De la Becke to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Museum of Practical Geology
28 April 1853
With reference to your communication of the 22d Instant, on the subject of granting a lease to Messrs Gray, Easterby & Rooney to enable them to work for Gold, Silver and other metallic minerals at Queen Charlotte's Islands, on the west coast of the British Possessions in North America, accompanied by a letter from Mr Richard Taylor to the Duke of Newcastle proposing the terms for this lease, and also by a statement of Mr A. Easterby, with a sketch map of the part of Queen Charlotte's Island where gold has been found.
I have to state for the information of the Duke of Newcastle that, while it appears very desirable that the ground mentioned should be properly explored, some care as to the terms of the proposed lease would appear needed.
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The Royalty proposed of 5 per cent, or at the rate of One Twentieth of the gross produce, is undoubtedly low, yet, as it seems important to encourage the needful researches, perhaps a higher Royalty may be dispensed with for the present. The proposed term of 60 years appears far too long, and I would suggest for the consideration of His Grace if from 14 to 21 years would not be an ample range of time. Various circumstances, difficult to foresee, may render rights of this kind over so large a portion of ground as within 5 miles radius from Una Point, Michell's Harbour, not desirable, particularly when we regard the position of the Island, and the kind of harbour (as shown on the sketch map sent) on the Pacific side of the British North American possessions. No doubt the right to work this area for metallic minerals may not be accompanied by the absolute lease of the land for all purposesManuscript image for 60 years, a small portion being only thus leased, yet the right of working for metallic minerals might seriously affect the advantages of some future settlement in that part of Queen Charlottes Island; and it is to be recollected that coal, reported to be in some quantity (the specimens sent to the Museum of Practical Geology were of fair quality, though taken from the surface) occurs in Vancouver's Island, on the South.
With regard to the method of obtaining the small Royalty proposed, there will probably be difficulties, for although the ore might at first be sent to the Colonial Gold Company, and all being honorably transacted, the Royalty collected, this method of treating them may not be persevered in. The alternative of paying according to the number of men employed monthly would scarcely meet the case unless the returns from a given number of men could be consideredManuscript image as constants. Probably the method of collecting the Royalty may be made [a] matter of further discussion and adjustment. In all cases it would appear desirable that, if the works were discontinued for some given time, say any twelve consecutive months, the lease should terminate.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your very obedient Servant
H.T. De la Becke
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
If the Duke of Newcastle is prepared to sanction a lease of ground in Queen Charlotte's Island to this proposed Company—and if it is certain that such lease will not interfere with the trading privileges of the Hudson's Bay Company I presume that the next step will be to refer the correspondence to the Treasury and enquire whether theManuscript image proposed Royalty of five per cent meets the views of the Treasury, and how they wd wish that or any other amount of Royalty should be collected. If the project should be persevered in the report of the Land Board wd be requisite. Perhaps you may be of opinion that that Dt should be consulted before the Treasury.
ABd 29 April/53
According to ordinary practice the Land Board should report, unless
the D. of Newcastle thinks proper to dispense with this delay & direct them to prepare a lease embodying Sir H de la Beckes' stipulations. TheManuscript image draft lease might be submitted to the Treasury. I think this would be better than consulting them beforehand. I believe myself that in the case of so small a portion of land, & so unfrequented a region, a lease of the soil would be better than a mere right to work the minerals, which would lead to collisions with the purchasers of the soil if there were any.
HM Apl 29
FP 29
Mr Taylor's high character is a strong guarantee for the respectability of this Company, yet I think (with so many stock-jobbing schemes afloat) it will be right to make some enquiry as to the means and respectability of the Promoters.
Mr J. Taylor & Mr Esterby [Easterby] called on me to day & will send in a statement of the names means & respectability of the persons by whom Mr Esterby will be supported. He does not however propose to establish a Co. but an association with himself [and] a few persons of means & respectability.
ABd 5 May
We should also ascertainManuscript image that a lease would not be at variance with the privileges of the Hudsons Bay Company,
Mr Merivale has already given his attention to this point and is of opinion that the lease wd not interfere with the rights of the H.B. Company; but the question can be proposed distinctly to the Land Board when reference of the papers is made to them.
tho' on this point I do not entertain much doubt.
These questions being satisfactorily answered, the Land Board may be directed to prepare a draft lease (I should think 14 years sufficient) which may then be submitted to the Treasury for their opinion on the whole matter.
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