Walcott to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
3 October 1861
I have to acknowledge your Letter of the 27th ultimo enclosing an application from Mr John Irving to be allowed to give up certain lands which he had purchased in Van Couvers Island and to receive back the deposit he had paid for them.
2. It appears that in December 1859 Mr Irving appliedtoManuscript image to purchase 200 acres in the North Saanich district at the then upset price of £1 an acre and obtained an allotment of 159 acres, on account of which he paid down £50. Subsequently, at the instance of the House of Assembly and Legislative Council, the price of Government Country lands was (in February 1861) reduced to 4s/2d an acre.
3. Mr Irving pleads that this measure operates to the detriment of purchasers at £1 an acre, and claims that the Government shouldrestoreManuscript image restore the £50 he has paid, and resume the land.
4. It is plain that the reduction in the price of land must injuriously affect the previous purchasers—nevertheless I do not see how this claim can be admitted without establishing a principle and a precedent of a wide application and pregnant with consequences injurious to the public interests. If the application be granted others could not be refused. The whole land transactions of the Colony would thus become unsettled andtheManuscript image the Colonial Government might be involved in liabilities beyond its ability to meet.
5. In all dealings of this kind the purchaser, as it appears to me, must be held to take the land under the circumstances of the moment, and subject to the contingencies and implied conditions legitimately attaching to it. One of these contingencies obviously is (especially in a new Country) the liability to such changes in the land granting system as the general welfare of the Colony may demand.
6. Had the change in questiontakenManuscript image taken an opposite direction Mr Irving would not have felt called on to tender and would doubtless have resisted any claim for payment of the increased price.
7. All, I think, that could properly be conceded to Mr Irving is to allow him to select 50 acres of his allotment for the £50 he has actually paid, and to relieve him from his liability to complete the rest of his contract.
I have etc.
S. Walcott
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
It would be advisable to consult the Governor before adopting the decision on Mr Irving's application suggested in this Report? There are doubtless many purchasers of land in the Colony in the same position as this Gentleman and all the cases should be treated alike?
Send, therefore, a copy of Mr I's letter to the Governor for report (expressing the views of this Report as to what it would beManuscript image proper to concede) and inform Mr Irving that this has been done?
HT Irving 4 Oct
Yes. I think however that Govt could not possibly require Mr I. to complete his contract. Draft.
FR 4/10
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to John Irving, 10 October 1861, advising his application had been referred to Douglas for comment and that a decision would be made following receipt of the governor's report.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 72, 9 October 1861, forwarding a summary of Irving's complaint as well as Walcott's recommendation, and asking for Douglas's opinion.