Resident Magistrate

Resident Magistrate

A resident magistrate is a title for magistrates used in certain parts of the world, that were, or are, governed by the British. Sometimes abbreviated as RM, it refers to suitably qualified personnel - notably well versed in the law - brought into an area from outside as the local magistrate, typically to be the guiding hand amongst other lay magistrates.

In colonial history, resident magistrates have had gubernatorial functions in a few minor, isolated colonial settlements, such as:

  • Ascension, as dependency of Saint Helena; post filled by managers of Eastern Telegraph/Cable and Wireless since 1922 (previously under a Commanding Officer), replaced since June 1964 by an Administrator
  • Walvisbaai, only two incumbents shortly after the 12 March 1878 annexed by Britain as Walvis Bay protectorate, first under a Captain; annexation confirmed 14 December 1878:
    • 1 June 1878 - November 1880 D. Erskine
    • November 1880 - 7 August 1884 Benjamin Musgrave, staying on as Magistrate

Resident magistrates' courts remain in operation as one of the divisions of the judiciary of Jamaica, hearing civil and criminal cases in each parish of the island. The office of resident magistrate continued in Northern Ireland until it was renamed in June 2008 as district judge (magistrates' courts), a continuation of the use of RMs in Ireland before 1922, as popularised by the book and sitcom "The Irish RM".

Deputy magistrate

When the Caprivi Strip (formerly German Barotse- or Zambezi-land; in present Namibia) which had been administered by British Military Administrators since 21 September 1914 formally came under the administration of the British High Commissioners for Southern Africa, the last Military Administrator stayed on as the first of only two Deputy magistrates, the highest British colonial official actually resident in the Strip:

  • 1 January 1921 - c.1924 H. Neale
  • 1940 - 1951 Lyall French Trollope

Sources and references

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