p. 1021 C
REPRESENTATION OF THE LORDS OF TRADE TO H.M. THE KING
UPON CLAIMS OF INHABITANTS OF QUEBEC TO EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY ON COAST OF LABRADOR
C.O. 42 VOL. 28.
To the King's most Excellent Majesty.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY,—In obedience to Your Majesty's Commands, signified to us by the Earl of Shelburne, one of Your Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, in his Letters of the 31th of March and 28th of April 1767, We have taken into Our Consideration the Petitions of Messrs Cugnet and Tachet, together with several Papers & Documents respecting the Claims and Pretensions, which sundry Inhabitants of Your Majesty's Province of Quebec, and heretofore Subjects of France, set up and exhibit, of Property in, and exclusive Possession of Land and Fishing Posts on the Coast of Labrador in the Gulph of St Lawrence; and being required to report Our Opinion for Your Majesty's Information, touching the Validity of these Claims & Pretensions We beg leave humbly to represent to Your Majesty;
That the Examination of these Claims appearing to us to relate entirely to Matters of Law and Property, which do not come under Our Cognizance, we judged it proper to refer the same to Your Majesty's Attorney and Solicitor General, for their Advice and Opinion upon the Matter, And having now obtained their Report upon the Cases referred, in which Report they have in a full, clear and circumstantial Manner entered into an examination of the said several Claims and Pretensions, we beg leave to annex a Copy of the said Paper to this Our humble Representation, observing at the same time to Your Majesty, that, from such Judgement as We are able to form upon this subject, We do entirely agree with the Arguments and Observations of Your Majest's Attorney and Solicitor General, set forth in the above Report; and are clearly of Opinion, that these Claims standing as they do at present, cannot, in any Judicial Enquiry, be allowed as valid and effectual, and should not therefore prevent Your Majesty from making any such Regulations and Arrangements in the Government and Direction of that Coast and Country, as shall seem adviseable for the general Benefit of these Kingdoms, and the promotion of Navigation and Commerce.
This Point being established, little Difficulty, as we conceive, can occur, whether these Claims, thus deemed inadmissible in point of Law and Justice,
should be allowed upon Principles of Policy and Prudence, The State and Extent of the Coasts and Islands thus claimed, their Situation with respect to the Fisheries carried on in the Gulph of St Lawrence, and the Influence, which such exclusive Property, as is therein set forth, must necessarily have over those Fisheries leave us no room to doubt, but that the Establishment of such private Rights and Possessions would be attended with very prejudicial Consequences. And in this Opinion we are the more confirmed by the Information and Report of Mr Pallisser, Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland, who has attended us on this Business, and represented, that the regranting any part of this Coast or any Branches of the Fisheries there to any particular Person or Persons, will, in his Opinion, not only deter any Adventurers from Britain from carrying on the Fisheries on that Coast, for which, it seems, a great Number of Ships are now fitting out for the ensuing Season, and from which very considerable Advantages are derived to this Country; but that (in addition to this Objection) it is to be apprehended, that all such Posts and Settlements, if granted away, instead of being directed to the Purposes of such Grants, will most probably be applied to the Introduction of illicit Trade and Commerce, and converted into Receptacles for the Merchandize and Manufactures of France.
All which is most humbly submitted.
March 3, 1768.
Endorsed: Representation of the Lords of Trade, to the King, on the Claims of Messrs Cugnet & Tachet, of the Land & Fishing Posts on the Coast of Labraor.