Wood to Newcastle
Victoria Vancouver Island
April 5 1864
My Lord
I beg to apply to your Grace for the appointment of Judge to the Colony of Vancouver Island, now shortly to be vacant on the retirement of his Honor Mr Cameron the present Chief Justice. I have had the honor to furnish to the Colonial Office testimonials in my favor on the occasion of my applying for a judgeship at Port Natal in the summer of 1861 an appointment then erroneously supposed to be vacant copies of which I understand to have been taken, & to which I beg now to refer.
I have practised my profession in this ColonyManuscript image for more than a year, and I believe I may challenge any enquiries you may be pleased to make that I have conducted myself with ability, & shewn myself possessed of professional knowledge fully adequate to the administration of Justice here or elsewhere in her Majesty's Colonies—and thus I have maintained to the utmost of my power the character & honor of my profession. I left England to practice in the Colonies fully relying on what I understood to be the practice of the Colonial Office not to make appointments of Judges at home, unless convinced from the advice of the Governor of a Colony, that there was no one in that Colony qualified to occupy the position of Judge.
I am aware that there is a resolution of the House of Assembly of this Colony to the effect that a retiring pension to the present Chief Justice of this Colony would not be given unless his successor be appointed from home thereby implying that in their judgment for some reason or another, noManuscript image barrister in this Colony is eligible for the honor. I believe I am entirely justified in saying that this resolution of the House of Assembly was not founded in any conviction of my own personal unfitness for the office, but upon a conviction of what was supposed to be advisable for the general interests of the Colony.
I need hardly say that on general grounds, the passing over barristers of conduct and character without grave grounds of disqualification acts as a direct injury to the Colony, in depriving it of the adherence of an honorable & efficient bar, & tends to lower & degrade the tone of the profession, and I think your Grace will be convinced that there is no state of circumstances obtaining in this Colony, which should prevent a man of firmness & integrity, apart from questions of personal qualification, from doing his duty as a judge.
I respectfully ask your Grace not lightly to consider the privilege of the Crown in appointing Judges in accordance with sound and established Colonial principle & practice, and I furtherManuscript image entreat your Grace not to expose those now practicing at the bar of this Colony, to the humiliation which each and all of us must feel at the entire bar being passed over as unfit for the bench. A slur which must pursue us in whatever Colony or place we may hereafter practice our profession.
I am your Grace's obedient
and humble servant
Thomas Lett Wood

To His Grace the Duke of Newcastle K.G.
One of Her Majestys Principal Secretary of State
for the Colonies &c
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Private Secy
See 4049.
Whatever may be the fitness of the writer for the Office a general ansr to his request is, at present, the only one, which ought, I think, to be returned.
ABd 30 May
Sir F. Rogers
I pass this through your hands. I have little doubt that you will think (as the Colonial Assembly does) that the next Chief Justice had better be sent out from home.
TFE 30/5
Or at least not from the Colony itself.
I annex a note from Mr Lindsay M.P. who is a friend of Mr Wood.
CF 2 June
Ansd 18 June that a record has been made of his application.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
W. Lindsay to Fortescue, 31 May 1864, acknowledging his note and promoting the application of Wood while questioning the policy which would appoint a man from home when past custom has been to promote someone from within the colony.
Minutes by CO staff
I did not, of course, state this in general terms. I spoke of V. Id
itself.
Wood, Thomas Lett to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 5 April 1864, CO 305:24, no. 5017, 302. 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/V646W01.html.

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