1674 Vancouvers Isld
              N. America

13. Great St Helen's:
25th August, 1848
My Lord,
The recent discussions in Parliament on the subject of Vancouver's Island induce me to trouble your Lordship with a few remarks suggestive of a means whereby two important national objects may be accomplished and made to subserve each other: I allude to the re-establishment of the British Southern Whale Fisheries and the Colonization of Vancouver's Island.
2Ansd 31 Augt / 48.
Her Majesty's Government have afforded myself and brothers every encouragement and facility for prosecuting the Whale Fisheries from the Auckland Islands, in pursuance of the plan developed in my pamphlet, and we have only beenpreventedManuscript image prevented from carrying out the project by unexpected causes; these being, first, the delay occasioned by a fruitless negotiation arising out of proposals made to us on the part of the South Sea Company, but which they afterwards found could not, owing to peculiar circumstances, be fulfilled; and Secondly, the disturbed State of Monetary and Commercial affairs which supervened, and has rendered abortive all attempts to come before the public with the view to the formation of a Company. —
On referring to my pamphlet Your Lordship will perceive that I have alluded to and contemplated carrying on the Fishery in the North as well as in the South Pacific Ocean; and although certainly we do not require any […] fixed Station, in the former of those Seas at which torefreshManuscript image refresh our Vessels, this still, if, as I infer, Her Majesty's Government considers it important that Vancouver's Island should be Colonized, and we can be assured of obtaining there the means of refreshing our crews and taking in supplies of Stores, &c., we should not only feel ourselves bound, but should find it our interest to make that island the place of rendezvous for our Ships, in the same manner that the Sandwich islands (which have sprung into great importance and prosperity in consequence) are the general rendezvous for American Whalers. —
It is impossible to imagine how VanCouver's Island, considering its remote position and great distance from the Mother-Country, can be of any commercial advantage, or made to hold out anyinducementManuscript image inducement to parties to locate themselves there as Settlers, unless by being adapted to the purposes of a Whaling Station; and Your Lordship will perceive from the enclosed Copy of a letter from me to Sir Henry Pelly (written some Months since, and in consequence of Sir Henry Pelly having himself been the first to moot the subject in a conversation between us) that the idea of Colonizing Vancouver's Island by making it a Whaling Station in connexion with our own is not new to me. —
As, then, it would appear that Her Majesty's Government contemplate urging the Hudson's Bay Company to colonize Vancouver's Island, I would respectfully suggest to Your Lordship that the end in question might be at once attained by the Hudson's Bay, or Puget SoundCompanyManuscript image Company (of which latter, I believe, Sir Henry Pelly is Chairman, and which has a large Capital whereof not more than about one-third is paid up) effecting a junction of interests with us. If, therefore, Your Lordship should think favourably of the proposition I have hazarded, I do not doubt but your Lordship's recommendation of it to the Companies referred to would have great weight, and be attended with a satisfactory result, as it is obvious that such an arrangement as that contemplated would be mutually beneficial to all parties. —
I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's
Most obedient and
humble Servant,
Chas Enderby
1The Right Honble
Earl Grey
&c. &c. &c.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Enderby to Sir J.H. Pelly, Hudson's Bay Company, 5 April 1848, discussing the advantages of promoting Vancouver Island as a whaling station.
Minutes by CO staff
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Acknowledge & say that I can give no opinn or advice upon this subject to the Puget Sound Associatn, […] but must leave him to communicate directly with that body. —
G. 25/
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Colonial Office to Enderby, 31 August 1848, advising that the matter should be referred directly to the companies in question.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Lord Grey.
Is there any objection to transmitting Mr Enderbys letter to the H.B.Cy recommending it to their attention? The project of making Vancouvers Id a Whaling Station has long been entertained in the City by parties connected with the Whale Fishery — & it might lead not only to increased settlements there, but to more frequent & regular communication with England, which is of importance in regard to Colonization?
I think the applicatn shd be made direct.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
13. Great St Helen’s
5 April, 1848

My dear Sir,

With reference to a conversation which I had with you on Saturday last, on the subject of the Whale Fisheries and Vancouver’s Island, it may be as well for me to observe that in pages 55 and 56 of my pamphlet I have laid down my reasons for selecting the Auckland Islands as, in all respects, the most eligible station from whence to prosecute the trade.
To the arguments there urged I can scarcely make any addition, and they constitute the basis whereas I found my conclusion that we can not only complete successfully with the Americans, but bear down eventually any opposition on their part. This time of argument must, however, lose its force if the main station be transferred from the South to the North Pacific, and Vancouver’s Island be selected instead of the Auckland Islands, the AmericansManuscript image Americans occupying California. Having, as I trust, now clearly explained myself on this point, I will refer to the subject more especially considered, viz, the settlement and Colonisation of Vancouver’s Island, and this, it appears to me, would be best effected by making it a subsidiary whaling station to the main one at the Aucklands. You are aware that very extensive Whale Fisheries are prosecuted in the North Pacific Ocean, the same commencing generally in October; as also that the Whaling Ships, whether from Europe or America, refresh on the outward and homeward passage at the Sandwich Islands, and I need scarcely observe that from the more casual visits of the Vessels the islands have sprung into consideration and importance.
Now, provided that Vessels could obtain the necessary provisions and stores at Vancouver’s Island, this would be preferable to the Sandwich Islands as a place of resort for them, more especially when it is considered that all disturbance or disagreementsManuscript image disagreements amongst the Masters and crews could be arranged and settled on the spot through the medium of British law.
I have expressed my opinion that this Vessels equipped from the Auckland Islands for the Fishery should be of the burthen of 250 tons each; not that I contemplate they will uniformly fill with oil, since I have averaged their purpose of enabling the Vessels to carry conveniently their boats and crew.
Now the evils I have pointed out in pages 44, 45 and 46 of my pamphlet, as regards the freighting of the oil to England in Whaling ships with but half cargoes, would equally apply, though in a minor sense, to the Fishery in the North Pacific. For example, I will suppose 100 Vessels to proceed from the Auckland Islands to fish in the North Pacific, and that the quantity of oil obtained during the season is only sufficient to fill 80 of them. In such case it would be productive of a considerable saving both Manuscript image both in time and expense if we could have a station at Vancouver’s Island, at which the Vessels could discharge their cargoes and get a refit, and where an agent could settle the wages of the crews of such of the Vessels as might remain.
By such an arrangement great advantages might be expected to accrue, as the 20 Vessels referred to, instead of returning to the Auckland Islands, could prosecute the sperm Whale Fishery from October to May; or if found advisable, some of them might be employed in conveying Coals, or in trading to India, China, Japan, or other places in the Pacific Ocean, thus extending British commerce as also connecting British interests in those seas. — I am &c
(Signed) Chas Enderby
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
  2. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
People in this document

Enderby, Charles

Grey, George

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Pelly, John Henry

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Auckland Islands


Hawaiʻian Islands

Vancouver Island