Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
8 May 1860
I have to acknowledge Mr Merivale's letter of 23rd ultimo, enclosing a Despatch from Governor Douglas on the subject of the grant of endowments in Land to the Clergy of the principal Christian Communities established in British Columbia.
2. Governor Douglas states that although he had no authority to apply any part of the public Revenue to the aid or support of Churches he has Manuscript image has not hesitated to grant to the Clergy of the Church of England and the "Methodist Episcopal Church" sites for a Church, School and Dwelling House, forming a Block of 4 building Lots—or about one acre—in all Towns where they resided. The Towns in which these grants have been made are Yale, Hope, Derby, Douglas and New Westminster. He further requests authority to make similar grants in all other Towns of British Columbia where ordained Ministers of the Gospel may take up their residence, and he likewise proposes that free Manuscript image grants of 100 acres of rural land should be made in aid of every cure established in British Columbia and not otherwise supported at the public expense—where there is a resident Clergyman and a place of public worship—restricting these grants, however, to the Churches of England and Rome—the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches.
3. As regards the grants already made Governor Douglas' proceedings should, I think, be approved, but he will of course take care that the Land shall be appropriated strictly Manuscript image to the purposes for which it was intended—and that it shall be so conveyed as to be secure against the possibility of misapplication in future years. Nor do I see any objection to his making similar grants in other Towns wherever a Clergyman and a Congregation may be established and require such assistance.
4. In respect to the proposed grants of 100 acres of rural land to such cures as may be hereafter established the experience of other Colonies is not encouraging. It Manuscript image has been found that where a Clergyman in a new Colony had to depend on his Land for his principal means of subsistence, he must, to make it answer, devote to it so much of his time as seriously to interfere with his usefulness. Unless he does this the endowment becomes only an apparent, not a real, provision for him. He cannot let it, because Land in a new Colony is never, except under very peculiar circumstances, taken on lease—and to employ hired labor would generally be beyond the means of a Clergyman so situated. Manuscript image For these reasons the practice of making grants of Land as endowments to living in the Colonies has, I believe, been generally discontinued for many years—and great caution should be used in returning to it in British Columbia. It may be doubted whether it is not better for a Clergyman to depend entirely on the liberality of his congregation than to be provided with an endowment which, though no substantial assistance to him, may be an excuse to such of his Congregation as are disposed to withhold their aid.
5. Governor Douglas as I have Manuscript image stated proposes to restrict these grants to four principal Christian communities. Looking, however, to the number of different communities of Christians in the United States and Upper Canada he would probably not be able to carry out such a restriction. This is another motive for caution. Under any circumstances he should not make grants of this description until he has satisfied himself, in addition to there being a resident Clergyman and a place of Worship Manuscript image that there is also a settled population of the community to whose Clergyman the grant is to be made in its immediate vicinity.
I have etc.
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
Approve the Governors proceeding: and send him extracts, or perhaps embody Mr Murdoch's observations in Paragraphs 4 and 5 of this report—with which it is desirable that the Governor should be acquainted.
ABd 9/5
I think he should be instructed in the spirit of those pars., but in rather more decided terms. These endowments appear plausible, but have been a great source of discontent and abuse, as well as of sectarian jealousy, in other Colonies.
TFE 9 May
I quite agree.
CF 10
Manuscript image
I would approve the one-acre grants—applicable to all Religious Sects—but disapprove the scheme of grants of 100 acres of Rural Land for the reasons given in Mr Murdoch's Report.
N 10