No. 46
12 November 1858
In reply to your communication of the 2nd September marked confidential, in allusion to Lord Napier's favorable mention of Mr Nugent, the Special Agent of the United States,andManuscript image and of his friendly disposition towards this country, I have the honor to inform you that Mr Nugent who arrived here in my absence, was received with friendly attention on my late return from British Columbia.
2. He has since paid a visit to Fraser's River, and brought before me, several cases of reported private wrongs to persons said to be American citizens; but as none of those cases could be considered in the light of national questions, I told him that the parties must look for their remedy to the Law Courts of the Country.
Mr Manuscript image
3. Mr Nugent has since made an effort to procure admission for Members of the American Bar to plead before the Courts of this Colony, but without success, as I will not tamper with, nor do I conceive that I have authority to alter the rules of the Law Courts of the Colony.
4. My first letters to Mr Nugent were couched in terms of excessive civility, which probably induced him to address me a second communication, to which I gave a decided rejoinder; showing that the statements made in his letter were not founded on facts. I herewith transmitaManuscript image a copy of that correspondence and trust my proceedings may meet with your approval.
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
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Lord Carnarvon
In sending this to the For. Office, I think it might be added that Sir E.L. proposes, should Ld Malmesbury concur, to signify to Govr Douglas his approval of his conduct. The For. office may probably prefer to wait a little in case of a representation from the US Government.
Mr Nugent's complaint is that American citizens in custody on criminal charges cannot have legal assistance, because there are no lawyers in the colony except the Crown prosecutor, and his application to have American barristers admitted to plead has been refused. The answer seems to me twofold, and conclusive: the Governor cannot alter the law by admitting foreign barristers to our Courts: and the American prisoners in question only suffer the same hardship to which every British prisoner is exposed. But he shews also that the practice of the colony is equitable & considerate—and I must say that his letter of Nov. 9. appears to me a striking instance of temperate [—-ness?] & good reasoning.
HM Jan 15
I completely agree with MrManuscript image Merivale Merivale and wd recommend this course to be pursued. If any further argument were needed against Mr Nugent's view of the case it could be found in the confessedly provisional condition of affairs in B. Columbia. Granted even that there is hardship—wh is not the case—it is hardship wh is the result neither of a faulty system nor of individual neglect or culpability but is simply attributable to the absence of English lawyers from the Colony—an evil wh every week & month will tend to remove.
C Jany 15
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I feared from the first Mr Nugents appointment a man who had been peculiarly hostile to the English in, I think, the Nicaragua Question.
Send to F.O.—approve Govr D—& suggest to Lord M, (confidentially in a private letter from me) whether he could communicate with the Am. Minister, so that a person clothed with such a vague authority as Mr N, & so evidently & undisputably in the wrong in this dispute should not be either checked or exchanged for a more regular & a more temperate official. This Despatch leads me to [ask?] Mr M. whether under all the circumstances we had not better now Send out an Attorney General at once.
I will attend to this appointment.
EBL Jan 15
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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John Nugent, Special Agent of the United States, to Douglas, 6 October 1858, asking the governor to intervene in the cases of six Americans imprisoned in the colony.
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Richard Golledge, Secretary to Douglas, to Nugent, 8 October 1858, advising Douglas did not feel he had the authority to alter the rules of the law courts, but would look into the matter further.
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Golledge to Nugent, 14 October 1858, with information from the crown solicitor that the executive did not have the power to allow American solicitors to practise in Vancouver Island.
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George Pearkes, Crown Solicitor and Attorney, to [Douglas], 10 October 1858, with information as detailed above.
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Nugent to Douglas, 3 November 1858, expressing disappointment at the decision of the governor and again asking for justice on behalf of the American prisoners in the colony.
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Douglas to Nugent, 9 November 1858, further explaining his position, and enclosing a copy of "such of the Rules of Court as bear upon the subject."
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Augustus Pemberton, Justice of the Peace and Commissioner of Police, to Douglas, 8 November 1858, discussing the disposition of American prisoners and emphasizing that he made no distinction of nationality in the prosecution of justice.
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"Rules of the Supreme Court of Civil Justice of the Colony of Vancouver's Island Respecting the admission of Practitioners," no date.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to Earl of Malmesbury, Foreign Office, Private, no date, suggesting it might be advisable to enquire into the suitability of Nugent with the American government.
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Draft, Colonial Office to E. Hammond, Foreign Office, no date, forwarding copy of the despatch for concurrence with the actions of the governor.
Minutes by CO staff
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[See] draft of private letter to Lord Malmesbury.
Lord Carnarvon
But according to the "Times" of today Mr Nugent is already recalled?
Douglas, James to Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer 12 November 1858, CO 305:9, no. 552, 220. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/V58046.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)