Easterby to Newcastle
San Francisco, California
January 15th 1858
His Grace the Duke of Newcastle
My Lord Duke,
Having failed in my efforts to reach your Grace's ear through the medium of agents, I have resolved as a dernier resort to address you personally, with the hope that should this letter be received, it will meet with your favorable consideration.  
My petition to your Grace regards Queen Charlotte's Island, where in 1852 were discovered some gold quartz mines, for permission to work which, I applied on behalf of myself and partners to your Grace in 1853.  
The grounds of our claim are the following. In 1852 having heard that gold had been discovered in Q.C. Island and desiring as Englishmen to invest our capital in British Territories we purchased and fitted out a vessel with stores and provisions, and sent her up to the Island with a mining crew on board; there were however no diggings as in California, but our Captain met there the Hudson Bay Company's Schooner "Recovery" whose crew were working a quartz vein, in which they could find no gold, and therefore soon abandoned. The mere existence of quartz, however, induced Captain Rooney to investigate farther, and after a diligent search he succeeded in discovering a blue quartz vein with gold visible; it was for permission to work this blue vein that I applied to your Grace. Captain Rooney left our mining crew to work it, returning to San Francisco to inform us of the discovery, and to obtain farther instructions. In his absence the party were compelled to desist working by Captain Kuper of the "Amphitrite" [the Thetis]. Captain Rooney finding this to be the case, on his return to the Island took the men on board and proceeded in accordance with our previous directions, round the north end of the Island to visit a copper mine, of whose position we are alone cognisant; in that vicinity he was surprised by natives, who seized, and burnt the vessel, making himself and crew prisoners, whose ransom we afterwards paid.  
Conceiving that we had a just claim for indemnity I visited in the Spring of 1853 and applied to your Grace through Messrs Taylor and Sons for a lease of the mine.  
This application was favorably considered, and at the recommendation of your Grace, received, as I was informed, the assent of H.M. Council's. After the names of myself and Co. Lessees were submitted and approved, your Grace's secretary Mr Blackwood informed me that the draft of the lease was written, and I being anxious to cross the Isthmus of Panama before the rainy season commenced in consequence of the illness of one of my family, he courteously assured me that he would forward the Patent as soon as it was engrossed.  
Upon the faith of this assurance, I quitted , since which time I have been unable to learn any grounds for the refusal of H.M.'s Government to complete the execution of the lease; except that the Governor of Vancouver had issued a proclamation offering monthly licenses, which your Grace is aware could not of course be available in Quartz mining where capital must be invested.  
Had we not supposed that our enterprise was legitimate and in the absence of all objection worthy of encouragement, we would not have ventured so much time and capital in its prosecution, which has unfortunately resulted in such great loss to us.  
The justice of our claim has been admitted by your Grace, and I trust that the consideration thereof will procure for us some indemnity; more especially, as to the loss incurred by our expenses on the Island, and the seizure of the vessel amounting to £5000, must be added subsequent expenses incurred on the faith of promise made by H.M.'s Government to execute the lease, and withdrawn without error on our part.  
I am aware that this is an unofficial mode of application, but as one of my partners and those friends in who would have interested themselves are dead, and as I am not in a position to leave my business, I have ventured thus to address you; and subscribe myself with much respect,  
Your Grace's Most obedient
Servant
Anthony Easterby
Messrs Gray & Easterby
Other documents included in the file
  • Copy, John Taylor to Blackwood, 10 March 1858, confirming his firm had received the Colonial Office letter of July 1853 denying the lease, and that a copy had been forwarded to Easterby.  
  • Draft, Colonial Office to Easterby, 17 March 1858, denying that he had any just claim against the government.  
  • I have shown this sentence to Mr Blackwood, who quite confirms it is an accurate account of his statement. 
    TFE
    Minutes by CO staff
    (I have altered this, because he had a right to leave whether the affair was settled or not.) 
    S
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
This is an attempt to procure compensation from Government for alleged losses not justly chargeable on it.  
The Easterbys or persons associated with them, hearing that gold had been discovered in Queen Charlotte Island, sent a ship there in 1852. The Vessel was seized by the Natives and destroyed.  
In 1853 the Easterbys, with the aid of their Agent here, Mr John Taylor Jr.—the mining Engineer, applied to the Duke of Newcastle, then S. of S. for this Office, for a lease of the land where the gold was supposed to exist. His Grace, having a favorable opinion of Mr Taylor, was disposed to sanction the establishment of a small company, or association of respectable persons, who would carry the enterprize out, & to whom he was not averse to giving a Lease. This Office even proceeded so far as to take steps for having a Lease drawn up. In the consideration, however, which it was necessary to give to this subject it was found that there were several serious and fatal objections to the execution of the design, and accordingly a Letter explaining them, & adding that a Lease could not be granted was addressed to Messrs Easterby's Agent in London, Mr J. Taylor, on the 20 July 1853. Of this Letter a copy was taken by Mr Easterby's brother in Law, Mr N.[utter] Gray who forwarded it to Mr Easterby, who had quitted a short time previously.  
The discussion of the subject then terminated, nor have we heard more about it until the arrival of this Letter.  
And this Letter you will notice asks for indemnity for losses incurred, entirely on the Easterby's own responsibility, one year prior to the commencement of the negotiation between the Govt & the Easterbys.  
The claim appears to me to be totally destitute of foundation.  
As the writer of this Letter has introduced my name into the transaction I have to state that I perfectly remember, at the desire of the Duke of Newcastle, seeing Mr Taylor and the Easterbys on one or two occasions, and it is very probable that I mentioned that the draft Lease was in preparation, as was the case at one time; but I repudiate having said; at such interviews, more than the circ[umstanc]es authorized me to do, or anything which wd have justified the writer in quitting with the belief that the matter was settled with the Govt to his satisfaction.  
I annex two Parliamentary Papers on this subject, together with a note from Mr Taylor to myself.  
ABd
11/3
No man I apprehend can make out that he has a reasonable claim to compensation on such a plea as that he embarked valuable capital, and started for the most distant Colony we possess, not merely without the Lease on which he says that he reckoned, but without a single line in writing to state that he would have such a lease. Individuals are so unscrupulous in bringing claims on the public, that if such grounds as these were admissible, there would be no safety.  
TFE
11 March
C
12 M
Write accordingly: if his address as given is permanent, as by the concluding passages of his letter appears likely.  
S
M 13
 
Correspondence (private letter):
Easterby to Newcastle, 15 January 1858, National Archives of the UK, 2168, CO 305/9. 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=V586E01.scx. Accessed 24 September 2018. 

Last modified: 13:16:53, 4/11/2015