MEMORIAL OF THE NORTHWEST COMPANY TO
THE KING, 1820.
HUDSON BAY COMPANY'S RECORDS.
To the Kings Most Excellent Majesty
The humble Memorial of Messrs. Inglis Ellice and Company on behalf of themselves and others carrying on trade from Montreal in Canada to the Indian territory or Country under Style and Term of the North west Company.
That His late Majesty King Charles the Second was graciously pleased by his letters Patent bearing date on the 2d of May in the 22nd Year of his reign, reciting that certain persons therein named had at their own costs and charges undertaken an expedition for Hudson's Bay in the Northwest parts of America for the discovery of a new Passage into the South Sea and for the finding of some trade for Furs, Minerals and other considerable commodities and by such their undertaking had already made such discoveries as did encourage them to proceed further in pursuance of their said design by means whereof there might probably arise great advantage to his said Majesty and to His kingdoms, and further reciting that the said undertakers for their further encouragement in the said design had humbly besought His said Majesty to incorporate them and grant unto them and their successors the whole trade and commerce of all the Seas, Streights and Bays Rivers Lakes Creeks and Sounds in whatever latitude they should be that lie within the entrance to the Streights commonly call'd Hudsons Streights, together with all the Lands Countrys and territories upon the Coast and Confines of the seas, Streights, Bays, Lakes, Rivers, Creeks and sounds aforesaid, which were not then actually possessed by any one of His Majestys Subjects, or by the Subjects of any other Christian Prince or State, did for himself, his heirs and successors give grant ratify and confirm unto the said persons in the said Letters Patent mentioned, that they and such others as should be admitted into the said Society as therein expressed should be one body corporate and politique in deed and in name by the name of the Governour and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudsons Bay, and them by the name aforesaid one body corporate and politique in deed and in name really and fully for ever for His Majesty his heirs and
successors did make ordain constitute establish confirm and declare by the said letters Patent and that by the same name of the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudsons Bay they should have perpetual Succession.
And that His said Majesty did by the said Letters Patent ordain that there should be from hence forth one of the said Company to be elected as therein set forth to be called the Governor of the said Company. And that the said Governor and Company should and might elect seven of their number as therein expressed which should be called the Committee of the said Company which said Committee of Seven or any three of them with the Governour or deputy governor for the time being should have the direction of the Voyages aforesaid for the said Company and the Provision of the Shipping and Merchandizes thereunto belonging, and also the Sale of all Merchandizes goods and others things returned in all or any the Voyages or Ships of or for the said Company and the managing and handling of all other business affairs and things belonging to the said Company.
And that to the end the said Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudsons Bay might be encouraged to undertake and effectually to prosecute the said design His said Majesty did by his said Letters Patent, grant and confirm unto the said Governor and Company and their Successors the Sole trade and Commerce of all those Seas, Streights, Bays, Rivers, Lakes, Creeks and Sounds, in whatsoever Latitude they should be that lie within the entrance of the Streights commonly call'd Hudsons Streights, together with all the lands and territories upon the Countries, Coasts and confines of the Seas, Bays. Lakes, Rivers, Creeks and Sounds aforesaid that were not already actually possessed by the Subjects of any other Christian Prince or state.
And that furthermore his said Majesty did grant unto the said Governor and Company and their Successors that they and their Successors and their factors, Servants and Agents for them and on their behalf and not otherwise should for ever after have use and enjoy not only the whole entire and only liberty of trade and traffic and the whole entire and only liberty use and privilege of trading and traffic to and from the territories limits and places aforesaid but also the whole and entire trade and traffic to and from all Havens, Bays, Creeks, Rivers, Lakes and Seas into which they should find entrance or passage by Water or Land out of the territories limits and places aforesaid and to and with all the natives and people Inhabitants or which should inhabit within the territories limits and places aforesaid and to and with all other nations inhabiting any the Coasts adjacent to the said territories limits and places aforesaid which were not then possessed as aforesaid or whereof the sole liberty or privilege of trade and traffic was not granted to any other of His Majestys Subjects.
And that his said Majesty did further by the said Letters patent grant to the said Governor and Company and to their Successors that neither the said territories limits and places thereby granted as aforesaid nor any part thereof nor the Islands, Havens, ports, Cities, Towns and places thereof
or therein contained should be visited frequented or haunted by any of the Subjects of His said Majesty or of his heirs and Successors contrary to the true meaning of the said Letters Patent and by Virtue of His Majesty's Royal prerogative which he willed should not in that behalf be argued or brought into question His said Majesty did by the said Letters Patent Straightly charge command and prohibit that all the Subjects of His Majesty his heirs and successors of what degree or quality soever they might be should not directly visit haunt frequent or trade traffic or adventure by way of Merchandize into or from any the said territories limits places hereby granted or any or either of them other than the said Governor and Company and such particular persons as were then or from that time should be of that Company, their agents factors and Assigns unless it should be by the Licence and Agreement of the said Governor and Company in writing first had and obtained under their common seal to be granted, upon pain that every such person or persons that should trade and traffic into or from any of the Countries territories or limits aforesaid other than the said Governor and Company and their Successors would incur his Said Majestys indignation and the forfeiture and the loss of the said Goods, Merchandize and other things whatsoever which so should be brought into this Realm of England, or any the dominions of the same contrary to the said prohibition or the purport or true meaning of the said Letters patent, or which the said Governor and Company should find take or seize in other places out of his said Majesty's dominions, where the said Company their Agents factors or Assigns should trade traffic or inhabit by virtue of the said Letters Patent, as also the Ship and Ships with the furniture thereof, wherein such Goods Merchandize and other things should be brought or found, the one half of the said forfeiture to be to his Majesty his heirs and Successors and the other half thereof to the said Governor and company and their Successors.
And further that all and every the said offenders for their said Contempt should Suffer such Punishment as to His said Majesty his heirs and Successors, should seem meet or convenient and not to be in any wise delivered until they and every of them should become bound unto the said Governor for the time being in the sum of £1000 at the least, at no time then after to trade and traffic into any of the said places, Seas, Bays, Streights, ports, havens or territories aforesaid, contrary to his said Majestys express commandment in that behalf set down and published. And that further his Majesty did grant unto the said Governor and Company and their successors, that his said Majesty his heirs and Successors would not grant liberty Licence or power to any person or persons whatsoever, contrary to the tenor of the said Letters patent, to trade traffic or inhabit into or upon any of the Territories limits or places afore specified, contrary to the meaning of the said letters patent without the consent of the said Governor and Company or the most part of them.
And that further his said Majesty did grant to and with the said Governor and Company that it should be lawful in all Elections and Bye Laws to be made by the General Court of the Adventurers of the said Company that
every person should have a number of Votes according to his Stock in manner therein set forth.
And his said Majesty did further grant by his said Letters patent unto the said Governor and Company and their Successors full power and authority to seize upon the persons of all English or any other Subjects that shall sail into Hudsons Bay or inhabit in any of the Countries, Islands, or territories thereby granted without their leave or licence or should continue to disobey their orders and send them to England.
And Lastly by the said letters Patent, His Majesty straithly charged and commanded all and singular his Admirals Vice Admirals, Justices, Mayors, Sheriffs, Constables, Bailiffs and all and singular other his officers, Ministers, Liege-men, and Subjects whatsoever to aid, favor, help and assist the said Governor and Company and their successors and deputies, officers, factors, Servants, assignees and Ministers and every of them in the execution and enjoyment of the said Letters Patent, as well on Land as at Sea from time to time when any of them should thereunto be required, any Statute, act, ordinance, proviso, proclamation or restraint before made set forth ordained or provided, or any other matter cause or thing whatsoever to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding, as by the said letters Patent referencebeing thereunto had will among other things more fully appear.
That the Grant by His said Majesty of the sole and exclusive trade to the said Governor and Company contained in the said letters Patent within the Limits therein described, to the restraint and exclusion of all the other subjects of this realm amounted to a Monopoly, was beyond the power of the king to grant and was consequently wholly illegal and void.
That the establishment of a joint Stock for the purpose of carrying on the trade of the Company, under the management of a Committee who have the direction of the Voyages the provision of the Shipping and Merchandizes and the Sale of the Goods returned without the Consent of Parliament was beyond the Power of the Crown to grant and was consequently illegal and wholly void.
That the Power given by the said Letters Patent to the said Governor and Company to seize upon and send to England all such of the kings Subjects who should sail into Hudsons bay or inhabit any of the Countries thereby granted to the said Governor and Company without their leave and Consent was illegal and wholly void.
That the prohibition contained in the said letters patent of any of the kings subjects from visiting frequenting, trading or trafficking by way of merchandize into or from any of the territories or places thereby granted without the licence of the said Governor and Company and the forfeiture of the Goods and Merchandize and other things which should by means thereof be brought into England or the Dominions of the same contrary to the said prohibition or which the said Governor and Company should find, take and seize in any other places out of the dominions of England, where the said Governor and Company should trade, traffic or inhabit by Virtue of the said
Letters patent, as also the ships wherein the same would be found or brought and the furniture of such ships was wholly illegal and void.
That the punishment imposed on persons offending against the aforesaid provisions in the said letters patent without being delivered thereupon until they should become bound to the said Governor in the Sum of £1000 not to trade again within the limits aforesaid was illegal and void.
That the Power of dispensing with all Statutes and acts for the Purpose of enforcing the said grant of Territory and the exclusive right of trade was illegal and void.
That for very many years last past the said Governor and Company have made no attempt to discover any new Passage into the South Sea nor did they at any time make efforts to extend or improve the trade in furs minerals or other commodities within the limits aforesaid until after your Memorialists had extended and prosecuted the Trade originally carried on by the French in the interior of the Country by discoveries and establishments there, and the said Company have since that time obstructed and impeded the Progress of the said trade which but for such obstruction would have been carried on with much greater advantage to your Memorialists and other Subjects of His Majesty.
That in the Year 1811 the said Governor and Company conveyed to the Right Honorable Thomas Earl of Selkirk his heirs and Successors a very large tract of Land containing about 116000 square miles under Colour of the Authority of the said letters Patent, but without having legal power or authority so to do, whereby they have abused and misapplied His Majestys letters Patent and perverted the Powers and privileges thereby bestowed to other purposes than those for which the said letters patent were originally granted.
That under and by Color of the powers and privilege in the said letter' patent contained, the said Governor and Company and the said Earl of Selkirk have forcibly prevented the Subjects of his Majesty from carrying on their lawful trade and Bussiness both within and without the limits in the said letters Patent contained and have seized and carried away the Property and imprisoned the Persons as well of your Memorialists as of other subjects of Your Majesty and still threaten so to do. That your memorialists and their Partners in the said N.W. Compa have endeavoured by all the means in their power to have the rights of the Hudsons Bay Company legally determined by the Courts in this Country, and have brought three several actions in the Court of Commonpleas at Westminster against the Earl of Selkirk but as your Memorialists remedies for the injuries they complain of can only be enquired into by the Courts here in actions brought against individuals the Validity of the said Charter or the rights exercised by the Hudsons Bay Company cannot by such actions be in any ways determined, and by the recent death of the Earl of Selkirk your Memorialists have been deprived of all remedy for the great loss of property they sustained by the wrongful acts of the said Earl.