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LORD HILLSBOROUGH'S OBJECTIONS TO THE QUEBEC BILL IN ITS PRESENT FORM.¹
The extention of the boundaries to the North so as to comprehend the Labrador coast his Lordship approves, but has insuperable objections to the extention to the Mississippi and Ohio. His reasons as far as I can recollect them are these. If an extention of the boundaries for the sake of Jurisdiction only over the Inhabitants was intended. There is no occasion for doing it by Act of Parliament as it is in the power of the Crown at present to give such jurisdiction if thought fit. And it is better to do it by the authority of the Crown only, because the jurisdiction so given may be limited & restrained in such manner as to answer all the purposes of Government and to avoid the inconveniencies with which a general extention or annexation will be attended.
But from the Terms in which the extention is made and what is said in the subsequent Clauses his Lordship supposes that it is intended to make Parliament declare that it is right and proper to settle The Territories annexed, for these Lands & Inhabitants are put in exactly the same state as those within the present Limits. An inducement is held out to the Roman Catholick subjects of Quebec and to all other Roman Catholics to remove into these annexed Countries by granting them the French Laws & Customs of Canada and the Free exercise of their Religion.
If this be the case every reason & argument his Lordship had to offer against the Ohio Grant urges him with Tenfold strength to oppose this proceeding.
His Lordship objects to the granting of any Lands in the Province in free & common Soccage & refers to a Report of the Board of Trade for his
¹ Canadian Archives, Dartmouth Papers, M. 385, p. 356. As the accompanying letter will show, these objections of Hillsborough and Carleton to parts of the third draught of the Quebec Bill were stated in their present form by Wm. Knox, the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies. “My Lord In consequence of my having sent Lord Hillsborough a Copy of the Quebec Bill by Your Lordship's Orders, I had a message from his Lordship this morning and lest I should not be able to find your Lordship before dinner I have put down upon the inclosed paper what I collect to be his sentiments respecting the Bill. I have also added what Genl Carleton beggd I would mention from him to your Lordship respecting one Clause. I have ventured to point out such Amendments as would in my opinion render the Bill unexceptionable to both, and without injuring any of your Lordships purposes. I must however acquaint your Lordship that Lord Hillsborough said he had not sufficiently considered all other parts of the Bill having had it only yesterday afternoon, but that if he found anything else to wish alter'd, he would communicate his ideas thro' me to your Lordship as he desired to do those I have stated. Your Lordships very faithful and obedient Servant. Will Knox 30th April 1774.” M 385, p. 270.
reasons for continuing the French mode of Seigneuries as the most fit for the purposes of Government & as corresponding with the whole scope & purpose of the Bill.
These reasons are still more forceable for leaving out intirely the provision for converting Lands held in Seigneurie into Free & common Soccage. His Lordship thinks the Crown ought not to change those Tenures even when the Lands come into the hands of English subjects, much less relinquish all right of continuing them, and vesting a power in the French as well as English possessors to compel the Crown to change them at their pleasure.
General Carleton makes the same objections to these Proviso's as Lord Hillsborough does, and adds with respect to the latter That the French Seigneurs do not now desire to change their Tenures. That they should be sensible of the favour and ask it before it is granted. That even when that comes to be the case The Crown can change the Tenure whenever it is thought fit to do so without this clause and can make a proper discrimination in granting the favour to those only who by their conduct may merit it. That the Tenure by Seigneurie gives the Crown great power over the Seigneur, which power will be done away by changing the Tenure into free & common Soccage. That the Evil disposed Seigneurs will therefore be the first to avail themselves of the permission to change their Tenures in order to get rid of that power and be able to do mischief with less restraint.
The Amendments which will be the consequence of adopting what appears to be the Ideas of Lord Hillsborough are these, To leave out in the Preamble from the words Territory of Canada to the words where sedentary Fisheries, And in the first enacting clause after the words Canada in North America insert as described in the said Proclamation and extending northward to the Southern boundary &c. leaving out the intermediate words Southward to the Banks of the River Ohio, Westward to the banks of the Mississippy.
These amendments will obviate the objections to the First Third & Fourth Enacting Clauses.
By leaving out the 3rd Proviso to the 5th enacting Clause General
Carleton's objection will be wholly obviated and the most material part of Lord Hillsborough's will be also removed, for although they both wish the Lands may be hereafter granted in Seigneuries as heretofore yet they do not stand out to limit the Crown from granting them otherways if thought fit.¹
¹ As indicated in the reply of Lord Dartmouth which follows, the amendment indicated in this paragraph was made in the fourth draught of the bill, but the amendment with reference to the boundaries was not accepted.