Sewell, Jonathan

Jonathan Sewell, judge, politician (bap at Cambridge, Mass 29 June 1766; d at Québec 11 Nov 1839). Chief justice of Lower Canada 1808-38, he was also an influential political leader of those opposing Louis-Joseph PAPINEAU's Patriote Party. The son of a Loyalist, Sewell's political views were determined by the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. He sat in the LC Assembly 1796-1808, and was president of the Executive Council 1808-30 and Speaker of the Legislative Council 1809-39. He favoured a strong imperial and executive authority, anglicization of Canadian children through the schools, eliminating the French legal code, replacing the seigneurial system by freehold tenure, and reducing the position of the Roman Catholic Church. While he shared many of the political goals of the clique of British officeholders, he was more conciliatory than his colleagues and was subtle of mind. An intellectual of many talents, he was the first president of the Literary and Historical Soc of Quebec and wrote on history, literature and law. Harvard honoured him with an LLD degree in 1832.