Romaine to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary)
31 August 1859
With reference to your letter of the 11 Instant on the Subject of a Detachment of Royal Marines sent from China to Vancouvers Island receiving a promise of Double pay, allowances, & a grant of Land after a service of six years in the Colony: I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to transmit to you, herewith, for the information of His Grace the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a Copy of a letter which their Lordships have received from Rear Admiral Sir M. Seymour, late Commander in Chief of Her Majesty's Ships & Vessels on the East India & China Stations, on the subject.
I am etc.
W.G. Romaine
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
On the 20 Augt 1858, Sir E. Lytton urged upon the Admiralty the importance of sending an additional Ship of War with Marines to VanCouvers Island.
The Admiralty, accordingly, sent the "Tribune" from China.
Sir E. Lyttons object was doubtless to ensure the presence in the neighbourhood of B. Columbia of a Military Force sufficient to repress any disturbance Manuscript imagein the Colony.
The "Tribune" arrived in February 1859 and the Supernumerary Marines were landed at Esquimalt. In April, the Governor reported that because it was undesirable to keep the men unemployed in VanC. Island and because that they had volunteered for service in British Columbia, and had been actually promised the same benefits they had enjoyed in China, together with a free grant of land at the end of 6 years service, he had sent them up to New Westminster and given them extra pay. It does not seem that Governor Douglas felt himself compelled by the "promise" to do this but that he pleads it as an apology for thus employing the Marines without instructions.
It now appears from the letters Manuscript imagefrom the War Office and Admiralty that no such promise to the Marines was authorized by H.M's Govt or by the Admiral on the China Station.
Under these circes, I would suggest that Governor Douglas should be informed of the object for which the Marines were sent to VanCouver's Island, that regret should be expressed that he had taken a step without instructions involving so heavy an expense, and that he should be instructed at once to discontinue the employment of the Marines in B. Columbia—Adding that the Admiralty have been apprized that in the present state of affairs, the Supernumerary Marines may be withdrawn from the Station. He should also be requested to explain the circes of the alleged promise and informed that it was unauthorized.
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The Admiralty should be told that this explanation has been called for and that the Governor will be instructed to discontinue employing the Marines in B. Columbia—referring at the same time to the decision communicated to the Admiralty on 11 August that the Supernumeraries may be withdrawn.
Send copy of the Ady letter 8786 & of our answer to the War Dept with reference to our letters of 9 July & 13 Augt.
The expenditure that has thus been occasioned, and for which Bills are now being drawn by the Governor on the Treasury, must be, I suppose, borne by the Colony.
HT Irving 3d Sept
The Governor scarcely seems to have been in fault in this matter; he could hardly have done otherwise then rely on the very positive & circumstantial assertions of Captain Magin. (See last Enclosure.) It is now clear that both the Admiralty & the War Dept, and their officers, repudiate altogether Manuscript imagethose assertions. That officer is surely the person who ought to be brought to book. I think therefore that (in addition to the steps proposed by Mr Irving, in which I agree) this circumstance should be strongly noticed to the War Dept who will themselves take such notice of Capt. Maginn's proceeding as they may think proper.
HM S 3
I entirely concur. A very sore feeling will be created amongst the Marines who will have just cause to complain & will probably vent their anger on the Service instead of the Captain.
N 4
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Merivale to Under-Secretary, War Office, 3 October 1859, forwarding copy of the letter received by Admiralty concerning promises made to the Marines, for information.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Seymour to Romaine, 24 August 1859, concerning the promises made to Royal Marines.