No. 16
5 November 1858
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No 9 of the 2nd September, 1 and have to thank you for transmitting a copy of a correspondence between the Treasury and the Colonial Office on the subject of the Postal arrangements between England andBritishManuscript image British Columbia, a subject deeply interesting to every person connected with this country. 2
2. I observe by that correspondence that it was proposed to extend the present mail service by the way of Halifax and Nassau to Colon, 3 at a probable expense of £25,000 per annum, apparently with the view of facilitating postal communication between Vancouver's Island and Canada; already accomplished via New York.
3. From Panama to Victoria, Her Majesty's Government would be inclined to establish a line of British Postal Steamers but for the great expense say £100,000.
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For the present therefore, it is proposed to enter into arrangements with the Postmaster of the United States for the carrying of mails from Panama to San Francisco, and to invite tenders for their conveyance thence to this place; not being aware probably that the mails are already conveyed to Pugets Sound and this place by the United States Mail Steamers.
It is also proposed to request the Postmaster of the United States to re-consider the time of departure of the United States Mail Steamers from Panama so as to suit the Royal Mail Company's Steamers. 4
4. By Manuscript image
4. By existing arrangements we receive our mails once a fortnight and have not much reason to complain. From England to Colon two routes are open, vizt via New York, 5 and by the Royal Mail line. The former is the more certain of the two for letters, and the one generally adopted by business men, as it connects with the line between Panama and San Francisco. The last named could hardly alter their periods of departure without confusion on the Atlantic side.
If Her Majesty's Government carry out their views and establish a line from Nassau, we should thus have three lines arrivingatManuscript image at Colon. As there will probably, be a weekly line soon from Panama northwards, there would appear to be little gain by interfering with present arrangements between San Francisco and New York, Canada and England.
5. A detention of sometimes a week occurs at San Francisco, not necessarily but from want of arrangement on the part of the American Authorities. The Steamer conveying the mail northward frequently calls at the Columbia River, where she is liable to detention, and also frequently does not deliver our Mail till her return voyage from Olympia at the head of Puget's Sound, occasioning a loss of two days, and giving us no timetoManuscript image to reply to letters received by the same mail.
6. The only detention and irregularity therefore which we would wish to see remedied lie between San Francisco and this place, and this could easily be effected by an arrangement with the Pacific Mail Company, 6 or perhaps by the preferable mode of inviting tenders for the service.
7. It would be advisable to stipulate, in any such arrangement that the Steamer leave San Francisco for Victoria direct within 12 hours after departure
Query[:] arrival?
of the Atlantic Mail at San Francisco, and leave Victoria on her return trip to San Francisco, in time toovertakeManuscript image overtake the next succeeding mail. The voyage either way ought to be performed in about four days, thus allowing six days to reply to letters from Europe.
8. When the resources of the Colony are more fully developed, a line of British Postal Steamers from Panama to Victoria would be the most satisfactory and advantageous to British interests in this part of the world. This line might touch at San Francisco and Ports in Mexico, from whence treasure is largely exported, in all of which there are large British interests and between which there is a large passenger traffic.
9. Trusting thatthoseManuscript image those remarks may not be found irrelevant,
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
A letter from the Treasury with the previous correspondence on this subject is in circulation. 7 I suppose a copy of this Despatch should be sent to the Treasury?
VJ 17 Jan
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I think that a copy of this desp. should be sent without delay to the Treasury as the Govr proposes a very important modification of their plan. It appears to be a great improvement in as much as it will be far less expensive.
C Jany 18
To Treasury at once.
EBL J 19
Other documents included in the file
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Merivale to Sir Charles Trevelyan, Treasury, 21 January 1859, forwarding copy of the despatch for consideration.
  1. = Lytton to Douglas CO 398/1, p. 62.
  2. = Postal arrangements Enclosures in Lytton to Douglas, No. 9, 2 September 1858, CO 398/1, p. 62, p. 264.. Enclosure is probably 8624, 25 August 1858, CO 6/26, p. ?? NEED TO GET
  3. The city of Colon, Panama, was founded in 1850 at the eastern end of the Panama Railway. On 2 February 1852, the city was named Aspinwall after William H. Aspinwall, founder of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and Panama Railway; after 1890 the city officially adopted the name of Colon. Cf. footnote in Douglas to Stanley 6667, CO 305/9, p. 87; received 13 July, and Trevelyan to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary) 9752, CO 60/2, p. 263??
  4. The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was founded by James MacQueen and received its charter on 26 September 1839. It's West Indian Line ran steamers from Southhampton ?? to Colon?? Check?? T.A. Bushell, "Royal Mail," A Centenary History of the Royal Mail Line, 1839-1939 (London, Trade and Travel Publications, 1939). Check also J.H. Kemble, Mail Steamers Link the Americas, 1840-1890, in Greater America, Essays in Honor of Hubert Eugene Bolton (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1945). Cf. Trevelyan to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary) 9752, CO 60/2, p. 263.
  5. = Galway Line The Atlantic Royal Mail Steam Navigation Company, also known as the Galway Line, ran steamers from Galway, Ireland, to New York City via St. John's, Newfoundland. Before 1859 the company was called the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company. Source as above?? Cf. Trevelyan to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary) 9752, CO 60/2, p. 263.
  6. I.e, Pacific Mail Steamship Company; see footnote &V02304 above.
  7. = Treasury letter re mails. See Trevelyan to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary) 473, CO 60/6, p. 104, 13 January 1859.
People in this document

Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James

Jadis, Vane

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Merivale, Herman

Trevelyan, Charles Edward

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office


Places in this document

British Columbia

Columbia River



New York




Puget Sound

San Francisco

Vancouver Island