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Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William

Old Supreme Court building (at right) in 1786, after an engraving by Thomas Daniell

The Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William, Calcutta was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1774. It replaced the Mayor's Court of Calcutta and was British India's highest court from 1774 until 1862, when the High Court of Calcutta was established.

From 1774 to the arrival of Parliament's Bengal Judicature Act of 1781 in June 1782, the Court claimed jurisdiction over any person residing in Bengal, Bihar or Orissa. These first years were known for their conflict with the Supreme Council of Bengal over the Court's jurisdiction. The conflict came to an end with Parliament's passing of the Bengal Judicature Act of 1781 which restricted the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to either those who lived in Calcutta, or to any British Subject in Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, thereby removing the Court's jurisdiction over any person residing in Bengal, Bihar and Odisha.

The courthouse itself was a two storied building with Ionic columns and an urn-topped balustrade and stood by the side of the Writers’ Buildings. The building also served as the Town Hall of Calcutta at one time. It was demolished in 1792 and replaced by the present building in 1832.

The Court's first judges were:

Chief JusticesEdit

Chief Justice Term Notes
Sir Elijah Impey [2] 16 March 1774–1791 Recalled 1783
Sir Robert Chambers [2] 1791–1 Aug 1798 previously Acting Chief Justice 1783–1791
Sir John Anstruther, Bt [2] 1798–22 Feb 1806
Sir Henry Russell [2] 1807–9 Nov 1813
Sir Edward Hyde East [2] 1813–July 1822
Sir Robert Henry Blosset [2] 1822–1 Feb 1823 (died in office)
Sir Christopher Puller [2] 1823–26 May 1824 (died in office)
Sir Charles Grey [2] 1825–1832
Sir William O. Russell 22 Feb 1832–1833 (died in office)
Sir Edward Ryan 1833–1842
Sir Lawrence Peel 1842–1855
Sir James William Colvile 1855–1859
Sir Barnes Peacock 1859–1862 afterwards Chief Justice of the High Court of Calcutta


  1. ^ . ISBN 0299151506.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Auber, Peter. An Analysis of the Constitution of the East-India Company. p. 758.