Peel to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Treasury Chambers
28 July 1863
Sir,
With reference to your letter of 22nd Ultimo, on the subject of the Assay Establishment at New Westminster, British Columbia, I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to transmit to you the enclosed copy of a Report on the subject from the Master of the Mint, dated 2nd Instant, and to request that you will state to the Duke of Newcastle that Their Lordships are prepared, under the circumstances, to accede to the proposal of the Governor of British Columbia, contained in his despatch of 10th April last, and to sanction the continuance for the present, of the Assay EstablishmentatManuscript image at New Westminster with the following reduced Staff: Vizt one Chief Assayer.
one Assistant or Operative Melter.
My Lords request that a Return may be furnished, annually, in a form similar to that forwarded by the Governor, of the Work performed by the Assay Department, in order that opportunity may be afforded for reconsidering the question of the Establishment or, perhaps, of withdrawing the Department altogether, if not eventually self-supporting.
I am, Sir
your obedient Servant
F. Peel
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
The new Treasurer of B.C. whoever he shall be, ought to possess, or acquire before he assumes his Office, some knowledge of "Assaying."
Communicate the result to the Governor. By the engagement with the Assay Officers they were to be assured their salaries for 2 1/2 years. They will have served nearly 3Manuscript image by the time they are discharged. And the operative melter was to be allowed £50 for return passage money. Thus the Melter being retained we are under no engagement to pay the journies home of the discharged officers, though, I think, that if the Governor shd consider it right to give them some help we ought not to demur. But possibly the discharged may find profitable employment on the spot, or at Victoria.
See T-y Lr 9454/59.
ABd 29 July/63
Draft to Governor.
TFE 29/7
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 41, 31 July 1863.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
Report, Master of the Mint to George Arbuthnot, Treasury
Royal Mint
2nd July 1863
Sir,
With reference to the correspondence on the subject of the Assay Department of British Columbia, which you have allowed me an opportunity of perusing, I beg to offer a few observations for your consideration.
The ordinary expenditure of the Establishment may be assumed to be approximately represented in the return supplied of last year's outlay on Salaries and expenses of Office.
The Expenditure on these heads during 1862 amounted to £1886.1.6. consisting of Salaries £1650 and Expenses of Office £236.1.6. A charge of £1848.15.9. for works and Buildings during the same year must have arisen (I presume) out of the preparations made for minting gold. The Staff is limited to an Assayer,AssistantManuscript image Assistant Assayer, Melter and Operative Melter. An additional Office, that of Accountant, recommended by Captain Gossett, was never filled up. The scale upon which the Establishment was originally constituted does not appear extravagent. But unfortunately the revenue has proved much smaller than was anticipated. In the same year (1862) the receipts of the Establishment are given as £575.12.0. Of the whole yield of Gold less than one third is found to be assayed within the two Colonies, by public and private Assayers together, and of that amount again about 40 per cent only passes through the Government Assay Office at New Westminster. The most unfavorable feature of the case is the large proportion of Gold which escapes the Colonial Assayers, being carried by the American Miners to San Francisco in California, where they prefer to Winter. Governor DouglascanManuscript image can see no prospect of rendering the establishment remunerative, or of maintaining it without a heavy charge to the Colony. He therefore recommends that if the Assay Department at New Westminster is to be retained, the staff should be reduced. He considers that one Chief Assayer and one Assistant or operative Melter would be sufficient to meet all the requirement of the Colony. I beg to express my concurrence in the propriety of the reduction proposed, and also in the selection of the Offices to be retained.
With regard to the question of the location of the Assay Department, I would only remark that its position at the seat of Government is likely to conduce to security and efficient management.
I have &c
(Signed) Tho. Graham

George Arbuthnot Esq.
&c &c &c
Treasury
Peel, Frederick to Rogers, Frederic 28 July 1863, CO 60:17, no. 7375, 308. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/B635TE12.html.

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