Torrens to Buckingham
Bath & Cheltenham Hotel
London Street, W.
24th June 1867 To His Grace The Duke of Buckingham and Chandos &c &c

My Lord Duke
I trust I shall not be incurring a charge of attaching too much importance to myself if I trespass upon Your Grace a second letter in advance of a claim, already submitted by me on 7th May last, with Testimonials referring to my conduct of the duties of Clerk of the House of Vancouver Island. In that position I was not only Clerk of the House, but also Clerk of General Committees, of Select Committees, of Committees on Elections, of Committees on Private Bills and Standing Orders, and of Committees of the whole House on Public Bills.
It is right that I should inform Your Grace that I was the only Executive Officer the House had, and that my multiplied duties involved an immense amount of extra work (beyond the ordinary hours laid down for Servants of the Govt) from day to day, from year to year, indeed during the whole tenure of my officewithManuscript image with exception (say) of the last few months.
For instance one Committee alone, "the Commtee on the Crown Lands of the Colony," lasted for a whole year, sat nearly every day from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. after which the House sat from 3 p.m. till 6 p.m.
The Evidence having, for expeditions sake, been taken down roughly, had to be copied fairly into a Comtee Book for signature by the President; the Minutes of proceedings of the House into "The Records" every day. Voluminous Bills, 40 or 50 in number, were introduced during the Session, the debates on which I had to record and the Amendments: fair copies of these Bills I had to lay up on the table of the House in manuscript at every 3rd Reading. So much of the day having been employed as shown, it is manifest that many hours of the night must have been occupied in carrying my duties to completion. During Sessions after the close of the Crown Lands Comtee my time was scarcely less occupied for there were, nearly always, Committees General or Select—which required my services during the day.
The Sessions of the House in 1864, 1865, and 1866, lasted 11, 10, and 8 months respectively.
Early in 1865, and upon a vacancy occurring in the Treasury, His Excy Governor Kennedy sent for me and asked if I "would do the duties of that appointmentinManuscript image in addition to those of the House, because—if I would—he would give me full salary for both appointments" viz £350 & £250 = £600 per Annum. This kind offer I felt it to be my duty to decline, for my hands were already much more than full by the duties proper to the Clerkship of the House. For the Autumn of 1865 His Excy Governor Kennedy sent me down as a Stipendiary Magistrate to "Bear River, Clayoquot Sound" a rush of men having taken place thither in consequence of statements made by the Govt Exploring Expedition of discoveries of Gold having been made by them thereupon.
These statements the event did not justify; disappointment and much disaster resulted from them. Passages back to Victoria were given per Steamer to all the Miners except 5 whom I induced to go on, in an open boat, with me to Nootka Sound (130 Miles distant from Victoria) to explore certain rivers debouching thereinto which were reported to be gold bearing.
This Service was attended with no slight degree of danger. Half a dozen men, however determined, however well armed, can present but a feeble opposition to the hordes of Indians who infest that coast—notoriously, as they are, the most hostile, the most uncivilised, in that part of H.Ms dominions.
Moreover, the country which we then prospected had never been troddenbyManuscript image by foot of man (white or Indian)—the Indians of the district even would not accompany us. Governor Kennedy upon my return to Victoria in "H.M.S. Clio"—which had been sent to Nootka to bring us home—was pleased to express his unqualified approval of my conduct of the Expedition.
On the 2nd Septr 1866, the 3rd Parliament of Vancouver Island lapsed by limitation of time. On the 31st Aug—that being the last day of the Session of the Legislative Assembly—the House placed upon its Records a Resolution "That this House desires to express its high appreciation of the ability and zeal with which R.W. Torrens Esqre has discharged the various duties which have devolved upon him in his capacity of Clerk of the House during the past three years." On the said 31st August, and within half an hour of the passing of the above Resolution, I received notice by command of Govr Kennedy, that my pay would cease on that very day.
His Excy however consented, upon my statement that there were yet six weeks work to be done in the office, to allow me to draw Salary at the usual rate for the month of September—after which date my salary as Clerk of the House was permanently stopped.
The Union Proclamation not having been issued by Governor Seymour till the end of November, Representative Institutions,tho'Manuscript image tho' dormant, existed in the Colony and the Clerk of the House was as much entitled to receive Salary until that Proclamation was issued as if the interval had been one between the lapse by limitation of time of one Parliament and the convening of the succeeding Parliament.
Having borne cheerfully the burthen of my Appointment, having exercised in it some self denial, its privileges ought, of right, to have been extended to me.
Tho' Parliaments do change, their Clerks do not change, but are entitled to draw Salary so long as Representative Institutions exist whether the House be in Session or not.
The House rejected the "Supply Bill 1866" on a question of Parliamentary Privilege, the Honble Legislative Council having sent to them an Amendment to their Bill 1866 accepting their Bill i.e. the gross sum contained in the body of the Bill, but rejecting the "Schedule" i.e. the detail of its votes.
His Excy Governor Kennedy thereupon stopped my Salary at once—that Salary having been voted with the duties of "Auditor" tacked on to my appointment—and a high encomium having been passed upon me by the Speaker and the House in Comtee of Supply. His Excellency Governor Kennedy further re-imbursed those Officers whose Salaries had been reduced in the Schedule of the BillrefundingManuscript image refunding to them arrears of pay so reduced in accordance with the votes of the Assembly. I, however, had to suffer. The fault was in no way mine that His Excy and the Legislative Assembly were not in accord; tho' the punishment has been!
Other Officers under that Govt who like myself, have lost their appointments have at least enjoyed the Salaries of those appointments until their cases were respectively decided upon and gratuities placed at their disposal to bring them to England, while I did not draw Salary from my Appointment for the last five months of my sojourn in Vancouver Island, was kept in suspense and unemployed from Septr till the end of Feby 1867, and was at length informed by His Excellency Governor Seymour that my case would be commended to the favorable consideration of the Right Honble The Secretary of State for the Colonies. A gratuity of One hundred Pounds was given to me (and to the others) by way of passage money to England.
Under these circumstances, may I humbly pray Your Grace, when considering the claims of Officers who have lost appointments under the Act of Union of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, to allow my claims to take precedence according to the date of the loss of my Appointment.
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I have only one further circumstance to mention and that is that in 1859 I organised, and at great cost to myself, an expedition to prospect the N.W. Coast of British Columbia and the Queen Charlotte Islands. This Expedition was under my immediate command—we were absent 4 months; at Queen Charlottes Islands were nearly murdered by the Indians. On my return to Victoria I transmitted to the Government a report of my exploration, which report was sent by Sir James Douglas to the Colonial Office, was forwarded therefrom to the Geographical Society by His Grace the late Duke of Newcastle and was read before that Society at a meeting held by them in June 1860, eliciting their thanks.
Trusting that my case may meet with your favorable consideration,
I have the honor to subscribe myself,
My Lord Duke
Your most obedient humble Servant
R.W. Torrens
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Blake
To be put by. See Mr Macdonalds Minute.
CC 13 Aug
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See subsequent Southgate/11738.
Torrens, R. W. to Grenville, Richard 24 June 1867, CO 60:31, no. 7784, 358. 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/B676T05.html.

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