Robert Patterson Jellett, Judge of the county of Prince Edward, was born in Belfast, Ireland, March 15, 1827. His father, Morgan Jellett, left Ireland in 1832, settled at Port Hope, was a merchant there several years, afterwards clerk of the old Court of Commissions, and at the time of his death was clerk of the county council of the united counties of Northumberland and Durham, with residence at Cobourg. The Jelletts are an old and prominent family in the county Down, the great-grandfather of our subject, Morgan Jellett, was for many years a magistrate in that county, dying at Moira, in 1797. The chroniclers of that period spoke of him as the oldest magistrate in Down, and as “an upright and honorable gentleman, zealously attached to the King and Crown.”
The mother of Judge Jellett was Sophia Harding, who had eleven children, he being the second child. When thirteen years old, having received his mental training in the grammar school at Port Hope, he became a clerk in a dry goods store, holding that situation six years, and then farming for two seasons. He was afterwards a chain bearer and assisted in laying out a road from Port Hope to Peterborough.
Judge Jellett entered the law office of Hon. Sidney Smith, of Cobourg, on a small salary, and while thus engaged, as we learn from the county atlas of Prince Edward, he instructed himself in the classics and mathematics and other higher branches of education, to enable him to enter the Osgoode Hall, Toronto, which he did in 1851. He finished his legal studies with Messrs. Ross and Bell, of Belleville, was admitted to practise as an attorney on the 23rd of November, 1852, and called to the Bar on the 17th of November, 1856. He practised awhile in company with Messrs. Ross and Bell, and subsequently with his brother, Morgan Jellett, as an advocate having no superior at the Hastings Bar; and in 1873 removed from Belleville to Picton, being appointed County Judge on the 12th of July of that year.
The store boy, the chain bearer, the common sailor, wears the ermine with modesty, and yet his legal attainments, his fine natural abilities, and his first class judicial qualities do honor to his position. He shows himself thoroughly able to grapple with the most difficult cases. In every instance his judgment has been upheld. In cases coming up under the Temperance Acts, his judgments, although differing from the popular belief as to the law, have been upheld by the Superior Courts. Since the Confederation, no class, of cases has given the courts so much trouble.
Judge Jellett has been twice married: the first time in 1854, to Miss Kate Macneider, of Quebec, she dying in 1869, and the second time in 1873, to Lilias, daughter of Rev. John Grier, Episcopal minister, of Belleville. He has two sons and five daughters.