Hudson's Bay House
January 27th 1852
My Lord,
I have to acknowledge the receipt of a letter from Mr Under Secretary Peel transmitting to me a Copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Aborigines Society with a petition from certain Indians and half castes located in the Red River Settlement and stating that your Lordship will be happy to receive any observations I may have to make on that Petition.
The Petition, from which the 4th paragraph appears to have been omitted, embraces the following allegations, namely 1st That two individuals have been imprisoned. 2nd That the principal trade of the Settlement is monopolized by the Hudson's Bay Company. 3rd That a certain Petition has been got up by unjustifiable means. 4th That the Members of Council are unduly influenced by the Company.
With respect to the first of theseManuscript imagethese allegations I have only to observe that it is to be presumed that the proceedings adopted in the cases alluded to were in due course of law, the contrary not being alleged by the Petitioners.
To the allegation that the Company monopolize the principal trade of the Colony I give the most positive contradiction. So far indeed is this from being true, that the sole object the Company had in view in opening a Sale Store in the Settlement was to benefit the Settlers who would otherwise have been at the mercy of the private dealers as to the prices of all imported goods. There is no restriction whatever either on the importation or sale of British goods.
The trade in furs secured by Charter is the only exclusive trade carried on by the Company, and it is one of the conditions under which land has been granted to Settlers that they shall not interfere in the Fur Trade with Indians.
In regard to the Petition stated to have been got up for the benefit of the Company to which signatures are said to have been fraudulentlyManuscript imagefraudulently appended the Directors have never till now heard of such a Petition nor are they aware either of its nature or objects. All therefore that I can say is that enquiry will be made respecting it.
On the subject of the influence exercised by the Company over Members of Council I have to remark that the circumstance of two or three of the Council holding Municipal Offices, the expence of which ought to fall upon the Settlers but from which they are relieved by the Company, affords no justification for the charge of corruption so wantonly brought against them by the Petitioners. In the appointment of Councillors the Company have had solely in view the good government of the Colony and have always selected the best educated and most respectable members of the community—Men whom intelligence and stake in the country pointed them out as fittest for the Office, and my firm belief is that although they may not have satisfied the unreasonable demands of that portion of the population who have sufferedManuscript imagesuffered themselves to have been misled by turbulent demagogues, they have done their duty conscientiously and uprightly.
Having thus noticed the particular points adverted to in the Petition I have only to observe that if the Petitioners suffer evils as they state in the preamble to their Petition, the evils are of their own creation and not owing to the Government of the Hudson's Bay Company; and that the remedy does not lie in the Municipal changes which they demand, but in a change in their own habits and in the Institution of regular industry for the precarious returns of the chase of the Buffalo and the desultory mode of life to which they have addicted themselves.
Were it necessary for me to vindicate the Government of the Hudson's Bay Company from the charge of oppression I would refer to the parliamentary papers contained in the Return to an Address of the House of Commons dated Feby 9th 1849; but I shall content myself with the following quotation from the letter of Colonel Crofton to Mr Under Secretary Hawes at page 101.
"I unhesitatingly assert, that the Government of the Hudsons Bay CompanyManuscript imageCompany is mild and protective, and admirably adapted in my opinion, for the state of society existing in Prince Rupert's Land, where Indians, half-breeds and Europeans are happily governed, and live protected by laws which I know were mercifully and impartially administered by Mr Thorn the Recorder and by the Magistrates of the land."
I have the honour to be
My Lord
Your Lordship's mo. obedt humble Servant
J.H. Pelly

The Right Honble the Earl Grey
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
The omission of the paragraph in the copy sent to Sir John Pelly was no doubt accidental. It refers to the administration of Major Caldwell, the late Governor of the Red River Settlement. The Petition is addressed to The Queen & will therefore I presume require a formal acknowledgment?
VJ 30 Jan/52
Stating that HLp has not thought fit to give any direction thereupon. Or making any more particular answer to the Aborigines Protection Society?
HM Feb 7
FP 7
Manuscript image
This society is not one entitled to any peculiar consideratn & having chosen to adopt the very irregular course of trying to submit the petitn through Colonel Phipps have no right to expect an answer. Put by.
G. 9/