p. 975 JOINT
REPRESENTATION OF LORDS OF TRADE TO H.M. THE KING,
REPORTING ON CLAIMS OF MERCHANTS, AND INHABITANTS OF QUEBEC, AND ON PALLISER'S REGULATIONS FOR COAST OF LABRADOR.¹
COL. COR: NEWFOUNDLAND. VOL. 2.
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY,—We have taken into our Consideration a Memorial (Copy whereof we beg leave herewith to lay before Your Majesty) (No. 1.) presented to us on the Behalf of Sundry Merchants, whose Names are thereunto annexed, Settlers in Your Majesty's Province of Quebec, and of others concerned in the Trade of the said Province, setting forth, “That several of these Memorialists and others, Your Majesty's Subjects, Adventurers in the Fishery carried on upon the Coast of Labrador, being possessed of Sundry Fishing-Posts and Settlements thereupon; and being desirous of availing themselves of the Fishery for Seals, which at Great Hazard and Expence had been Established on the said Coast, (particularly upon that Part of it which is situate within the Streights of Belleisle,) after having put themselves to considerable Charge in order to carry on, extend, and improve the same, had, in the Course of last Year's Fishery, been dispossessed of their Posts, their Fishing-Tackle, and Utensils necessary for carrying on the said Fishery, seized, burnt and destroyed and themselves otherwise greatly molested and oppressed, by Hugh Pallisser Esquire, Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland and the Coast of Labrador, and by certain other Persons acting under his Authority complaining withal of certain Orders, Rules, and Regulations to be observed on the said Coast, and elsewhere, published by Governor Palliser, on the 8th of April and 28th of August 1765, whereby, as they conceive, among other Things, the said Governor arbitrarily imposes illegal and unwarrantable Restraints and Restrictions upon Your Majesty's American Subjects; and praying that they may be effectually reinstated in their respective Rights and Possessions, and permitted to enjoy the Same, unmolested, for the future.”
Whereupon we beg Leave humbly to represent to Your Majesty, that having taken into our serious Consideration the Several Matters complained of in this Memorial; and having heard whatever the Complainants, by their
[¹ The four papers referred to in this document, i.e. Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, are listed as Nos. 24, 15, 10 and 30 respectively.]
Counsel, had to urge in Support of the several Allegations therein contained, as well as what Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland had to offer in Answer thereunto; it does appear to us, that the several Matters advanced by the said Memorialists are reducible to two General Heads: the first containing their Complaints, that in Consequence of the Orders and Regulations lately made by your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland, they have been dispossessed of certain Rights and Privileges which they alledge to have been legally vested in them; and the other representing, that the Continuance and Enforcement of such Orders and Regulations will involve many of your Majesty's Subjects in the Province of Quebec in the utmost Distress, and be extremely prejudicial to the Extension and Improvement of the Fishery upon that Coast. In considering the first Head of Complaint, which respects the supposed Infringement of Rights, the Memorialists have stated themselves as affected in two different Capacities.
The first Capacity, in which they represent themselves to be aggrieved by the aforesaid Rules & Orders of Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland, is, as Owners or Proprietors of certain Posts and Settlements on the Coast of Labrador, which they profess to hold either under the Title of certain Grants in propriety made while Canada was in the Possession of His most Christian Majesty, or by Sundry temporary Concessions made and granted, since the Reduction thereof, by His Majesty's Governor of Quebec; all which Posts and Settlements, with the exclusive Privileges thereunto annexed, are, by these Placarts of Governor Pallisser, determined, and resumed to Your Majesty's Use; and of one of which in particular under the latter Description, two of Your Majesty's Subjects, Subscribers to the said Memorial, complain, that, by his express Order they have been forcibly, and to their great Loss and Detriment dispossessed.
The second Object of their Complaint is, the Injustice done to them in their general Capacity, as Your Majesty's American Subjects, by excluding them from the Privilege of resorting to the Coast of Labrador for the Convenience of fishing, or for any other Purpose whatever, under certain Pains and Penalties.
These prohibitory Regulations compose the first and second Articles of a Placart published
(No. 2.) by Governor Palliser on the 28th of August last, a Copy whereof (as well as of that of the
(No. 3.) 8th day of April 1765 above mentioned) we beg Leave hereunto to annex.
With respect to the Title which these Memorialists claim to certain Posts and Settlements on the Labrador Coast, under Grants to Canadian Proprietors, (which was the first Predicament under which they state themselves to be aggrieved by Governor Pallisser's Rules and Regulations) their Memorial in general sets forth, “That several of these Posts and Settlements on the Coast of Labrador, (particularly upon that Part thereof which is situate within the Streights of Belleisle,) having in times past, while the Province of Quebec
was in Possession of His Most Christian Majesty, been granted by the Governor of Canada (of which Government they conceive the said Coast of. Labrador made a part of the Dependencies) sundry of Your Majesty's Subjects, upon the Reduction of Canada, and upon the Faith and Confidence of the Terms of the Capitulation thereof, purchased, within the time limited by the said Articles, of several of the Canadian Proprietors of the said Settlements and Posts, their Right and Interest therein, for a valuable Consideration.” This is the Assertion contained in their Memorial above mentioned, and, material as it should seem for these Claimants, for the due ascertaining their Right and Title to the said Posts and Settlements, that they should support and confirm the said Assertion by clear and authentic Facts and Proofs; yet we must observe to your Majesty, that, throughout the Agitation of this Question, no such Facts have been laid before us on the Part of these Memorialists: no Proofs whatever of any valuable Consideration given, or of any Title derived either by Purchase or by Lease of these Posts from the Canadian Proprietors, have been produced for our Information in the Matter; so that the Fact must still continue to stand unsupported by any other Evidence than the bare Credit of their Assertion.
Nevertheless it may be proper for us to observe to your Majesty, that from a Copy or Register of sundry Canadian Grants, which has been transmitted to us by your Majesty's Governor of Quebec, we have no manner of Doubt but that many and various Tracts of Land on the Coast of Labrador have at different times been granted and conceded by the Governors of Canada, while France was in Possession of that Province; yet very few of these, as far as appears to us, having been granted in Propriety (the rest being only temporary Concessions for a Term of Years, all of which are laps'd and expired;) it follows, that none of these Grants can be supposed now to subsist in Force, or be made the Subject of our present Consideration, except the few in Propriety above mentioned.
The first of these was made in the year 1662, to Messrs. Bissot and Jolliet, of the Post and Settlement of Mingan on the Coast of Labrador to the Bay of Phelippaux in Propriety to them and their Heirs. And in the year 1679, another Grant was made to the said Jolliet, jointly with the Sieur La laude, of all the Islands bordering on the said Coast from the Isle of Mingan to the said Bay of Phelippaux, the same to be held in Fief and Seigneury with an exclusive Privilege of the Fishery for Seals and Sea-Cows. This joint Grant was in the year next ensuing followed by a separate one of the whole Island of Anticosti in Propriety as before to the former of these Granties (Jolliet) with the same exclusive Privileges as are recited in the first Instance. From these Grants, which we have thus briefly enumerated to your Majesty, one Person only, as we understand, amongst the Subscribers to the above Memorial affects to claim, or derive Right and Title to any Settlement or Post on the Coast of Labrador; and no charge has, to our Knowledge been produced either by him or by any person claiming under the like Pretensions, of any actual Molestation being given to them in their Settlements, from the Rules and Orders above mentioned.
In the next Place we are to consider the Complaints of such of your Majesty's Subjects, who profess themselves to suffer from these Regulations of Governor Pallisser, as Proprietors or Occupiers of Sundry Fishing Posts and Settlements on the said Coasts under the Grants of the Honble James Murray, Your Majesty's Governor of Quebec.
The Memorial sets forth, that “the said Governor granted tosundry of Your Majesty's Subjects, Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec, certain Posts and Settlements on the said Coast, which were at that time unoccupied and which said Grants were antecedent to your Majesty's most Gracious Proclamation of the 7th of October 1763, whereby the Coast of Labrador was annexed to the newly established Government of Newfoundland.” How far these Grants of the exclusive Possession of these fishing Posts could be considered as continuing in Force after your Majesty's most Gracious Proclamation above mentioned was published; or in Case they were not thereby revoked, whether Governor Pallisser was not, by your Majesty's Appointment of him to the Government of this Territory, sufficiently authorized in your Majesty's Name to put an end to the Continuance of these Grants, which appear upon the Face of them to have been no more than temporary Licences to carry on the Fishery, determinable at Your Majesty's Pleasure, must be submitted to your Majesty.
Amongst the Representations which have been made to us of the Injuries which this Order of Complainants have derived from Mr Pallisser's Regulations, one Instance only has been produced of his having actually removed any of these Claimants from their Posts on the Coasts above mentioned: and that is in the Case of Messrs. Bayne and Brymer, Subscribers to the Memorial above recited. These Complainants claim Possession of a Fishing-Post at Cape Charles on the said Coast of Labrador, by virtue of a Grant from Governor Murray; and complain, that their Agent or Factor, stationed there, was compelled to evacuate and abandon the said Post, and to remove their Fishing Tackle, Utensils and Effects, under the Alternative of having them destroyed in Case of Refusal; and the said Agent further declares, that a considerable Number of Casks were actually burnt and destroyed, and that other Damages ensued to the said Bayne and Brymer from the Interruption thereby given to their further Prosecution of this Trade; A Sloop, which they had fitted out from Quebec for this purpose, & which the said Agent met, on his Return from Cape Charles, in the River St Lawrence, having desisted from her Voyage upon the Report of these Proceedings, and returned. back to Quebec, where her cargo and Effects were sold at public Vendue, to the great Loss and Detriment of the Owners.
To this Charge Governor Pallisser replies, that when he ordered these Complainants to quit their irregular Monopolizing Possessions on the above Coast, he accompanied that Order with a strict Injunction, that every Assistance should be given them in removing their Effects; That accordingly these Effects were received into the Care of a Master of a British Fishing Ship then at the Port of Chateau, pursuant to an agreement made betwixt him and their Agent above mentioned, Your Majesty's Officers and Men giving all the
Help and Assistance in their Power in the Course of this Removal; That the Master of the British Fishing Ship above mentioned is ready and has repeatedly offered to account with them for these Effects so received into his Care; That the Damages, which ensued to them from the Consumption of their Casks by Fire, were owing to a very natural Mistake in Your Majesty's Officer, who, discovering these Casks, and perceiving them to be French Hogsheads did presume that they were the Property of some Party of that Nation, belonging to their Fishing Ships employed on the Coast of Newfoundland, who had secretly settled themselves there for the Summer's Fishery, Information having
been received of such parties being on the Coast, and in search of whom the said Officer was sent; That he accordingly destroyed these Casks, upon the above Presumption, no people being there to be found to own them; That with Respect to the Disappointment of these Complainants from the Return of their Vessel, which their Agent met in the River St. Lawrence bound to Charles River, and which in consequence of that Meeting did not proceed to that Post to take in their Effects, Mr Pallisser observes, that his Order, so far from forbidding this Vessel to proceed for the purpose of carrying their Effects back to Quebec, did on the contrary warrant the so doing; they being enjoined to remove them and prohibited only from wintering there, or resorting thither in future.
The last Predicament, under which we proposed to consider these Memorialists as affected by the Orders and Regulations of Governor Palliser, is in their general Capacity, as Your Majesty's American Subjects, by excluding them from the Right of Fishery on the Coast of Labrador, or on any Pretence whatever resorting thereunto (except in the Case of Whale Fishers within the Gulph of St. Lawrence) under certain Pains and Penalties annexed to the Breach of this Ordinance.
In answer to the Complaints of these People, who claim a Right, in Common with the rest of your Majesty's Subjects wheresoever dispersed, of resorting to & navigating these Seas, either for the Purposes of Fishing, or on any other Occasion or Pretence whatever, Mr Pallisser opposes the authority of the Statute of the l0th and 11th of King William, made and enacted for the better Regulation of the Trade and Fishery to and from Newfoundland; which Mr Pallisser appears to have understood as absolutely excluding all Ships, but such as are fitted out from Great Britain, from the said Fishery and which he thought it his Duty to extend to the Coast of Labrador, now made a Part of his Government; with an Exception however as to that Clause, which confirms “the Owners or Builders of Houses, Stages &c. for fishing there in the quiet Enjoyment of the same” and which Clause could in no respect be applicable to this part of his Government.
Upon this Case we have only to observe to your Majesty, that, if Governor Pallisser (who seems to have understood this Statute of King William as operating to the Exclusion of Your Majesty's American Subjects from the Right of Fishery on the Coast of Newfoundland) be right in his Construction of this Statute, we should think him justified in extending the like Regulations to Your Majesty's Territory of Labrador, which forms a Part of his Govern-