Mills to Grey


To The Right Honourable Sir George Grey Colonial Secretary

Honourable Sir,
I have recently arrived from Victoria VanCouvers Island, at which place I have been most maliciously and cruelly persecuted by the authorities there, the Honble Hudson's Bay Company, who at the same time are the representatives of the British Government, Mr James Douglas is Governor, Chief Factor of H.B. Company, and was also my Agent. I assure your Honourable Sir this Colony is far worse than a foreign Port for any british subjects to reside in or go to, to trade, on account of the most despotic arbitrary power these Gentlemen are invested with, for proof of these assertions, Honble Sir, you may get every individuals statement residing there.  
I am part owner of a beautiful new ship "Colinda", also Master. I was chartered by the H.B. Company to proceed from London (in Augt 1853) to Victoria with passengers and merchandise, through the loose manner of the Company's Servants on departure and promises made to the passengers by them it created a tissue of grievances which was out of my power to control, it finally produced mutiny of them and so led to the following persecutions against me by this arbitrary Company, my ship was fitted out at 11000, Ship and outfitt, on my arrival at Victoria my ship was taken in a very illegal manner from me, I was cast into a den of a Prison not fit for a dog Kennel and kept there 4 months and 9 days at their mock Courts, I was interrogated privately no persons being admitted. I was kept in solitary confinement 2 months at which expiration Mr Douglas seized the "Colinda" in the Queens Name also seizeing, all my own effects, instruments, Vouchers, and every article belonging to me leaving me perfectly destitute the ship was converted into a brothel for prostitutes and drunkards, and in place of selling the ship to pay them—
—selves
—selves their false charges alleged, they are making use of the ship to convey Coals to California my deliverance from Gaol was a verbal message from Mr Cameron Mr Douglas brother in law by the mouth of the gaoler to inform me I had no occasion to remain in gaol, having kept me locked up 4 M[on]ths & 9 days.  
It was impossible to get any redress in Victoria as there is not a disinterested person from the company's servants in the place, and nothing whatever in the shape of a lawyer, and yet these persons affect to be first rate lawyers. They are on their own side, and in their Truck system, and here in London it is quite out of my power to go to law with such a Princely company. I have therefore humbly petitioned to you, Right Honourable Sir, in hopes that you may take a consideration of the usage I have had to endure and will be the instigation of having a Public Investigation of the whole at which I shall be most happy to attend before any tribunal to answer all things—the best of British subjects are driven to leave their country by such lawless actions from large companies.  
I have the Honour to remain Honourable Sir
Your most humble & Obedient Servant
John Powell Mills
Master of Barque Colinda of London 581 tons register

Capt. Mills
direct opposite the entrance of Her Majesty's Victualling Yard, Deptford, Kent
l Tuesday 9th January 1855
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
Refer to the Govr for a report and acquaint the Writer?  
VJ
11th Jan
This is all that can be done.
 
HM
Jan 11
Yes. The Colinda is alluded to in the Despatch 4064—annexed.
 
FP
12
GG
13
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft reply, Grey to Douglas, No. 9, 16 January 1855.  
  • Draft, Peel to Mills, 17 January 1855, advising Douglas had been instructed to report on the case.  
  • Draft, Colonial Office to Mills, 3 August 1855, stating Douglas's report had been received and that the proceedings taken against him were deemed to be "in the course of law."  
 
Correspondence (private letter):
Mills to Grey, August 1853, National Archives of the UK, 276, 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=V556M01.scx. Accessed 16 July 2018. 

Last modified: 14:09:53, 16/2/2015