The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume XII


9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Finlay.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

9 Nov., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Finlay.

Sir John Simon.

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to observe to your Majesty that the Draught of Instructions does not extend to the islands of Cape Breton or St. John's "—St. John's is Prince Edward Island in this connection—" or to any part of the coasts of Acadia, Canada or Labradore ; For those Islands and that tract of country "—you will observe that the coast of Labrador is regarded as a tract of country—" having never been included within the limits of the Commission of the Governor of Newfoundland, to which we are confined by the words of the last reference made to us by your Majesty's Secretary of State, We have not thought ourselves at liberty to extend our consideration beyond the words of the Reference itself."
That, therefore, is what happened on the 21st March. On the 23rd March, in Volume VIII, at page 4110, following the strictest chronology, you come to the next document, and, of course, we see now the full significance of it. I have always observed that it came immediately before the operative draft of the Commission, but I had never appreciated until these documents were supplied that this really indicated a prospective change of policy. Down to this moment what Lord Egremont has got is a draft which is simply going to give the Government of Newfoundland what he had before, with a few frillings. Lord Egremont is beginning to think in his own mind : " Well, I am very much disposed to think that the Governor of Newfoundland ought to have this tract of Labrador." He then says to himself : " But if I am going to give the Governor of Newfoundland a tract of Labrador I must be careful that I do not impinge upon the Hudson's Bay Company." So on the 23rd March, 1763, it appears that Mr. Rivers had written a letter, which is here acknowledged, signifying Lord Egremont's desire to know as soon as possible what are the limits upon the coast between Hudson Bay and the coast of Labrador. If he had been examining some of these maps with a Grimington line on it he may very well have wanted to know, because, of course, he had to be careful that he did not overlap territory which the Government never had touched. That is the real significance of that. Then having presumably had his interview, which was apparently by word of mouth (there is no record of it), on the next day, March the 24th, in Volume II, at page 389, you get the communication to the Lords of Trade, who were the draftsmen in this business, of the change of policy ; and this is the first moment in any document where you can find the record of an executive intention to include what has been called the tract of Labrador in the territorial area of Newfoundland. Lord Egremont has had his interview the day before and he has thought it over ; so now you see he is describing a quite different plan, which involves changing the instructions. " The King having judged it proper, that all the Coast of Labradore, from the Entrance of Hudson's Stieights." Where did he get those words from ? He got those words, of course, from the interview with the Hudson Bay Company the day before. " To the River of St. John's, which discharges itself into the Sea, nearly opposite to the West End of the Island of Anticosti." If

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you imagine Lord Egremont looking at that map now on the screen, which is probably the most authoritative map at the moment, you can see it ; the River St. John, nearly opposite the west end of the Island of Anticosti--

The LORD CHANCELLOR : The interview was not the day before ; it was that morning.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I am obliged to your Lordship ; it was the same day. ”Including that Island, with any other small Islands on the said Coast of Labradore, and also the Islands of Madelaine in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, should be included in the Government of Newfoundland—that is the significant thing—”I am commanded to signify His Majesty's pleasure to your Lordships, that you do forthwith prepare to be laid before the King for His Royal Approbation the Draught of a New Commission for Capt. Thomas Graves, to be Governor of the Island of Newfoundland, & of the Coast of Labradore.“ As I said yesterday, the quality of the jurisdiction is exactly the same in both cases—" with the several Islands as above described : And I herewith return to your Lordships the Draught of Instructions for the Governor of Newfoundland, transmitted in your Report of the 21st Instant (which the King entirely approves) in order that your Lordships may make such Additions to the same as you shall judge expedient, & necessary, to render Them conformable to the new Commission above-mentioned."
These people did certainly work at it ; on the next day, March the 25th, you will find in my bundle of new Documents No. 13, the Report of the Lords of Trade sending the new document to the Privy Council. What they are doing is this. It is the 25th March, 1763 : "In obedience to your Majesty's commands, signified to us by the Earl of Egremont, one of your Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, in his letter of the 24th instant, we have prepared, and beg leave humbly to lay before your Majesty, the Draught of a Commission, appointing Thomas Graves Esqr. to be Governor and Commander in Chief of the Island of Newfoundland and all the coast of Labradore from the entrance of Hudson's Streights to the River St. Johns," and so forth. That is the explanation of the new Commission, and your Lordships remember that Mr. Barrington-Ward marked out yesterday for me what the alterations were.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : There seem to have been some midnight conferences.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I cannot help thinking that my temptation to envy the ease and leisure of the Eighteenth Century has been perhaps a days later, in Volume II, at page 390, after more midnight conferences —because it was a much longer document—in four more days or nights they have concocted the new instructions which your Lordships little misplaced. They were working very hard at this. Then four remember was a horrible affair of 80 or 90 paragraphs, some of which I

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rather relied upon in what I said to your Lordships yesterday. So they are saying : ”In obedience to your Majesty's commands, signified to us by the Earl of Egremont, one of your Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, in his letter of the 24th instant, we have prepared, and beg leave humbly to lay before your Majesty, the Draught of a Commission, appointing Thomas Graves Esqr. to be Governor and Commander in Chief of the Island of Newfoundland and all the coast of Labradore,“ and so on. That is the way in which the draft turns up and the draft itself' follows, and is a document extending page over page, introducing for the first time the word ”territories“ and introducing the word "rivers" and doing a good many things which your Lordships have already noticed. On the next day (this is a matter I mentioned yesterday, my friend will remember) we have now ascertained there was a meeting of the King in Council, the 30th March.

Viscount FINLAY : Why is that letter of the 24th March reprinted ? I suppose it is merely copied again in this connection ? There is nothing in that.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I am sorry, my Lord. I have not followed what your Lordship is asking.

Viscount FINLAY : This is the same letter which we have of this reprint No. 12. It appears at page 389 of Volume II.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : You made your extract complete.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I am sorry, my Lord ; we ought not to have printed that. I did not mean to print anything which was already printed. That is a slip.

Viscount FINLAY : It does not matter.

Sir JOHN SIMON : It is the same. It is a little difficult in putting them together quite to see what is new and what is old.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I think one is a draft and the other is a letter. This is called a draft in the book.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, I think that is right. At any rate it does not, I think, matter, as my Lords agree. Now see how it goes on, because this is the pinch of the thing. If you turn to document No. 14 of my new documents, there exists in 5the Privy Council Register a Record which shows that on the 30th March there was a meeting of the King in Council, and before the King in Council were brought both the draft Commission and the draft Instructions. The Record is : ”Upon reading at the Board a representation of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations dated the

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17th of this instant, setting forth that, in obedience to his Majesty's Commands signified to him by the Earl of Egremont, one of His Majesty's Principal Secretarys of State, they have prepared the draught of a Commission appointing Thomas Graves Esqre., to be Governor Commander in Chief ofthe Island of Newfoundland and all the Coast of Labradore from the entrance of Hudson's Streights to the River St. John's which discharges itself into the sea nearly opposite the West end of the island of Anticosti, including that island, with any other small islands on the said Coast of Labradore, and also the islands of Madelaines in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, His Majesty this day took the said Representation together with the said draught of a Commission into his royal consideration, and was pleased with the advice of His Privy Council to approve the said draught, and to order“—now this is why I said the operative document of these earlier documents is not the Proclamation— ”and to order, as it is hereby ordered that the Right Honourable the Earl of Egremont, one of His Majesty's Principal Secretarys of State do cause a warrant to be prepared for his Majesty's royal signature in order to pass the said draught of a commission under the Great Seal.“
There is a corresponding record about the instructions. With regard to those two documents I should like, if I may, to make my grateful acknowledgments. They were discovered for me when I made an inquiry in this building about the middle of the case. A gentleman was so kind as to give his attention to it ; he produced an index which they had in this building, of the Orders in Council which had been made, and he was able at once to tell me that at this particular date there would be found in the Record Office the Order in Council—which was found within half an hour.

Lord WARRINGTON : A Commission had to be passed under the Great Seal.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes, my Lord, and in order to be complete you had a Privy Seal, which was the authority for putting the Great Seal on.
Therefore, my Lord, I think this makes good this proposition :that first, there was a change of policy, and secondly, that the 30th March was the date when these two documents and the instructions, outside world, the other the regulation of the powers as between the Sovereign and his servant, were authorised to come into existence. Consequently I venture to think that when my friend, Mr. Macmillan, marching side by side, the one, of course, the authority vis-à-vis the said in reference to page 387 that, there being two alternatives, it was the second alternative, namely, sufficient cruisers stationed with instructions to commanders to seize all French ships, that was adopted, that really was a mistake. That was the original idea, but the idea was abandoned, and I suppose abandoned because the Secretary of State thought : Here was an area which he called a tract, whatever he may

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have meant by it, in which it may be necessary to annex territory to the Government of Newfoundland.

Viscount FINLAY : I think you indicated that you considered that this change of policy was connected with the apprehensions with regard to a very extensive rising of the Indians.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Not this change of policy ; that is an entirely separate matter. In my reply I am going to deal, in a compartment, with that question of what is the Indian country, and in that connection I hope to be able to show your Lordships that it is not the green area.

Viscount FINLAY : It has nothing to do with this?

Sir JOHN SIMON : It has nothing to do with this. This merely shows that there was a change of policy by which it was determined, not as was at first intended, simply to have cruisers, as they called them, which were inspecting or watching this coast or controlling fisheries or preventing the French from coming ; that was the first idea, but that idea was abandoned and instead of that, in the late days of March, under considerable pressure and haste apparently, a completely different scheme was adopted, which involved annexation of territory, whatever " territory " is, to Newfoundland.
Now may I just finish my little Calendar, which I can do now more rapidly, I hope. On April 25th, nearly a month later, the Commission was sealed. That is the date when it passed under the Great Seal. Your Lordships will find that in the first volume. I think myself it was held back because they did not get the Commission until just before the ships were starting. Your Lordships appreciate—it is interesting to remember these things—that Thomas Graves was afterwards a very distinguished man ; I rather think he was Second in Command on the Glorious First of June, and he was a very distinguished man ; you will find all about him in the Dictionary of National Biography. I think he ended with a peerage. The Newfoundland Governorship was only a stage in a very distinguished career. The Commission was sealed on April 25th. The Admiralty instructions were an entirely subordinate thing, and indeed came to him in another character. Y our Lordships have observed that, because, while he is Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Newfoundland, he is also under the directions from the Admiralty, who, as my Lord Haldane said, were disposed to be a very independent body in those days. He has got, really in quite a different character, instructions from the Admiralty, which are not given him as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Newfoundland, but are given to him as Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet on the Newfoundland Station, which is a different thing ; and, indeed, as your Lordships remember, he continues to be that, or his successors do, notwithstanding that later on the territory here is added to Quebec ; it does not make any difference to the Admiralty or the ships of the station at all. That follows on the 2nd May. I think I have seen somewhere—I have forgotton where


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