The View From Fogo Island

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Fogo Island’s First Magistrate

Continued from Oct. 17
Last week I wrote briefly on Fogo Island’s first Magistrate, James Fitzgerald. This week I would like to continue with a little more about this gentleman.
I had wrote about a feud between him and Robert Scott, who was a merchant in these parts at that time, but this week I am writing about someone’s questioning his authorities as a magistrate. (Perhaps it was Mr. Scott, again.)

By Benson Hewitt

 

Continued from Oct. 17

Last week I wrote briefly on Fogo Island’s first Magistrate, James Fitzgerald. This week I would like to continue with a little more about this gentleman.

I had wrote about a feud between him and Robert Scott, who was a merchant in these parts at that time, but this week I am writing about someone’s questioning his authorities as a magistrate. (Perhaps it was Mr. Scott, again.)

Whoever it was, he accused him of favouritism, a serious charge, I suspect, but he did it through the press, and anonymously. One suspects that today such an anonymous charge against a magistrate or a judge would be illegal, nor is it likely that a newspaper publish such a letter.

Last week I also mentioned that a Nicholas Fitzgerald, who seemed to have lived in Fogo at the same time, was a brother of James Fitzgerald. Nicholas Fitzgerald had a son, Clarence, and it was his dealings with a neighbour, and the Magistrate’s (James Fitzgerald) judicial decision on this particular matter, that prompted the letter in question. Here is the letter someone wrote, as I have already stated, anonymously in 1886, to the editor of the Twillingate Sun and was headed “More Fogo Pettifoggery”:

“I have again to ask you to give publicity to the sort of justice dispensed here in Fogo. A few days ago, a poor man had a dispute with one of the Magistrate’s near relatives, a Mr. Clarence Fitzgerald, about said Clarence Fitzgerald trying to take away some of the poor man’s land. During the discussion, this Clarence Fitzgerald came on the other man’s room, and violently assaulted and struck his neighbour to the effusion of blood, and other disfigurement. This person then made application to the Magistrate for a summons, but got no satisfaction. The next day he went and demanded that a summons be issued against Clarence Fitzgerald. This was peremptorily refused him by the Magistrate on the grounds that the two cases were one; viz., the land dispute and the assault. Now, Mr. Editor, this certainly was a good dodge to try and screen his nephew, but it won’t do. The assault and battery being all one side is a case in itself, and every man is entitled to protection, no matter whether it is the magistrate’s own sons or his other relatives. It is sincerely to be hoped that an investigation will soon be made into these many complaints that have been so publicly made this past winter. Perhaps the Magistrate intends trying to settle this grand matter the same as he settled some other grand disputes in this place already, say with the party he wishes to favour, and without giving the other party any chance to establish or contest their claim. Thanking you, Mr. Editor, for your kindness, your, etc.” (No signature)

Organizations: Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus

Geographic location: Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Placentia Nova Scotia France

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  • nicole fitzgerald
    January 18, 2014 - 02:27

    I know its two years later but this little article made my night. James was my great grandfather x3 and that specific old article always makes my dad and I laugh. He also had a daughter Honora. Thanks for sharing your stories. Nicole Vancouver island.