MG H14

Archives & Special Collections
University of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 7500
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H5
March 1987



Robert L. Hazen was a prominent Saint John lawyer, a judge, a provincial lawmaker, a bank official, and one of the first Canadian national political figures. He was born on 15 October 1808 as the eighth of nine children to Deborah Brinley Murray Hazen (1771-1831) and William Hazen (1768-1816). William Hazen was the third child of the Hon. William Hazen, who moved to the Saint John area in 1773. Robert L. Hazen's father was Sheriff of Saint John (1813-16). A number of Robert L. Hazen's relatives were lawyers and judges, including his uncles Ward Chipman and William Botsford and his first cousins Robert F. Hazen and Ward Chipman, Jr.

In 1837 Robert L. Hazen married his cousin Sarah Botsford (1815-67). Sarah inherited part of the Hon. William Hazen's land in Portland (north Saint John), and the couple built Hazen Castle there in 1848. They had two children: Sarah Eliza (1843-1870), whose children died young, and Robert Brinley (1852-88), who had no children.

Hazen studied law in the usual manner of the time by working in a law office. His mentor was Robert Parker, later Chief Justice of the New Brunswick Supreme Court. Hazen was admitted to the rank of attorney in 1829; barrister, 1831; and Queen's Counsel, 1843. In 1840 he became Solicitor and one of the Directors of the Commercial Bank of New Brunswick (chartered 1834). Barnes's New Brunswick Almanack for 1869 still lists him as holding both offices; the 1870 edition no longer lists the bank, which became insolvent at the time. In 1846 he was made Judge and Commissary of the Court of Vice Admiralty and Recorder of Saint John, a position as city solicitor with some judicial duties. In 1848 he was appointed to the King's College Council. He was elected to the House of Assembly in 1842 and 1846; he was one of the foremost debaters until appointed to the Legislative Council in 1849. He served on the Executive Council from 1843 to 1857 with two interruptions. Although he professed during the 1842 campaign that he did not understand the concept of responsible government, he resigned from the Executive Council in 1845 when Lieutenant Governor Colebrooke appointed his own son-in-law as provincial secretary. After helping to entrench representative government, Hazen returned to the Executive Council and remained until 1854. He was a leader of the government when prohibition was repealed (1856-57). In 1867 the Queen' s Proclamation of Union appointed him to the Senate of the Dominion of Canada. During the 1860's his health deteriorated and he partly lost his voice. He reduced his law practice and seldom addressed the Senate but continued to serve as Judge of Vice Admiralty, Recorder of Saint John, and Senator until he died on 15 August 1874.

The Hazen collection occupies four feet four inches of shelf space and includes 3,072 documents from 1812 to 1873. The papers have been held by the University of New Brunswick Archives since the late 1950's. Most of the documents are in good condition except for folds and bent corners, but some papers are partly disintegrated, badly wrinkled, torn, stained, or apparently damaged by mice. One short letter (now MS2.149.19) and a sensational passage in a draft letter by George G. Gilbert (MS2.98.15) were erased by unknown hands. A previous curator had taken documents out of bundles, flattened them, and stamped them "U. N. B. Archives." Until recently the papers in each of the ten boxes were in folders marked "Supreme Court," "Business," and "Personal." Many case documents were in "Business" folders, and business and personal accounts were often incorrectly sorted. Some related documents were left bundled together and fastened with tape, but the bundles did not contain all the pertinent documents and were not in chronological order. The papers in each box were not sorted by name or date, and there was no discernible sequence from one box to the next. All the boxes contained papers from a large segment of Hazen's life span. The documents for one case (Heath vs. Sturdee, 1856-60) were scattered throughout "Supreme Court" and "Business" folders in nine boxes, and the documents for all the major cases were in at least several boxes.

A grant through the Arrangement and Description Backlog Reduction Cost-Shared Cooperative Program of the Public Archives of Canada enabled the University of New Brunswick to employ an archival assistant for five months (1986-87) to organize the collection. The University contributed staff time, supplies, and other resources. Since the collection was in a state of disarray if not chaos, numbering the papers as they were found would have preserved disorder rather than order. The division into Supreme Court, business, and personal papers was changed to the following classification: Dockets, Court Cases, Legal Papers and Accounts, and Personal Accounts. The documents were sorted as well as time limitations permitted, arranged in case and chronological order, and numbered. Among the most unusual documents in the collection are handwritten and printed case dockets, which have been placed together in chronological order (MS1). Warrants, subpoenas, declarations, opinions, trial records, judgments, correspondence, and legal accounts belonging to the same case were grouped together; 275 court cases emerged (MS2.1-MS2.275). The number of documents per case ranges from one to 53. The longest document is 72 pages. While most of the cases were filed in the Supreme Court, the collection includes one English chancery case (Lister) and several cases from the New Brunswick Chancery Court before it was combined with the Supreme Court in 1854. The cases are filed alphabetically under the first plaintiff. Suits and countersuits are filed together; "ads." (for "ad sectam") means "at the suit of." The fictitious parties John Doe and Richard Roe have been ignored whenever the real parties are named. The documents in each case have been put into chronological order. Legal papers and accounts (MS3) include bills, correspondence, contracts, opinions, and other documents which cannot be assigned to a court case or which are associated with more than one case. Personal accounts (MS4) include taxes, cheques, and household accounts rather than personal letters. Legal papers and personal accounts are filed chronologically under Hazen's latest date on the item. Items found pinned together are attached with paper clips and filed under the latest date in the set. Many of the documents are undated. When possible, dates have been supplied by consulting Hazen's account sheets and cheque stubs and by examining the context. In a few cases the writer or subject of a document was identified from the context, for example George G. Gilbert's letter and draft (MS2.98.15-16) and the sums on MS2.46.3. Items which could neither be dated nor assigned to one court case have been filed alphabetically at the end of the legal papers and personal account series.

An inventory and three indexes have been prepared. The inventory indicates the number of handwritten and printed dockets and their dates. Each court case is listed individually, with the dates and number of items for each case. The legal and personal account sections list the number of items for each year. The index to court cases lists plaintiffs and defendants for each case. The index to legal papers and accounts lists Hazen's clients as well as some of his correspondents and his clients' adversaries. The index does not cover records of fees (MS3.1) and or clients' adversaries in combined accounts for several cases. The index to personal accounts lists persons and establishments which collected payments from Hazen. All three indexes give manuscript numbers and dates for each entry.

The new arrangement of the collection permits a clear view of Hazen's legal work. Usually the cases involve contracts and property ranging in value from a cask of onions (Secord vs. McElwayn, 1852) to thousands of pounds. The most common complaint is "Trespass on the case upon promises," that is, breaking an agreement. Many of the cases were ejectments, in which the fictitious John Doe sues the fictitious Richard Roe for recovery of property plus damages. Often the cases were settled quickly, but some dragged on for years, for example, Robinson vs. Stevens (1833-61). Almost half the cases show Hazen's activity as Solicitor of the Commercial Bank and Recorder of Saint John. He defended the city in damage suits for injury attributed to inadequate road maintenance (Cooey vs. Saint John, 1868-69; McCabe vs. Saint John, 1869), prosecuted debtors and delinquent tenants, and filed insurance claims. In 1869 the bank sued him for mishandling a claim against Aetna Insurance Company; the case was settled by arbitration and Hazen paid the award in 1872 (the latest case document). Hazen also worked on cases involving railroads (Lunn vs. Giles, 1854-57; Commercial Bank vs. New Brunswick and Canada Railway, 1859-63) and represented parties in controversies over supplying water for Saint John and Carleton (Saint John Water Co. vs. Saint John, 1841-55; Jewett vs. Beard, 1854-6l). The collection contains very few criminal cases, of which only Queen vs. Leonard et al. (1839-40) is well known; in that case Hazen defended four men charged with murder and conducted an appeal leading to a royal pardon for Patrick Haley.

The collection also illustrates everyday life in nineteenth-century New Brunswick. Hazen bought a remarkable variety of goods from pine- apples to a piano. His most frequent purchases include clothes, books, furniture, hay, meat, potatoes, and bread. Sometimes legal and house- hold business overlap; for example, he handled his baker David Gabe1's title search and defended his tailor Daniel Nagy in a lawsuit. There are also receipts for servants' wages. The tax assessments itemize charges for water, sewerage, gaol, and road work. Hazen's papers could be used to study consumer goods, prices, and incomes as well as legal, municipal, and banking history. The public may use the collection at Archives and Special Collections, Fifth Floor, Harriet Irving Library.


Acheson, Thomas William.
Saint John: The Making of a Colonial Urban Community. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.

"Death of Hon. R. L. Hazen," The Morning News. Saint John, 18 August 1874.

Fenety, George Edward.
Political Notes and Observations. Fredericton: Miller, 1867.

Graves, James C. and Horace B.
New Brunswick Political Biography, Set II: Senate Members, Lieutenant Governors. Unpublished, 1968.

Jamieson, Archibald Black.
Chartered Banking in Canada. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1957.

Lawrence, Joseph W.
The Judges of New Brunswick and Their Times, ed. Alfred A. Stockton. (Saint John; Acadiensis, 1907)

Mackay, Katie Hazen.
The Gates. N. p., 1964.

MacNutt, William Stewart.
New Brunswick: A History: 1784-1867. Toronto: Macmillan, 1963.

New Brunswick almanacs, 1829-74. Several publishers.

New Brunswick Vital Statistics from Newspapers.
Fredericton: New Brunswick Genealogical Society, 1982.

Valuable advice was given by David Bell of the University of New Brunswick Law School; Mary Flagg, Linda Hansen, and Kathryn Hilder of Harriet Irving Library; and Burt Glendenning, Fred Farrell, and Harold Holland of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

Other Robert L. Hazen papers are held at the New Brunswick Museum in collections 199, Hazen Collection, and 202, Hazen Family Papers.

Linda H. Hill B.A. (George Washington), M.Phil., Ph.D. (Yale)
Archival Assistant, Harriet Irving Library
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5A3
20 March 1987



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