William Campbell was born in 1758 in Caithness, Scotland. As a young man he studied law. His instructor passed away, and Sir William volunteered for the 76th Foot, a Highland regiment in the British Army. He was subsequently sent to America to fight in the Revolutionary War. He was part of the British Force that surrendered to the Americans at the siege of Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. At the end of the war, he was released and sailed with the United Empire Loyalists to Nova Scotia, where he resumed his legal studies to supplement his income. While there he met and married Hannah Hadley, the daughter of a successful local fisherman. Sir William rose to become the Attorney General of Cape Breton Island. In 1811, he was commissioned as a judge by the British crown and sent to the town of York in Upper Canada, which had a population of 700 prior to the War of 1812.
He had his house built in 1822 on a plot of land located at 54 Duke Street at the top of Frederick Street. In 1825, William became the 6th Chief Justice of Upper Canada. He retired from the bench in 1829 and became the first judge in Canada to receive a knighthood. Sir William Campbell died of illness on January 18, 1834.
For more detailed information, visit the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.