No. 18
Government House
New Westminster
8 April 1864
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to enclose herewith a letter addressed to Your Grace by Mr J.B. Gaggin, a stipendiary magistrate of British Columbia, representing and complaining of an act of injustice, which he alleges he has received at my hands, by being suspended from the exercise of his functions pending an investigation into his accounts.
2. In accordance with ruleIManuscript image I proceed to report upon his complaint altho' it seems to me that the papers he himself furnishes sufficiently exhibit the cause of his suspension, the reason of the suspension being removed, and justify the course adopted.
3. I must first explain that one of the capacities in which Mr Gaggin acted was that of Collector of Roads Tolls at Douglas, a service from which a considerable amount of Revenue is received; and Knowing the difficulties and risks attendant upon the conveyance of money from the Collectorate to the Treasury, I gave special orders to the Treasurer to instructtheManuscript image the outstation Collectors to take advantage of the trips of the "Gold Escort" to remit to the Treasury.
4. On the particular occasion referred to by Mr Gaggin I had expected, and calculated upon, a large sum from Douglas. To my Surprise, upon the arrival of the "Escort," instead of such sum coming to hand, a report is made by the Treasurer, copy enclosed herewith, that no money had been remitted from Douglas, but, that instead, Mr Gaggin had informed him that he did not expect the "Escort" for several days, and that when he got his Books satisfactorilybalancedManuscript image balanced he "would send a large sum to the Treasury." I was aware that, by the returns, a sum of £4000 should be at Douglas. I enquired as to the stay made by the "Escort" at Douglas, and found that Mr Gaggin was afforded a period of over two days in which to carry out the instructions he had received. He not only did not comply with these instructions, but, he excused himself in a most unsatisfactory manner. So serious a dereliction, connected as it was with public money, I could not overlook, and I therefore took such steps as seemed to me right and proper.
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5. I instantly despatched Mr Nind, accompanied by an accountant from the Treasury, to investigate the whole of Mr Gaggin's accounts, and to enquire into the state of his District, and pending the investigation, I interdicted Mr Gaggin from the performance of further duty.
6. Mr Nind's report, a copy of which I enclose, relieved my mind as to any defalcations existing; but, it will be seen from the reply to Mr Nind that his explanations upon some points were not satisfactory, and I naturally awaited a further report before I could decide upon the whole case.
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7. As soon as I was in a position to give a decision, I did so. There was no deficit of public money, and, therefore, Mr Gaggin was cleared from the main charge against him. I could not however acquit him of inattention and negligence in the performance of his duties. After a careful consideration of all the circumstances I came to the conclusion that the suspension should be removed, but, that it would be for the interest of the public service that Mr Gaggin should discharge his duties as an Assistant Gold Commissioner and Stipendiary Magistrate in another part of the Colony.
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8. In the whole of this matter I believe I have acted strictly in conformity with my instructions, and as was required of me, in the just exercise of the charge committed to my care.
9. Mr Gaggin may, I can well understand, feel aggrieved at being suspended from his duties, but that feeling should be exercised against himself, and not against those, who, in the interests of the public service, were, owing to his own conduct, compelled to discharge an unpleasant duty in respectofManuscript image of him.
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
Mr J.B. Gaggin has been Asst Gold Commr and Stipendiary Magistrate of Douglas, B. Columbia since October 1859. According to the Blue Book of 1861—received here in 1863—he collects the Road Tolls—for which he gets £100 a year. No mention is made in the Blue Book or in any despatch which we have been able to refer to, of his having any connection with the Post Office at Douglas.
The Governor, however, says that the Post Office "is part of his duty." I suppose as a Magistrate. In consequence of the Road Money not having been forwarded by the Gold Escort, and of a letter addressed by Mr Gaggin to the Treasurer saying that when he got his Books satisfactorily balanced he would send a large sum down, the Governor, knowing that the Gold Escort had remained 2 days at Douglas took alarm and despatched Mr Nind, with an accountant, to investigate the whole of Mr G's accounts and to enquire into the state of his district.
PendingManuscript image the investigation Mr Gaggin was interdicted from the performance of his official duties.
Mr Nind reported (page 37) that Mr G's accounts and the Cash in the Chest tallied within a few shillings—the difference arising from receiving and paying Gold Dust. The suspicion therefore which led the Governor to enquire and suspend, proved devoid of foundation. Mr G. explained that the reason why he did not send the Road money by the Gold Escort, as the Governor had expected, was because he had been directed by the Treasurer to send his accounts at the same time—which was impossible for him to do on this occasion as the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works had not returned him the Lands and Works Books which, it is to be inferred though not stated, were indispensable to him in making up his accounts.
2. It appears further, that Mr NindenclosedManuscript image enclosed a statement with his report to the Governor, which has not been forwarded here. From that statement the Governor collected that Mr Gaggin was deficient £3000 in cash, as a collector of Revenue. The Governor seems aware that this money was expended on Roads, but thought it unauthorized, and excessive in amount for the work done. The statement is not before us but Mr G. explains (p. 25) that the expenditure was effected under the direction of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, that the accounts were regularly forwarded to that Officer—that they were approved and finally passed by him and the Auditor General. Drafts for the amount were forwarded to Mr G. by the Treasurer.
I cannot conceive a more complete acquittal of a pecuniary transaction.
3. Mr Gaggin is finally in troubleonManuscript image on account of some District Post Office irregularities. Mr G. maintains that he has nothing to do with the Post Office in question—nor, as before observed is there any proof in this Office, that any Post Office appointment, involving responsibility, has ever been conferred on Mr G. The Governor, on the other hand, alleges that he considers the District Post Office as part of Mr Gaggin's duty. Whichever is right it is not clear to me that the irregularities complained of, if even lying at Mr G's door, were sufficient to justify the Governor's proceedings towards him.
The preceding analysis leads me, at least, to the conclusion that the Governor has been betrayed into an error of judgement. On two of the points on which Mr G. was supposed to be in the wrong he stands in my mind completely acquitted. On the 3rd—that of theManuscript image alleged irregularities of the District Post Office—I cannot see that he is blameable. If then he be really guiltless it is surely unfair treatment not to restore him to the position he occupied. The mere fact of removing him to another district argues something wrong, and is damaging to his character. If there had been anything to disapprove of in Mr G's general conduct and proceedings as a Magistrate in his District the Governor ought to have adduced it. But the reasons on which Sir James Douglas has acted on this occasion appear to me removed by the explanations offered.
ABd 7 June/64
Mr Fortescue
Mr Blackwood has examined this so fully, that there is little which it can be worth while for me to add. My impression is that we should request the opinion of the new Governor.
TFE 9 June
I think so.
CF 10
EC 10
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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J. Boles Gaggin to Newcastle, 12 March 1864, protesting his treatment at the hands of the governor, and enclosing documents in complete explanation of the circumstances involved.
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W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, to Gaggin, 23 November 1863, advising of his suspension pending an investigation into the accounts of his district attendant on his failure to forward revenue as per instructions.
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Gaggin to Young, 5 December 1863, further explaining the delay in forwarding the revenue, having been instructed by the Treasurer to remit his accounts at the same time, such action not being possible due to circumstances beyond his control.
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Gaggin to Young, 6 January 1864, advising that he had received no acknowledgement of his previous letter, and protesting the actions taken against him.
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Charles Good, for the Colonial Secretary, to Gaggin, 27 February 1864, advising that no further action would be taken pending receipt of Nind's report on his unauthorized expenditure on account of roads.
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Gaggin to Young, 27 February 1864, informing that sums expensed on roads were spent under the direction of the chief commissioner of lands and works.
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Young to Gaggin, 3 March 1864, advising that "all matters of doubt" had been removed with regard to his accounts, but that he could not be aquitted of a "want of attention to the instructions you received," and advising that he would be transferred to a new district.
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C. Brew, Acting Treasurer, to Young, 17 November 1863, advising that Gaggin had not forwarded revenue via the gold escort, but had promised to forward it when his accounts were "satisfactorily balanced."
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P.H. Nind to Young, 12 December 1863, advising that following a complete examination of Gaggin's accounts, they were found to balance "within a few shillings," with extended explanation.
Minutes by CO staff
To me this report appears not alone exculpatory, but laudatory.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Young to Nind, 29 December 1863, acknowledging receipt of his report, but questioning sums expensed by Gaggin on account of roads, and casting doubts on other aspects of Gaggin's administration.
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Young to Gaggin, 7 July 1863, instructing him to remit accounts of postal revenue, and advising that he would be held accountable for any losses incurred.
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Young to Gaggin, 15 December 1862, instructing him to remit accounts of postal revenue, advising that "supervision of the Postal Department in your District forms part of your duty."
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 18, 21 June 1864.