Romaine to Merivale
Immediate
Admiralty S. W.
16th. Augt. 1858
Sir
I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to send you herewith, for the information of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, a copy of a letter from Captain Prevost of HM Ship Satellite, dated the 7 June, and copies of its enclosures, relating to the recently discovered Gold Districts in Fraser's River.
I am, Sir,
Your most obedt. servant
W.G. Romaine
The Under Secretary of State
Herman Merivale Esq.
for Colonial Affairs.
P.S. The West India Mail is dispatched today.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
I have not had time to peruse these papers, but judging from the dates of the Letters I sd not imagine that they contained any later intelligence than we already possess.
ABd 16 Augt
Manuscript image
In the answer to this, I wish it particularly stated as to the length of time that has elapsed since I applied for a naval force & was assured it was attended to. Point out that Capt Prevost only has his "Satellite" as a jooen (being on a special service) urge in the said serches long the necessity of a competent force.
See letter 8227 since received from Admy which I have comprehended is the same draft answer.
HM Augt. 17.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image1. Captain J.C. Prevost to Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes, 7 June 1858
Copy
H. M. Ship “Satellite,” Esquimalt,
Vancouver’s Island, 7th June 1858.

Sir,
With reference to my letter of the 7th May 1858, No. 5, acquainting you with the reported discovery of Gold in Fraser’s and Thompson’s Rivers, and representing the state of affairs in this neighbourhood consequent thereupon, I have the honor to enclose herewith the copy of a letter dated the 15th May 1858, which I received from His Excellency the Governor ofManuscript imageof Vancouver’s Island transmitting to me the Copy of a Proclamation which he had issued in consequence of reported violation of the British Frontier by Foreign Boats and Vessels, and requesting me to assist him in enforcing obedience to the Laws; and proposing that I should accompany him on a projected excursion to the Falls of Fraser’s River, and that the “Satellite” should proceed to Point Roberts, near to the entrance of Fraser’s RiverManuscript imageRiver, for the purpose of producing a Moral effect which he judged might prevent much future evil; and also transmitting the copy of a Despatch which His Excellency had addressed to you on the 12 May last.
[margin: copy sent to Col Office. 1. Letter or 4 [[…]] from Adm.?] I forward herewith a copy of my reply thereto, from which you will perceive that under the unforeseen and peculiar circumstances of the case, and as the “Satellite” could be spared for a short period from her specialManuscript imagespecial duties, I conceived it to be my duty to comply as far as I was able, with the Governor’s requisition. The “Satellite” accordingly left this anchorage on the morning of the 19th May. I anchored at Bellingham Bay the same evening, as I was desirous of ascertaining the state of affairs at that place, strenuous efforts having been made to draw the tide of emigration to that point. On the 20th I anchored off Point Roberts, at first in AmericanManuscript imageAmerican waters, but shortly Afterwards finding a suitable anchorage about a quarter of a mile to the northward of the 49th parallel of North Latitude, the ship was moved into British waters.
On the 21st May the Governor joined me, in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s steamer “Otter” and I received from him a letter dated on that day, of which Enclosure No. 3 herewith, is a copy, acquainting me that he had appointed an officer of Customs for the District of Fraser'sManuscript imageFraser’s River, and calling upon me in the Queen’s name to assist him with such force as might be necessary to maintain the authority of the Law, and to prevent the constant and open violation of the British Frontier by Foreign Vessels. Under these circumstances I deemed it imperative on me to render such assistance as I might be able, and I therefore detached the Launch of the “Satellite,” under the charge of Lieutenant T. S. Gooch, withManuscript imagewith a small guard of marines, to proceed to Fort Langley, as will be seen by my reply to the before mentioned requisition, Enclosure herewith, No. 4.
On the morning of the 22nd the Governor and I proceeded up Fraser’s River in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Steamer, “Otter,” as far as Fort Langley, the Launch of the “Satellite” being in tow. The Launch and the “Otter” remained at Fort Langley during the absence of Governor DouglasManuscript imageDouglas and myself on a visit to the mining districts in Fraser’s River, on which we proceeded on the 27th May, and from which we returned on the 3rd June. On the morning of the 4th June we quitted Fort Langley, and I rejoined the “Satellite,” withdrawing the Launch at the same time. Not deeming it prudent to remain longer absent from Vancouver’s Island, being in daily expectation of the arrival of the Land Boundary Commission, which IManuscript imageI was directed by Lord Clarendon to meet, I quitted Point Roberts on the evening of the 4th and anchored early in the morning of the 5th June in Esquimalt Harbour.
Although I have been thus obliged to quit the neighbourhood of Point Roberts, and to withdraw the Launch from Fraser’s River, I am not without great hope that the exhibition of the Ship at the entrance of the River, and the presence of the Launch in the River, have been attended with the most beneficial results; andManuscript imageand while it has thus been evident to all that Force for the protection of the Territory is close at hand, and that the determination exists to uphold the laws, it is but reasonable to presume that the inclination to violate Territorial rights and to rebel against legitimate authority must be greatly diminished. The present time, though, is but the very commencement of a complete revolution in the existing state of affairs in this part of the world, and the extraordinary character of theManuscript imagethe case is such as to require immediate and effectual measures to be taken to preserve authority, and to keep the country in a tranquil state. The entire body of Miners at present at work appears to be an order-loving and peaceably-disposed set of men, but among the multitudes that soon will arrive, it can scarce be supposed that this class of Individual will alone be found.
From my own personal observations,Manuscript imageobservations, and from inquiries made during my visit, I am inclined to think that the whole country is rich in Gold, and with scarce one exception all the old Californian Miners I have met with declare they expect the Country will far exceed in auriferous deposit the wealth of California. No interior or dry mining has as yet been attempted, but the mountains around present every indication of being rich in the finest gold quartz. The mining at present is confined to the mereManuscript imagemere surface washings on the Banks of the River, and upon one bank or “Bar” as it is termed in mining phraseology, called “Hills Bar,” about 5 miles below Fort Yale, where upwards of 75 men are at work, the average daily yield is 60 Dollars per pan. The first washing commences at about 5 miles from Fort Hope, and from thence to FortManuscript imageFort Yale most of the available spots along the Banks of the River are studded with Miners, all of whom to use their own expression, are “earning wages,” the smallest sum made daily by any man being about 5 Dollars. This is at the present season of the year when the water in the river is high, but in two or [change of handwriting] threeManuscript imagethree months when the water has fallen the yield must prove far greater. The Quality of the Gold is very fine & the grains are small or what is commonly called “Scale Gold” and so plentiful & so generally diffused is it that at almost any position along the banks of the River from Fort Hope to Fort Yale a pan of dirt taken indiscriminately & washed will be found to yield Gold.
I did not proceed further up the river than to the spot called the Falls, about 6 miles above Fort Yale or I should think about 136 miles from the mouth of the river. From the mouth to Fort Langley being about 30 miles, from Langley to Fort Hope about 100 miles, & from thence to Fort Yale about 20 miles. From above the Falls to Thompson’s River theManuscript imagethe yield of Gold is said to be much greater than below there, but at the present season the water is too high to admit of work and most of the miners from the locality are now going down for provisions with the intention of returning as soon as practicable. Upon Thompson’s River & at its junction with Fraser’s River, I am informed that the gold is found in much larger scales, and in small nuggets, and all the specimens I have seen from these parts are of this description.
When these facts become generally known the influx of population to this part of the world will undoubtedly be immense. I have it on reliable authority that upwards of 20,000 Miners from California are only awaiting confirmation of the reports received to at once quit that Country for Fraser’s River. Under these circumstances itManuscript imageit is very evident how imperative it is that measures should be adopted to meet the urgency of the case, to prevent risk & violence & to at once establish a large [[…]] for the Crown. Mr. Douglas the Governor of Vancouver’s Island appears to have acted with exceeding ability & judgement, so far as he is able, but he has no staff whatever to support or to assist him & his position at the present moment is one of immense difficulty, & anxiety. In Puget Sound in Bellingham Bay the excitement consequent upon the Gold Discoveries is intense. A most plausible attempt has been made to establish Bellingham Bay as the Port of debarkation for the Gold regions, by setting forth that a direct road was being constructed from Bellingham Bay to the [[…]] Such an undertaking has indeedManuscript imageindeed been commenced, but it is however quite impracticable as no road from thence can proceed further than Fort Hope, there being a range of Mountains beyond through which no pass is known to exist, & over which it would be impossible to carry any road. The Speculation has however probably answered the destined road, for several steamers have landed their living cargoes at Bellingham Bay & the holders of property around have reaped a rich harvest in the rapid sale of their land.
The only direct route to the Gold Districts is by way of Fraser’s River & this is now becoming generally known, an as at present the Custom House is established at Victoria in Vancouver’s Island, the excitement here is largely on the increaseManuscript imageincrease. Land has rapidly risen in value and building lots both at Victoria & at Esquimault, [sic] have been eagerly purchased in every available position. It seems almost inevitable that this place must soon become a second San Francisco, and under such circumstances it is with no small regret that I see the portions of land in this beautiful Harbour which are most suitable for naval purposes passing from the hands of one private individual to another, as should it ever become necessary hereafter to form a naval establishment in this Island, these portions of land would probably have to be repurchased at an enormous increase of price.Manuscript image
Amidst all this excitement and surrounded by all these temptations, it gives me much pleasure to be able to report that as yet not one man has deserted from the “Satellite.” I took my gig with me, up to Fraser’s River as far as Fort Yale, and the Launch was stationed in the neighbourhood of Fort Langley, and both boats returned to the ship without a loss of a single man.
In conclusion, I trust I may be pardoned for mentioning in this communication what has been apparent to me on many occasions, but more particularly upon the recent occasion of my absence from Manuscript imagethe ship, and that is the intelligence & trustworthiness of the Senior Lieutenant of the “Satellite,” Lt. Mountford S.L. Paile I have been obliged frequently to quit the “Satellite” on short periods of detached service, and it has been a source of much satisfaction & comfort to me to feel assured that I was not only entrusting a capable and painstaking officer with the charge of the ship, but that I was leaving behind the one upon whose good sense and discretion I could most securely rely. Had it not been so, I might have been necessitated to remain by the Ship, when it was Manuscript imagemore advantageous that I should proceed elsewhere, and I therefore beg you will permit me to bring Lieut. Paile to your notice, and to ask you to make favourable mention of him to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
In consequence of my distance from your [[…]] I purpose sending a copy of this letter to the Secretary of the Admiralty.
I have (sd) James C. Prevost. Captain of HMS Satellite [[…]] officer present at Vancouver’s Island


1Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes, CB
Commander in Chief, Pacific.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
1.1 James Douglas to Prevost, 15 May 1858, transmitting a copy of a proclamation (1.2 below) and requesting his assistance to enforce it.
Copy
Sir,
I transmit herewith for your information copy of a Proclamation lately issued in consequence of reported violations of the British Territory by foreign Boats and vessels, and of infringements of the chartered rights of the Hudson’s Bay Company warning all persons that such acts are contrary to law, and that whosoever takes part in them will be subjected to the penalties which the law denounces against such offences.
No Military force being maintained by this Colony Manuscript imageI am under the necessity of calling upon you to furnish an effective force for the purpose of carrying out the measures proposed and set forth in my proclamation, and generally to enforce obedience to the Laws.
I have also to inform you that I propose leaving this Colony for a short time on an excursion to the Falls of Fraser’s River for the purpose of enquiring into the state of the Country, & ascertaining as far as can be effected, from personal observation, the character of the navigation to that point; subjects in respect to which H. M. Govt. are Manuscript imageespecially desirous to obtain information, and I think tat you should accompany me on that journey, and that the “Satellite” should proceed with us to Point Roberts, as an imposing display of force at that point will have a powerful moral effect, and prevent much future evil.
I have
(sd) James Douglas
Governor. Vancouver’s Island


2James. C. Prevost
HM Commissioner &
Senior Naval Officer
Manuscript image
1.2 Proclamation by Douglas, 8 May 1858, prohibiting foreign vessels from conveying miners up the Fraser without a sufferance from the customs officer in Victoria.
Copy
Proclamation
By Mr. James Douglas Governor & Commr in chief of the Colony of Vancouver’s Island & its dependencies & Vice Admiral of the same
&c &c &c
Whereas it is commonly reported that certain boats, and other vessels have entered Fraser’s River for trade, and whereas there is reason to apprehend that other Persons are preparing and fitting out boats and vessels for the same purpose.
Now, therefore, I have issued this my declaration – warning all persons that such acts are contrary to law, & an infringement upon the rights of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Manuscript imagewho are legally entitled to the trade with Indians in the British Possessions on the North West coast of America, to the exclusion of all other Persons whether British or Foreign.
And also that after fourteen days from the date of this my Proclamation all ships, boats or vessels together with the goods laden on board, found in Fraser’s River or in any of the Bays, Rivers, or Creeks of the said British Possessions on the N. W. Coast of America, not having a licence from the Hudson’s Bay Company, and Manuscript imagea sufferance from the proper Officer of Customs at Victoria, shall be liable to forfeiture and will be seized and condemned according to law.
Given under my hand and Seal at Govt. House, Victoria this 8th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1858, and in the 21st year of H. M. Reign.
(sd) James Douglas
Governor [seal]


By H. G’s. Command
(Sd) Richard Colledge
Secretary
God Save the Queen.
Romaine, William Govett to Merivale, Herman 16 August 1858, CO 6:25, no. 8219, 10. 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/V585AD04_A.html.

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