No. 5
11th April 1853
My Lord Duke,
I have been lately engaged with the aid and advice of Council, in carrying into effect certain measures for the better Government of this Colony, and I have now the honor of transmitting to your Grace, minutes of those proceedings.
2. The first measure recorded in the Minutes, is the appointment of the following persons as resident Magistrates in each of the several Districts of this Colony, except Soke, where there is no person qualified in pointofManuscript image of character or education to fill the office vizt
Edward Edwards Langford
Thomas James Skinner
Kenneth McKenzie
Thomas Blenkhorn [Blinkhorn]
Pending Her Majesty's approval of those appointments I have issued to each of those gentlemen severally, an acting commission, as Magistrate, and Justice of the Peace, under which they will exercise the Powers belonging to that office, until a regular Commission of the Peace is received from England.
Hasn't the Govr this power? The R. Commission surely authorizes the Govr to appoint Justices.
Yes, but so it also does judges, who notwithstanding would have
Queen's warrants. Justices however do not require them.
3. Your Grace will observe by the accompanying Minutes, that we have decided on dispensing, in the appointment of Justices of the Peace, with the qualification as to estate, required by the Act of Parliament, and that we have also authorised the said Magistrates to make a charge for their services, in all civil cases only, at the rate of twenty shillings a day, to be paid by the parties at issue, as part costs of suit, the reason in both cases for doing so being theabsenceManuscript image absence of a wealthy class, who might afford to devote their time gratuitously to the public service.
4. The measure that next occupied the attention of Council was the imposition of a Licence duty on Inns, Ale and Beer Houses, within the Colony.
The duty on such Licences will appear to your Grace, unusually large, as compared with the Licence duties charged in England, but that impression will be modified, when I inform your Grace, that neither customs nor excise duties, nor any public burdens whatever are borne by the Colonists of Vancouver's Island, and the keepers of Licenced houses, nevertheless, make the exhorbitant charge of seven pence halfpenny, for a half gill glass of inferior American Whiskey, which they purchase at about five shillings a gallon.
By a return received from the Collector of this Port it appears that the imports of spirituous liquors for the six months, ending on the 1st day of April last was 4143 Gallons. Of that quantity 1440 Gallons were imported by the Hudson's Bay CompanyforManuscript image for the use of their Ships and establishments, and also for the occasional demands of Her Majesty's Ships visiting this coast.
Taking off that quantity none of which is sold to residents of this Colony, there remains 2703 Gallons of spirits, expended in three Licenced Ale Houses at this place, giving a monthly expenditure of 474 Gallons, which valued at the retail price of sevenpence half penny the glass, or Two pounds sterling a Gallon, gives the monthly sum of £948 or £11.376, per annum, expended by the labouring classes in the purchase of intoxicating drinks.
The Council coincided with me in opinion as to the propriety of taxing the owners of those houses in the only possible way within our power, and deverting a part of their ill gotten wealth to the benifit of the Colony.
5. That measure was fiercely opposed by the whole body of publicans, aided by Mr James Cooper, a member of the Council, and unfortunately for his own credit, and the public good, proprietor of one of thelicencedManuscript image licenced houses,
This is Captn Kuper's Correspondent. [HM]
and by other parties, who are preying upon the vitals of the Colony, exhausting its wealth, and in return, importing from the American Settlements, unwholesome drinks which are ruinous to the morals of the people and the prolific source of poverty and crime.
The measure was however approved by all the better classes, and was carried notwithstanding the excitement and senseless outcry made against it by interested parties.
6. I do not suppose that the Duty on Licences, will put a stop to intemperance, but it will prove a check to a certain degree, and at least, deprive the tippler of a part of the means, he so unprofitably squanders, and that part will be applied to the erection of schools, and other useful institutions, to counteract in some measure the effects of his evil example.
This must be secured.
7. The appropriation of the sum of £500, made for the erection of a School housewillManuscript image will be paid from the Trust fund, the Hudson's Bay Company having placed the sum of £2000 at the disposal of the Governor and Council for Colonial purposes.
8. I have only further to remark in reference to the Minutes of Council now forwarded, that I have appointed John Work Esqre a gentleman of probity and respectable character, and the largest land holder on Vancouver's Island, to be a Member of Council until Her Majesty's pleasure thereupon is made known.
I have the honour to be
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedt Servant
James Douglas

The Right Honble His Grace the Duke of Newcastle
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
1. Should the appointment of these Magistrates be approved? It seems to me that "a regular Commission of the Peace from England" is not necessary, the Govr having power to appoint Justices. Perhaps he means that we shd send him a form of appointment.
2. The circes of V.C. Island will justify a slight obliviousness of the Act of Parlt in respect to the qualification ofManuscript image Justices of the Peace. But I suppose the departure from the terms of the Law must not be approved, though it may be left unnoticed.
Payment to the Magistrates seems unavoidable.
3. I see that you rather doubt the authority of the Governor and Council to impose this license duty: (Vide 6314) but on referring to the R Commission & Instructions I do not perceive any prohibition against the levying of taxes by these Authorities. If the establishment of a Representative Assembly has to be waited for in this place before money can be raised it will be a long time before the ways & means will be found to enable the Colony to pay its' way. It is at present a burthen on the H.B. Company. But positive permissive power to raise money may be essential, & the absence of a prohibition insufficient.
4. Approve the provisional appointment of Mr Work as a Member of Council, and send out a Warrant for him?
ABd 8 July
Mr Smith
As to the first points I apprehend the Govr is in error in supposing any commission from the Crown to his Justices to be necessary?
HM Jy 11
I apprehend that there must be a Commission from the Crown—but issued through the Governor—not from home.
PS 12 July
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I meant a Commission from home but expressed myself inaccurately.
The Governor to be so instructed, & I think a precedent of a commission would be of use to him.
There is no occasion for him to maintain the qualification of estate, & he may be so informed.
Mr Work to be appointed a member of Council?
As to the tax on licenses, I fear it is illegal. At least the ordinary principle is that in a British colony taxation can only take place through representation: & the constitution of Vanc. I. provides for an assembly, though none has been summoned as yet. The only doubt which has occurred to me is whether the levying [of] such a tax might not be justified as a simple measure of policy though I fear this might be an erosion of the principle. This is the way in which the Governor & Council put it. I am inclined to think an opinion might be taken on this point, at all events before any approval of the measure is expressed, and that in the mean time the remainder of the desp. might be answered, promising farther instructions.
HM Jy 12
FP 15
N 16
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 9, 27 September 1853.
Minutes by CO staff
A separate Despatch to be written transmitting a Warrant for the appointt of John Work Esq to be a Member of Council.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to The Lord President, 29 September 1853, asking that John Work's name be submitted for approval to the Queen in Council for appointment to the Council of Vancouver Island.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 13, 12 November 1853, transmitting a warrant for Work's appointment.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Extract from Minutes of the Council of Vancouver Island, 29 and 31 March, and 7 April 1853.