The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume II

       [22 May,


p. 496                                           C

No. 116.




ADM. SEC. OUT LETTERS.    VOL. 99, pp. 408-428.
By &c.    

    Whereas we have appointed you Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Ships & Vessels employ'd and to be employed at and about the Island of Newfoundland the Islands of Madelaine & Anticosti and upon the Coast of Labrador from the River St John to the entrance of Hudsons Straits and intend that the Ships & Vessels named in the annexed List, whose Commanders are directed to obey your Orders, shall be employed for the protection of the Fisheries carried on by His Majestys Subjects within those Limits during the ensuing Season; You are hereby required & directed to take the said Ships & Vessels under your command, and hoisting your Flag on board the Romney on her arrival at Spithead, proceed with her & such of the others as may be ready to accompany you, without loss of time, to Newfoundland, leaving Orders for the rest to follow you as soon as possible.

    You are to call off the several Ports named in the Margin, in your way down Channel for any fishing Ships or Vessels bound to Newfoundland, which may be ready & whose Masters may be willing to accompany you, and having seen them as near to the Coast as may be necessary for their security You are to proceed in such manner as you shall judge best for carrying into execution the following Instructions.

    Whereas, you have received His Majesty's Commission appointing you Governor & Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland and of the Islands of Madelaine in the Gulph of St Lawrence, and of all the Forts & Garrisons erected & established in the said Islands, And also His Majesty's Instructions for your Government therein you are to take particular care to act in all respects conformable to what is required by the said Commission & Instructions, and any other Instructions you may receive from His Majesty relating to the aforesaid Island of Newfoundland or any other Parts within the limits of your command, taking care to prevent all illegal Trade during your continuance on that Station, and also to secure

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& protect the Fisheries & Coasts from Piratical Ships or Vessels which you are to use your utmost endeavours to take or destroy.

    You are, agreable to an Act of Parliament of the l0th & 11th years of King William the 3d, entitled "An Act to encourage the Trade to Newfoundland" (which you will receive herewith) to be aiding & assisting to the Admirals—Vice Admirals & Rear Admirals of the respective Ports and Harbours of Newfoundland from time to time as need shall require, in preserving the peace and good Government among the Seamen & Fishermen and in apprehending Offenders.

    You are to be careful that there be not taken into the Ships under your command, to be transported to Newfoundland any Seamen, or others than such as do belong to them; And as you are not to lend any of the Ships Companies to any of the Fishing Ships so neither are you to suffer to be taken on board them any sort of Fish, either by way of Merchandize Freight, or otherwise excepting what shall be necessary for the use & spending of the Ships Companies.

    And Whereas the Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations have represented to Us, that it is very prejudicial to this Kingdom that the Fishing Ships do not bring home from Newfoundland the Complement of Men they carry out, many of them being enticed away to New England and. others left in the Country, and, for that reason, have desired We would give you directions to signify to the Masters of all British Ships at Newfoundland that they take care to bring home the number of Men they carry out (except in case of Death) for that otherwise they will be prosecuted at their return; You are to let the Masters know the same accordingly and to use your best endeavours to oblige them thereto, as far as in you lies.

    And Whereas no Foreign Ships or Vessels whatever (except as is herein after excepted) have any right to Fish at, or about Newfoundland, and the Commanders of the Ships of War bound as Convoy thither have at all times past, been directed not to allow of their Fishing in those parts, it is therefore His Majestys Pleasure, that you take especial care to prevent the same, and that his Orders given herein be strictly complied with; And if you shall meet with any Foreign Ships fishing at or about Newfoundland you are to oblige them to desist, & depart from off the Coast, excepting Ships & Vessels belonging to the Subjects of His Most Christian Majesty fishing agreeably to the 13th Article of the Treaty of Peace concluded with France at Utrecht in the year 1713, and to the 4th 5th & 6th Articles of the Treaty of Peace concluded at Paris the 10th Day of February 1763, Copies of which you will receive herewith.

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    And Whereas, by the said Articles of the Treaty at Paris, it is stipulated that the province of Canada with all its dependencies as well as the Island of Cape Breton & all the other Islands & Coasts in the Gulph & River St Lawrence and all that depends upon them shall belong to the Crown of Great Britain, but that the Subjects of France shall have the liberty of catching and drying their Fish upon a part of the Coast of Newfoundland only, to wit, from Cape Bona Vista to the Northward and as far as Pointe Riche but not to remain there beyond the time necessary for that purpose agreable to the said 13th Article of the Treaty of Utrecht by which the property of the whole Island of Newfoundland is ceded to Great Britain, And His Majesty has by the said 5th Article of the Treaty of Paris consented to leave to the Subjects of the most Christian King the liberty of fishing in the Gulph of St Lawrence, upon condition that they do not exercise the said Fishery but at the distance of three Leagues from all the Coasts belonging to Great Britain as well those of the Continent as those of the Islands situated in the Gulph of St Lawrence; and as to the Fishery out of the said Gulph, it is thereby stipulated that the Subjects of the most Christian King shall not be permitted to exercise the said Fishery, but at the distance of Fifteen leagues from the Coasts of the Island of Cape Breton; And that the Fishery upon the Coasts of Nova Scotia or Acadia, and every where else out the said Gulph, shall remain upon the footing of former Treaties; You are therefore to use your utmost care, diligence & attention, that the several stipulations herein beforementioned and referr'd to, be duly & strictly performed according to the Tenor & intention thereof, as far as they shall come within the limits of your command; And Whereas, in consequence of a dispute which had arrisen concerning the Claims of the Subjects of France to have a concurrent Fishery in the Harbour of Bona Vista, the Earl of Dartmouth one of His Majestys Principal Secretaries of State did, by his Letter of the 2d Septr 1772 acquaint Commo Shuldham that it being the opinion of all His Majestys Confidential Servants that the Subjects of France had an indisputable right to a concurrent Fishery in the Harbour of Bona Vista it was His Majestys Pleasure that he did not dispute that point, and that the Subjects of France be permitted to carry on a concurrent Fishery in that Harbour, in like manner & under the same regulations as had been established in regard to the other Ports & Harbours of Newfoundland which are situated between Cape Bona Vista & Pointe Riche; We signify the same for your information & guidance in order that you may take particular care that His Majestys pleasure in regard to the French Subjects fishing in the said Harbour, be strictly & punctually complied with.

    You are to settle and guard the Fishery not only at Placentia & St Johns but as far to the Northward upon the Coasts of Newfoundland & upon those of the Continent of Labrador as your command extends; And to

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exert your best endeavours to encourage & support the Whale Fishery in the Straits of Belle Isle, the Cod Fishery in York Harbour and on the other parts of the Coast of the abovementioned Continent, as also the Seal, Sea Cow & Salmon Fisheries on the said Coast; And to hinder any Trade or intercourse being carried on by any Persons whatsoever other than the Subjects of Great Britain with the Inhabitants of that Country which of right belongs solely to His Majesty: And whereas the Coast of Labrador and the Islands adjacent have, by a late Act of Parliament been re-annexed to the Province of Quebec, And His Majesty hath by His Instructions to the Governor of that Province dated the 3d of January last signified to him, that the Fisheries on the said Coast & Islands are objects of the greatest importance, not only on account of the Commodities they produce but also as Nurseries of Seamen upon whom the strength & security of His Kingdom's depend: That Justice & Clemency demand, that the real & actual property of the Canadian Subjects on that Coast (whose Claims however extend but to a small district on the greatest part of which a Cod Fishery is stated to be impracticable) should be preserved intirely[sic] and that they should not be molested or hindered in the exercise of any sedentary Fisheries they may have established there: And that on all such parts of the Coast where there are no Canadian Possessions and more especially where a valuable Cod Fishery may be carried on, it will be his Duty to make the Interest of the British Subjects going out to Fish there in Ships fitted out from Great Britain the first object of his care and as far as circumstances will admit to establish on that Coast the regulations in favor of British Fishing Ships which have been so wisely adopted by the beforementioned Act of the 10th, & 11th of Kg William the 3d; And that he is on no account to allow any possession to be taken or sedentary Fisheries to be established on any part of the Coast that are not already private property by any Persons whatsoever except only such as shall produce Annually a Certificate of their having fitted out from some Port in Great Britain; You are therefore, in pursuance of His Majestys pleasure signified to Us by Ld Dartmouth in his Letter of the 28th of last Month, to make those Fisheries particular objects of your attention & enquiry; Affording them every reasonable & necessary protection, and transmitting to Us, in order to be communicated to his Lordship for His Majestys information, the fullest report of the State & Condition & progress thereof.

    And Whereas the Society of Unitas Fratrum urged by a laudable Zeal for promoting Christianity, have already, under His Majestys protection and with his permission formed establishments in the Northern parts of the Coast of Labrador for the purposes of civilizing the Savages & converting them to the Christian Religion, in which their success has been answerable to their Zeal; And His Majesty hath signified His express Will & Pleasure to the Governor of Quebec, that he do give them every countenance & assistance in his power and not allow any Establishment to be made but with their consent, within the limits of their possessions; You are, in pursuance of His Majts further pleasure signified to Us as aforesaid, to give

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such support & protection to the establishment of the said Society as shall correspond with His Majesty's most gracious intentions to them.

    You are to protect the Fisheries carried on by His Majestys Subject in the Gulph of St Lawrence near the Islands of Madelaine &cª, And to take particular care of the Sea Cow Fisheries which have been, or may be established on the said Islands by His Majestys Subjects, be not disturbed by the Crews of any North American Ships or Vessels, or others destroying those Animals in the Water or by any means detering them from the usual places of landing; And to dispose of some of the Ships or Vessels under your command in such manner as shall best serve for that purpose without prejudice to the more material Parts of the important Services committed to your care.

    You are to take care to prevent the Subjects of France from giving those of His Majesty employed in carrying on the abovementioned Fisheries any disturbance by Acts of Violence or injustice or by any evasion contrary to the Spirrit & intention of the said Treaties and the provisions contained in the abovementioned Statute of the l0th & 11th of William the 3d and also to prevent the French from catching or drying Fish except within the limits & distances & in the manner beforementioned You are at the same time, to be careful that the Subjects of His Most Christian Majesty may not be interrupted in their Fishery as stipulated by, or to be exercised pursuant to, the Treaties of Utrecht & Paris before mentioned, or in their drying their Fish upon the Coast of Newfoundland, or in fishing or drying their Fish in the Harbour of Bona Vista according to the said Treaties; and you are to use your best endeavours to prevent His Majestys Subjects from giving them any disturbance in their said Fishery, or in drying their Fish as aforesaid, by any Acts of Violence or Injustice or by any evasion contrary to the Spirrit & intention of the said Treaties; And

    Whereas great Complaints were made by the Court of France that several Acts of Violence were committed in the Year 1763 on the French Fishermen at Newfoundland by the Commanders of His Majts Ship stationed on that Coast in burning their Boats & driving them off the Coast before the Season for fishing and drying their Fish was expired whereby the Fishery of the Subjects of France with those of Great Britain was greatly interrupted; And Whereas it is the firm intention of the King to maintain, with the utmost justice probity & good Faith, as well the Subjects of France as those of His own Dominions, in the enjoyment of that Fishery which is allowed them in common with His Majts own Subjects upon the Coast of Newfoundland between Cape Bona Vista & Pointe Riche & else where within the distances prescribed by the Treaties of Utrecht & Paris beforementioned; You are hereby positively enjoined, in pursuance of His Majts express Commands signified to Us for that purpose, to abstain and to use your



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