Finnis to Secretary of State
Guildhall Justice Room
August 22nd 1862
My Lord Duke
A charge of Fraud is now pending before me as the sitting Alderman of this Justice Room against the Secretary of the British Columbia Overland Transit Company.
It appears that 33 persons were induced from an Advertisement which appeared in the Times to pay to the Secretary £42 each for a passage from England to British Columbia. They sailed from Glasgow on the 31st of May last and having arrived at Quebec were forwarded to St Pauls in the United States. On arriving at that place on the 27th of June no arrangements whatever had been made to forward them to their destination although assurances were held out that sucharrangeManuscript image arrangements were completed. Eight of the persons who arrived at St Pauls have returned to this Country—during the investigation of the charge and from information I have obtained I am assured that the 25 men who have been left at St Pauls are unable from want of means either to return to England or to proceed on their passage and that those persons are now in the greatest distress and should no assistance be afforded them before the Winter season their state must necessarily be most deplorable.
It was stated during the investigation before me that a person who is said to be Col: Sleigh of St John's Woods acted as the Manager of the Company and that he received the whole of the money paid by the 33 passengers and that he has since sold his furnitureManuscript image and gone to Spain out of the jurisdiction of the Criminal Courts.
My object in soliciting your Lordships attention to the painful circumstances of this case is to enquire whether your Lordship can allow any assistance for relieving these poor persons who are detained at St Pauls either by causing them to be forwarded to British Columbia or to enable them to return to England.
I have the honor to be My Lord Duke
Your Grace's Most Obedt Servt
Thomas Q. Finnis

To Her Majestys Principal Secretary of State
for the Colonial Department
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
I suppose the answer returned to Mr Collingwood (8205) must be adhered to?
VJ 22 Augt
Duke of Newcastle
Answer that Y.G. regrets much that these persons should be exposed to suffering—but that it wd be quite impossible for HMG to undertake the duty of extricating persons who had embarked in impracticable enterprises, & had allowed themselves to be imposed upon by designing persons from the consequence of their imprudence.
FR 23/8
As this letter comes from the Magistrate who tried the case I think I would add that I warned the Compy by letter of the danger of the scheme, and as I neither knew the names or circumstances of those who were deceived by it I took the only opportunity afforded me of offering them a caution in the House of Lords.
N 24
Other documents included in the file
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Rogers to Finnis, 26 August 1862, stating Newcastle's regret at being unable to assist the stranded travellers, with explanation.