No. 14, Miscellaneous
23 March 1860
I have the honor to forward to you herewith a letter which was delivered to me yesterday for transmission to Your Grace, from Mr E.E. Langford,
a Bailiff in the service of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, residing upon, and in charge of one of their Farms in Vancouver's Island.  
2. The tenor of the Letter itself and the correspondence which it covers render report from me almost unnecessary; but as Mr Langford reflects upon the integrity of the Land Office in this Colony, as well as upon my own course of action in Connection with the complaint he made to me, it may not be inconvenient that I should
lay before Your Grace a resume of the Subject, with such comments as may appear necessary.  
3. On or about the 17th December 1859, I received a letter from Mr Langford, complaining of the unjust, partial, and improper conduct of the Colonial Surveyor with regard to a circumstance which ocurred in the summer of the preceding year, and requesting an early investigation thereof. I was somewhat surprised at this application, made one year and a half after the transaction alluded to, but as it was known that Mr Pemberton the Colonial Surveyor was about to leave the Colony to proceed to England, and as a General Election was pending, Mr Langford himself being a candidate, and having in his address to the electors distinguished himself by the display of an unusual degree of animosity to myself personally as Governor, and to the Government of the Colony generally, I had not much difficulty in surmising the true object of the application. I nevertheless instantly investigated
the matter, and called upon Mr Pemberton for a report, which he forthwith made to me; but I could elicit nothing which seemed to require that I should take further steps than to furnish Mr Langford with a Copy of the Mr Pemberton's report.  
I placed the matter in the hands of the Attorney General who perfectly coincided with me in this conclusion, but I instructed him to enter into communication with Mr Langford with the view of ascertaining, if possible, what was the precise object of his application.  
4. I
4. I forward a Copy of Mr Langford's letter of complaint together with Mr Pemberton's Report thereupon; and I conceive that Every point alluded to by Mr Langford is fully met by Mr Pemberton. Mr Langford avows in his letter that he was desirous of purchasing a certain tract of land for purposes of speculation, but that Mr Pemberton informed him that the land had been sold, and the instalment paid. Mr Pemberton replies that early in 1858, when land was scarcely marketable, Mr Dallas, the Agent of the Puget Sound Company,
applied for and selected certain tracts of land lying contiguous to a Farm already belonging to the Company, and that, in consequence, the land required was reserved, but that afterwards when Mr Dallas examined the ground, he refused to complete the purchase, upon the plea that certain portions selected had been omitted. Mr Pemberton thereupon remarks that but two courses remained open to him, either to compel the Agent of the Puget Sound Company to complete the purchase, or to throw the land into the market; and as it might
have been difficult to succeed in the former, he adopted the latter; and as the land at the date of his letter was still unsold, Mr Langford could have no just cause of complaint, for if he wished to purchase it was still open to him to do so.  
5. Mr Langford asserts Mr Pemberton informed him that the instalment had been paid upon the land, and he supports his assertion by the affidavit of a bystander, who further affirms that Mr Pemberton offered to shew his Books in proof thereof. This is positively denied by Mr Pearce, the Assistant Colonial Surveyor, who was present at the time, and states he "distinctly recollects" the whole occurrence. The Colonial Surveyor "did not tell Mr Langford that the first instalment had been paid", but simply "that the land was sold." Apart from this, I must remark that it appears to me a circumstance scarcely credible that the Colonial Surveyor should offer the official Books for inspection to any chance Purchaser of land as Mr Langford was, or that he should volunteer information regarding the payments made.  
6. From the investigation instituted by me upon Mr Langford's
complaint, I ascertained one or two other points which it may be as well to mention. I would in the first place observe that before the Gold Excitement in 1858, we had great difficulty in disposing of land in Vancouvers Island, and every facility was given to an intending proprietor to induce him to purchase, and it was customary for the Colonial Surveyor himself to proceed to the spot to exhibit the land, and to assist in its selection. Having done so in this particular instance, and the Agent of the Puget Sound Company having agreed to purchase the land, I consider the Surveyor
was justly entitled to regard it as sold, although the land was not surveyed. It was upon the land being surveyed, subsequent to Mr Langford's application, and finding the Boundaries did not exactly accord with the position roughly designated by Mr Pemberton (an acre and a half was I believe about the difference) that the Agent of the Puget Sound Company refused to take the land. That the transaction was a bona fide one so far as the Colonial Surveyor is concerned is indisputable, for I have
Examined the Office Books, and there is the cancelled instalment paper which was made out at the time the land was surveyed, with the current number upon it.  
7. If Mr Langford felt himself injured by Mr Pemberton's Conduct, or that an unlawful action had been committed, why did he not have recourse to legal measures to obtain redress? Or why did he not bring the matter to notice at an earlier date?  
8. I trust Your Grace will pardon my trespassing
thus long upon your time, but I have been somewhat full in my report, as I have to address Your Grace in a further Despatch upon another matter in which the present complaint will be referred to.  
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
This will be referred, I presume, to the Land Board. To me it appears that the case requires a careful sifting; for though it is true that Mr Langford can purchase the land if he chooses, it being still unsold, that gentleman has been prejudiced by having been prevented buying the Land at a time when he could have resold it to advantage. The reason, I take it, why Mr Langford does not seek for redress in a Court of Law is that he has not case enough—to give him a hope of success before a Tribunal where there are so many chances against him.  
Refer to the Land Board?  
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • Edward E. Langford to Douglas, 10 March 1860, advising that in view of the governor's unsatisfactory response to his complaint, the whole matter should be referred to the secretary of state.  
  • Langford to Douglas, 17 December 1859, detailing a complaint regarding the conduct of the colonial surveyor respecting the disposal of crown land.  
  • J.D. Pemberton to Douglas, 20 December 1859, responding to Langford's complaint with a detailed report on the circumstances of the dispute.  
  • Langford to Newcastle, 10 March 1860, forwarding correspondence and a memorandum in support of his complaint against Pemberton, with further explanation of the case.  
  • Langford to Douglas, 17 December 1859, letter as noted previously.  
  • W.A.G. Young, Acting Colonial Secretary, to Langford, 20 December 1859, enclosing the report from Pemberton, and stating the attorney general would communicate with him on the subject.  
  • Langford to Douglas, 31 December 1859, advising he had not yet heard from the attorney general, and asking that an investigation be scheduled without further delay.  
  • George Hunter Cary, Attorney General, to Langford, 2 January 1860, asking for the precise object of his submission, "whether you make any claim and against whom, or whether you simply desire to enter a complaint against the Colonial Surveyor."  
  • Langford to Cary, 3 January 1860, advising he had already laid out specific charges against Pemberton, and asking that an investigation be scheduled into the circumstances of the case.  
  • Langford to Cary, 10 January 1860, advising he had not received any further word from the attorney general, and asking if the matter was to be pursued.  
  • Cary to Langford, 10 January 1860, advising that he would be meeting with the governor "within the space of a week" to discuss the issue.  
  • Langford to Douglas, 1 February 1860, stating he had not heard from the attorney general since 10 January 1860, and asking for the governor's attention to the complaint.  
  • Young to Langford, 4 February 1860, forwarding copy of correspondence from Pemberton and Cary.  
  • Cary to Douglas, 26 January 1860, advising that Pemberton's report appeared a reasonable explanation of the case, and advising that the matter be put aside pending the return of Pemberton.  
  • Pemberton to Douglas, 20 December 1859, report as noted previously.  
  • Langford to Douglas, 10 March 1860, letter as noted previously.  
  • Memorandum of Peter William Wallace, detailing a meeting between Langford and Pemberton in July 1858 when Langford made his original application for the land in question, dated 20 March 1860, signed by George J. Wright, Notary Public.  
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft reply, Lewis to Douglas, No. 28, 26 July 1860.  
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Newcastle, 23 March 1860, National Archives of the UK, 4817, CO 305/14. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed 18 June 2018. 

Last modified: 16:08:49, 5/11/2015