Romaine to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary)
19 March 1860
I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to send you herewith, for the information of the Duke of Newcastle, a Copy of a Letter from Rear Admiral Baynes, dated the 25th Jany last, No 16, with Copies of the Rear Admiral's Correspondence with the Governor of Vancouver Island, relative to the joint Military occupation of the Island of San Juan by this Country and by the United States.
My Lords are of opinion that it is to be regretted that Governor Douglas did not comply with theManuscript imagethe request of Rear Admiral Baynes to be furnished with Copies, or at least with extracts, from the Instructions
The instructions consist of the despatch of the D. of N. of the 16 Novr/59 to Govr D. forwarding a copy of the U. States instructions to Genl Scott. See 11291/59.
upon which the requisition of the Governor was made to the Rear Admiral for cooperation and assistance in concerting measures for placing a British Force on the Island, equivalent to that retained by the United States.
It must be apparent to the Duke of Newcastle that in complying with a requisition of this description from the Governor of a Colony, a Naval Commander in Chief must of necessity become responsible to his own Department, and the simple perusal of documents in such a caseManuscript imagecase can rarely be sufficient to enable an Officer to place on record the reasons which may induce him either to comply with or to decline acting upon such requisitions, and my Lords trust that the attention of Governor Douglas may be called to the serious inconvenience which might arise from the course which he adopted.
Their Lordships consider that every requisition addressed to a Naval Commander in Chief should be accompanied by the fullest information which can be furnished, and it appears to my Lords to have been an error on the part of the Governor to suppose that in furnishing a Copy of his Instructions
Marked by this office "Confidential", but which could not be held as excluding the Naval C. in C. from being furnished with a copy, under the important circes of the case.
he would have been delegating hisManuscript imagehis authority to an Officer, who was not under his command, but was responsible to another Department for the proper disposition of the Force under his own orders.
I am etc.
W.G. Romaine
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
You will observe that the Duke of Newcastle's despatch was marked Confidential—that it was laid before Admiral Baynes, & perused by that Officer—& that (see 2830/60) the Governor and the Admiral having consulted together came to a mutual agreement on the subject. Subsequently to their interview and agreement, at least so I understand it, the Admiral asked for a copy of the orders the Governor had received, which was declined; Douglas alleging that they had been sent to him as the Queen's Representative, & that it was not proper for him to give a copy of the S. of S. despatch without Express directions. The Colonial regulations—see Sec. 178 P. 50—bear him out in this respect; but I cannot but think it a mistake that he should have treated the Naval Commander in Chief—the officer who had to perform the duty of ordering the Marines to San Juan—with the same reserve which he wd have used with a subordinate official, or with a private individual. And it was not unreasonable on the part of the Admiral—who had already recd instructions from the Admy (21 Oct) and For: Office—to wish to have before him a copy of the instructions sent to the Governor from this Office so that he might compare one set of instructions with the other.
ABd 22/3
Mr Fortescue
From pressure for time, I take the liberty of passing this to you.
HM Mh 23
[Minute off file; top of one line showing.]
Write as proposed by Mr Fortescue & inform Admiralty—at same time explaining Govrs error & sending copy of Colonial Regulation.
N 27
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 19, 12 April 1860 (extensive revisions).
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Elliot to Secretary to the Admiralty, 14 April 1860, stating the governor had been instructed to "communicate unreservedly" with the Admiral in the future, but explaining how the error occurred by referring to Colonial Regulations.
Minutes by CO staff
Governor Douglas evidently acted very wrongly in withholding from an Admiral at a critical period information that might be material. I have ventured therefore to propose the omission of such passages in this draft as plead strongly in his extenuation & to retain merely the statement of the fact about the Colonial Regulations, this being as much as the Duke's minute directed.
Draft to Governor.
TFE 11 April
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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R.L. Baynes to Secretary of the Admiralty, 25 January 1860, forwarding copies of correspondence with Douglas.
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Douglas to Baynes, 16 January 1860, advising of his receipt of instructions to place an occupying force on San Juan Island, and requesting the Admiral's assistance to achieve that object.
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Baynes to Douglas, 17 January 1860, asking that a copy of the instructions received by Douglas be forwarded to him.
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Douglas to Baynes, 18 June 1860, advising he could not forward the instructions as requested without "express directions to delegate those instructions to others."
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Baynes to Douglas, 22 February 1860, expressing regret at the governor's decision, and advising that the matter would be referred to the home government.