assizes for different judges of the Superior Courts in different counties on about twenty occasions.
Since becoming a resident of St. Thomas, Judge Hughes has taken much interest in educational and other local matters, and was for fifteen years in succession chairman of the board of school trustees.
The Judge was a member of the Church of England, until 1874, and held a prominent position in that church as a lay delegate to the Synods of Toronto and Huron, and also of the Provincial Synod up to the time of joining the Reformed Episcopal Church, throwing in his entire and warmest sympathies on the side of Bishop Cummins of Kentucky and his coadjutors in the formation of that church.
We notice, by the published proceedings of the fourth General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church, held at Ottawa, Ontario, in July, 1876, that Judge Hughes was in attendance, and took a prominent part in its proceedings, his most noteworthy act being the presentation of the following resolutions.
“Whereas the Protestant Episcopalians of the United States of America and of Great Britain, Ireland, and her colonies, although professing the same standard of faith, and maintaining the same form of worship for the greater part of the past century, have been separated into independent church organizations:?
Be it therefore Resolved 1st. That this Council desires to record its thankfulness to Almighty God that, in his good Providence, there is now existing one body of Protestant Episcopalians who acknowledge the one great Head of the Church, Jesus Christ; brethren who sit in Council, irrespective of territorial divisions, under the presidency of the same bishop, indifferently chosen from among the bishops of either country. 2nd. That while we yield nothing in the subject of loyalty to our national sovereignties, or in the duties or obedience we owe, or the ties which bind us to the nations we inhabit, we declare that in matters of religion we are one, and recognize no geographical or artificial limits or boundaries, and that they are unknown to our church in spiritual matters. 3rd. Whilst we yield nothing in a proper love to our church, we hold out the right hand of christian fellowship to all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. 4th. Representatives and members of different nationalities, and Provinces and States, we meet here on British soil brethren of the same communion, animated by the same hopes, aiming at the same ends, seeking Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill to men. We thus offer what we believe to be the best pledge of a Christian Church, that best hope of nations, that wars and rumours of wars shall soon cease, and that men shall learn war no more.
The above resolutions, offered on the 12th, were taken up the next day, and unanimously adopted by a rising vote; and on motion of Gen. Buckingham, of Illinois, Judge Hughes was elected and enrolled as a permanent member of the General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church. He has also been a member of the Committee on Doctrine and Worship ever since that meeting of the General Council.
In politics the Judge has always been a Reformer, being of the Lord John Russell and Baldwin school, and in 1869 was appointed by the Sandfield Macdonald Administration a member of the board of county judges, under the chairmanship of his Honor, Judge Gowan.
December 13, 1843, he married Miss Sarah Richardson, of London, Ont., and they have eight children living, and have buried two. Emma Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, is the wife of John A. Kains, barrister, county treasurer, and deputy judge of Elgin; Alice is the wife of Hezekiah Bissell, civil engineer on the Eastern Railway, Massachusetts; Edward, his eldest son, is an officer in the Ontario Bank, Toronto, and the rest of the children are at home.