259 N America
5th February 1848
I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to transmit to you, for the information of Earl Grey, the enclosed copy of a letter from Mr Cunard, suggesting that on Land being granted on Vancouver's Island, that the Coal Mines there should be reserved for the use of the Crown.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient
humble Servant
H.G. Ward
1 X

B Hawes Esqr
    &c &c &c
     Colonial Office
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
in 259 N America
No 1 Hyde Park Place West
3 January 1848

Observing in the public papers that Coal is to be had at Vancouvers Island I hope I may not be considered as intruding by bringing the subject under the notice of the Lords of the Admiralty. Individuals in the Oregon territory will be alive to the advantages resulting from the possession of this valuable article and will endeavour to obtain the best situations or acquire any right the natives may have or suppose they may have.
It may therefore be well, in granting Lands on this Island to reserve the mines for the use of the crown, and to take such measures as may prevent the Manuscript imagethe natives, or others, from acquiring or ceding, rights to these mines
This subject will not long escape the vigilance of the Americans in that neighbourhood
I have &c
(signed) S Cunard
2H G Ward Esq
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript imageMr Merivale
I conceive that if ever a Settlement were formed under the auspices of Govt or any Land were granted away to persons at Vancouver's Island the mines & minerals would necessarily be reserved to the Crown. I am not aware of the use to which Mr Cunard's suggestion can be turned at present.
ABd 7/2/48
Mr Blackwood,
Is not Vancouver's Island within the Hudson's Bay Charter?
Mr Merivale.
Vancouver's Island has been regarded by this Office as certainly not within the limits of the Hudson's Bay Company's Territories. Indeed a scheme was under consideration about a year ago / though it has fallen through / for placing it under the charge of that Company.
ABd 7/2/48.
Mr Hawes,
If any reliance is to be placed on report, this Coal is very valuable and accessible. I presume that Admiralty may be told Mr Cunard's suggestion will be attended to?
HM Feb 7
Feb 8 BH
Yes — Refer also to the correspondence mentioned by Mr Blackwood to see how the matter stands in order that measures may be adopted for again taking up the plan which this discovery wd seem to render it highly desirable to do. —
G. 9
Manuscript image
259. N. America
Mr Merivale

My note on 259. North America. was written without having the necessary documents before me, but having since referred to them, I find that the statement, I have already made is correct.
The question relative to the occupation of Vancouver's Island stands at present in this posture.
The dispute with America concerning the Columbia Territory being settled, Sir John Pelly, as the organ of the Hudson's Bay. Manuscript imageBay Company enquired, on the 7th of September 1846, the intentions of the Government as to the acquisition of Lands or formation of Settlements on the North side of the British Boundary Line. He stated that the Hudson's Bay Company had formed an establishment on the Southern part of VanCouver's Island, which they were annually enlarging, and that therefore he was anxious to know whether they would be confirmed in the possession of such Lands as Manuscript imageas they might find it expedient to add to those which they already possessed.
This enquiry gave rise to various minutes on the part of Mr Stephen and Mr Hawes on the subject both of the proprietary rights of the Company, and of the policy of settling VanCouver's Island. I send those minutes for your perusal.
They are attached to 1074 North America. 1846.
The information seeming Manuscript imageseeming however to be defective, Sir J. Pelly was called upon to state what were the limits of the Territory the Company sought to obtain, and whether he was legally advised, that they could receive and hold in their Corporate Capacity any Lands in the Dominion's of the British Crown westward of the Rocky Mountains.
The answer returned by Sir John Pelly on the 24th of October 1846, was that in his opinion the Company might legally hold Manuscript imagehold any portion of the Territory to the West of the Rocky Mountains which the Crown might choose to annex to Rupert's Land.
On the question of the limits he forwarded certain reports which do not explain with adequate precision the extent of Country sought for.
Lord. Grey then replied, that (14 Decr 1846,) that as he could not announce the decision of the Government. on the question of colonizing the Oregon Territory, his Lordship wished to have a specific Manuscript imagespecific proposal from the Company — that he was prepared to assent on behalf of the Queen to a grant to the Hudson's Bay Company of certain Lands in Van Couver's Island or in other parts of the Oregon Territory but that before the issue of such grant, he would require the production by the Company of an opinion from the Law Officers of the Crown, to the effect that the acceptance by the Company of such grant would be consistent with their Charter of Incorporation. Other
Manuscript imageOther stipulations were also mentioned which though important in themselves, are not material to the immediate question.
On the 22 January 1847. Sir J. Pelly sent to this Office the case proposed to the Law Officers of the Crown, and their opinion was that
"If, as was stated, the Charter of the Company contained no limitation preventing them from acquiring Land beyond a particular district they (the Law Officers of the Manuscript imagethe Crown), considered that the Company might receive and hold in its corporate capacity Lands in theQueen's Dominions to the west of the Rocky Mountains."
This opinion being regarded as satisfactory, Lord Grey wrote (2. Feby 1847) to Sir J. Pelly to say that he was ready to receive, and consider the draft of such a grant as the Company would accept.
On the 5th of March 1847, Sir J. Pelly sent his Scheme for the proposedgrant Manuscript image grant which underwent criticism here, and Lord Grey decided that the Company had made too extensive a proposal. The last minute on the last paper in the North American Department on this subject states. "I have seen Sir J. Pelly who will communicate with Mr Hawes and submit some less extensive demand.
G. 25/3/47."
This closes the correspondence and Manuscript image and it seems to rest now with Sir J Pelly to revive the subject.
ABd 11/2/48.
Manuscript image
Lord Grey
Feb 15
Sir J. Pelly called yesterday. He desires that some proposition shd be made by this office to the H.B. Company. The Company it appears wd be willing, to colonise this Island, towards which there are many parties directing their attention, & there is already formed a Company (the Pugets Sound Cy I think) which has capital & which wd be willing to join with & cooperate with the H.B.Cy in this undertaking. TheManuscript image Question therefore is whether any proposition shd be made to the H.B.Cy or the Company shd be called upon to propose a plan.
If it be true that good coal has been discovered the undertaking becomes of importance. See former minutes.
I think it wd be much more convenient that any propositn shd be made by the Co — Mr Hawes might privately communicate with Sir J.P. expressing my wish to receive from him some proposal to which I cd agree for colonizg the island. — The discovery of the coal makes this an object of great importance. The agreement lately concluded with Mr Wise may be shewn to Sir John as an example of the sort of agreement I shd think it reasonable to make regarding the coal. —
G. 15/
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript imageMerivale to Ward, 18 February 1848, advising that Cunard's suggestion would be "borne in mind whenever an opportunity arises for the disposal of Land in that portion of the British possessions."
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
I have stated on a separate paper, which I send herewith, the present condition of the question of settling Vancouver's Island.
ABd 11/2/48.
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
  2. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Cunard, Samuel

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Merivale, Herman

Pelly, John Henry

Stephen, James

Victoria, Alexandrina

Ward, Henry George


Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Law Officers

Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

Places in this document

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Rupert's Land

The Rocky Mountains

Vancouver Island