Hamilton to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Treasury Chambers
20 February 1861
With reference to Mr Elliot's letter of 15th inst, respecting the title of The Hudson's Bay Company to certain tracts of land in Vancouver's Island, and British Columbia; I am directed by The Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to request, that you will state to The Duke of Newcastle, that, if the proposed Reference to The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council comprehends merely the question of Title to the Lands in question, My LordsareManuscript image are of opinion that They are not called upon to become Parties to the Reference; but if any question relating to Compensation, to be awarded to the Hudson's Bay Company, in respect of such lands, is involved in the Reference; then, before My Lords can give Their consent to the proposed proceeding, They request to be furnished with the precise claim of The Company, and the actual reply, which The Secretary of State has directed to be made to it, as well as the grounds, on which it is proposed to oppose the claims of the Company before The Privy Council.
I am etc.
Geo. A. Hamilton
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 20/Feb
Perhaps Mr Murdoch will supply a Memo for Mr Fortescue's use on this letter.
TFE 20/2
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Mr Elliot
Some confusion and misapprehension appears to have arisen on this subject. When Mr Reeves' letter of 9 July was received, pointing out that the H.B.Co's petitions raised the question of pecuniary indemnity & therefore that the concurrence of the Treasury in the reference to the Judicial Committee was necessary, I saw Mr Reeves, by Mr Fortescue's desire—and explained to him that the intention of the Coll Office had been to refer to the Judicial Commee the question of title only—leaving the question of the amount of indemnity to be afterwards settled between the Govt & the Co. He recommended that a letter to that effect should be written and I understood that if that was done theManuscript image Order of reference to the Judicial Committee would be so limited. Accordingly the letter of 31 July was written. It seems to me that that letter states with sufficient clearness the proposed limitation of the reference—but if not, I can only suggest that Mr Reeves should be requested to point out what further communication would be necessary for the purpose, and to suggest the terms in which the limitation should be expressed. Is it possible that he may have altogether overlooked the letter of 31 July?
I assume that the intention to limit the reference to the question of title is still adhered to. I do not see how the Judicial Committee could enter on the question of the amount of indemnity. To assess it elsewhere than on the spot would involve the expense & delay of bringing witnesses fromManuscript image the Colony to this Country—and even then with an unsatisfactory result. The Treasury were, I think, right in considering that the letter to them of 31 July was not intended to elicit an answer.
TWCM 21 Feby 1861
Duke of Newcastle
Refer Mr Reeve to my letter of the 31st July 1860—and send him copy of the present letter from the Treasury, & enquire whether any further definition of the reference is required by the Judicial Committee.
CF 23
N 24
Other documents included in the file
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Fortescue to H. Reeve, Privy Council, 6 March 1861, forwarding a copy of a Treasury letter that advises the Judicial Committee to consider the question of HBC land-title only.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Fortescue
This question is of a legal character. I did not like to pass it witht looking into it pretty carefully & this has led me to delay it a few days.