No. 11
6 February 1861
I have the honour to transmit herewith, Copies of the following four Proclamations entitled as under, and numbered from 1 to 4, namely: No 1Manuscript image
These acts are registered.

No 1. "Jurors Act 1860."
No 2. "Sheriffs Act 1860."
No 3. "An Act to facilitate the Trial of Criminals."
No 4. "The Town Lot Leases Relief Act 1860."
2. The three first of those Acts have been found requisite in the present condition of the Colony of British Columbia for the due and regular administration of Criminal Justice; and the other Act, No 4, is intended fortheManuscript image the relief of many holders of Building Lots in the Towns of Hope, Yale, Douglas, and Lytton, from the effects of certain legal informalities in the conveyance of those estates, which, notwithstanding their having been honestly acquired, put it out of the power of Government to complete the Titles of the present holders.
3. The accompanying Report from the Attorney General will further explaintheManuscript image the character and object of those Acts, and I trust they will meet the approval of Her Majesty's Government.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Graces most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 6 Apl
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Mr Fortescue
It is not to be expected in a country circumstanced like B. Columbia that matters can or need be conducted with the regularity wh is necessary & practicable in a large & settled community. The Laws therefore passed in that Colony are not to be scanned very critically. But on some points I think that more precision wd be attainable, & it wd therefore be well, while approving the Proclamations in general terms to notice points in which they appear to require amendment.
1. No 25. The Jurors Act. It may be very proper to remove the qualifn of property and to allow the Sheriff to summon at his discretion persons not being British subjects to serve upon juries. But I think some provision should be made if possible for forming a Jury list—and for requiring the SheriffManuscript image to summon Jurors (being British subjects) according to some fixed rule.
It is for the consn of the Govr whether it mt not be desirable to make it necessary that a juryman should be able to read and shd not be known to have been convicted of felony or any infamous crime.
The Govr mt be authorised if he thought fit to reduce the number of persons composing a jury to nine and to provide that after deliberation of four hours the verdict in which six jurors concurred should be received.
No 26. Judge (if necessary) may appoint persons to act as Sherriff pro re ratâ. High Sheriffs to hold Office during Govrs pleasure—No observation.
No 27. Empower the Judge to try when he pleases, any person charged with any offenseManuscript image whether in custody or not—upon such notice of Trial as he shall in such case deem expedient.
With every possible desire to deal liberally with experimental Legislation it is I think impossible to avoid the disallowance of a Proclamation which wd enable a judge "on such notice as he mt" (not "by any general rule prescribe" but) "in such case deem expedient"—to try any alleged offender in any place and in his absence.
Under such a law no man could be saved from being tried & condemned behind his back by a precipitate or hostile judge. I think that the carelessness wh whh this Law has been framed deserves notice.
No 28. This is intended to give validity—or rather to enable the Court to give validity to certain irregular transfers of real property wh have taken place in B. Columbia, as theyManuscript image will of course take place in every country wh is occupied in the same irregular way.
I think the Proclamation may be allowed to remain in force—I would say however that though the D. of N. did not think it necessary to disallow it under the peculiar circumstances under which it was passed, he felt serious doubts whether it afforded sufficient protection to the interests of persons having claims on the property wh did not appear on the affidavit of the claimant or wh for any other reason was not sufficiently before the court and that H.G. wd feel obliged to advise the disallowance of the Proclamation unless it were so modified as to remove this objection either by an absolute saving of all such rights or by some other equitable method—also that the Procln ought to be accompanied by a further Law providing some easy mode of Registering Transactions affecting Land wh would remove the temptation to such irregular modes of proceeding hereafter.
The present law will afford that temptation to perjury wh the Statute of Frauds (wh it supersedes) was passed to remove.
FR 1/5
CF 4 May
N 5
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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List of documents enclosed with Douglas's despatch. [Documents do not appear in file.]
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G.H. Cary, Attorney General, to Douglas, 1 February 1861, reporting favourably on the proclamations, as per despatch.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 79, 15 May 1861, complaining that copies of proclamations which Douglas had signed between March and May 1860 should have been sent to the Colonial Office sooner, and been sent with abstracts. This draft offers Douglas a lengthy critique of the laws he has submitted for approval, and disallows An Act to facilitate the Trial of Criminals, which is described as having been crafted with alarming laxity.
Minutes by CO staff
This is rather long but I think the legal department in B. Columbia wants a little admonition and a law likely to introduce confusion in titles or to confiscate property is a serious matter.
1st Is the Juror's Act to be Confirmed?
2ly The Trial of Criminals Act is to [be] disallowed. Should it be laid before Parlt, as well as Acts which are allowed?
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 85, 20 July 1861, announcing the Queen's confirmation of several 1860 acts.