343 N America

British Museum
Feby 14. 1848.
Dear Sir,
With reference to the conversation I held with you on the 12th instant, I have the honor to submit the following observations; and to request that you will bring them under Lord Greys notice, at your Earliest Convenience.
The Govt of the United States of America has entered into a contract with a commerical house in New York, by which the latter undertakes to convey the Mails, for a period of ten years, by means of Steam Vessels, between Panama and the Columbia River, and the intermediate ports of Pt St Blas,
3Ans"d 24 Feb / 48.
Mazetalan, Acapulco, San Francisco, Monterey, &c. There are three steamers of 1000 tons each now building at New York for the purpose, and it is said they are to be completed in December next. In order to perform this contract a supply of 20,000 tons of Coal will be required, yearly. The New York company offer to contract with an English House for this supply of coal to be sent from England.
The Pacific Steam Navigation CompanyManuscript image have two Steamers continually running from Valparaiso to Panama; touching at all intermediate ports. It is said this Company is willing to contract for a supply of 2000 Tons of Coal annually, to be landed at Panama. Moreover, the supply of coal required by her Majesties Steamers in the Pacific Ocean, will it is probable, continually increase.
It is obvious that all this coal could be supplied at a far lower cost from Vancouvers Island than from England.
For a statement of the nature and Capabilities of the coal in Vancouvers Island, I beg to refer you to a dispatch from Rear Adml Sir G. Seymour, Enclosing a letter from Commander Gordon, of HMS. Cormorant, dated sometime in Feby 1847. which is in the Admiralty.
It is now proposed to form a Company to work the Coal in Vancouvers Island.
It is necessary however, in the first place to know upon what terms her Majesties Govt will grant the right of working the coal.
In the second place; it will be obvious to Lord Grey, that an undertaking Such asManuscript image that contemplated will involve the necessity of transporting a large population of English to Vancouvers Island. The number of Seamen alone will be considerable, and the population necessary to produce food for their subsistence must also be numerous: besides it is probable that any depot for shipping in this situation would attract considerable numbers of whale ships to the Island. It is plain, then, that, in the event of the proposed Company being formed, Vancouvers Island will become the resort of a considerable number of Her Majesties subjects; and that it will be essential to the comfort and convenience of the population, and to the Security of the speculation, that a Government should be established on the Island contemporaneously with the first formation of the Colony. It will therefore be very desirable to know Lord Greys views on this point.
Lastly, apart from the profit to be gained by working the coal, of which, from the Statements here given, there seems to be a reasonable prospect, Lord Grey is aware that there are various reasons why a colony in that Part of British America is desirable. I shall not trouble you with any remarks on this head, as I have fully stated the case in a letter to Mr Hawes dated 11. June 1847. It is a matter for his LordshipsManuscript image consideration whether the establishment of a colony could not be most readily effected through the agency of such a company as that now proposed &. whether (referring to my letter of 11. June) it would not be wise to grant the whole Island to such a company binding them by their charter to effect the colonization in a certain Manner
I am not able at present to state who will be the principal parties in forming this company. When the time shall arise I hope such names will appear as shall place the scheme above the risk of failure.
The possibility of forming a company at all will, however, depend on the view Lord Grey may take of the above questions
I have the honor to be
Dear Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
James Edward Fitzgerald

Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale.
This Letter contains suggestions for the working of the Coal at Vancouver's Island through the instrumentality of a Company which has to be established, and submits the expediency of establishing a Govt over that Island. I annex Mr Fitzgerald's former Letter — & the answer returned to it, which will enable you to form an opinion on the proposals.
ABd 16/2/48.
Mr Blackwood
Will you be so good as annex also the papers relative to the negociation with the Hudson's Bay Co. as to Vancouver's Island which I had the other day; if they are returned to your department
HM 2/16
The papers in question have just been sent back to me & I annex them.
ABd 16.
Manuscript image


Mr Hawes
This is a renewal of an application made by Mr
to you some months ago. The circumstances which his letter discloses respecting the possible use to which the discovery of coal may be turned are corroborated by Mr Cunard's recent application on the same subject, & may seem to deserve consideration. But you will see Mr Fitzgerald is anxious to draw from Lord Grey some general indication of his Lordship's views about the colonization of Vancouver's Island, before heManuscript image communicates on his part the names & characters of the gentlemen with whom he proposes to associate himself & the details of their scheme — land I have not experience enough in negociations of this description to suggest whether any such indication as he requires should be afforded or not.
You will see also by 259 N. America that according to Mr Blackwood's Minutes we areManuscript image still awaiting some renewal of the proposals made by the Hudson's Bay Company. You will remember that their first proposal was with reference to this very island & the adjoining Coast: that the consideration of it was adjourned for a legal opinion, whether they could take grants of land West of the Rocky Mountains or not: That the law advisers thought they could: that the negociations are consequently renewed: thatManuscript image Sir H. Pelly then made a proposal which was rejected as far exceeding the bounds of any grant which the Crown would be disposed to make: & that he promised to renew the application for a more limited tract of land. Whenever he does make another application, it will probably embrace Vancouver's Island. And perhaps considering the applications which are made & likely to be made in other quarters Sir H Pelly may be reminded that this matter has awaited his further moving since the 25th of last March?
HM Feb. 16.
Manuscript image
343. N. America

Lord Grey,
Feb 17/48 The object of this Letter appears to me to elicit from Ld Grey some expression of opinion in favor of the Colonization of Vancouvers Island, a favorite scheme of Mr Fitzgerald.
Mr Fitzgerald I think singularly qualified to take an active part in such anManuscript image enterprise. He is energetic & enthusiastic, a quality most valuable in an undertaking of this kind.
Having a sanction from Ld Grey, I have no doubt he would endeavour to form an association for the purpose.
I hardly think however that more can be said in reply, than that Ld GreyManuscript image will be ready to consider any practical plan, supported by parties of respectability & sufficient means to make success probable, which Mr Fitzgerald can lay before his Lordship.
I agree with Mr Merivale that the Hudsons Bay Cy should be reminded of his intention to submit aManuscript image plan.
But I think that plan will be based upon some advantage to the H.B. Compy. I think however their cooperation may be of advantage & as I have I think said before, there is I believe a Company already formed, having Capital, the Pugets Sound Company (?) so I am opinion that Mr Fitzgerald might usefully be referred to Sir J. Pelly.
I shd be disposed to give a good Municipal Charter or Constitution to the Settlers & let them manage for themselves.1
See my note on the Margin of Mr Blackwood's memorandum sent to me two days ago — The answer suggested by Mr Hawes may be returned to Mr Fitzgerald2

G. 18/
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Colonial Office to Fitzgerald, 24 February 1848, advising Grey would be prepared to consider any plan submitted upon receipt of more detailed information.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
I am very anxious that this Coal shd be worked, & therefore though this letter is quite right as an official answer to the applicatn, it wd I think be advantageous that Mr Hawes shd or Mr Merivale shd see Mr Fitzgerald upon the subject & that he shd be put in communicatn with Sir John Pelly. —
Mr F. requested to call upon Mr Hawes
WFH 24 Feb
  1. This minute entry appears on the first page of Blackwood's minute, above.
  2. Though no signature is given for this minute, it is presumed to be Blackwood's.
  3. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Cunard, Samuel

FitzGerald, James Edward

Gordon, George Thomas

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Higgins, William Frederick

Merivale, Herman

Pelly, John Henry

Seymour, George Francis

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

Vessels in this document

HMS Cormorant, 1842-1853

Places in this document

Columbia River

New York


The Rocky Mountains


Vancouver Island