No. 126
30th November 1868
My Lord Duke,
I have had the honor to receive Your Grace's despatch No 57 of the 3rd of August respecting some murders which had been committed in the vicinity of Metlakahtlah.
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2. I enclose a correspondence which has passed between Mr Duncan and myself on this subject. My letter will shew that the matter was almost entirely taken out of my hands. The "Sparrowhawk" visited Metlakahtlah twice but nothing decisive was done.
Mr Duncan now prays for a third visit, but it really seems to me that I could hardly askforManuscript image for the vessel again.
There is no one whom I could send up in her except Mr Duncan and he—though one of the best of men—is a little too fanatical to be trusted with the directions of the proceedings of a ship of war 500 or 600 miles from Head Quarters.
3. I enclose copyofManuscript image of a statement which I made before the Executive Council on this subject.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
On the 9th June last Governor Seymour sent home a report from Mr Duncan Magistrate & Missionary at Metlakahtla.
Mr Duncan's report contained an account of a massacre arising out of a drunken quarrel between some Indians "which ended in 5 men being shot" (on the 28th of April. Vide Adm Hastings letter in 7943).
A tribe to which one of the shot men belongedManuscript image rushed down "to vent their savage fire on the handful of peaceful & unsuspecting settlers at the Kincolitt Mission. On their way they met & murdered two Interior Indians. But with unabated fury 6 of them proceeded on for the Mission" & [on] their way met with & butchered 2 men & a boy.
A copy of the despatch was sent to the Admiralty as it was considered a matter of great moment that theseManuscript image infant Settlements of Christian Natives should not be destroyed.
Admiral Hastings in reporting this to the Admiralty (see 7943/16 June) stated that it was a matter requiring due consideration and investigation & that the murderers ought to be brought to justice—that as it was matter specially for the Governor's cognizance he had written to him that he was ready to cooperate with him & to place one of HM's ShipsManuscript image at his disposal—that he was assured by Mr Duncan "that should this case be proceeded with & the matter kept secret, the Murderers could be obtained at Fort Simpson with little difficulty"—that he had recd no reply but was quite ready to send the Sparrowhawk to Fort Simpson to secure the Murderers if possible.
In answering the Governor's despatch the Duke of Buckingham therefore wrote that he trustedManuscript image that he should shortly learn that the measures the Govr had taken in concert with the Admiral had been successful.
Governor Seymour's despatch now recd is anything but satisfactory nor does he appear to be of opinion that there is any pressing necessity for endeavoring to capture & punish the Murderers—nor do I understand what he means by saying "that the matter wasManuscript image almost entirely taken out of my hands"—nor is there anything to shew whether he took any or what notice of Admiral Hastings' offer of assistance to which I have referred. Mr Duncan may be a little fanatical but I cannot imagine Mr Seymour not being able to find some one he could have trusted to accompany the Sparrowhawk. His minute of 14 Nov & his last letter to Mr DuncanManuscript image treat the matter, if it is not as appears to me, a light one, in a very abrupt & unsatisfactory manner. At the same time I have seen but little in regard to the way of dealing with Indians.
CC 28/1
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Mr Monsell
I agree entirely with Mr Cox. Pray read Mr Seymours account of Metlakahtla (the parent mission station of Kincolitt) in 11759/1867 in order to realize the true importance of this affair. The question seems to be whether these Christianized Indians are to have the protection of Law or not.Manuscript image Mr Duncan no doubt is an ardent partizan—but his statements are clear consistent and uncontradicted and as agst the Govr who forwards them must be taken as true.
By them it wd seem that the Magistrates sent to investigate simply pooh poohed the affair—adopting apparently the view of their interpreter Mr Blenkinsop who thought that missionaries were not to trouble themselves about the murder of Indians but to keep to "their business"—(what on earth that business is if it is not to civilize & stand up for those who cannot civilize or plead for themselves I do not know) and in this view of a missionaries duty Mr Seymour appears to me contemptuously to acquiesce and he seems to consider it sufficient to say to Mr Duncan & the S. of State that the matter was "entirely taken out of hisManuscript image hands."
This is the first place, I do not understand—looking to Adml H's offer of assistance—and to the fact that the magistrates employed are under the Govr's orders in difft degrees.
Next, if the matter was taken out of his hands, it was not the duty of the Govr to acquiesce—but to resume his proper relation to the administration of the country & to set right what had gone wrong.
This I shd be disposed to notice in times of dissatisfaction—adverting also to the doctrines expressed (or alleged to be so) by Mr BlenkinsopManuscript image whose report seems to have satisfied Govr Seymour.
And I wd observe that the inaction of the Govr in the present instance contrasted strongly with the stirring and expensive operations wh were set on foot and which terminated in the destruction or dispersion of an Indian Tribe, when an outrage was committed—certainly not with less provocation—on European subjects of HM, who—I wd observe are not more entitled to rely on the Govt for redress of injuries than those Indians who have forsaken their savageManuscript image mode of life & placed themselves under what they suppose to be the protection of British Law.
FR 27/2
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I think that the Governor has not obeyed the instructions of the Duke of Buckingham & that he has omitted to do what would, even without those instructions, have been his duty to do. I agree therefore altogether with Sir F. Rogers.
WM 29/2
G 4/3
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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William Duncan to Seymour, 27 July 1868, expressing concern over the lack of action taken against the Kincolith murderers.
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Seymour to Duncan, 10 August 1868, disclaiming responsibility for how the investigation was conducted.
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Duncan to Seymour, 10 September 1868, explaining the urgency of the situation and pressing Seymour to take further action.
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Minute by Seymour, 14 November 1868, again disclaiming responsibility in the affair.
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Duncan to Colonial Secretary, 4 November 1868, requesting specific instructions from Seymour.
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W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, to Duncan, 16 November 1868, stating Seymour's intention to take no further action beyond a possible visit to the area in the spring.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Granville to Seymour, No. 18, 7 March 1869 discussing Seymour’s response to the murders in Metlakatla and insisting Seymour take a more active approach in the protection of people in British Columbia that adhere to British Law.