No. 4
Victoria Vancouver's Island
13th May 1855
Sir
I have the honor to acknowledge your Despatch No 9 of the 16th Jany 1855, transmitting copy of a letter from Mr John Powell Mills, Master of the Barque "Colinda," complaining of proceedings taken against him by the authorities on Vancouver's Island, and desiring me to cause enquiries to be made into the facts of the case, and to furnish you with a report on the allegations contained in his letter.  
I.
Immediately on receipt of your instructions to that effect I addressed the accompanying note to Mr Cameron; and the reply of that Gentleman, which is herewith transmitted, will explain the nature of the suits commenced in the Law Courts of this Colony by parties aggreived through the acts of Mr Mills; and the manner in which they were conducted. The Magistrates appear to have acted with fairness and impartiality towards all the parties concerned in those suits, and there is no reason to suppose that they were influenced by any ill-feeling towards Captain Mills, who was unknown to them except as a person charged with an offence against the Laws of his Country.  
In respect to Her Majesty's Executive Officers in this Colony, they took no part whatever in the Law proceedings, for or against Captain Mills, the decision having been left, as in all such cases, to the ordinary Courts of the Colony, in which the proceedings are conducted strictly according to Law.  
Mr Mills left England as Master of the Barque "Colinda"
chartered
chartered by the Hudson's Bay Company to convey Goods and 212 Passengers, coal miners and other Servants of the Hudson's Bay Company direct to Vancouver's Island, without touching at any intermediate Port. Notwithstanding the provisions of that instrument, Captain Mills put into the Port of Valdivia, in consequence, as he professed to believe, of a mutiny of the Passengers, and he applied to the Admiral on the Station for an inquiry into their conduct. Rear Admiral Moresby thereupon ordered the "Colinda" to Valparaiso, and the Passengers were there brought to trial, at the instance of Captain Mills, for "mutinous and piratical conduct," and were acquitted of the charge.  
All the Passengers with the exception of 17 abandoned the ship at Valparaiso, refusing to proceed further under the command of Captain Mills.  
The next of Captain Mills proceedings in contravention of the Charter Party, was the sale at Valparaiso of a large portion of the, Colinda's cargo, the property of the Hudson's Bay Company.  
An advertisement then appeared over the signature of John Powell Mills, in the "Echo del Pais,"
a
a Valparaiso Paper, announcing the approaching departure of the "Colinda", for the Port of San Francisco and offering to take Goods and Passengers for that Port, at the lowest rates. That plan does not however appear to have been carried into effect.  
Captain Mills finally arrived off the Port of Victoria on the 17th April, and the few able seamen on board deserted the "Colinda," and fled to the American side in course of the following night, leaving the ship with the Master, Mates, apprentices, cook and Steward.  
She was towed into the Port of Victoria by a Steam vessel, sent out to her assistance by Mr John Work consignee, and agent for the Hudson's Bay Company.  
Captain Mills produced for the information of the said Consignee, an account of the Goods sold by him at Valparaiso, which appeared by that account to have produced the sum of 2532.12.4, and he also gave in a statement of his disbursements, on the ship's account, at that Port, amounting to 1832.12.4, leaving a balance unaccounted for of 700 Sterling, which he refused to surrender,
a
as by Law required, to the order of the Consignee; who thereupon and in consequence, commenced an action against Captain Mills, for the recovery of the said sum, which after some litigation was finally recovered, through the tedious process, detailed in Mr Cameron's letter herewith.  
By the statement here given which I believe to be in substance correct, you will observe that the Process commenced by the Consignee of the Hudson's Bay Company, against Captain Mills, was solely with the view of compelling the surrender of property which he "Mills" did unlawfully retain in his possession, and that it was therefore in his own power to have arrested the action by making restitution of the property in question.  
The Process was in itself strictly proper and was conducted in all respects, according to the directions of the statute in such case provided.  
In pursuance of the history of the Barque "Colinda," I beg further to inform you that a Power of Attorney from the owner Mr Tomlin of London, was received here in the month of September last authorising me to supercede Captain Mills and put another master in command of the
"Colinda"
"Colinda." Acting on that authority I appointed James M Reid to the command, supplied him with capital to fit out the vessel for sea, and procured him a good charter for the Port of San Francisco, where the "Colinda" arrived safely on the 2nd of April last, on her way to London; with the choice of another advantageous charter from that place, which I also procured; having I firmly believe by that means saved the "Colinda" from sale and confiscation; and Mr Tomlin the owner has duly expressed his gratitude to me for those favours.  
In reply to the only allegation in Mr Mills' letter, which remains unanswered I will state that the "Colinda" was not made use of, as he asserts, by the Hudson's Bay Company, to convey coals to California, nor employed in any other manner, in their service, or for their benefit; she lay idle in this Port until chartered in the beginning of the month of March last, by Captain Reid, for the delivery on her way to London of a cargo of Coal at San Francisco. This having taken place some time posterior
to
to the date, 9th January 1855, of Captain Mills' communication to you, will show that his statement is altogether unfounded.  
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient humble Servant
James Douglas
Governor.

The Right Honble Sir George Grey Bart
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
This appears, at least to me, to be a very sufficient explanation of the charge preferred by the late Master of the Colinda against the Authorities at VanCouvers Island. Should he be so told—or wd you send him a copy of the desph &c? Mills' private property is on board the Ship.  
ABd
23 July
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Ball
It certainly appears so. I see no necessity for sending a copy of the desp. to Capt. Mills. It would be sufficient I think to inform him that an explanation has been received from the Governor from which it appears that the proceedings taken against him were in course of law, with which Government cannot interfere: & add the information which this desp. contains respecting his property, which he alleges to have been detained from him.  
HM
July 24
I concur.  
JB
25 July
WM
25 July
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • Douglas to David Cameron, 8 May 1855, enclosing a copy of Mills' complaint and asking for a report on its so "I may report on the same for the information of Her Majesty's Ministers."  
  • Cameron to Douglas, 10 May 1855, detailing the proceedings in the arrest and trial of Mills.  
 
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Grey, Sir George, 13 May 1855, National Archives of the UK, 6876, CO 305/6. 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=V55104.scx. Accessed 24 September 2018. 

Last modified: 14:09:27, 16/2/2015