Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
15 August 1861
I have to acknowledge your letter of 12th instant, with a despatch from the Governor of British Columbia, reporting a misapprehension which had arisen in the Crown Land Office of that Colony in respect to the Regulations for the preemption of unsurveyed Land, and the confusion to which it was calculated to give rise.  
2. By a Proclamation bearing date 14th Febry 1859 it is provided that unsurveyed Land in British Columbia shall be sold by auction—or, after having been once put up to auction, by private contract. By a subsequent Proclamation of 4th Jany 1860, it is provided that unsurveyed Land may be "preempted" to the extent of 160 acres and that as soon as the Survey shall come up to it the preemptor or his assigns shall be entitled to purchase the Land at the established price of Crown Land, provided he or they shall have been in continuous occupation. A later section of the Proclamation (section 7) is in the following words:  
Any person authorized to acquire Land under the provisions of this Proclamation may purchase, in addition to the Land preempted in manner aforesaid, any number of Acres not otherwise appropriated, at such rate as may be fixed by the Government at the time when such Land shall come to be surveyed, not to exceed 10s/- per acre—5s/- to be paid down and the residue at the time of Survey.  
3. Governor Douglas points out that the obligation of Residence and improvement which attaches to the "preempted" Land described in the first part of the Proclamation applies also of necessity to the additional land "purchased" under this section—otherwise he says it would be impossible to identify the Land so "purchased," or consequently to secure the purchasers in the safe enjoyment of it. The Commissioner of Crown Lands, having overlooked this necessity, has issued to purchasers a document called a "Certificate of Title," which the Governor states is mere waste paper.  
4. To remedy the confusion which might thus be created the Governor addressed a Circular to the District Magistrates explaining the exact effect of the Proclamation of 4 Jany 1860 in regard to unsurveyed Land, and furnishing them with Forms of the documents to be issued under that Proclamation. He also addressed a letter to the Commissioners of Lands announcing his intention to issue a further Proclamation to declare that all unsurveyed Land taken under the preemption Act is to be held on conditions of continuous residence, & prohibiting him from issuing in future any conveyance or Certificate of Title for preempted Land.  
5. These measures will probably have the effect desired, as it is not likely that any, considerable extent of unsurveyed Land can have been disposed of by the Commissioner of Lands under "Certificates of Title." At the same time it is just to the Commissioner to state that the terms of the 7th Section of the Proclamation of 4th Jany 1860 would certainly bear the interpretation he put on them, *
*
I agree. The section is very ill worded & I cannot be surprised at the misapprehension.  
FR
20/8
and that the implied condition which Governor Douglas says necessarily attached to Land so purchased is by no means self evident. It is, however, clearly desirable that Land disposed of before Survey should be subject to the condition of continuous occupation until the survey comes up to it.  
I have etc.
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Sir F. Rogers
Answer the Govr's despatch 36/6743 approving the instructions which he had issued to avoid for the future the error which had occurred in the grant of unsurveyed Land in the Colony.  
EB Pennell
16-8/61
At once.  
FR
16/8
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 86, 21 August 1861, approving of Douglas's instructions, which are intended to eliminate errors in unsurveyed land-claims, to “the District Magistrates.”  
 
Public Offices document:
Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary), 15 August 1861, National Archives of the UK, 7375, CO 60/12. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. http://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/getDoc.htm?id=B615LN05.scx. Accessed 20 August 2018. 

Last modified: 16:12:38, 10/5/2015