PETITION OF HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY TO THE KING,
12th MAY, 1820.
HUDSON BAY COMPANY'S RECORDS.
To the Kings Most Excellent Majesty in Council
The humble Petition of the Governor and Company of
Adventurers of England trading into Hudsons Bay
That by Letters Patent of His late Majesty king Charles the second bearing date the Second day of May in the Twenty Second year of his reign and forming your Petitioners Charter of incorporation, your Petitioners, their Predecessors and Successors, as one body corporate and Politic, were and are impowered and authorized to receive possess and enjoy and retain Lands Rents Privileges Liberties Jurisdictions franchises and Hereditaments, and also to give grant demise alien assign and dispose lands tenements and heriditaments, and were and are invested with other large and extensive powers and authorities as in and by the said Charter will more fully appear.
That by virtue of a Grant contained in their said Charter your Petitioners are the true and absolute Lords and Proprietors (saving always the faith and allegiance due to your Majesty, your heirs and Successors) of the territories limits and places called Ruperts Land which by the said Charter is appointed to be one of your Majesty's Plantations or Colonies in America and includes all the lands and territories upon the Countries, Coasts and confines of the Seas, Bays, Lakes, Rivers, Creeks and Sounds which lie within the entrance of the Streights commonly called Hudsons Streights and your Petitioners humbly submit that the proper and only limits of the interior or inland parts of the said Plantation or Colony are the extreme heights from which any waters flow into the Sea within Hudson's Streights.
That the Validity of your Petitioners said Charter and particularly of the grant of territory therein contained has been on various occasions solemnly recognized by Parliament in its Statutes and by your Majestys royal predecessors in their treaties with foreign powers, and that your Petitioners and their Predecessors have constantly acted upon the same for nearly 150 years without any legal interruption or impeachment.
That during the greater part of the said period your Petitioners have traded and still continue to trade as well beyond as within the limits of the
territory granted to them and have erected Forts and established trading stations for their Servants to carry on the said trade.
That in Process of time and when the means and Opportunity offered to your Petitioners they were anxious to establish within their territories a Colony of independent Settlers to be employed in the pursuits of Agriculture and by whose cultivation of the soil the landed property of your Petitioners would eventually be rendered more valuable. Your Petitioners further considered that such establishment if successful would more effectually promote the objects of their Charter, by creating a new source of demand for British manufactures to the manifest advantage of this kingdom.
That the soil and climate in the immediate vicinity of Hudsons bay are unfavorable to Agriculture, but that the lands upon the Countries and Confines of the Lake Winipic and of the Saskatchewan, Assiniboyne and Red Rivers all the waters of which flow into the Sea within Hudson Streights are rich and fertile the climate good and both well fitted for the Cultivation of grain. That the said Lands being within the limits of the Territory granted to them they were induced in the Year 1811 to grant a large tract of the same to the Earl of Selkirk for the purpose of establishing thereon an Agricultural Settlement only ; and with provision that the Settlers should not engage in the fur trade.
That in the Autumn of 1812 a number of Settlers sent by his Lordship arrived and established themselves on the Banks of the Red River, and these were followed in the two succeeding years by many others who all settled on the adjoining Lands. That the said Settlement was proceeding with every prospect of success when it was assailed first by the several manoeuvres, and afterwards by the open violence of certain partners, agents and dependants of a Canadian Association calling itself the Northwest Company of Fur traders of Montreal, The origin of which association was as follows. About the year 1770 some adventurers from Canada having succeeded in their undertakings near Lake Superior passed onwards to the Northwest and traded individually for furs with the Indians within the territory of your Petitioners, others about the year 1778 penetrated into the Athabasca country which lies beyond the said territory its waters falling into the Northern Ocean. The success of these individual undertakings sometime afterwards led to the formation of 2 Rival associations of Canadians with views of prosecuting the Northwestern furtrade, and these two bodies finally coalescing into one, constituted the aforesaid Northwest Company, the members of which however are not incorporated nor can they claim any rights which are not common to all other brittish subjects.
That the said Canadian traders pretending to believe that the Rights of territory and Jurisdiction granted to your Petitioners by their charter were altogether unfounded, encouraged their Servants and dependents to set the same at nought and endeavoured to persuade both the Indians and Settlers to do the same, but failing in these attempts they at length resolved to have recourse to force, and in or about the month of April 1815 a party of them proceeded to plunder the settlement of the arms with which it had been
furnished by your Majestys Government for defence. In the following June they again attacked it, arrested and carried away as Prisoner the Governor Mr. Miles McDonnel and ordered the other Inhabitants to leave the settlement. On this occasion many of the Settlers were fired at and wounded, one of whom died of his wounds. The farmhouse belonging to the Settlement was broken open and pillaged, several of the servants and Labourers were forcibly seized and detained as prisoners, the Horses were stolen and the cattle driven away. The remaining settlers being alarmed at these proceedings and fearfull of still worse extremities, abandoned their homes and put themselves under the protection of the native indians, by whom they were safely conveyed to Lake Winipic. The day after their departure, their persecutors burnt to the Ground the houses, together with the Mill and other buildings belonging to the Settlement—but the settlers being afterwards joined by a fresh body of emigrants from Europe they returned to their former settlement on the Red River. In the Month of June however in the following year vizt. 1816 a still more sanguinary attack was made on them by the half breeds clerks and Servants of the Northwest Company, when Governor Semple and about 20 of the settlers were massacred, the Colonists again driven off and their houses burnt to the Ground.
That the aggressions of the Northwest Company have not been confined to the Red River establishment, but have been committed with equal atrocity against your Petitioners and their Servants at places beyond the limits of their territory in Countries where in common with all british subjects your Petitioners have a full and undoubted right to trade. In the summer of 1815 your Petitioners fitted out an expedition from Canada to proceed with a large assortment of british goods for that part of the interior of North America called Athabasca, the Northwest Company used every means of obstruction, and the natives were kept out of the way, so as to prevent those who were employed by your Petitioners from obtaining Provisions in consequence of which eighteen of your Petitioners Servants were literally starved to death. The Survivors who threw themselves on the mercy of the Northwest Company were refused even food until they submitted to sign a contract binding themselves not to perform any work or service for your petitioners but to serve the Northwest Company, and to deliver up to the latter the property of your petitioners. Mr. Archibald Norman McLeod a magistrate for the Indian territory and a partner and principal agent of the Northwest Compy. collected all the Clerks, Servants and half breeds of that Company and attacked several of your Petitioners Stations, overpowering their People and making them prisoners,. he seized the provisions, canoes, fishing nets, arms, &c. and all the goods belonging to your Petitioners whose people had thus no means left of providing themselves with food and when they remonstrated with Mr. McLeod, they were answered by his declaring that he would not let them have any provisions, unless they bound themselves by a written agreement not to return to the country for the space of two Years. These conditions were at first refused, but after having been kept for two and some of them for three days without food they were compelled to submit
and accordingly subscribed an agreement to that effect. The performance of this agreement they were sworn to observe by an oath administered by Mr. McLeod as a Magistrate.
That while these aggressions were going on in one part of the country others of a similar nature were carried on in other parts of the interior, in March 1816 one of the trading Posts of your Petitioners at green Lake was attacked by about thirty armed servants of the Northwest Company headed by two persons named Ogden and Black clerks (the latter now a Partner) of the Northwest Company. This trading post was attacked in the night, their servants, eleven in number, seized and made prisoners and one of them (Mr. McDonald) beaten most unmercifully. The assailants afterwards seized and conveyed away all the arms and ammunition they could find together with the Stores, canoes, furs and other Goods belonging to your Petitioners after having been kept some days prisoners, they were marked off under a guard commanded by Black to Isle a la Crosse, where they found about twenty more of your petitioners Servants who had also been made prisoners and who were in great distress having eaten nothing for two days. They all continued there for a considerable time under the directions of a partner of the Northwest Company and they were afterwards joined by forty six other servants of your petitioners who had been imprisoned by Mr. McLeod as before mentioned, so that at that Period there were nearly one hundred of your Petitioners people illegally confined in the interior.
That in consequence of the circumstances already set forth various Memorials and other documents have been from time to time address'd to the Right Honble Earl Bathurst your Majestys Principal Secretary of State for Colonial affairs, as well by your Petitioners as by the said Northwest Company. That by a Letter from Henry Goulburn Esq., dated 3d May, 1820, your Petitioners by direction of Earl Bathurst are inform'd that the said Memorials and documents have been some time since referred for the decision of Your Majesty in Council, and, that an opportunity is thus afforded to Your Petitioners to bring under Consideration of the Council the grounds upon which your Petitioners conceive their claims to rest.
Wherefore your Petitioners most humbly pray leave to refer to the said Memorials and documents and to exhibit other evidence in support of this their petition and to be heard by Counsel therein and that your Majesty will be graciously pleased to declare that by Virtue of the said Letters Patent of His said Majesty King Charles the Second, your Petitioners are the sole and absolute Lords Proprietors of all Lands between the extreme heights from which any Waters flow into the seas within Hudson's Streights and the said Seas, and that Your Majesty will be pleased to appoint commissioners to run a Line along the said Heights or will otherwise determine more precisely the said boundary and that your Majesty will also be graciously pleased to declare that your Petitioners are justly entitled to have hold enjoy and exercise all the lawfull rights of territory and Jurisdiction granted in their said charter within the Boundary so defined or hereafter to be more precisely determined, and that means may be taken to Stop further outrages both
within and without the aforesaid territory, and that such further relief may be granted to your Petitioners in the premises as to your Majesty in your Wisdom may seem meet.
And your Petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray &c., &c.
By Order of the Governor & Committee
of the said Company
W. SMITH, Secy.
Hudsons Bay House
London, 12th May 1820.