No. 22
11th January 1867
My Lord,
I have the honor to forward a letter submitted to Mr Birch, recently Administering this Government, by the Bishop of British Columbia for transmission to Your Lordship,likewiseManuscript image likewise I transmit the draft of the despatch in which the Bishop's letter would have been forwarded by him to Your Lordship had not my return to the colony relieved Mr Birch of the privilege of direct communication with you. Mr Birch explains that the delay in sending on the Bishop's letter was caused by his having to wait for replies to the Circulars he issued to the Stipendiary Magistrates respecting the labours of the Church of England in their several districts.
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2. As I have become the Medium of Conveyance of these papers, it is perhaps convenient that I should say a few words upon them. The Bishop accuses My Executive Council of being biased by local political feeling. Possibly an impression rested on their minds that his Lordship was not altogether uninfluenced by a special local regard for that portion of his Diocese latelyembracedManuscript image embraced within the Civil Government of Vancouver Island. I hardly know how I shall keep clear of a charge of being under a similar impression when I say that the Church of England has made more progress and has a more numerous body of clergymen on the Island than on the Mainland. Here, beyond the narrow limits of New Westminster it seems to have little hold on the people. There, its influence pervades such communities as I have visited.Mr.Manuscript image Mr Birch, when he wrote, had but to consider the state of the affairs on the Mainland. My present authority extends over the whole Diocese. I am in a position to take a wider view and while I admit the entire correctness of Mr Birch's statements and reluctantly concur with the tenor of the Magistrates reports, I gladly affirm that great progress has been made by the Church in Victoria and several other portions of Vancouver Island.
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3. Without defection to the Church to which I belong I say that that of Rome is supreme among our native population on the Mainland—and with infinite benefit to the Indians and to the White inhabitants of the Territory. My despatch No. 61 of 22nd May 1865, contained a description of the Catholic Mission School at St. Mary's on the Fraser, where the Indian boys acquire the industries of Europe and the simpler branches of European education,Manuscript image Where they show that they can thrive and do well in contact with civilization, and that there is no reason why in this Colony, at least, the Native race should retreat or perish before the advance of the White Man. The same thing is shewn on a vastly larger scale on the plains beyond the Cascade range where the Indians own horses and cattle, cultivate in many cases their patches of land, speak French instead of the Chinook jargon, lead healthy active lives and donotManuscript image not diminish in numbers except when the small pox is among them. Where Whiskey selling can be stopped even the Indians of the Coast and Lower Fraser are doing well.
4. That civilization if introduced by Protestant Missionaries would have effected equal good I am not permitted to doubt. But the French Catholic priests were first in the field and they have succeeded. Whether it would be now wise of the Church of England to interfere in any way with the fields already occupiedbyManuscript image by that of Rome I am much inclined to doubt. There is ample room for Protestant Missionary enterprise along the coast, on our Northern Rivers, and even in Vancouver Island, but I should see with regret in the valley of the Fraser, beyond New Westminster, the Indians' belief in the "Bon Dieu" disturbed by controversy.
5. Neither Church has got hold of the Gold Mining Districts. Here is a whole scope forMissionaryManuscript image Missionary enterprise.
6. I do not go the length of one of our most experienced Magistrates who seeing with alarm the Mysteries of religion as taught to our Indians about to be interrupted by other teachers, applies to the Colonial Secretary under date 26th December 1866, But do you not think—if it were only possible—that it would be wise policy to restrict the religious and doctrinal education of the Natives to the Catholics and prohibit by OrdinancetheManuscript image the intermeddling of Ministers of other denominations.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
Having watched, with interest, the proceedings of all religious Sects in B.C, since its establishment as a Colony, I cannot refrain from saying that the impression on my mind always has been that the zeal & attention of the R.C. priests has been most marked & effective, and have left far behind the Protestant Clergymen. The reports made by the Magistrates on this occasion confirm this impression, & I think upset the Bishop's complaint to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
ABd 26 Feb
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Sir F. Rogers
I think you may like to see this despatch on it's way to Lord Carnarvon.
TFE 26 Feby
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I do not know that I have anything to say—except that I agree with Mr Seymour that it is very desirable that missionaries shd divide the population among them if possible, rather than quarrel for it.
FR 26/2
CBA 27/2
C 27/2
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Bishop of Columbia to Carnarvon, 22 October 1866, forwarding letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Bishop of Columbia to Archbishop of Canterbury, 20 October 1866, defining the opinion and position of the Church of England in the colony, and disputing certain statements made by A.N. Birch, with explanation.
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Memorandum, Birch to Seymour, 1 November 1866, forwarding draft despatch to the Secretary of State relative to the position of the Church of England in the colony.
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Birch to Carnarvon, no date, forwarding correspondence from the Bishop and commenting at length on their contents.
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Circular, D.C. Maunsell, Private Secretary, to Magistrates, November 1866, asking if Indian tribes of their districts had received religious instruction during the previous few years.
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Eight replies to the circular as noted above:
E.H. Saunders, Yale District, 15 November 1866.
H.M. Ball, Lytton District, 1 November 1866.
J.C. Haynes, Osoyoos and Rock Creek District, 24 November 1866.
W.R. Spalding, Quesnel District, 9 November 1866.
W.G. Cox, Cariboo District, 8 November 1866.
A.C. Elliot, Lillooet District, 9 November 1866.
C. Brew, New Westminster District, 1 November 1866.
P. O'Reilly, Kootenay and Columbia District, 15 December 1866.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Carnarvon to Seymour, No. 3, 8 March 1867 informing Seymour that Carnarvon has received his despatch of January 11, and asking Seymour to inform the Bishop of Columbia he received the letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury.