LIVIUS, PETER. (1739–1795). Canadian jurist. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, on 12 July 1739, he settled in New Hampshire in 1763. The following year Livius was given an honorary master of arts degree by Harvard in return for a large donation of books. He was appointed to the governor's council in 1765 and was made a judge of the court of common pleas in 1768. In the latter position he came into conflict with Governor Benning Wentworth, who found him too sympathetic to the Patriots and finally succeeded in removing him from the bench in 1772. Livius went to England to defend himself and to regain his seat as a judge. He failed in this effort, but in response to a gift, gained admission to the Royal Society, studied law at the Middle Temple, and received an honorary degree from Oxford University.
Finally winning the ear of Lord Dartmouth, the secretary of state for the American colonies, Livius was appointed to the vice-admiralty court in Montreal. He arrived in Quebec just in time to see service during the siege. In August 1776 he was made chief justice of Quebec and appointed to the council. Without official approval, he wrote General John Sullivan suggesting that Sullivan switch to the British side and help in capturing New Hampshire. Publication of this letter proved an embarrassment to the British and led to the confiscation of all Livius's property by the New Hampshire legislature. Over the next year Livius's relations with Governor Guy Carleton became increasingly bitter as the chief justice called for the introduction of habeas corpus into Quebec, which was allowed for in the governor's instructions. On 1 May 1778, Carleton summarily dismissed him from the bench. Livius again went to England to regain a judgeship, persuading the Privy Council to restore him to the bench in March 1779. But he refused to go to Quebec until receiving assurances that he would not once more be removed from office, assurances the Privy Council would not give. As a consequence, he was removed from office in 1786 without having left England. He died near Brighton on 23 July 1795.
revised by Michael Bellesiles