No. 24
Downing Street,
14 February 1859
I have received a letter addressed to me by Mr Begbie the Judge of British Columbia, from Victoria, Vancouver's Island, on the 1st December last, and am glad to have this early information of his arrival.
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You will, however, have the goodness to inform Mr Begbie, that it is generally advisable that he should address representations respecting matters of Colonial government and interest to yourself, as Governor, in the first instance, and that when (as on the present occasion) he thinks it necessary to divert from that course on special grounds, by addressing the Secretary of State, he should always transmit to the Governor his letter totheManuscript image the Secretary of State, for any report which the Governor may think proper to add. This is the rule prescribed by the Colonial regulations, and founded on the strongest grounds of public convenience: and I do not doubt that Mr Begbie departed from it through inadvertence only.
With respect to the doubts which Mr Begbie suggests, he will observe that your power of legislation is for the present unrestricted:andManuscript image and I have no doubt you will cooperate with him in giving to his Court all such powers as it may in your and his estimation require. You can constitute it a Court of Record: give it equitable jurisdiction: and ecclesiastical jurisdiction in case of Wills and Administrations. With regard to Admiralty jurisdiction, which is more usually conferred from home: there is no longer any question at issue, for you have been apprisedbyManuscript image by my despatch of the 6th January last that Her Majesty has thought proper to establish a Court in British Columbia for the trial of offences against the Laws of Vice Admiralty.
As to the recent Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act, it may be a matter of rather curious question, whether the law thus established extends to British Columbia, a Colony constituted after its passing, or not, but I should think it much betterthatManuscript image that such doubts be superseded by enactment, establishing such provisions as may be deemed expedient in the infant state of British Columbia. My predecessor Lord Stanley suggested the assimilation of the law of the Colonies in general to that of England in this respect: and there are obvious advantages in a similarity of laws throughout the Empire on marriage question: but I do not consider it necessary to press this subjectuponManuscript image upon you, leaving it to yourself to decide whether the subject may not be better dealt with by the Colonial Legislature which I hope to find soon established.
A Seal for the Court has been ordered and will soon be sent.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient
humble servant
E B Lytton