Murdoch to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
2nd November 1867
I have to acknowledge your letter of 31st ultimo, with letters from Mr Laurie & Mr F. Dundas enclosing memorials from the Colonial Committee of the Church of Scotland for a grant of Land in Vancouvers Island for the benefit of the Scotch Church established there. A communication addressed to the Earl of Zetland by two of the ministers of the Church in Victoria also accompanied Mr Dundas' letter.
2. It is stated in these documents that a Grant wasManuscript image made to the Church of England by the Hudson's Bay Co and confirmed by the Crown of 23 Acres in the City of Victoria, the value of which is stated to be now $60,000. The Scotch Church, claiming an equality in the Colonies with the Church of England, pray that a similar grant may be made to them, and the communication to Lord Zetland points out two sites where land of equal value to that possessed by the English Church could be obtained. Upon this latter point no one of course but the local authorities can pronounce—but in respect to the principle of the grant I would submit that the ChurchManuscript image of Scotland is entitled to be placed on an equal footing in Vancouvers Island with the Church of England, and to receive towards the maintainance of its Ministers similar assistance to what is given to the Clergy of the Church of England. I would, therefore, recommend the prayer of the Memorialists to the favorable consideration of the Duke of Buckingham & Chandos.
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 D. of Buckingham decides that the Scotch Church is entitled to a grant of Land equal in extent or value to that given to the Church of England then it will remain with the Govr only to satisfy the Scotch claim as can be best done without detriment to further interests—but it might be safer to call for a report in the 1st instance.
CC 4 Novr 67
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Sir F. Rogers
See separate minute.
TFE 15 Novr
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Sir F. Rogers
I apprehend that the endowment of Churches in new Colonies has long been rejected in practice, and that the endowment of them with rural lands is incontestably objectionable in principle on account of throwing large tracts into unimproving lands, and that endowing them with valuable lots in the middle of a Town, as in the present instance is open to the objection common to all endowments in these new Settlements occupied by people of all kinds of sects, vizt that what you give to one Church or Sect, you will assuredly be called upon to give to every other, so that it would be difficult to put bounds to the grants of public land or property for ecclesiastical purposes.
If therefore the Crown hadgivenManuscript image given this grant in Vancouver, I should have felt rather suprised on account of the deviation from practice which seems dictated by such forcible considerations. Nevertheless if the Crown had done so, I should perhaps have agreed with Mr Murdoch that it would be bound to do the same for the Church of Scotland, although this would have been speedily followed by applications quite as well founded from the Church of Rome and the Free Kirk and any dissenting Bodies which may happen to have large followings in Vancouver.
But in point of fact, you are aware, the grant, so contrary as I believe to all modern policy of the Queen's Government, was made by the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Crown is only so far a partytoManuscript image to it, that in receiving over from the Company the transfer of the Island, it has duly confirmed to the Church of England the property already bestowed upon it by the Company.
Under these circumstances I should think that it must be a far more doubtful question whether the Crown ought now to make a grant to the Church of Scotland merely because the Hudson's Bay Company several years ago, and prior to any authority in the part of the Crown, made a grant to the Church of England.
If it is to be done, the mode of doing it will be no small difficulty. There can no longer be the means, even if it were advisable, of giving a fresh Church a valuable propertyinManuscript image in the heart of the Capital. If equivalent property is to be given in the Country, it will imply granting a vast tract, with all the palpable objections to converting such a tract into ecclesiastical property. And when all is done, there will remain as above said the inevitable future claims of other Churches and Persuasions.
TFE 13 Novr
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Mr Elliots view appears to me correct. It is not the policy of Colonial Govt to give Churches endowments in land, and the property now belonging to the English Church was given not by the Col. Govt but by the H.B.C.
At the same time I do not think that the argt of the Scotch Church is sound in principle. In V.C.I. & other Colonies all Churches are on the same footing in theory. ButManuscript image the English Church got possession of the ground—made itself useful, and has reaped the advantage of doing so. I do not know how many clergy there are—but it is something of a body.
The Colonial Committee have one clergyman, & claim land to the same amount as the English clergy who—so far as the work is done—have been doing the bulk of it.
The Roman Catholics are doing much more & wd have a stronger claim than the Presbyterians.
FR 16/11
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It is not clear that Church reserves have been the least improved lands. Evidence the other way. But I would leave it to Local Govt to reserve or grant for Schools or places of Worship of recognized sects what they please, like the U.S.
CBA 18/11
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Reply that the grant to Engl. Church was made by H.B.Co. and not by the Crown. That it is not the practice for the Crown to make grants, and [we] are unable therefore to comply with the request of the S.C. & inform Govr.
B&C 17/11
Other documents included in the file
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Adderley to Reverend Simon Laurie, 23 November 1867, denying the request for a grant of land, with explanation.
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Adderley to F. Dundas, 23 November 1867, denying the request for a grant of land, with explanation.
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Draft reply, Buckingham to Seymour, No. 90, 21 November 1867 informing Seymour of the requests Buckingham received for the Church of Scotland to be granted land on Vancouver Island and informing Seymour that Buckingham could not comply with those requests.