Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William

Old Supreme Court building at right

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 Justices

Chief Justice Term Notes
Sir Elijah Impey [2] 16 March 17741791 Recalled 1783
Sir Robert Chambers [2] 17911 Aug 1798 previously Acting Chief Justice 1783–1791
Sir John Anstruther, Bt [2] 179822 Feb 1806
Sir Henry Russell [2] 18079 Nov 1813
Sir Edward Hyde East [2] 1813July 1822
Sir Robert Henry Blosset [2] 18221 Feb 1823 (died in office)
Sir Christopher Puller [2] 182326 May 1824 (died in office)
Sir Charles Grey [2] 18251832
Sir William O. Russell 22 Feb 18321833 (died in office)
Sir Edward Ryan 18331842
Sir Lawrence Peel 18421855
Sir James William Colvile 18551859
Sir Barnes Peacock 18591862 afterwards Chief Justice of the High Court of Calcutta


  1. . ISBN 0299151506. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Auber, Peter. An Analysis of the Constitution of the East-India Company. p. 758.
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