No. 8, Executive
28th July 1853
Mr Lord Duke
I have much satisfaction in communicating for the information of Her Majesty's Government, that this Colony continues in a state of profound tranquillity. No difficulty of a serious nature has occurred with the Natives for many months past. Charges of theft have been brought against several native labourers, and one native was lately committed to Jail, for assaulting, with a reaping hook, and wounding in the heat of passion a white man, during a quarrel, which took place between the parties in the field, but those cases wereallManuscript image all summarily disposed off, and the offenders punished according to law, without exciting any ill feeling, in the minds of the Natives at large, who appeared to approve, and feel the justice of all the proceedings connected with those cases. This is a proof of their increasing intelligence, which I have much satisfaction in reporting, as the state of feeling among the Natives, is a matter of the greatest importance, to us, seeing that probably, the worst calamity that can befall this Colony, in its infant state, is the hostility of the Native Tribes, and the most important duty of the Executive, for many years to come, must be, by firm and judicious measures, to restrain them from evil and to conciliate their good will, a duty often rendered difficult by, the recklessness, and imprudence of the Colonists themselves.
In consequence of the wise and humane regulations of the Hudson's Bay Company, the native Indians of Vancouver's Island, have not acquired a taste for ardent spirits a vice from which they are fortunately free, otherwise they would be much more difficult to controul.
In reference to themanagementManuscript image management of the Indians I would remark to your Grace, that there is a subject, connected with that duty, which has caused me no small degree of anxiety, this is the settlement of their domestic feuds, for like all barbarous nations they levy war and destroy each other, whenever any cause of difference exists, and such pretexts are seldom wanting. This is a state of things inconsistent with their present position as inhabitants of a British Colony, but heretofore I have not attempted to interfere except in the character of arbitrator, and for this reason, that where there is no positive law to protect, the law of nature gives the right of self defence, and whether acting as individuals, or collectively as nations, the right of punishing injuries to persons, or aggressions on the Tribe at large. Having no power to protect it would have been unjust to punish, and unwise to involve, the government in questions of which we could learn neither the merits nor the true bearings, and which possibly were in accordance, with the laws of natural justice.
Approve the Governor's discreet view?
I have therefore made it a rule to confine our interference intheirManuscript image their affairs to a species of authoritative advice, which has great weight, and has produced a good effect in allaying their mutual dissentions, so much so, that with the exception of an unfortunate native who was lately murdered by his own countrymen, no other criminal act, has been committed among the Natives, within the precin[c]ts of the settlements, for the last twelve months, and I then made them understand that such acts if committed within the limits of the settlements would in future be considered in the light of capital offences, and punished according to the Laws of England.
I have no fears as to the result of that measure, for the natives themselves are sensible of its propriety and will feel the advantage of the protection it affords, and moreover though I consider it unwise, and something beyond the power of Government, to restrain the exercise of their natural rights, out of the limits of the settlements, I think it advisable to teach the natives that the settlements are sacred ground, and must not be polluted with innocent blood.
A great part of the agricultural labour of the Colony, is at presentperformedManuscript image performed by means of the Natives, who though less skilled and industrious than white men, work at a comparatively much cheaper rate, so that on the whole, they are exceedingly useful to the Colonists.
We have done nothing of any importance in the way of legislating for the Colony, since my report of the 11th of April,
The Governor should number his paragraphs.
and until the population increases to such an extent, as to admit calling assemblies of the people, legislation except in very special cases is unnecessary, and without the assistance of a legal adviser, might prove a bane, instead of a blessing to the country; especially as the Laws of England, by which we are now governed have met every contingency that has yet arisen. We have provided for the administration of Justice by appointing a resident Magistrate for each district of the Colony,
Sanctioned by the Duke of Newcastle very lately.
except Soke, where none of the Colonists are qualified, in points of character or education to perform the duties of that responsible office, but such an appointment will be made, whenever circumstances permit. One or more of the Justices hold a petty sessions on the 1st Thursday of every month, and ageneralManuscript image general quarter sessions of the Peace is held once in every quarter, to hear and determine cases, and my own time is frequently occupied in the same manner, so that there is a regular, and I trust impartial administration of Justice to all classes of the community.
The law fixing the rate of duty chargeable on licences for Ale and Spirit Shops,
Mr Merivale
See your observn on 6979. No legal opinion has yet been asked.
which I submitted in my report of the 11th April last, was carried into effect in the early part of this month, a wholesale Licence having been taken out by the Hudson's Bay Company for which the sum of 100 was paid, and a retail Licence by James Yates, Keeper of the Victoria Hotel, for which he paid 120, the first, and only monies raised as public revenue, by direct taxation in this Colony.
Those sums remain in the hands of the Governor & Council, and we propose applying them, to opening roads and in aid of the Colonial School.
The Colonists generally speaking appear prosperous, and contented, with the exception of a very small party, who have arrayed themselves against the Government,onManuscript image on the strength of grievances, which I have no power to relieve.
They complain of the price of land, which they contend is sold at a price above its value, and that every Colonist is entitled to a free grant of land. Another cause of complaint is the slow growth of the Colony in wealth and population, which they ascribe to the indifference of the Hudsons Bay Company, in not pushing on the colonization of the Island with sufficient activity.
The aim of that party is to induce Her Majesty's Government to revoke the grant of Vancouver's Island, made to the Hudsons Bay Company, by the Crown, and to take the direction of the Colony into their own hands, trusting by that means, to see the accomplishment of their ultimate object of procuring free grants of land, which in that event, they expect to gain.
The supremacy of the Hudson's Bay Company is therefore the master grievance, and a grievance, only, because, it is supposed, that the influence of the Company is mainly instrumental in keeping up the price of land.
That being an object which affects the personal interest of every free holder in the Colony; there is a very general feeling in its favour, aseveryManuscript image every Colonist at once perceives the advantage of procuring land free of cost, instead of paying for it, at the present rate of one pound Sterling, a statute acre.
The leaders of that party, the most active of whom is the Revd Mr Staines, Chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company, have, under various pretexts, hitherto declined paying for the land, which the Colonial Surveyor, permitted them to occupy, under an impression, it is presumed that it will ultimately become their property, free of cost. They have moreover sought to accomplish their object by dishonest means, having falsely charged the Hudson's Bay Company, with holding a monopoly of trade on "Vancouver's Island"; a statement entirely unfounded, and which it would have been a direct violation of duty, on my part, as a servant of the Crown, to have permitted, or even indirectly sanctioned.
Freedom of trade. ABd
I beg to assure your Grace, that the rights, privileges, and immunities of the subject are as well secured and fully enjoyed in the Colony of Vancouver's Island, as in any other part of Her Majesty's Dominions, and no Colony has less cause of complaint, on the score of public burdens, seeing that with the exception of thechargeManuscript image charge for land, a royalty on Coal of two shillings and sixpence, a ton, a duty of ten pence a load on timber, cut upon the public lands, and the duty charged on spirit Licences, no taxes whatever are levied in the Colony, and goods from every part of the world are imported free of duty.
I trust your Grace will pardon me for touching upon a somewhat personal matter as I consider it a duty, to give those explanations in order to contradict certain false and dishonest statements in regard to the state of public affairs in this Colony, which have found their way, anonymously, into the public papers.
I beg to transmit for your Graces information, a return of Vessels entered at the Port of Victoria, from the 16th November 1852 to the 31st July 1853, a period of eight months and a half.
We have no returns previous to the month of November 1852, a Collector having been then for the first time appointed in this Colony, but I may observe that the number of Ships, calling here for cargoes is on the increase, as compared to the preceeding year, chiefly owing to the growing exports of round and hewn Timber, salt Fish and Coal, to the markets of California and the Sandwich Islands, where those products ofVancouver'sManuscript image Vancouver's Island, are in great demand, a trade which is of the utmost present advantage to the country, and which I have been at great pains to foster and encourage, by permitting foreign vessels to take in cargoes at all the inhabited Ports of the Colony, and exempting them from all charges whatsoever; except a small fee paid for clearance, to the Collector at Victoria.
In the way of public improvements, I have to inform your Grace, that we are now engaged in erecting buildings for a District School near this place, and materials are also preparing for the erection of a church capable of containing a congregation of about 250 persons, which will be suited to the present wants of this District.
We have it also in view to open, and improve the roads leading to the different settlements, and have advertised for tenders; but hitherto no reasonable offers have been sent in. Those expenses, will be defrayed out of the trust fund, in the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company.
About 7000 acres of the public lands have been registered for sale since the month of June last, which the Colonial Surveyor, is nowengagedManuscript image engaged in laying out, in lots as desired by the purchasers, who will be required to pay the purchase money, as soon as the surveys are completed.
The harvest is just beginning, the oat and pea crops being generally fit for cutting. A very favourable report of the grain crops has been received from every part of the settlement, with the single exception of oats, which are not so full in straw as usual; the wheat on the contrary is heavy in the ear, with large and well nourished grains. The weather being dry and favourable, there is every prospect of the grain being housed in good order.
Her Majesty's Ship "Trincomalee" arrived here in the month of July last,
This despatch is dated July.
and will I believe remain on this part of the Pacific station for the protection of the settlements until relieved by another cruizer.
May I take the liberty of suggesting to your Grace, how very usefully the Carpenters and seamen of Her Majesty's Ships might be employed, while stationed here, at a very small additional expense to the public, in erecting store houses for the use of Her Majesty's Navy, in the magnificent harbour of EsquimaltManuscript image about five miles distant from Victoria, where there is a site admirably adapted to that purpose.
Send to the Admiralty for consideration.
This, I conceive, would result, in a great saving of expense to the Government, as the stores and provisions wanted for the cruizers stationed in the Northern Pacific, might be shipped from England, direct for the Naval store houses at Esquimalt and remain there until required; instead of being first landed, as by the present arrangement, at Valparaiso, and reshipped from thence to this country in vessels chartered for the purpose, thus involving the risk and expense of a reshipment, and of landing and storage at Valparaiso, which might, in whole or greater part, be saved, by a direct shipment from England to Vancouver's Island. That plan if adopted would besides the aforesaid saving of expense, prove a great convenience to the public service, and enable Her Majesty's Ships to remain longer on the coast, without being detached to the Ports of California or elsewhere for supplies.
It would also be a very popular measure with Her Majesty's subjects in this country, and would greatly tend to the progress of colonization, and therefore chiefly, I have submitted it for your Grace's consideration. [Marginal note: End Ext to Admty
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This letter will be transmitted by Commander Prevost of Her Majesty's Steam Sloop "Virago", shortly about to leave this Port, for the Port of San Francisco, for supplies expected from Valparaiso, and to receive instructions from the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Squadron, in respect to her future movements.
Commander Prevost, while employed on this part of the station, has evinced much zeal in the public service, and been most active in carrying out the instructions he received from this Government.
I have the honor to be
Your Grace's most obedt Servant
James Douglas
Governor Vancouvers Island

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
I have made a few observations in the margin of this desph which you will notice as you peruse it.
ABd 29 Sepr
Mr Peel
On this desp. I will take occasion to observe (in reference to a minute of the Duke of Newcastle's which I lately read) That, as his Grace remarks, there was no provision made in 1849,Manuscript image that I can find, making void the exclusive license of the Company to trade with the Indians as far as regards Vancouvers' Island. Nevertheless the Company have always affirmed (as the Governor does here, p. 8) that trade in the island is practically free: and they held out the same, if I mistake not, in their original "Terms" addressed to settlers. Whether this really applies to trade with the Indians on the island I do not know.
2. That on 13 Jany 1854 the Crown will be at liberty to resume the grant of the island if the conditions have not been complied with.
For my own part I believe that whatever their demerits, the Co. have one merit, viz. that of systematic dealing with the natives; instead of the mere caprice of ordinary settlers: and that to this is owing the general absence, in their territories, of anything like the fearful massacres & fightings of which we receive occasional accounts from the American side of the frontier.
HM O 1
As to No. 1—My idea is, though I have not the papers to refer
toManuscript image that under the Co's license for exclusive trade it is stipulated that the Monopoly is to cease in any territory which may be Selected for settlement
No. Only that the Crown may put an end to it.
When therefore VanCouver's Island was made a Colony, the Co had no further rights to exclusive trade with the Indians. There was no necessity for a provision for this purpose being made in 1849.
Upon the whole I think this Report as favourable as can be expected.
FP Oct 4
Mr Peel's explanation is very probably correct. All that I
remember clearly is that assurance was given in 1849 that the H.B.C. would not exercise a monopoly of trade in V.C.I.
I concur in Mr Blackwood's marginal notes.
N 6
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Return of Vessels entered at Victoria from 16 November 1852 to 5 August 1853," dated August 1853 and signed by James Sangster, Collector.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 10, 15 October 1853.
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Draft, Colonial Office to Secretary to the Admiralty, 19 October 1853, forwarding extract of the despatch relating to construction of naval store houses at Esquimalt for consideration.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 11, 17 October 1853.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
If you see no objection I think this hint to the Governor to conduct his correspondence according to the C. Office rules, with which he is quite acquainted, would be useful.