1666 N. America

1 Hudson's Bay He
Decr 11/46
1666 N. America
Sir John Henry Pelly presents his Compliments to Earl Grey & encloses for his Lordships information an Extract from a Letter from
4Ansd 16 Dec/46
Chief Factor Douglass at Fort Vancouver dated 28th July recd on Wednesday; it came by way of S. Blas and Vera Cruz — nothing further is said about Vancouver Island than that Her Majestys Herald & Pandora are Surveying the So part of the Island
The Right Honble The Earl Grey
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Register and thank Sir J. Pelly for this communicatn.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image Extract of a Despatch received by the Govern, & Committes of the Hudsons Bay Company from the Officers in charge at Fort Vancouver dated July 28. 1846.
It affords us much pleasure to inform your Honors that Her Majesty's Government has this year displayed an extraordinary degree of solicitude and taken most active measures for the protection of British rights in this Country.
The 'Modeste' 18. has been stationed off this establishment since the month of November 1845.
Her Majesty's Ship Fisgard of 42 Guns under the command of Capt. Duntze arrived at Fort Victoria in the beginning of May 1846, and is now lying at anchor off Nisqually with orders to remain on the coast until relieved.
Captain Duntze entered into communication with the Board of Management immediately on his arrival and sent Lieutt Dyke with four Junior Officers to visit this and the neighbouring settlets in the Wallamette. In his first communication Capt. DuntzeManuscript image informs the board of Management "that the Fisgard had been detatched by Rear Admiral Sir George Seymour, Commander in Chief of Her Majesty's N. Forces in the Pacific, to afford protection to Her Majesty's Subjects in Oregon and the North West Coast, which information was duly conveyed to our fellow subjects in this Country. The Brig Rosalind of London, Hipplewhite, Master chartered by Government at £250. stirling a month arrived on the 3d June at Fort Victoria with a Cargo of Coals, which was landed there for the use of Her Majesty's Steam Vessel 'Cormorant' and on the 27th of the same month she with the 'Herald' and 'Pandora' Surveying Ships in tow also made the Port of Victoria.
The two latter Ships are now engaged in making a Survey of the Southern Shore of Vancouvers Island and will remain upon the coast until the end of Autumn, when they are to leave for Panama.
The Cormorant remains at Nisqually, or upon the adjacent coast until further orders which the Senior Officer expects shortly to receive from Sir George SeymourManuscript image in person, whose arrival however appears to be matter of mere conjecture.
The concentration of so large a naval force in Pugets has caused a great sensation in this Country, and on the whole, produced a most favourable impression on the minds of the people, being considered by British Subjects as a guarantee that our Government is determined to maintain its rights, while the Americans feel less confident of coming into exclusive possession of the Country, and are not so much disposed to disregard and trample upon the rights of British Subjects whom they before appeared to consider as mere lawless intruders in the Country.
Heavy demands for clothing and provisions have been made upon our stores since the arrival of Her Majesty's Ships and we have fortunately had the means of supplying the wants of the former, in part, and of the latter in the fullest possible manner. The Ships companies are fed entirely on fresh Beef and Mutton,Manuscript image furnished from our Stores at 3d per pound which causes a large consumption of meat, particularly at the Pugets Sound Company's2 establishment of Nisqually, and it is desirable that so profitable a market could always be found for the farm produce of the Company.
Since addressing the Governor and Council on the 19th March 1846, the political affairs of this Country have undergone no material change. The Laws of the Compact or provisional Government have been exercised with impartiality and are generally respected. The established Law Courts have acquired a high reputation in the Country and are made the arbiters in all cases of private differences, we believe there has yet been no instance of appeal from their decisions; a fact as honourable to the character of the Courts, as to the good sense and orderly habits of the mixed population of the Country.
A strong Anti-british feeling directed principally against The Hudsons Bay Company, as the only reallyManuscript image British influence in the Country is maintained among the ultra Americans, but this feeling has for some time past been placed under severe restraint by the presence of Her Majesty's Vessels in the River.
The election of Members for the next Session of the Legislature, took place in the first week in June, and the returns shew that public opinion runs strongly in favour of moderate measures, not a single member of the ultra American party having been elected, while three of the Companys Officers, Mr Peers, Mr Angus McDonald, and Dr Tolmie have been severally returned in different Counties.
The house is now composed
of     3 Hudsons Bay Companys
      Officers       } British
     1 Canadian   } Subjects
     12 Americans
most of the latter are men of sound views and disposed to follow right counsels.
We of course exerted all our influence to procureManuscript image the return of men, who would study to maintain peace and good order and not seek to involve the Country in trouble, through violence and intolerant party zeal, it was also an object to have the Counties north of the Columbia represented by British Subjects, both from consideration of interest, and of propriety, as it would not have been proper in us, or have appeared right to the world, that we who possess a prevailing influence and hold so large a share of the property in these Counties, should have allowed the Americans constituting a mere fraction of their population to legislate for the interests of the whole.3
  1. The following address information appears at the bottom of letter.
  2. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC) was a joint stock company established by the HBC in 1839. Ostensibly at arms length from the HBC, it was practically, if not legally, an extension of the HBC. Its board of directors consisted of all the top brass at the HBC—Governor Pelly, Deputy Governor Colville, Sir George Simpson—and the majority of its shareholders were HBC employees. It's purpose was twofold: increase HBC profits through agricultural sales, and more importantly, provide a means for the company to bring British colonists to the disputed Oregon territory, and, it was hoped, bolster British claims to fix the border along the Columbia river (and not at the 49th parallel), thus keeping HBC operations in British territory, where its monopoly, and profits, would be protected (John S. Galbraith, The Hudson's Bay Company as an imperial factor, 1821-1869 (New York Octagon Books, 1977, c1957), 192).
    The PSAC was headquartered at Fort Nisqually at the southern end of Puget Sound, (in modern day Tacoma) in 1839. By 1845 it was home to over 5872 sheep, 2280 cattle and 228 horses, but only a handful of colonists. Crops were grown south of Nisqually at Cowlitz Farm, on a tributary of the Columbia.
    As an agricultural venture the Puget Sound Company was a modest success, meeting the needs of the HBC locally without having to resort to costly imported goods and occasionally selling to the Russians, American settlers and visiting ships (Galbraith 217). As a means of supporting both the interests of the British government and HBC shareholders it was an abject failure. Fundamentally the HBC was a fur trading monopoly, and remained so in the mind's of its leadership. The maintenance of this monopoly was inherently inimical to an agricultural colony. For them the fur trade required wild spaces—too easily spoilt by uncontrolled colonists, and so the terms the company gave to colonists were unfavourable, and few ever came courtesy of the HBC and its Puget Sound Company (Galbraith 210).
  3. Extract ends.
  4. This text runs perpendicular to and over main body text; see image scan.
People in this document

Douglas, James

Duntze, John Alexander

Dyke, Charles,

Grey, George

Grey, Henry George

McDonald, Angus

Peers, Henry Newsham

Pelly, John Henry

Seymour, George Francis

Tolmie, William Fraser

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Puget Sound Agricultural Company

Vessels in this document

HMS Cormorant, 1842-1853

HMS Fisgard, 1819-1879

HMS Modeste, 1837-1866

HMS Pandora, 1833-1862


HMS Termagant, 1822-1824 [renamed Herald, fate: 1862]

Places in this document

Columbia River

Cowlitz Region

Fort Vancouver


Nisqually, or Fort Nisqually

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District


Puget Sound


Vancouver Island


Willamette Valley