33.3. North America

Printed for Parlt
10 Aug /48 (P P. 619)
Hudson's Bay House
No 7
March 5 1847
My Lord
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Under Secretary Hawes' letter of the 2nd February stating that Your Lordship, on the perusal of the Opinion of Her Majesty's Attorney and Solicitor General as to the power of the Hudson's Bay Company under their Charter to hold lands within the Queen's Dominions westward of the Rocky Mountains in North America, is ready to receive and consider the Draft of such a Grant as the Company would desire to receive of lands belonging to the BritishManuscript image Crown in the Oregon Territory.
In reply to this communication I beg leave to say that if Her Majesty's Ministers should be of opinion that the Territory in question would be more conveniently governed and colonized (as far as that may be practicable) through the Hudson's Bay Company, the Company are willing to undertake it, and will be ready to receive a Grant of all the Territories belonging to the Crown which are situated to the North and West of Rupert's Land.
The Draft which I have the honour to transmit to Your Lordship herewith is framed on the supposition that Her Majesty's Government, after considering the nature and circumstances of those Territories, will be of this opinion.
I have the honour to be
My Lord
Your Lordship's Obedient
humble Servant
J.H. Pelly
1The Right Honourable
The Earl Grey
Secretary of State
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
8 March   Mr Hawes
It seems to me that this calls for much more explanation than is here given. The Hudson's Bay Company propose that the whole of the Oregon Territory shd be granted to them as the Lords and Owners of it, exactly in the manner in wh: the ancient proprietary Govmts were constituted on the North American Continent in the 16th & 17th Centuries. Without a word of preliminary discussion (so far as I know) they have sent the dft of a Charter to accomplish this object. My own belief is that to execute such a scheme now wd be impracticable, unconstitutional, & illegal; and that, even if it were otherwise, it wd be indispensable to ascertain 1st That the H.B. Compy are capable of such a Grant — a point wh: the recent opinion of the Law Officers of The Crown does not ascertain. Secondly. That they have resources and a Capital available for the Colonization & Settlemt of this Territory — a subject on wh: they say nothing. Thirdly. That they have some well-considd plans of proceeding, wh: is here taken for granted. Fourthly. That it wd be possible to maintain a Proprietary lordship with powers independent of The Crown & Parliamt in the immediate vicinity of the Great Nation now peopling the North American Continent — a circumstance wh: totally changes the present state of such a questn from the state of corresponding questions in the reigns of Elizabeth and the Stuart Family. Fifthly. That there is any good reason why if we are to have a Colony at all at Oregon, we shd not also have the Electoral and other Franchises prevailing in every other part of the North American Continent. Sixthly. That there is any good reason why the Crown shd abdicate to this, or to any other, Company the prerogative, privilege & duty, of Colonizatn if Colonizatn be desirable. Seventhly. That it is politic to establish in the 19th Century a new Proprietary Govnt in defiance of the proofs wh: all History furnishes of the impossibility of maintaining such a Govnt any longer than the inhabitants are too few & too feeble to shake it off. Long before the American WarManuscript image the Colonists had thrown off every vestige of those Institutions: and had universally established the Representative form; buying up the rights of the Lords proprietors at an heavy expence of money; or trampling upon them at a still heavier expence of Justice. For the reasons wh: I thus rapidly suggest, it seems to me that this scheme is a very unmeaning one, & merits no encouragemt
Mar 10
Annexed is a statement of what has passed recently upon this subject between this Departt & the Hudson's Bay Cy.
I quite agree with Mr Stephen that it is quite impossible to make this grant with or without explanation. How far upon the Company engaging to improve & colonise V. Couvers Island — they might have a very favourable lease is the kswvery real question before this Dt And there is nothing in the proposal of the Hudsons Bay Company to justify an departure from the first proposition made by Lord Grey — & the renewal of that should be accompanied by an enquiry as to what the Company proposes to do to promote settlement & colonization in V. Couvers Island
I have seen Sir J. Pelly who will communicate with Mr Hawes & submit some less expansive demand.
G. 25/3
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Colonial Office to Pelly, 25 February 1848, inviting him to submit "another Scheme which shall be more limited and definite in its objects," although some agreement will need to be reached respecting the coal on Vancouver Island.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Draft charter, "Her Majesty Queen Victoria to The Governor & Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay. Grant of Territory in North America," prepared by Crowder & Maynard, no date.
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
People in this document


Dundas, David

Grey, George

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Jervis, John

Maynard, Joseph

Pelly, John Henry

Stephen, James

Victoria, Alexandrina

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Law Officers

Places in this document

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Rupert's Land

The Rocky Mountains

Vancouver Island