No 5.

9564 Vancouvers Island
August 18th 1850
My Lord,
I have to inform your Lordship of the massacre of three British subjects by the Newitty Indians, near Fort Rupert. Want of force has prevented me from making any attempt to secure the murderers indeed the only safeguard of the colony consists in the occasional visits of the cruizers of the Pacific squadron, which only occur at rare intervals and for short calls. The massacre of these men has produced a great effect on the white inhabitants, many of whom do not scruple to accuse the officers of the Hudsons Bay company of having instigated the Indians to the deed by offers of reward for the recovery of the men (sailors who had absconded) dead or alive. I have not yet been able to enquire into the truth of this report, but it is very widely spread and men say that they ground their belief on what the Hudsons Bay company have done before.
The establishment at Fort Rupert is in a very critical state, a letter I have received from Mr HelmckenManuscript image Mr Helmcken the resident magistrate, states, that the people are so excited by the massacre, which they charge their employers with instigating, that they have in a body refused all obedience both to their employers and to him as magistrate, that he is utterly unable to maintain any authority as they universally refuse to serve as constables and insist upon the settlement being abandoned that to attempt such a step would lead to their entire destruction as they are surrounded by the Quacolts one of the most warlike tribes on the coast, three thousand in number and well armed. Mr Helmcken has tendered his resignation as magistrate as without proper support the office merely exposes him to contempt and insult, and he further states that being in the employment of the Hudsons bay company, he cannot conscientiously decide the cases which occur, which are almost invariably between that company and their servants. This is the very objection I stated to your Lordship against employing persons connected with that company, in any public capacity in the colony.
I am in expectation of the arrival of one of her Majesty's ships of war, according to the Manuscript imagepromise of Admiral Hornby commander in chief in the Pacific, when I shall be able to proceed to the north and restore order, in the meantime I have prohibited any persons from leaving Fort Rupert without special permission, as if the people attempt to abandon the settlement and straggle about the coast they will infallibly be cut off by the Indians who are daily becoming more inclined to outrage, and are emboldened by impunity.
The miners have left the colony in a body, owing to a dispute with their employers, the seam of coal is consequently undiscovered.
I have seen a very rich specimen of gold ore, said to have been brought by the Indians of Queens Charlottes Island, but I have at present no further account of it,
I remain
Your Lordships Obedient Servant
Richard Blanshard
Governor of Vancouvers Island.

Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale.
It would seem from this despatch that immediate measures were necessary for the protection of the Colony. Should a Copy be sent to the Hudsons Bay Company?
25 Nov VJ
This is evidently necessary. The Governor's account is so meagre that it leaves everything unaccounted for, & the Company may have more information: which I think should be asked for as the case appears pressing.
HM N. 25.
N 25. I am I surprised to hear of a body of 3000 Natives—well armed. The state of the settlement is very critical according to this account. Send copy to H.B. Cy immed, & ask for whatever information they may possess.

G. 29
2This desp reached the Dept. late on the Eveng of the 29th
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Immediate, Colonial Office to Pelly, Hudson's Bay Company, 30 November 1850, forwarding copy of the despatch and requesting further information.
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
  2. Though no signature is given, this entry is presumed to be Jadis'.
  3. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
People in this document

Blanshard, Richard

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Helmcken, John S.

Hornby, Phipps

Jadis, Vane

Merivale, Herman

Pelly, John Henry

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Fort Rupert, or T'sakis

Haida Gwaii

Vancouver Island