p. 1039 C
PETITION OF GOVERNOR PALLISER TO
LORDS OF TRADE
IN DEFENCE OF HIS REGULATIONS AND TRANSACTIONS ON COAST
BT. NEWFOUNDLD. VOL. 20.
To the Right Honble The Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
The Humble Petition of Hugh Pallisser Esqr Governor and Commander in Chief of Newfoundland and Coast of Labrador &c. and Commodore of the Convoy appointed for the Fisheries—Sheweth,—
That by the late Treaty of peace concluded on the 10th February 1763 between this Kingdom and France all Canada with its Dependencies was ceded to his Majesty.
That by the Royal proclamation issued on the 7th of October following for Settling the New Government in America His Majesty with the Advice of his privy Council To the End that the open and free Fishery of his Majesty's Subjects might be extended to and carried on upon the Coast of Labradore did think fit to put all that Coast under the Care and Inspection of the Governor of Newfoundland And did declare it to be his royal Will and pleasure that no Governor in his Majesty's three Colonies of Quebec East or West Florida should presume upon any pretence whatsoever to grant Warrants of Survey or pass any patents for Land beyond the Bounds of their respective Governments as described in their Commission And that it was his Majesty's Will and pleasure for the present to reserve under his Sovereignty protection and Dominion all the Lands & Territories, not included within the Limits of the said three new Governments and did strictly forbid all his Subjects from making any Settlements whatsoever or taking possession of any of the Lands so reserved without his Majesty's special Leave and Licence for that purpose first obtained and did enjoin and require all persons who had either wilfully or inadvertently seated themselves upon any Lands within the Countries above described forthwith to remove themselves from such Settlements.
That his Majesty by his Royal Commission under the Great Seal bearing date the 9th day of April in the 4th year of his Reign and in the year of our Lord 1764 was graciously pleased to constitute and appoint your petitioner Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the said Island of Newfoundland and the Coast of Labradore to hold and exercise the said place during his Majesty's pleasure.
His Majesty was further pleased by his Royal Instructions to your petitioner bearing date the 27th day of the same Month of April in the 25th Article thereof to direct him not to allow or encourage any thing to be done contrary to the true Intent and meaning of the Statute of William 3d for regulating the ffishery And in case any thing should happen which might be of Advantage or Security to the said Territories under your petitioner's Government which was not therein or by his said Commission provided for To allow your petitioner to take Order for the present therein Giving to Your Lordships speedy notice thereof to be laid before his Majesty to receive his Ratification thereof if he should approve the same.
That to prevent the Disorders and Confusion which your petitioner had received Information to have arisen during the first year of his Government amongst the Fishers and others in the Northern parts of his Government and particularly on the Coast of Labradore your petitioner did think it necessary to give some Order therein and on the 8th April 1765 did issue a Temporary Regulation Whereby after taking Notice that the property of all the Land on the Coast of Labradore was in the Crown and that since the Conquest thereof no part of it had been lawfully granted away And that it had ever been the policy of the Nation to give to his Majesty's British Subjects (in preferrence* to all others) every Encouragement to carry on the Fishery It was ordered and directed that in Conformity to the Intent and meaning of the said Statute the whole should be publick and free to all the King's British Subjects in preferrence to all others 'till his Majesty's further pleasure should be known A Copy of which Regulation marked (A) is hereunto annexed.
That afterwards in the Course of the said Year 1765, your petitioner being in the Neighbourhood of the French Islands of St Pierre and Miquelon employed in the Execution of his duty for keeping the French within their proper Limits, and for putting a Stop to the Grand plan set on foot by the French for supplyg The British resident Fishers in Newfoundland as well as all the Continent of America with ffrench produce and Manufactures from those Islands and extending the French Fishery beyond their Limits, To the great prejudice of the British Trade and Fishery in those parts, your petitioner discovered it was in part carried on by some smugling Traders residing at Quebec, who for that purpose had under various unwarrantable pretences possessed themselves of, and claimed as private property, all the Lands Rivers and Islands Commodious for the Fishery on the Labradore Coast within the Government of Newfoundland, to the Exclusion of all others from that Coast, from whence they carried on a Clandestine Trade with the said French Islands and with the French Ships in the North part of Newfoundland and even directly with Old France, for introducing into Canada and other parts of his Majesty's plantations all Sorts of French produce and Manufactures—Whereupon your petitioner having made a proper disposition of Cruizers about the said French Islands, proceeded directly to Labradore, where he found the above Informations to be true and met with and took one of the Ships belonging to some of those Settlers coming directly from Bourdeaux with a French Cargo and also found those people to be
meer Settlers, who carried on no Fishery at all, (Except an inconsiderable Seal Fishery in the Winter) yet their pretensions were to exclude all other his Majesty's Subjects, and they gave Sanction to French Fishers pretending to be Canadians, to encroach on that Coast To the great prejudice of the Navigation, Shipping, Marine Strength, Trade and Manufactures of this Kingdom, and farther the Coast was resorted to by such mixt Multitudes of the most disorderly crews composed of the lowest of the people from the plantations, all contending together obstructing fighting and robbing each other, and also plundering and illtreating the poor Natives, all scrambling for exclusive possessions of Lands where none such cou'd be allow'd, and destroying the British Adventurers Works and Effects, insomuch that none from Britain dared to go to that Coast Except three Vessels that went immediately under the protection of the King's Ships, and to this Confusion must be added the Circumstance of 100 French Ships, with near 8000 men in the Adjacent part of Newfoundland who mixing with those people from our Colonies and the Canadians, were always encroaching on our Coast and Fishery and combined with them in every kind of Clandestine Trade and particularly with those from Quebec.
That your petitioner after duly reflecting on this disordered State of things, and consulting his Commission, The Kings Instructions and Royal proclamation, and the said Statute or Act of parliament for regulating the Fisheries (which your petitioner conceived to extend to all parts where the King's Subjects had ever had a right of Fishery in these parts) and the Established Customs and Usages under that Statute, And no distinction being made by your petitioner's Commission and Instructions between any part of the Sea Coast or Lands under your petitioner's Government, Your petitioner concluded that if the Coast of Labradore was not comprehended within the meaning of the Statute aforementioned, but that it should be considered as newly taken from an Enemy at the publick Expence, yet that it was not to be scrambled for and taken possession of by force or Stealth, or partially given away by any person whatsoever (without his Majesty's express Authority) to Individuals, more especially as by his said Majesty's said proclamation Settlements were forbid to be made on the Labradore without a special Licence from the King, and all Settlers were warned to retire therefrom, And your petitioner further concluded that such exclusive possessions as had been taken by the Colonists were an absolute Exclusive of all British Adventurers, and therefore directly contrary and repugnant to the true Intent and meaning of the said Statute, and that as your petitioner was present on the Coast, if he did not immediately remove them according to the directions in the King's proclamation, it might be construed into a Confirmation by your petitioner of their pretensions, and been deemed a Neglect or Breach of his duty laid upon him by the King's Commission and Instructions.
At the same time your petitioner has been informed that Representations have been made to your Lordships of an alledged necessity for Seal Fishers to have exclusive and continued possessions of Tracts of Lands for carrying it on, or otherways that Branch of the Fishery would be lost, And further
that no people but those from Quebec knew how to catch Seals, whereas the long Experience of a far more extensive Seal ffishery carried on in Newfoundland, under the Rules of the aforesaid Act of Parliament which admits of no such propriety possessions there, proves that these are Misrepresentations advanced meerly for introducing Monopolizing projects, to impose on his Majesty's Ministers and to support a most pernicious plan of these Clandestine Traders settled at Quebeck which appears to be to seperate this Branch of the Fishery from the rest, to make it private property and to grant it with the possession of the Coast to the Colonists, and thereby exclude all British Adventurers from the whole Fishery of the Labradore, for wherever such Grants of the Coasts are made no other than the Grantees can carry on any ffishery and shou'd so fatal a Scheme gain Admittance the present System of the Fishery by Ships from Great Britain will be totally at an End.
Upon these Considerations your petitioner conceiving it to be incumbent on him to take Care, not only to give no Sanction to but to prevent any of those people's Schemes so destructive to the British Fishery and Navigation, and at the same time so favourable to the Carrying on Clandestine Trade and to the advantage of France, resolved to take order therein for the present to put a Stop thereto, 'till his Majesty's Commands might be had in future.
It happened that amongst these Settlers were found two men at a place called Cape Charles on the Labradore, the one a Scotchman and the other a Frenchman, who had in behalf of Daniel Bayne and William Brymer Residents at Quebec, taken possession of and held as their property a Tract of about 40 Miles of Sea Coast, with all the Rivers Harbours and Islands adjacent, under a pretended grant from the Military Governor of Quebec at 250 Leagues distance from the place, which was far without the River and Gulph of St Lawrence, and even without the Streights of Belle Isle situated on the Atlantick Ocean, These two men did not nor could indeed use the said large District for the ffishery, (Except taking a few Salmon at the Head of a River) They having neither Ships, Boats, Men, Tackle, Salt, Stages, Flakes or other Necessaries or Materials on the Coast for carrying on the Fishery and having no Vessel by the papers whereof it might appear to whom they belonged, and the few things they had with them appeared to be mostly of French make Especially their Arms of which they had sufficient for a greater Quantity of men and were all French Arms; which Circumstances appeared very suspicious of their being employed by the French, and being questioned about the Natives these men said they were at War with them, and declared they wou'd kill all they could of them.
Notwithstanding such extravagant Claims in direct Opposition to his Majesty's proclamation, and the suspicious Circumstances under which these 2 Men were found, and their own Declarations of being Enemies & Murtherers of the Natives, yet after your petitioner had examined them and explained to them that the Grant under which they claimed was not valid, and being directly contrary to the fishing Statute could not be allowed, and the King's proclamation issued two years before having warned them to withdraw,
your petitioner sent them back to the place and left them there, and they were never afterwards sent for from thence by him.
That afterwards, one of them whose name was William Lead voluntarily quitted the said place with part of the Effects there by reason of the Savages being then come down on the Coast and the Governor of Quebec's Grant being disallowed as aforesaid, And as your petitioner saw the danger these two men were in from a Tribe of 4 or 500 Savages then come upon the Coast and were actually at Cape Charles And the said William Lead having assured your petitioner that he had provided for the Security of the few Effects that then were remaining on the Coast to his own Mind, he having agreed with one Nicholas Darby to take them away for the benefit of the Owners, and who has since repeatedly offered and desired to account with them for the same, Your petitioner at the request of the said Willm Lead (he representing that it would be for the benefit of his Employers that he should proceed directly to Quebec) gave him an Order bearing date the 28th day of August 1765 to quit the Coast of Labrador and take away the Effects or otherwise secure them A copy of which is hereto annexed markt Letter (B).
That the said order has been since construed by them as a (force upon them to abandon what they call their lawful possessions and their Effects, tho' the Moment Your petitioner knew of these two men and of their having Effects at Cape Charles, Your petitioner dispatched with them Officers and Boats manned and armed expressly for protecting them and their Effects from the Savages which was timely done for the Savages were actually then come to Cape Charles, and your petitioner thereby preserved the Effects and Lives of those two Men from the Savages, and afterwards at the said William Lead's desire (he having no Men Boats or Vessels on the Coast) Your petitioner gave directions for the Kings Boats to assist in moving the Effects from Cape Charles according to his own Agreement with Nicholas Darby.
For these good Offices your petitioner expected to have received Thanks from them and their Owners in case it should prove that the said persons and their Effects truly belonged to any British fair Trader, but your petitioner never tho't of being prosecuted for it, yet upon your petitioner's Return to England in 1765 a Complaint was made against him to Your Lordships by the said Daniel Bayne & William Brymer and others, and some Enquiries were made into the same by Your Lordships, but nothing fully concluded therein, tho' before your petitrs Return to Newfoundland in 1766 at an Examination by the Lords of the Privy Council upon sundry matters respecting the said Government, a Minute was made for the Draft of an additional Instruction from his Majesty to Your petitioner respecting the Labradore, but never being carried into Execution Your petitioner was obliged to return to his Government without it, & therefore on Your petitioner's Arrival on the Coast of Labradore that year, he published a Temporary Regulation explaining the Order of the former Year 'till your petitioner should receive further Instructions from his Majesty, A Copy of which Explanatory Regulation is hereunto annexed Marked Letter (C).
In 1767 upon Your petitioner's being returned again to England he was