No. 100
23rd August 1865
Sir,
I have the honor to forward a letter addressed to you by Mr James Cooper, complaining that the expectations held out to him by the Secretary of State have not been realized, andprayingManuscript image praying that compensation may be awarded to him.
2. Mr Cooper performs the light duties devolving upon the Harbour Master of New Westminster fully to my satisfaction. The Salary he receives is an extremely small one, and were the business of the Port greater I should recommend the Legislative Council to increase the pay. It is Mr Cooper'smisfortuneManuscript image misfortune, not his fault, that he has much idle time on his hands.
I have the honor to be,
Sir,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
See Separate Minutes.
EBP 3/11/65
Mr Cardwell
This seems to me a plain case.
The allegation of a promise breaks down, and ought on general grounds never to be admitted on the mere personal assertion of the interested part.
All allegations of mere oral promises ought in my judgement to be summarily dismissed.
But unless we suppose that a Secretary of State had promised a man money whether he earned it or not, there really remains no question to be discussed. Mr Cooper has almost nothing to do, and enjoys for it a moderate salary. He wishes that he had a larger salary, and the Governor says that he would have no objection to give him a larger salary, it he had more extensive duties. But there evidently is not the shadow of an excuse for making the Public pay for duties which do not exist.
TFE 3 Novr
EC 4
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How it was that Mr Cooper obtained Sir E. Lytton's favor, who recommended him, or what the man had done to entitle him to any office at all I could never learn. However when B. Columbia was formed into a Colony Mr Cooper, who had been a Captain of a trading vessel and a resident at V.C. Id was to have been made Collector of Customs. The rumour of this appointment having reached the ears of the Hudson's Bay Co, they personally and by Letter represented that Mr Cooper both had been & then was in their debt. From the statement of the Co Mr Coopers transactions in other respects did not appear in a very favorable light. He wasManuscript image called upon for an explanation. Mr Merivale fully investigated it, and came to the conclusion that it was not satisfactory enough to justify an office of pecuniary trust being conferred on him. So in a short time the Harbor Master Ship of B. Columbia (where there really was no harbor & consequently nothing to do) was created for him. Salary £400 a year. The Collector's Office is now £650. At first the Collectors Salary was £400. Mr Cooper, who resided in V.C.I. having been called upon to go & live at New Westminster with other B.C. officials, remonstrated against this order, but was overruled. He hasManuscript image since that time lived, I suppose, at N.Wr, holding a perfect sinecure office. He now complains that he has lost money by his apptment to the Office of Harbor Master instead of that of Collector of Customs, & asks for compensation for the money loss he computes himself to have sustained. He refers to me as having heard Sir E. Lytton promise him an appointment of "equal honor & emolument." If those terms have been used in the correspondence they wd be much in favor of Mr Cooper's view: I can not say that I recollect the employment by Sir E.L. of the expression quoted. If they are not in the correspondence,Manuscript image which should be looked to, I can only say that, in my opinion, Mr Cooper has preferred a monstrous claim. But a precis of the correspce had better be prepared, as I am only writing from memory.
ABd 27 Oct/65
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Mr Cooper's application for increase of Salary
I have searched the correspondence relative to the appointment of Mr Cooper to the Office of Harbor Master for British Columbia. I find nothing on record to shew that Mr Cooper was told by Sir E. Lytton that he would find the appointment conferred upon him to be of equal honor and emolument with that of the Collector of Customs to which it was originally intended that he should be appointed.Manuscript image It is not however unlikely that he may have been verbally told so by Sir E. Lytton, for at the time of the creation of the two offices in 1858 the Salary attached to each was the same vizt £400. But in 1861 the Salaries of several of the Officers of British Columbia were increased, and among them that of the Collector of Customs from £400 to £650—(see statement E annexed).WhyManuscript image Why the Harbour Master was excepted in this general increase of Salaries does not appear, but possibly it may have been owing to the refusal of the Secretary of State a year previously to increase his salary under the then financial circumstances of British Columbia and because he notoriously had scarcely anything to do in return for his Salary.
I annex the following extracts of the correspondence bearing on Mr Cooper's character and case generally.
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A. As to his appointment & doubts as to his character resulting in the opinion, expressed to him in the letter of the 8th of September, 1858, that although Mr Cooper left Vancouver Island (before his appointment) in circumstances of some embarrassment no discreditable conduct was proved against him in respect of those circumstances.
B. Extract of despatch to Govr Douglas 24th March/59, (V.C.I.d) shewing that H.M. Govt was pledged to Mr Cooper in a salary of £400.
C. Mr Cooper's application for an increase of Salary in 1859 and refusal.
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D. Extract of despatch for Govr Douglas & answer in 1860 shewing Mr Cooper's opposition to Govt and connection with newspapers.
E. Schedule shewing increase of Salaries of various Officers—Mr Cooper & one or two others excepted.
EBP 1/11/65
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
*
[Enclosures with minute above:]
A

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Carnarvon to Cooper, 16 August 1858, advising that enquiries would be made with respect to his position in Vancouver Island prior to his appointment as collector of customs.
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Carnarvon to Cooper, 18 August 1858, forwarding copy of letter "impugning your integrity in your pecuniary affairs in Vancouver Island," and requesting an answer to the charges.
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Minutes of Merivale and Lytton upon the answer returned by Cooper to the charges as noted above, with the comment that he would not safely be employed as collector of customs.
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Carnarvon to Cooper, 8 September 1858, advising that enquiry had found that although he left Vancouver Island in embarrassing finanical circumstances, "no discreditable conduct has been proved against you," and appointing him harbour master of British Columbia.
B

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Extract, Lytton to Douglas, Confidential, 24 March 1859, pledging the government to assign an office to Cooper with a salary of £400 per annum.
C

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Douglas to Newcastle, No. 220, 14 September 1859, forwarding application of Cooper for a salary increase, with comment that his duties were nominal only and that he resided in Vancouver Island rather that British Columbia.
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Cooper to Acting Colonial Secretary, 25 July 1859, asking for a salary increase.
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Newcastle to Douglas, No. 1, 2 January 1860, asking that Cooper be advised that in view of the financial position of the colony his request for a raise could not be complied with.
D

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Extract, Douglas to Newcastle, Confidential, 4 May 1860, advising that Cooper's appointment "is a complete sinecure," and commenting on his frequent attack on government policy in the Legislative Assembly.
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Newcastle to Douglas, No. 39, 6 July 1860, advising that Cooper should conform to the rules by residing in the colony where he holds his appointment.
E

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Statement showing the present salary of the principal civil officers in British Columbia, and the increases recommended by the governor.
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Statement showing the salaries of various officers in Canada, South Australia, Tasmania and Natal.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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James Cooper, Harbour Master, to Secretary of State, 21 August 1865, claiming compensation on account of unfulfilled promises on behalf of the government, with explanation.
Minutes by CO staff
At this distance of time I am really unable to testify to Sir E. Lytton's use of these terms. I remember the case generally, & that Sir E. Lytton considered that Mr Cooper was not a safe man to put into a revenue place. We thought him more than fortunate in securing an Office of £400 a year.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 90, 11 November 1865.
Seymour, Frederick to Cardwell, Edward 23 August 1865, CO 60:22, no. 10460, 278. 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/B65100.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)