No. 32
28 July 1862
I have the honor to forward to you herewith at the desire of the Assay Department of British Columbia, certain correspondence respecting a claim put forthbyManuscript image by them to an increase of salary.
2. I regret that these Gentlemen should have assumed the position that these Documents will disclose, for it appears to me to bear very much the complexion of an attempt upon their part to coerce the Government into a compliance with their demands, at a moment when they believe their services are indispensable, and the Government wholly in their power to carry out animportantManuscript image important measure in connection with their Department.
3. Your Grace is aware of the project I entertained of issuing Gold pieces from the Assay Office of the value of Ten and Twenty dollars American currency, and Her Majesty's Government have approved the scheme. To carry it out I consider the Staff at the Assay Office ample, in short that is proved by the fact that a large number of these pieces have for practice been producedbyManuscript image by that staff, and indeed the Gentlemen themselves do not pretend to assert that they are unequal to the labor. They consider however the operation as one in no way connected with their duties, and before undertaking any of the work, apply for an increase of salary. I inform them that when the contemplated arrangements are carried out I will take their case into consideration, they reply by refusing to "take anypartManuscript image part" in what they term "Mint operations."
4. They also endeavour to support their claims to increased salary by referring to "promises of the Home Government" made through the Master of the Royal Mint at the time he engaged them. For these assertions I cannot find the least foundation. The reports of Professor Graham respecting the engagement of these Gentlemen are full and precise. An increase of salary is promisedafterManuscript image after the first year of their engagement if that increase was duly accorded; therefore perfect faith has been kept with them in the promises made by Professor Graham, and not only so, for they have since their arrival in the Colony been provided with free quarters, an advantage which does not appear to have been promised by Professor Graham, and one which is not to be lightly estimated in a CountrywhereManuscript image where most of the other public Officers have had to incur a heavy outlay in purchasing land and building Houses for themselves. It is, however, not improbable that Professor Graham did hold out hopes to these gentlemen that in time they would obtain larger salaries than he could offer, to an increase the legitimate result of their own exertions and integrity, but such a circumstance would form no ground on which to assert so positive a claim asthatManuscript image that put forth by these gentlemen, nor to justify them in the course they have adopted.
5. I cannot therefore consider that these gentlemen have any case of complaint to present to your Grace, and I trust your Grace will support me in the action I have taken. The period for which their salaries were assured to them by Professor Graham will expire next month, and it was myintentionManuscript image intention then to remodel the Establishment for it has been a most expensive one, the entire outlay in connection with it having exceeded £9000, while the receipts are little more than £900. The staff has been a double one and capable of conducting the most extensive operations, but 40,000 ounces of gold only having passed through their hands in 2 years, these gentlemen have in consequence been leading a life of comparative idleness.Now,Manuscript image Now, when there is a prospect of their services being remunerative, they refuse to render those services unless specially paid for them.
6. Your Grace will observe that when first requested by these Gentlemen to refer their case to you, I declined to do so, considering that there was no necessity to trespass upon your Grace's time with a matter of detail which was left to me to settle. As however, they have claimedtheirManuscript image their right to such reference, I have only to comply with the regulations of the service and to forward the correspondence with this my report.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The real reason, which is kept out of sight, why the Assay Office at New W. has not been a success is because the Miners do not stop at that place with their bullion, but push on with it to Victoria where they find superior means of enjoyment. The gold thence is sent to San Francisco. I am afraid that if the Assay & Coinage Office were fixed at Victoria, though it wd be the best place for the Dept, it would produce great dissatisfaction in B. Columbia.
If the Governor has the means on the spot of remodelling the establisht & economizing, these Officers seem to me to have given him a fair oppy of doing so without breaking faith with them. Their period of service is said to have expired.
Refer to T-y &c &c.
ABd 10 Sepr/62
The attempt made by a body of Officers who have hitherto been in comparative idleness, to extort an increase of salary by a sort of strike is very reprehensible, and constitutes an example which calls for effective discouragement.
I should make this remark to the Treasury, and should recommend a refusal to increase their salaries, and to leave it to the Governor's discretion to remodel their Department as he may think best for the public service.
TFE 10 Sepr
Certainly. To yield to an Official Strike in such a Colony as B.C. would be fatal.
N 11
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Assay Office to W.D. Gosset, 14 July 1862, asking that the enclosed correspondence be forwarded to Newcastle and stating the basis of their claims for increased salary, four signatures.
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Memorandum, Gosset to Bacon, Claudet, Bousfield, and Hitchcock, Assay Office, 20 May 1862, discussing the preparation necessary to expand the melting and assay office into a coining department.
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Assay Office to Gosset, 23 May 1862, further to his memorandum as noted above, asking that their request for increased salary attendant on their proposed increased duties, and on past promises, be forwarded to the governor.
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Gosset to Acting Colonial Secretary, 23 May 1862, forwarding letter from assay department asking for a salary increase and recommending both a £50 raise and other considerations.
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W.A.G. Young to Gosset, 30 May 1862, advising a salary review would have been undertaken following the successful implementation of the coining department, and conveying the governor's "regret and disappointment that the application had been received prior to that time."
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Gosset to Assay Office, 3 June 1862, forwarding the governor's reply to their application.
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Assay Office to Gosset, 3 June 1862, expressing regret that the governor based their application solely on the expected increase of work, and advising that they held themselves "entitled to an increase of Salary from what we were led to expect by the Master of the Mint, before leaving England."
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Gosset to Young, 4 June 1862, forwarding copy of latest letter from the assay department, as noted above.
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Young to Gosset, 9 June 1862, asking for documents or agreements verifying the promised pay increase from the officials concerned.
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Gosset to Assay Office, 10 June 1862, forwarding copy of the governor's letter requesting documentation.
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Assay Office to Gosset, 11 June 1862, advising that no written agreement was made, the understanding being a verbal one, and referring the governor to the Master of the Mint for corroboration, and declining to commence operations in the proposed mint pending settlement of the issue.
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Gosset to Young, 12 June 1862, forwarding copy of the latest letter from the assay department, as noted above.
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Young to Gosset, 19 June 1862, discounting the claims of the officers, with explanation, and advising that the governor considered it part of their "legitimate duty" to assist in the proposed project, a refusal being considered "as a direct breach of the engagement they entered into with the Government."
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Assay Office to Gosset, 23 June 1862, asking that the matter be referred to the secretary of state in view of the governor's refusal to provide a pay increase, but promising to work pending a decision, and responding to various statements made by Douglas in his letter of 19 June.
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Gosset to Young, 24 June 1862, forwarding copy of the latest letter from the assay department, as noted above.
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Young to Gosset, 7 July 1862, stating the governor would not refer the case to England as the matter fell wholly within his sphere, and advising the only conditions he would accept was "their unconditional submission to the views of the Government."
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 22 September 1862, forwarding copy of the despatch and enclosures for consideration, but recommending that the salary increase be refused.