THE STATE OF THE CASE OF THE HUDSON'S BAY COMPA WTH A NARRATIVE OF THEIR GREAT SUFFERINGS BY THE FRENCH FROM THEIR INVASIONS EVER SINCE THE YEAR 1682.
HUDSON BAY COMPANY'S RECORDS.
The Compies Case, Left with the
Lords Justice the 3d July 1699.
The Title of the Crowne of England to all Hudson Bay haveing been made out & Deduced for 200 years upwards That the English only did Navigate the Streight & Bay of Hudson, and at last after many Voyages to Discover & fix a Trade wth the Indians, His Matie King Charles the Second for better Encouragemt to the Adventurers was pleased in the yeare 1670 to Grant his Lres patents of Incorporation to his Highness Prince Rupert, Duke of Arbemarle, Earle of Shaftsbury, Earle of Arlington, Earle of Craven, & Divers others for the Sole Trade of Hudson Bay, & by his said Grant, to Create & Constitute them and their Successors for Ever, the True and absolute Lords & Proprietors of the same, & of all the Territories, Limitts, & Places thereto belonging To Have hold, possess & Enjoy the same, As of his Matties Mannor of East Greenwich in Free & Common Soccage.
That the Hudson Bay Compa upon the Encouragemt of Such his Matie Royall Charter continued yearely Voyages sent Governes & Factors over wth Tradeing Goods & provisions, Erected Forts, made Settlements & gained a Very Considerable Trade wth the Native Indians which was never knowne to England before, to the Increase of his Maties Customes & Promoteing of Navigation.
That the Compa Prosecuted & Enjoyed this Trade without the least Interruption disturbance or pretence from the French untill the yeare 1682 when the Fame & report of the Considerable Trade which they drew from thence began to awaken the Envy of the French, & in that yeare 1682 one La Chanay a Private Mercht of Canada sett out an Expedition in a Piraticall way, not only without Publick Commission or Authority, But Expressly against the order & Prohibition of the Governour of Canada, who Owned that Hudson Bay was the Right of the English, & it would cause a Breach
between the Two Crownes & therefore would by noe means permitt it Nevertheless the sd La Chanay, & his Accomplices under hand, proceeded in their designe, & wth 2 ships Invaded the Compas Factory of Yorke ffort in Port Nelson, dispossessed them of their Settlement tooke their Ships & carried the English Governour & Men away Prisoners to Canada, And the Compa will mainetaine That this was the first Time, that ever the French did Saile a Vessell in Hudson Bay since the begining of the World, and this Invasion was then disowned by his most Christian Matie and satisfaction directed, (and the Manner of it) by Monsr Calliere one of the Plenipotentiaryes at the Treaty of Riswicke.
Whilst the Compa were complaining of this Invasion here in England & by Memorialls at the French Court, & demanding satisfaction for their Damages sustained, The French pursuing their Designes to get the Trade of Hudson Bay to themselves, tho it was a time of Perfect Peace and Amity between the Two Crownes, framed another Expedicon over Land from Canada wth a great Force in 1686 And comeing suddenly to the Bottome of the Bay, Surprized three Factories of the Compas tooke the Value of Fifty Thousand Pounds in goods stores, Merchandize & Ammunition, Murthered & Destroyed severall of his Matie Subjects, & Exposed the rest in a rotten Vessell (with small Provision) to the Mercy of the Sea a Barbarity scarce Used in the feircest Warr.
This soe Notorious an Invasion & Depredation was loudly complained of in his late Matie Reigne, & soe much resented by his then Mati That he was Graciously pleased to declare, That his Honr was concerned with the Compas Interest, and he would have Reparation for both.
WHEREUPON the French King Impowred Monsr Barillion his Embassador here, and Monsr Bonrepos (whome he sent over hither for that purpose) to be his Commes To treat with the Earle of Sunderland, Earle of Middleton & Lord Godolphin Commes appointed by his Matie of England in Order to the Adjusting all Differences that had arisen or might arise between both Nations in America.
That after all that could be said on Either side had been heard and Examined, the sd English Commes made their report to his Majesty That it was their Opinion that it plainly appeared his Matie & his Subjects had a right to the whole Bay & Streights of Hudson And to the Sole Trade thereof and that it might be fitt for his Matie to Support the Compa of Hudson Bay, in the Recovery and Maintenance of their Right since otherwise that Trade will be Totally lost & fall into the hands of the French if they be permitted to Continue in the Possession of those Forts or of any Fort or place of Trade within the said Bay or Streights. Whereupon his then Matie did Declare to the French Commer That haveing maturely considered his owne Rt & the right of his Subjects to the whole Bay & Streights, of Hudson, & haveing been alsoe informed of the reasons Alleadged on the part of the French to Justify their late Proceedings in Seizeing three Forts, which for many yeares past have been possessed by the English, & in comitting Severall other Acts of Hostillity to the very great Damage of the English Compa of Hudson Bay,
His Matie upon the whole matter did conceive the sd Compa well founded in their Demands, & therefore did insist upon his owne Right & the Right of his Subjects, to the whole Bay & Streights of Hudson, & to the Sole Trade thereof As alsoe upon the Demand of full Satisfaction for the Damages they have reed, & Restitution of the three Forts surprized by the French in the Bottome of the Bay. This was Transacted & declared towards the Latter end of the yeare 1687, And Memorialls were Repeated by his Matie Comand at the French Court to press for satisfaccon & restitution wch had accordingly followed, if the Revolution in England (wch Ensued the yeare after) had not prevented it.
Upon his pesent Matie happy Accession to the Throne, the Hudson Bay Compa in Aprill 1689, revived their Complaints by a Memoriall Setting forth their Sufferings, & praying his Matis Protection & releife, But his Matie being then upon declaring Warr against France was gratiously pleased to make the Injuries done by the French, to this Compa one of the Articles & causes of the sd Warr, wch made the sd Company patiently to await, the Success of his Matis Armes and to be righted at the Conclusion of the Warr.
That hitherto the losses and Damages sustained by the Compa from the French by their Robberys, Invasions & Depredations Comitted in a time of Peace and the Strictest Amity between the Two Crownes amounted to at least One hundred & Twenty Thousand pounds as hath been made appeare not onely in that former Dispute wth the French in 1687 but now also wth these New Comes wth an Addition of Damages & Charges since the Warr of above One Hundred thousand pounds more :
In 1692 (it being now a time of Publick Warr between the two Nations) the Hudson Bay Compa (that they might not be wanting to themselves and bee found Outed of their Possession, at the Conclusion of the Warr) thought they had reason, & were Warranted to Right themselves, and therefore by setting out this yeare a very Chargeable Expedition at their owne sole Expense & Charge of neare Twenty Thousand pounds they Recovered their Forts & Factories in the Bottome of the Bay (Treacherously taken from them in a time of Peace) which they Justly held to this day.
But their Factory of Yorke Fort in Port Nelson run severll Fates dureing the Warr, for in 1694 the French tooke it under the Conduct of Monsr de Ibreville Assisted with some Ships of Warr by the French King upon a Capitulation of wch they did not performe one Article & tooke in Beavor skins & other Effects of the Compa at that Time to their Damage of above Forty thousand pounds In 1696 By his Maties Gratious Favour by the Assistance of Two Men of Warr conjoyned with the Companies Ships, they recovered Yorke Fort againe, but Capt Allen Comander of the Man of Warr Capitulated Contrary to his Orders and Instructions, when the French must have Surrendred within two dayes at Discretion being almost famished, As he also brought the Beavr Skins found in the Fort home on board the Kings ffrigtt which by his Instructions he ought to have delivered to the Compa Upon the Place.
But the following yeare 1697 the French sent a much greater Force then ever they did, & in Septembr when the Treaty of Riswick was Concludeing
and Yorke Fort supposed to be still in the English Possession, It was then taken againe by the French togeather wth a Ship of the Compas and a greate quantity of Trading Goods, Provision & Ammunition.
That the French got there Concessions into the Treaty of Peace by undue Suggestions and misinformations, they haveing noe Tytle to those Goods, for wch they would petend to be satisfyed. And the King haveing twice Granted them to the Compa And for their being restored to the Bottome of the Bay as haveing been in possession of it before the Warr It is an Egregious misinformation, for it must be a rightfull possession onely which can Intitle any one to Restoracon, & what kind of possession or Right they had before the Warr is Evident by the preceeding Narrative. And therefore all the Concessions in the Treaty must be understood to be founded in Right or Else they cannot bee binding Especially where the property of an other is given away Which Wee humbly Conceive to be the pesent Case of the Hudson Bay Compa And the Article Expressly providing That Comes on both sides shall Examine and Determine the Rights & Pretensions wch Either of the Kings hath to the Places scituate in Hudsons Bay, This is the Foundation & Ground Worke on which all the other Concessions are Built, and His Maties Honour & Justice is not Capable of giveing away the Inherent Right of the Imperiall Crowne of England, and much less the Property of his Subjects–otherwise Tenetur Reperare, Damnum Datum facit enim contra verum Jussubdite, Grotlus De Jure Bell. et Pac. Lib. 2, Capt. 14.
The Compa since the Arrivall of these French Comes have Exhibited the Title of the Crowne of England and their owne Right to all Hudson Bay with an account of their Damages sustained by the French both in the time of Peace, & since the Warr amounting in the whole to above Two hundred Thousand pounds. Whether the French have well refuted the English Right or well Justified their Invasions & Rapine in a Time of perfect Peace, Is humbly offered to his Matie Royall Consideration, And if the Hudson Bay Compa shall be divested of any of their places & Property there, They will not onely be left in worse Condition than they were in before the Warr (for the Righting of whome the Warr was partly undertaken) But it will bee contrary to the Justice which was ready to be done them in the late Reigne, And they doe Promise themselves, that what was maintained to them at that time cannot Possibly bee lost or given away from them now in the Reigne of our pesent Gratious Soveraigne.
Wherefore they humbly pray that his Matie will be Gratiously Pleased to Review this whole matter, & the Foundation & Equity of the Treaty in this Case. And by his Royal Authority to Interpose with his Most Christian Matie by some Expedient or Commutation and to Insist upon the Inherent Right of the Crowne of England, and the Property of his Subjects not to be Alienated. That soe Considerable a Trade (first raised and setled by the English) may not be lost. And the Hudson Bay Company left the onely Mourners in a Peace.
Signed By Order of the said Company,
WM POTTER, Secretary.
June the 29th 1699.