REPRESENTATION OF THE LORDS OF TRADE RESPECTING THE POWERS AND INSTRUCTIONS OF THE ENGLISH COMMISSARIES, 26 AUG., 1719.*
To Their Excellencies, the Lords Justices :
May it please Your Excellencies :
In obedience to Your Excellencies' Commands signify'd to its by Mr. Delafaye, in his letter of the 16th of July, 1719, we have prepar'd the inclos'd commission and instructions for Mr. Bladen, to treat, as His Majesty's Commissary or Deputy, with the Commissary or Commissaries to be appointed on the part of France, concerning several matters left undetermin'd by the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th Articles of the Treaty of Peace concluded at Utrecht, the 31/11 day of March/April, 1713, between Her late Majesty and the late French King, Louis the 14th.
It was not in our power to give more dispatch to this matter, by reason of the multiplicity of books and papers which were necessary to be read and well consider'd upon this subject, besides that we were oblig'd to consult with several persons, and to wait for such lights as the Company of British merchants trading to Hudson's Bay, the African Company and several other parties concern'd in the success of this negotiation cou'd give us, touching their respective interests and demands, for which we have made the most effectual provision we cou'd think of, in Mr. Bladen's instructions.
We have perus'd and consider'd the several Charters granted by His Majesty's royal predecessors to the respective British Colonies on the Continent of America, from Hudson's Bay and Nova Scotia, as far as the Bay of Mexico, of which many are very extensive, stretching from sea to sea ; but as the French wou'd not perhaps be determin'd by these authorities only, and since we have not hitherto been able to get such maps of the said plantations as may be depended on, or to obtain such further informations as might be requir'd to support the right and title of His Majesty or any of his subjects have, to places which the French possess or pretend to, either on the back of the British plantations or westward from New England down to the Gulf of Mexico, we thought it proper to leave out of Mr. Bladen's full powers, that part of the Tenth Article which relates to a general settlement of the boundaries between the colonies of the two nations in America, and
* Reprinted from Joint Appendix of Documents, Ontario-Manitoba Boundary Case (P.C.), pp. 507-508.
to restrain his commission to the boundaries of Hudson's Bay and Nova Scotia only, where we have proofs and authorities against which, we think, no exception can reasonably be made.
In all other matters, Mr. Bladen's commission and instructions are made agreeable to the several Articles of the Treaty of Utrecht above mention'd, comprehending the mutual pretensions of both nations then left undetermin'd ; and we hope, may prove to Your Excellencies' satisfaction.
Upon this occasion, we beg leave to represent to Your Excellencies that, considering the several accounts we have receiv'd from the Governors of his Majesty's plantations, as well as from persons with whom we have discours'd, concerning the progress of the French settlements, from the mouth of the River St. Lawrence northward to that of the Mississippi southward, in the Bay of Mexico, and the daily increase of their power in those parts, we cannot but be something alarm'd at a scheme that seems one day to threaten the destruction of all the British Colonies in America, for which reason, we have prepar'd an instruction for Mr. Bladen, directing him to get the best information he can, of the state of the French colonies in those parts, and of the constitution of the Mississippi Company. In the meantime, we cannot help observing to Your Excellencies, that among the other grants that we have perus'd upon this occasion, we have seen one from King Charles the First, to Sir Robert Heath, which, by several mean conveyances, is become the property of Doctor Cox, and contains not only the greatest part of Florida, but likewise extends itself westward beyond the River Mississippi..
It were heartily to be wish'd that, in imitation of our industrious neighbours of France, some means cou'd be found to extend our settlements likewise towards the Bay of Mexico, more especially while we are at war with Spain, and might possibly preserve by a future Treaty whatever might be now acquir'd.
Your Excelleneies will find by the maps of those countries that the Fort of St. Augustine, which lyes on the coast of Florida to the southward of Carolina, wou'd be a great security to our plantations on that side, and by the best information we have had thereupon, might be reduced at a very small expense.
All which is most humbly submitted.
Whitehall, Aug'st ye 26th, 1719.