Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
10 August 1861
I have to acknowledge your letter of 7th inst enclosing two letters from the Hudson's Bay Co on the subject of the appropriation to Ecclesiastical purposes connected with the Church of England of a certain portion of the Land in the Town of Victoria which the Company claim as their private property.
2. It appears that in 1854 the Hudsons Bay Co made an Agreement with Mr E. Cridge toManuscript image proceed to Vancouvers Island as Chaplain and one part of the inducement held out to him was the grant of a Parsonage and Glebe. At the same time the Company undertook the erection of a Church and the Establishment of a Cemetery. The Land appropriated to these several purposes appears to be known as the "Church Reserve".
3. Mr Cridge's engagement with the Company was for 5 years, and expired, therefore, in 1859—and the Local Legislature have declined to renew the salary granted to him by the Company.Manuscript image He now applies to the Company to carry out their original intention by granting a conveyance of the Land on which the Church is built and the Cemetery established, that they may be consecrated—and of that set apart for his parsonage and glebe, that he may be able to derive some income from letting the latter. The Company express their willingness to comply with this application but desire before doing so to obtain the sanction of H.M. Government. And in submitting the question to the Duke of Newcastle Mr Berens points out the difficulty which might be created by conveying to theManuscript image Church of England exclusively the cemetery which has hitherto been used indifferently by all Communities of Christians.
4. In respect to the site on which the Church has been built there could I think be no question of the propriety of granting a formal conveyance of it to Trustees so as to allow of its being properly consecrated. Such a grant ought to create no jealousy in other religious denominations, as the Government would of course be equally ready to grant Land for the erection of their places of worship also, whenever applied to for the purpose. As regardsManuscript image the Cemetery on the other hand it would certainly be unadvisable to make such a conveyance of it as would imply its exclusive appropriation to the Church of England. It ought of course to be set apart in perpetuity for the purpose to which it is now devoted and with that view it should be conveyed to Trustees. But those Trustees should not be, as in the case of the Church Site, exclusively connected with the Church of England, nor should anything be done which would have the appearance of excluding persons of other communities from the use of it. Whether underManuscript image such an arrangement the Bishop might be expected to consecrate the ground, or that portion of it set apart for Members of the Church of England, I am not sufficiently acquainted with such matters to know. The interment of persons of different Churches and with different rites in the same Cemeteries in this country is not uncommon. Upon this point, however, the Duke of Newcastle will probably think it desirable to consult some Eccliastical authority.
5. The question in respect to the Parsonage and Glebe is moreManuscript image open to doubt. If it were now raised for the first time it would perhaps be inexpedient to take any step which would have the appearance of granting an endowment to the Church of England which is not granted to other Churches, or of connecting the Government of the Colony with any particular Community. But as the Land had been originally set aside by the Company for the Church of England, and as Mr Cridge had been induced to go out partly on the promise of obtaining the advantage of it, I should not hesitate under ordinary circumstancesManuscript imagecircumstances to recommend that Her Majesty's Government should authorize the Company to carry into effect their original intention in the matter. But I observe that in his despatch of 7th May last No 34 Governor Douglas advises Her Majesty's Government "not to move in the question at present, because their interference could not forward the object in view and would give rise to dissatisfaction whatever course may be taken." In the face of this decided opposition from the person most capable of forming a correct judgment it would not be advisable to take any immediateManuscript image action in the matter, and I can only, therefore, suggest that the letter from the Governor of the Hudsons Bay Co should be communicated to Governor Douglas, with a request that he will report more fully on the question. It would perhaps assist the Governor in framing his report if he were informed generally of the view which may be taken by the Duke of Newcastle, and of the points to which consequently His Grace would desire to direct his special attention.
6. The question of the Trustees to whom the several plots of LandManuscript image should respectively be conveyed may properly be left for the decision of the Governor in consultation with the Bishop—but of course in whatever is done care should be taken not to prejudice the legal title of the Crown to the Land in question, as part of the Land now in dispute between the Crown and the Hudsons Bay Company.
I have etc.
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Sir F. Rogers
Forward these papers to the Govr for report—vide the suggestion at the end of paragraph 4 respecting the question of consulting some ecclesiastical authority on the consecration of the Cemetery. I suppose that the draft to theManuscript image Governor on 34/6109 may now be sent with the alterations made in the last paragraph.
EB Pennell 12-8-61
Duke of Newcastle
I should not, I think consult any ecclesiastical authority as to the cemetery. The burial question is not a question of Ecclesiastical law, but of feeling and fairness. Adopting in the main Mr Murdoch's view I wd transmit to the Govr the H.B.C. letter. I wd say that Your Grace considered that the site of the Church ought clearly to be conveyed to such Trustees for the Church of England as the Govr & Bp may agree upon—that Y.G. saw no objection to a similar conveyance to Trustees of the Parsonage & Glebe for the use of the Incumbent, if local circumstances presented no obstacle to that course, and if care was taken that the conveyance was so made as not to prejudice the pending questions betn the H.B.C. & H.M.G. respecting the ownership of the land in Victoria.Manuscript image But that the cemetery shd on no account be so disposed of as to interfere with the burial therein of persons of all rels persuasions.
That at the same time, if the members of the Ch of E. desired a part of that cemetery to be consecreted & appropriated to the use of their communion Y.G. saw no objection to a conveyance of part of it to Trustees for this purpose.
That a copy of this dph wd be sent to the H.B.C. with a suggestion that they shd give such instructions or authority to their agents as wd render it practicable with the Govrs concurrence to take this course.
and a copy shd be sent accordingly to the HBC. (Vide Mr Fortescue's minute.)
FR 12/8
This is I believe the course that was taken in a somewhat similar case in the Falklands, & seems right.
N 13
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Rogers to H.H. Berens, Hudson's Bay Company, 20 August 1861, enclosing a despatch to Douglas containing recommendations regarding the disposition of church land in the colony, and asking the company to instruct their agents to "adopt the course which the Duke of Newcastle has pointed out."