Chief Magistrate

Chief Magistrate

Chief Magistrate is a generic designation for a public official whose office -- individual or collegial -- is the highest in his or her class, in either of the fundamental meanings of Magistrate (which often overlapped in the Ancien régime): as a major political and administrative office (in a republican form of government, at state or lower level), and/or as a judge (in a given jurisdiction, not necessarily a whole state).

Governing chief magistrates

If the jurisdiction he or she heads is considered to have statehood (sovereign or not), the official is generally its head of state and (in various degrees of authority) chief executive. It is not possible to read such distinctions reliably from the style in use as title and competence may change independently.

European states

Chief magistratures in antiquity include the following titles:

Chief magistratures in the feudal era (and sometimes beyond) include the following titles:
*Lord Mayor, Mayor and various close equivalents such as (Ober)Bürgermeister in German language, (Lord) Provost in Scotland
*Presidente del magistrato

"Chief magistrate" is also used as a generic term for the various offices in the role of head of state of the various Swiss (confederal) cantons, with such styles as Landamman.

Colonial functions and titles

*On the Caymans (since 18 July 1670 an English colony, part of Jamaica as Cayman Islands, till the became on 4 July 1959 a separate British crown colony, under its own Administrator, later even a Governor), since the first permanent settlements were established circa 1734, the highest colonial authority was that of its eight consecutive Chief magistrates, till Commissioners were appointed since 1898.
*On the Bay Islands, then claimed by Britain (till 1860) as well as ultimate owner Honduras, the British (who settled them since 1827) appointed two consecutive Chief magistrates (1850 William Fitzgibbon (acting) and 1850 - 1852 John James Hall) before declaring them in 1852 a 'separate' crown colony under the Governor of Jamaica (represented locally by two consecutive Presiding magistrates: 1852 - 1855 Charles Henry Johnes Cuyler and 1855 - 1860 Alexander Wilson Moir).
*Since in December 1832 the Port Cresson colony was founded by the Black Quakers of the New York and Pennsylvania Colonization Societies (after it was in June 1835 destroyed by Bassa natives, it was in July 1835 reestablished as Bassa Cove colony, which in 1837 annexed the Edina settlement, also formed by the New York and Pennsylvania Colonization Societies), till its 1 April 1839 incorporation into Liberia (and 1841 renaming as Buchanan), its de facto governors were styled Chief Magistrate.
*On Norfolk Island, since 1 November 1856 a separate territory (subordinated to New South Wales), where on 8 June 1856 the Pitcairn islanders were resettled, the highest colonial authority were its many consecutive Chief magistrates, till shortly before on 15 January 1897 its self-government was revoked- from 1896 Administrators were appointed.
*While Zululand was a separate British crown colony (since 21 June 1887, until its 1 December 1897 incorporation into the colony of Natal), it was nominally under the governorship of the British governors of Natal, but the highest colonial authorities on the spot were titled Resident Commissioners and Chief magistrates:
**1887 - 1893 Sir Melmoth Osborn (b. 1834 - d. 1899)
**1893 - 1 December 1897 Sir Marshall James Clarke (b. 1841 - d. 1909)
*When on 23 January 1894 South Zambesia (the future Southern Rhodesia, present Zimbabwe) was created from Mashonaland and Matabeleland protectorates (both had been privately owned by the British South Africa Company), it was administered by "Chief magistrates of South Zambesia":
**23 January 1894 - May 1894 Andrew Duncan (acting)
**May 1894 - 9 September 1894 Leander Starr Jameson (b. 1853 - d. 1917), who stayed on as the first Administrator of the Rhodesia Protectorate (the 3 May 1895 union of South Zambesia and North Zambesia -present Zambia- as Rhodesia Protectorate).

Judicial Chief Magistrates

Unlike the previous section, this does not require any political autonomy for the jurisdiction, so there can be additional circonscriptions, even created solely for the administration of justice. It is not uncommon for magistratures to perform additional functions separate from litigation and arbitration, rather as a registrar or notary, but as these are not their defining core-business, they are irrelevant in the context of this article.

References to the U.S. Presidency

References to the President of the United States as "Chief Magistrate" were common in the early American republic, although less so today. In 1793, George Washington described himself as his country's "Chief Magistrate" in his second inaugural address. In 1800, Alexander Hamilton wrote in a private letter to Aaron Burr, later published by Burr without his permission, that he considered John Adams "unfit for the office of Chief Magistrate." In 1908, Woodrow Wilson remarked, "Men of ordinary physique and discretion cannot be Presidents and live, if the strain cannot be somehow relieved. We shall be obliged to always be picking our chief magistrates from among wise and prudent athletes, a small class." Wilson was himself elected President four years later.

Equivalent judicial titles

*Chief justice

ources and references

* [ WorldStatesmen]
* Cornog, Evan and Whelan, Richard, "Hats in the Ring: An Illustrated History of American Presidential Campaigns" (Random House, N.Y. 2000)

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