Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
25 May 1861
In my letter of 30th March last I stated that it would be my duty at a future day to submit to the Duke of Newcastle a report on the Hudsons Bay Cos accounts [marginal note: herewith returned] of expenditure connected with Vancouvers Island which accompanied your letter of 26th March. I now proceed to submit such a report, but in doing so it will be convenient that I shouldManuscript image recapitulate very briefly what has already passed on the subject.
2. At the close of 1857 Her Majestys Government gave notice to the Company of the intention of the Crown to resume Vancouvers Island, and called on them for a statement of the amount of which under the grant of Janry 1849 they would be consequently entitled to claim repayment.
3. The Company in answer sent in a claim embracing their whole expenditure to the amount of £225,699—but on being informedManuscript image that H.M. Government did not propose to take over the property or Establishments connected with their Commercial transactions they reduced their claim to 3 items only vizt.

1. Balance due on VanC. Isld )
Trust account for works & ) 8505. 6.11
Establishments to 31st Decr 1857 )
2. Cost of sending out Settlers 25550.—.—
3. Expense of searching for Coal )
at Fort Rupert ) 12469. 4. 7
___________
£46524.11. 6

The first two items (assuming the details to be properly vouched) were at once admitted—but respecting the third a correspondence ensued which ended in an Agreement to divide itManuscript image equally between the Government and the Company. The account therefore at the commencement of last year stood, as far as it had been rendered, as follows.

Claims admitted by the Government )
(£8505.6.11 + 25550) ) £34055. 6.11
Half expense of Fort Rupert 6234.12. 3
___________
£40289.19. 2

subject, however, to the completion to the end of the year of the Vancouvers Island Trust Account. That Account had nominally been furnished to 31st Decr 1857, but the subsidiary accounts from theManuscript image Colony had really been made up only to October 1856. But it was stated in a note that the receipts & disbursements from that date to October 1857 would probably reduce the balance against the Crown by about £600, leaving that balance therefore, in October 1857 somewhat under £8000. Under these circumstances, considering the extent of the Land sales in the last two years and the high prices which had been obtained, it was anticipated that the completion of the account would still furtherManuscript image reduce the balance against the Crown, even if it did not throw it on the other side. The sum, therefore, paid to the Company on account last year was limited to £25000.
4. The volume now before me brings up the Accounts between the Company and the Crown to 31st December last, but with a different result from what had been expected. Instead of showing a balance against the Crown after giving credit for the above £25000 of about £15000 the Company make out a balanceManuscript image due to them of £53,569.14.2. The excess, therefore, is upwards of £38000 or after giving credit for £24000 of outstanding land claims, upwards of £14000 upon accounts which profess to extend only over an additional 3 years. I proceed to explain as far as I am able to do so, in what manner this large excess is created.
5. First a sum of £15.123.19.3 is charged for services & expenditure of various descriptions extending generally from 1851 & 1853 to May 1859. Among these charges theManuscript image principal are:


For the Salary of the Secretary )
to the Governor & Treasurer ) £ 1600.—.—
Maintenance of the Governor 2062.10.—
Government Office Messenger 600.—.—
Powder and Arms &c 825.—.—
Medical attendance & Medicines 1200.—.—
Maintenance of Clergyman 687.10.—
Maintenance of Chief Justice )
and Clerks ) 3128. 2. 7
Services of Steamer "Otter" as )
a Guard Ship ) 4000.—.—
___________
£14103. 2. 7

Now of these charges, which being either in the nature of Salaries or of estimated expenditure are spread equally over the whole periods forManuscript image which they are respectively charged, three fourths had been incurred before the 31st Decr 1857 to which date
Govr [D's?] accounts furnished Feby [illegible] introduced expenditure only to 16 Oct 185[?].
the Companys accounts were furnished in February 1858. There is no explanation of the ground on which they are now brought forward further than the words "per statement received from Alexr G. Dallas Esq dated Janry 1860" appended to them. But if, as may be assumed from their silence, the Company did not consider themselves entitled in February 1858 to make a charge for such services it will be necessary that they should explainManuscript image upon what principle they have now changed their view. Any estimate which H.M. Government may make of their liabilities to the Company must be valueless if the Company are at liberty thus to reopen accounts which have been once sent in
With the qualification "so far as can be ascertained from the present [illegible]."
and admitted, for the purpose of interpolating new charges.
6. Second. Interest on balances is charged to the extent in all of £3279. 6. 5. The principle on which this interest is calculated is not stated, but I conjecture it to be at the rate of 5 percentManuscript image on the mean amount of the balance assumed to be due in each year. Whether this is a customary and correct mode of calculation I am unable to say. But it appears to me very questionable whether the Company is entitled to claim any interest at all.
I doubt there is any.
The delay in settling these accounts arose first from the introduction into them by the Company of inadmissible items—and second from the delay of the company in furnishing complete statements. The only professedly complete account furnished by the Company is thatManuscript image now under consideration which was received at the Colonial office only at the end of March last.
7. Third. Additional sums amounting in the aggregate to £34300 are charged for buildings, Establishments &c. Of this £13641.7.5 would appear from the manner in which it is brought to account in the "Balance Account" to be of the same nature as £6956.15.1 charged in the account to Decr 1857, i.e. to be expenditure on buildings or permanent structures.Manuscript image
Balce on prevs acct from the [Comissionrs?] to 31 Dec/57 [figure illegible] outlay on buildgs &c to 16 Oct/56 [figure illegible] see p 3 of this report.
The items which compose the remaining £20.660. may be found in the "Vancouvers Island Trust Account," and appear to be for Administrative expenses—such as the administration of Justice—the Survey Department—Road making—Militia—Churches & Schools—Gaol—"General expenses" &c. These if properly vouched would appear to be legitimate charges.
But incurred before or since 31 Decbr 1857?
[Followed by additional note in a different hand, one sentence, illegible].
8. Fourth. A sum of £1000 is charged as Cash advanced to the Governor on his Bill.
9. Fifth. The sum of £3490 is charged as Commission on LandManuscript image Sales, and £160 on Royalties at the rate of 10 per cent. At the same time the amount with which the Company debit themselves on account of Land Sales is only £11430. The apparent discrepancy arises from the fact that on the 31st Decr last there was, according to a statement in the Company's account, a sum of £24056.18.4 still outstanding on Land sales effected in October 1858. This amount will of course be hereafter paid to the Crown.
10. These are the principalManuscript image items to which I think it my duty to call the Duke of Newcastle's notice, but I am bound to add that from the manner in which the accounts are made up I cannot feel any confidence in the scrutiny to which we have been able to subject them in this Office. The accounts are divided into (1) a Chief account, (2) a series of Fur Trade Outfit accounts, (3) Forty three subordinate accounts, (4) The Vancouvers Island Trust account, (5) A Stock Account, and (6) a balance account. The items comprized in them appearManuscript image to have been extracted from the Hudsons Bay Companys Books where they formed no doubt a portion of the General and much more extensive accounts of the Company, and they have thus fallen naturally into the form in which they are here presented. But without an acquaintance with the principles on which the Hudsons Bay Company's accounts are kept we cannot do more where doubts arise than guess at the explanation of the entries which we find here. For instance—with a few exceptions all the principalManuscript image charges appear first in the Fur Trade outfit accounts. Among these charges we constantly find the item "supplies" for a specified service—which item is subsequently transferred to its appropriate subordinate account. So far all is clear. But many of these items are afterwards credited to the Comp[an]y partly in the Vancouvers Island Trust Account and partly in Balances. There is no explanation of the reasons for this distribution and we can only, therefore, suppose that part of the supplies were for permanent and part for transitoryManuscript image services, and that they have been charged accordingly. But this is merely a conjecture adopted for want of any other way of explaining the matter. I may add that the amount expended under the term "supplies" or the equally indefinite terms "expenses", "Cash", "outlay" or "sundries" is in the whole upward of £35000.
11. Again the amounts with which the Company debit themselves for Land Sales appear to have been in the first instance carried chiefly to the Fur Trade outfitManuscript image Accounts, but also partly to the Hudsons Bay Company's Accounts and the Land Office account, and whilst a portion of them have been carried through the Land Sales account, a large portion do not appear there at all. I am unable to explain the reasons for these different processes.
12. If then H.M. Government should think it necessary (as I presume they will) to subject these accounts to a careful examination and to require the production of proper vouchers before any furtherManuscript image payments are made to the Company the most satisfactory course would probably be to entrust the duty to the Commissioners of Audit or to a professional Accountant. Whoever is employed must pursue his examination at the Hudson's Bay Co's house, and must depend on the Company's Officers for assistance in performing his Task. A reference to the Company's Books will be constantly necessary, and the Company could not of course be expected to trust them out of their own custody, but they wouldManuscript image probably not object to allow any person commissioned by the Government such access to them as may be necessary.
13. That such an examination can, however, be speedily executed or can fail to give rise to a multiplicity of questions it would be too much to expect. The largeness of the terms in which the grant of Janry 1849 is couched leaves a wide field for discussion as to the principles by which the Company's claims are to be governed. It may under these circumstances be worth consideringManuscript image whether it might not be easier and more convenient to settle the questions between the Crown & the Company by a reference to Arbitration rather than by attempting a strict enforcement of the terms of the grant of Janry 1849. In considering that question it will be desirable to bear in mind the manner in which the amount to be repaid by the Crown on the resumption of the Island is described in that grant.
"of the sum or sums of money theretofore laid out and expended by them in and upon the said Island and premises and of the value of their establishments property and effects then being thereon".
I have etc.
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
ABd 30 May
Mr Fortescue
(N.B. The Vol. of Accounts is retained [in the division?] upstairs.
TFE 30/5
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
"Vancouver Island Public Accounts 1857-60," (70 pages). Constitutes the whole of CO 305/16.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Fortescue to H.H. Berens, Hudson's Bay Company, 24 June 1861, asking for explanations on certain points in the latest accounts submitted by the company, and advising that an accountant would be appointed to examine them, with the company's permission.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Duke of Newcastle
Mr Murdoch has prepared this draft for your consideration at my request.
This is the right step to take in the first instance on Mr M's Report of 25th May, but I fear there will be a long delay in coming to any understanding with the H.B.Cy on these accounts.
N
Murdoch, Thomas William Clinton to Elliot, Thomas Frederick 25 May 1861, CO 305:18, no. 4745, 152. 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/V615LN05.html.

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