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Biography of Hon. Thomas Moss

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Hon.Thomas Moss, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal of Ontario, is the eldest son of the late John Moss, Esq., of Toronto, and was born in Cobourg, this Province, Aug. 20, 1836. He was educated at the Toronto academy, Upper Canada college, and at the Toronto university; at the latter institution he was gold medalist in classics, mathematics and modem languages, and graduated MA. in 1859. In 1860, on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales, he was presented to His Royal Highness as the most distinguished alumnus of the university. Studied law with hector Cameron, Q.C., and Hon. Adam Crooks (now Minister of Education), and was called to the Bar in Michaelmas term, 1861; elected a Bencher of the Law Society in 1871, and was afterwards its examiner in equity law; created a Queen’s Counsel in 1872; for several years he practised in partnership with the late Hon. Chief Justice Harrison the present Justice Osler, Mr. Chas. Moss and others, the firm being known by the name of Harrison, Osler and Moss. Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid to the legal ability of the firm is to simply mention that the three principal members were all elevated to the Bench; was a member of the Law Reform commission, appointed by the Ontario government, in January, 1872, to enquire into the expediency of amalgamating the courts of common law and chancery. In 1872, Mr. Moss declined the vice-chancellorship of the Court of Chancery. Sat for West Toronto in the House of Commons from December, 1873, up to October 8, 1875, when he accepted the appointment of Justice of the Court of Error and Appeal; November, 1877, he was promoted to his present position to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of the late Hon. W. H. Draper, elsewhere mentioned in this volume. In 1874, Judge Moss was elected vice-chancellor of the university of Toronto, of Which institution he had been registrar for some years previously.

Morgan’s Legal Directory (1878), to which we are indebted for the facts here given, also says that:

“Since his elevation to the Bench, Judge Moss has tried many cases of great public interest; notably the case of Wm. Henry Smith for the murder of Ralph Spence Finlay, at Lambton fall assizes in 1873; of Michael McConnell for the murder of Nelson Mills at the Wentworth spring assizes in 1876; of Wm. Ward for the murder of his wife at the Brampton spring assizes in 1876; and of Mrs. Fradette for the murder of her husband at the Belleville fall assizes same year. All of these parties were convicted, with the exception of Mrs. Fradette, who was acquitted.”

In July, 1863, Judge Moss was married to Amy, eldest daughter of the late Justice Sullivan, of Toronto.


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