1800. Vancouver's Island- Land &c

Hudson's Bay House
28. February 1851.⎯
My Lord,
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordships letter of the 25th Instant transmitting a Copy of a Despatch from the Governor of Vancouvers Island in which he states that a Gentleman of the name of Grant has been prevented by the Hudsons Bay Company from settling in the neighbourhood of Victoria in that Island, and recommends that two Companies of regular Troops be sent out for its defence, and requesting that I should furnish your Lordship with any Explanation which it may be in the power of the Hudson's
2Ansd 22d of March
Desp. to Governor 20th ﹏﹏﹏
Bay Company to afford on the Subject of the refusal of Land near the Fort to Mr Grant, and that I should state the views of the Company with regard to the measuresManuscript imagemeasures to be taken for the more efficient protection of the Settlers.
With regard to the case of Mr Grant, I have to state that the Company never received any complaint from him, or other information (until now from your Lordship) that he had been prevented from settling near to Victoria.
Mr Grant purchased 100 Acres of Land in 1848, and sent out in a Vessel chartered by the Company agricultural implements and other articles, and 8 Laborers. He proceeded himself to the Island by way of Chagrés, Panama, San Francisco, and Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, and I enclose an Extract of a Letter from Mr Douglas the Agent of the Company, dated 3rd, September 1849, which contains all the information possessed by the Company in regard to the selection of his land. ⎯ The Land reserved for the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Pugets Sound Company could not make itManuscript image necessary for him to place himself at a spot 25 miles distant from Victoria, there is therefore every reason to believe that it was entirely a matter of his own choice and selection.
I have not received any information from the Company's Agent of any outrages by Indians at Soke or Victoria, but I learn from the Captain of one of the Company's Vessels lately arrived from the Island, that from some cause or other Mr Grants Servants had left him; that he had placed his Farm in the charge of one old man, whom he had hired on the Island, and that the Indians had pilfered some of his Potatoe Crop, and Stolen some Blankets and other Articles, most of which had been recovered from them, but that he (the Captain) had not heard of any other injury being done by the Indians.
With regard to the Governor's recommendation of sending out two Companies of regular troops for the more efficient protection of the Settlers I have to state, that the CompanyManuscript image have no reason to apprehend any danger from the Indians in that part of the Island, who consist of Small Tribes, and in the whole are not numerous. It is the practice of the Company to maintain at all their stations a number of men sufficient for their protection, and the collection of settlers will of course diminish the risk of any trouble from the Indians.
The Company therefore do not consider that any Military Force is required at present; but if your Lordship should be of opinion, that such a Measure is called for, I think it proper to state, that the Company are not in possession of any funds applicable to the Colonization of the Island, adequate to meet the expence.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most Obedt humble Servant.
JH Pelly
The Right Honble
The Earl Grey
&c. &c. &c.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
It will be seen by the accts received this morning thro' the Admiralty, and which are of an even date with the Governor's dispatch, that matters are not progressing so favourably in Vancouver's island, as the Hudson's Bay Co have been led to suppose. It is much to be regretted that HMS Daedalus could not have stopped.
Immediate naval assistance would seem to be the most appropriate aid that could be furnished to the Governor?
PS 1. March
See 1801
HM Mh 1
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
In 1800/51

Extract of a Letter from Mr Chief Factor Douglas to Archibald Barclay Esq Secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company dated “Fort Victoria 3 September 1849
Captain Grant arrived here by the way of Fort Vancouver and Nisqually on the 11th August. He had much difficulty on keeping his men who came out by the Harpooner two months before his own arrival from leaving the Island, as they were dissatisfied about the absence of their Employer. Before my arrival here they applied to Captn Shepherd of Her Majesty's Ship "Inconstant" in the character of Distressed British subjects for a passage to England probably with the intention of leaving his ship at San Francisco, California to which Port he was bound direct: but fortunately he refused to receive them on board. ⎯ Taking advantage of the authority granted by the board in your letter of the 1st December 1848. I received them into the Company's service immediately after my arrival here; and by that means had the pleasure of making them over to Captain Grant, when he at length made his appearance as before mentioned on the 11th of August
On the 14th following I started with Captain Grant on an excursion along the Coast, for the purpose of shewing him the best points for Settlement, and recommending him toManuscript image the Natives. He chose a place at Sy-yousuing 25 miles distant from Fort Victoria, where he has the important advantage of a good mill stream and a great abundance of fine timber. He is now busily employed putting up log houses for present use and intends immediately after getting under cover for the Winter to build a Saw Mill and prepare deals and house frames for the California Market, where the former, by our latest advises, were selling at 250 dollars a thousand square feet.
This little body of Colonists, the first independent settlers on Vancouvers Island, have commenced their bold enterprize, under the most favorable auspices: they have no enemies to dread; and no obstacles to encounter, beyond those which the hand of nature has interposed through the force of a teeming sail. Instead of thirsting for their blood, the Natives are not only kind and friendly, but ready and willing to share their labors and assist in all their toils, and they regularly bring in large quantities of the finest salmon and Potatoes, which they part with at a low rate in barter for such articles as suit their fancy or necessities.
It has been a work of time and labour, to bring the Indians to that state of friendly intercourse, and I have endeavoured strongly to impressManuscript image on the minds of Captain Grant and his followers the incalcuable importance, both as regards the future well being of the Colony, and their own individual interests, of cultivating the friendship of these children of the Forest. The settlers are certainly wanting in experience, but are full of courage and have taken to their Work with a degree of ardour and tenacity of purpose, which promise great and permanent results.
Captain Grant arrived in this country, completely destitute of funds. Mr. Ogden had to advance money to pay his passage from California to Fort Vancouver, and since his arrival here, he has been supplied with provisions and articles to purchase food on credit from the Companys stores, and I have further to furnish him with cattle draught oxen and horses to commence and stock his farm; and in fact, he will be for 12 months to come, entirely dependent on the Company for his daily bread, and I fear the Colonists who are to follow will be equally destitute of means.
For making such advances, I have no authority from the Board and have been induced to take these steps in the case of Captain Grant solely with the view of meeting their views and furthering their plans for the colonization of this Island;Manuscript image which must have been totally overthrown and the colonists driven to despair, and to abandon the settlement altogether, had the Company's assistance been unwisely withheld; I anxiously await the intructions of the Board relative to the amount of assistance which I am at liberty to grant to Colonists, and an expression of their opinion in regard to my proceedings, in the case I have now submitted for consideration."
Other documents included in the file
1Draft, Colonial Office to Pelly, 22 March 1851, expressing satisfaction with the information provided, and stating that the government has no intention to dispatch troops to the area.
  1. This enclosure is thought to be misfiled in the War Office volumes as "WO 1/549," page 531; further content not yet available.
  2. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
People in this document

Barclay, Archibaldus

Blanshard, Richard

Douglas, James

Grant, Walter Colquhoun

Grey, George

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Merivale, Herman

Ogden, Peter Skeene

Pelly, John Henry

Shepherd, John

Smith, Peter

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

War Office

Vessels in this document

HMS Daedalus, 1826-1911


HMS Inconstant, 1836-1862

Places in this document

Columbia River

Fort Vancouver

Nisqually, or Fort Nisqually


San Francisco


Vancouver Island