No. 14
14 March 1862
I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of Your Despatch No 72 of the 9th of October last, transmitting copy of a letter addressed to your Grace by Mr John Irving applyingtoManuscript image to be allowed to relinquish certain Lands purchased by him in Vancouver Island prior to the reduction of the price of Crown Lands from £1 to 4s/2d per acre; and to have a deposit of £50 paid on such purchase, refunded to him.
2. Cases similar to Mr Irving's have already occurred in the Colony, and in dealing with them it has been made a rule to refuse to purchasers of Crown Land the option of Cancelling purchases actually completed, for the veryreasonsManuscript image reasons so forcibly stated in your Grace's Despatch, Vizt that such a proceeding would unsettle the whole Land transactions of the Colony, and might involve the Colonial Government in liabilities beyond its power to meet.
3. The alternative suggested by your Grace was also considered, Vizt to permit purchasers to select Land at £1 an acre to the extent of the deposit money, and to relieve them from the rest of their ContractbutManuscript image but after examination this was found impracticable from the very varied character of the land: one portion of a section or group being worth considerably more than the original price, while the rest would be worth considerably less: so that the practical effect of permitting purchasers to select land according to the value of their deposits, would probably have been to place the Government in the position of being unable to sell the abandonedlandManuscript image land at any price whatever, and consequently of sustaining a loss of Sixteen Shillings an acre on the land retained.
Again, had such a privilege been granted to those who had not fulfilled their Contract on the ground of the general price of Land being lowered, how could the Government have met the application of those who had completed their Contract by paying in full, and who desired to abandon the sections of inferior land they originallypurchasedManuscript image purchased.
4. The amount of instalments unpaid upon land had increased to such an extent that it became absolutely necessary, at the close of last year, to adopt some stringent measures either to compel the purchasers to complete their contract, or to deprive them of their speculative holding of the Land. After due notice, a forfeiture of land on which instalments were overdue, was declared; and all that was not in the occupation of actualsettlersManuscript image settlers was resold at public auction. The land of Mr Irving fell within the category and would have been sold but for the arrival of your Grace's Despatch now under reply.
5. Under these circumstances I cannot recommend that any exception should be made in the case of Mr Irving: but I shall carefully abstain from taking any action in the matter until I receive Your Grace's instructions with respect thereto.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
Land Bd.
ABd 9 July
Draft.
TFE 9 July
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to Emigration Commissioners, 12 July 1862, forwarding copy of the despatch and requesting their suggestions and observations on the subject.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 14 March 1862, CO 305:19, no. 6709, 91. 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/V62014.html.

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