No. 55
1 December 1862
Adverting to my Despatch No 45 of the 4th Ultimo, wherein I submitted to Your Grace copy of two Circulars which I had caused to be issued in connection with the subject of Gold Commissioners holding an interest in MiningclaimsManuscript image claims, I have the honor to acquaint Your Grace that in consequence of a report being generally circulated that Mr Begbie, the Judge of British Columbia, had, during his recent absence on Circuit in Carribou, purchased an interest in a Mining claim, I deemed it right to call upon him to state whether there existed any foundation for such report.
2. The reply of Mr Begbie, which I here enclose, contains, I am happy to say, the mostunqualifiedManuscript image unqualified contradiction of the report in question.
3. Your Grace will observe Mr Begbie's remarks upon the right which may exist to inquire into matters in connection with private property. I have informed Mr Begbie very distinctly that in all cases in which it may be considered that the private interests of public servants conflict with the due discharge of their public duties, it is the undoubted right of the Executive to institute the fullest inquiry not only as anobligationManuscript image obligation due the public, but also as an act of justice to the individual concerned.
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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Mr Elliot
It seems to me that the Governor has acted quite rightly in this matter. In a Colony especially the Chief Judge should keep himself disengaged from speculative transactions.
I shd rather suspect from what Mr Begbie says abt his having advanced money to a certain Mr Walker to enable him to buy a mining claim that the Judge has not been able to resist employing his spare cash to advantage. The rate at whh money is lent in B.C. is from 10 to 20, & 30 pr cent.
ABd 31 Jany
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Mr Begbie's denial appears to me to be as complete a one as could be expected, although he has conveyed it in rather lawyerlike language. I should ackge the despatch and should state that Mr Begbie's letter is satisfactory, and at the same time should express entire approval of the Governor's declaration of the right of the Executive Govt to inquire at any time into a question of property which might cause the private interests of public servants to conflict with the due discharge of their public duties.
TFE 13 Feby
I entirely agree.
FR 13/2
CF 14
N 16
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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M.B. Begbie to W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, 19 November 1862, denying the charge that he had purchased interest in a mining claim, and disputing that it was anyone's right to question his private holdings.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 12, 18 February 1863, advising that Begbie's denial is satisfactory and confirming Douglas's position regarding public officials and potential conflicts of interest.