HomeBritish ColumbiaMatthew Begbie – The Hanging Judge

Matthew Begbie – The Hanging Judge

The onslaught of thousands of people into the Cariboo gold fields of the 1860’s was by most accounts, from the law & order standpoint, pretty peaceful compared to the California rush a few years earlier. This fact can be attributed in part to a few good government officials. Chief of these was judge Sir Matthew Begbie. For years he rode on horseback through the vast interior of British Columbia, often sleeping in a tent which by day served as his chambers.

Matthew Begbie became known as the hanging judge.

The Hanging Judge Matthew Begbie

Matthew Begbie became known as the ‘hanging judge’ although very few executions ever took place. He was a no nonsense kind of guy, so when it came to dealing with a convicted murderer he was bound by the law at the time to automatically hang the quilty party.

Judge Begbie was quoted as saying “my idea is that if a man insists upon behaving like a brute, after fair warning, and won’t quit the colony; treat him like a brute and flog him”

He was a fair and impartial judge who on occasion gave government money to those who deserved a helping hand – case in point – Begbie gave help to Billy Barker and his company just before they hit the big pay-streak on Williams Creek in 1862.

In the opinion of many historians this judge really did not deserve the moniker – ‘hanging judge’

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Matthew Begbie - The Hanging Judge
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Matthew Begbie - The Hanging Judge
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Judge Matthew Begbie was quoted "my idea is that if a man insists upon behaving like a brute, after fair warning, treat him like a brute and flog him''
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Mysteries of Canada

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Author of Mysteries of Canada

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