No. 1
Downing Street
19th June 1854
I have to acknowledge your despatch of the 13th March last, reporting your investigation into the causes which led to the wreck of the Brig "William" which you appear to have conducted with a readinessManuscript image and vigilance very advantageous to the public Service.
2. With regard to the question raised as to your legal authority: the steps which you have taken, if, I rightly understand them, seem to have been substantially justified by the clause in your Commission as Vice Admiral, giving you cognizance of the view of bodies of persons who came to their deaths in the sea or public streams &c.
3. But I fear thatManuscript image to organize a Vice Admiralty Court is, strictly speaking, beyond your power either as Vice Admiral or under your Commission as Governor. A special authority from the Lords of the Admiralty is required for that purpose. And no such Court has, as yet, been established by their Lordships in Vancouvers Island, in consequence, partly, of the difficulty arising from there being no professional lawyer to whom a Commission as Judge could issue. YouManuscript image have addressed the secretary of State in another despatch, still under consideration (of 7th January last) representing the wants of the Settlements in this respect. They shall be attended to as far as is in my power, but I fear that it will not be easy to secure you the services of a properly qualified person.
4. In the meantime I wish to direct your attention to the provisions of the Act 12th and 13th Vic. C. 96 "to provide forManuscript image the prosecution and trial in Her Majesty's Colonies of offences committed within the Jurisdiction of the Admiralty." Under the provisions of that Statute, any person, within any Colony, may be tried for offences committed on the Sea, or in any place where the Admiralty has Jurisdiction, by the ordinary Courts of such Colony. It appears to me, therefore, that you are fully empowered, without constituting any Admiralty Court, to enquire into all cases of suspected homicide or personal injury committedonManuscript image on the Sea, if the persons under suspicion are within the Colony, and to bring them to trial if any ground for such proceeding be established, precisely in the same way as if such offence were alleged to have been committed on land within the Colony.
5. It will be my endeavour to give you such assistance as is in my power in these respects, together with legal advice if necessary, while you are still deprived of the service of a professionaladviserManuscript image adviser; and I wish you to communicate with me whenever you are in want of direction.
I have the honor to be Sir,
Your Most obedient Humble Servant
G. Grey

Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
An Act to Provide for the Prosecution and Trial in Her Majesty's Colonies of Offences Committed within the Jurisdiction of the Admiralty, 1 August 1849, 12 and 13 Victoria, C. 96.
People in this document

Douglas, James

Grey, George

Organizations in this document

Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

Vessels in this document

Brig William

Places in this document

Vancouver Island