Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
22 July 1863
I have to acknowledge your letter of 11th instant, with an extract of a Despatch from the Governor of British Columbia, enclosing a Proclamation to repeal the Proclamation granting privileges to Military and Naval Officers in the acquisition of Lands and to substitute other regulations for those contained in it.
2. When the price of Land was fixed in British Columbia at £1 an acre a remission in money was granted to Military and Naval Officers calculatedManuscript image with reference to that price. When the price was reduced to 4s/2d an Acre that remission was practically increased fivefold. To prevent the evils which would thus be caused the present proclamation substitutes for a remission in money a grant of a fixed extent—commencing with 600 Acres to a Field Officer of 25 years Service and ending with 200 to a Subaltern of 7 years. The Proclamation requires that persons taking advantage of it shall be actually resident on their Land for two years before they can obtain a grant—it excludes Town and suburban LotsManuscript image from selection—and it requires the Settler to stake out and record with the nearest Magistrate the Land which he claims to occupy. In other respects the Proclamation is with a few unimportant verbal alterations identical with the Proclamation which it repeals.
3. As a general rule it is more convenient to give Military and Naval Officers a remission in money rather than a fixed quantity of Land, because a remission allows them to become purchasers at Sales by Auction when the price may be run up beyond the upset price. But in a Colony where the price is in an unsettledManuscript image state, as at present in B. Columbia, there is no doubt a difficulty in fixing what the remission should be without the risk of having to alter it so frequently as to introduce confusion and uncertainty into the system. In such a case a fixed quantity is more convenient both to the Government and the Settler. I would accordingly recommend that this alteration of the system should be sanctioned, and that the Proclamation now transmitted by Governor Douglas should be approved in the usual manner.
I have the honor to be
Your obedient
Humble Servant
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
If the Duke of Newcastle decides on confirming this Proclamation the War Office—H. Guards—& the Admy shd receive notice of the change made.
ABd 23 July
Mr Fortescue
Adopt Mr Murdoch's advice and write accordingly to the Offices proposed by Mr Blackwood and also to the Governor?
TFE 24 July
For drafts accordingly.
CF 25
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to Under-Secretary of State for War and Secretary to the Admiralty, 30 July 1863, forwarding copy of the proclamation, with explanation.