Transcribed by Garth Bulman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Palmer, James Bardin of Prince Edward Island.
"Statement to that Colony 4th March 1813". Alley Smith Collection,
Acc. 2702 Item 836. Public Archives and Records Office of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.
Transcribed January 2006 by Garth Bulman email: email@example.com
Introduction: Following is a collection compiled by James Bardin Palmer, Esq. (1771 – 1833) who, with William Haszard, was a founding member of the Loyal Electors, a political society whose members included Elisha LePage, Esq. (1764 – 1813) and William Roubel (c. 1781 – 1846). The Loyal Electors was founded in 1806. Eventually, the society evolved into the Island’s early Reform Party.
This collection is transcribed by Garth Bulman and proofread by Nick Vine Hall Email;firstname.lastname@example.org and Janice Tanche email; email@example.com who are, respectively, the 5th, 4th, and 3rd great grandchildren of LePage, Roubel, and Palmer.
As a background to the document, it is important to recall that Island politics were treacherous for Loyal Electors, and particularly for Roubel, LePage, and Palmer, who were subject to reprisal from a powerful cabal on the Island – the "confederacy" to which Palmer refers – a group of men with support in Great Britain. The cabal, in the view of the Loyal Electors, was also the administration of the Island, and was corrupt. The Loyal Electors would argue, for example, that the confederacy was at the root of the Island’s "Land Question", motivated by the confederacy’s goals of improving their own political power and personal wealth through the exploitation of tenant farmers and the Island’s resources at the expense of retarding the economic development of the Island. The confederates, they would argue, must maintain a system of proprietorship and land agency, and must destroy all opposition to these aims. For Palmer, LePage, and Roubel, opposition resulted in personal, professional, and financial losses, and near ruin.
Here, James Bardin Palmer begins with an introductory statement, and goes on to reproduce as evidence parts of letters written to him by British merchant and PEI proprietor, John Hill. Palmer then names the members of the confederacy and describes their relationships to one another. After recounting what are, in his view, various incidents of scandal and corruption, he finishes with a lengthy statement, estimating that he has exposed both the identities of the confederacy’s membership, and their programme to corrupt Justice on the Island.
[J. B. Palmer begins:]
It will not be denied that Colonel DesBarres exerted himself to the utmost of his ability in Prince Edward Island in endeavoring to promote the following objects. The embodying, arming, and disciplining a Militia, The Settlement and Cultivation of the Country, and opening roads, The jurisprudence of the Colony, The Establishment of regularity and responsibility in the Public Offices, and the raising of a Revenue by such equitable means as wou’d afford advantages to each individual in proportion to the supply he furnished. During the administration of General Fanning the former Lieutenant Governor (a period of eighteen years) it does not appear that in the before mentioned objects any advancement took place arising from the exertions of Government. The cultivation of the Country was improved, but not in proportion to the natural or adventitious increase of population which it experienced and the Treasury in 1805 was in debt. The rapid progress in improvement which was experienced at the commencement of the late administration afforded a striking contrast with the supineness of former times and caused a considerable degree of jealousy on the part of those whom it seemed to reproach. –
Colonel DesBarres was from his first arrival and indeed before his arrival opposed by the leading Members of General Fanning’s Administration for the General was recalled unexpectedly and it was supposed that several instances of misconduct which took place in his administration wou’d be investigated and rectified by his successor. A sum of £3000 formerly granted by Parliament was and is yet due the Colony, and was to be paid out of the Quit Rent fund by order of the Lords of the Treasury as soon as the amount shou’d be collected by the Receiver General. This sum and much more money, has long since been received by that Officer Captain John Stewart but he has not yet paid for as related to the Colony any greater sum than about £150. Colonel DesBarres ineffectually required an account from Captain Stewart and his deputy (the present Attorney General) as far as related to the £3000. Whither it was owing to this circumstance, or that of Captain Stewarts family being deeply implicated in point of character and property in the acts of General Fanning’s Administration is not material certain, but he certainly both opposed and aspersed Colonel DesBarres and a combination was formed against that gentleman in England and in Prince Edward Island and which combination was the source of the events now under consideration in Prince Edward Island. It may be unnecessary to enter into any proof as to the cause of confederacy but probably it might have been owing to this circumstance there were two parties formed each compiled of different clans. Colonel DesBarres declined to abide implicitly by the dictate of either party preferring to adopt for his guidance H. M. Royal instructions. That a combinat'n subscribed will appear from Mr. Hill’s letters[.] I have never before disclosed the contents. There is not any professional or honorable engagement on my part which shou’d prevent me from producing all or any of those Letters. However I shall confine myself to extracts of such passages as relate to the facts here asserted offering to produce the Letters from which they are selected, or all his Letters if required.
Rotherhithe April 24 1806
J. B. Palmer Esq.
From the very respectable manner in which Mr. Hugh Montgomery Jnr of Richmond Bay has spoken of your talents and integrity I am induced to open a correspondence with you.
You have no doubt heard of my Name as proprietor of lot 5 and 6 and most likely have received some information relative to the active part I once took in bringing to account those entrusted with the government of the Island, from whose sinister and illegal measures I was anxious to relieve the Island, in which I shou’d have succeeded at the time of the complaints were made but for the obstinate and improper conduct of Cambridge. The result of the complaints, and the treatment I received from that Man you probably have heard something about. The disgust I experienced from the conduct of such as this had the affairs of the Island in their hands together with a proper regard for my property and reputation determined me to withdraw what little remained of the wrecks of my property, and not to adventure any thing more till the administration was in other hands. My friend Mr. McDonald came home vilified and in danger of both person and property, and I was stimulated from regard to him to renew my representations for the removal of Governor Fanning. The result was his removal and tho’ it is I believe credited on the Island that he was recalled in the course of official routine from his length of service, & rewarded with a pension for his meritorious service, I can ensure you the reverse was the case[.] It is true he has a pension of £500 per annum as it was considered from his profession that a Man who had attained such Rank in the British Army shou’d have something to support his Family. I was far from wishing to press my representations to such an extent as might drive him into distress in his old age notwithstanding the sanction and confirmation he gave to their scandalous proceedings against me and the manner in which he gave countenance & support to the most atrocious set of Men that ever infected a Country. The appointment of Governor DesBarres has given me hopes that the Island has now a chance, and tho' I have a very bad opinion of some of those who now fill the offices of trust and importance, if please God to spare health I hope and trust he will keep them right, or get rid of them if they return to their old habits. I likewise entertain warm hopes that a Gentleman of your disposition may be the means of contributing to that desirable event.
(Signed) J. Hill
Rotherhithe 20 July 1806
J. B. Palmer Esq.
Since my last a scandalous Pamphlet has come and by Mr. Stewart, in which he has treated Captain McDonald in the most shameful manner, and given the most gross misrepresentation of the conduct of those who have adventured on the Island, whilst he has exalted the Idol of his Idolatry, the late Governor, in a manner as fulsome as untrue. It is plain to me this Gentleman feels himself uneasy under the Administration of Govnr DesBarres. It is enough that he considers him the friend of the Captain, he knows what he and his associates merit, and I believe trembles at what might befall his friends. The manner in which he has spoken of you to me puts me on a certainty as to your conduct and sentiments and fully confirms my hopes of your acting from honorable principles. You will hardly conceive from this declaration that you are a favorite with him. Artful as he is he unguarded in his expressions and cannot help betraying his sentiments of Governor DesBarres as well as those that are supposed to be his friends. However I am sorry to say this Gentleman being so much about office, and assisted by his friend the Agent* cannot be too much watched. The latter Gentleman is almost in his dotage and I hope when you Gentlemen on the Island appoint another to succeed him it will not be a tool of the party. I told a certain Gentleman before he left this that if it was found proper on the Island to appoint another Agent I wou’d readily undertake it without a sixpence expense, my only object being that of entitling myself to an Official interview with that department of Government to which the affairs of the Island devolve, to prevent the mischief which I apprehend from the machinations of a certain quarter.
* (Gray same Letter) [J. B. Palmer’s side note.]
(Signed) J. Hill
Rotherhithe 1st March 1807
J. B. Palmer Esq.
I wrote constantly last season to Captain McDonald as well on my private concerns as on the Island matters in general but to my utter disappointment I have not received a line from him since his return. If I may credit the reports from other quarters the sanguine expectations I had formed from Governor DesBarres assuming the Government are not likely to be realized, and the spirit of contention that has been stored up from the moment Patterson made an attack on the lands of the proprietors and continued to the time of the destruction of my concern at Cascumpec is still alive and the embers have lain mouldering for the want of fuel to feed a flame, I understand they have lately broken fourth with tenfold violence - Tis now Sir near 19 years since I first engaged in a connection to the Island, and I embarked in the undertaking as a favorite pursuit[.] Neither Money or exertion was wanting, and from my residence in London, my establishment at Newfoundland, and my connections at almost every part of the Globe where any trade cou’d be combined with the operations on the Island, and ( I trust I might say without vanity) my intimate acquaintance with commerce which I have followed from the earliest age, all united to qualify me for the task of accomplishing my views, and I dare assert that if I had received but common justice, I wanted no other encouragement, the whole Colony wou’d long since have felt the affects of my operations, and hundreds of others encouraged by my success wou’d have started forward, and made the country what its natural situation entitles it to produce, and what the mother Country has the right to expect from it, instead of its being a constant burden. A very short time after I was acquainted with the Island I discovered a disposition on the part of those who succeeded Governor Patterson to follow his steps, tho' in a more guarded way, and I was given to understand a Bill wou’d be brought forward to affect that object as soon as Governor Fanning cou’d get a House of Assembly "to his mind". If you have heard the history of the Election which obtained a House of Assembly "to the mind" of the Governor you will have learned the origin of what marked Cambridge and Bowly out for destruction. I need not then tell you it was endeavoring to prevent such measures as were adopted to get a House of Assembly to the Governors mind. When I arrived in the Colony a second time I was openly told by those in the Confidence of Governor Fanning that they were determined to destroy Cambridge and Bowly, and that if I wou’d be friendly with them I might have the whole trade of the Island, and I have no doubt too but I might have shared the plunder of the Proprietors Lands but I scorned the boon. I saw enough to convince me what the Government was, and that with such a set – no Man’s property wou’d be safe, Nay his life, and which is much more dear, his reputation.
I therefore joined with Cambridge and others to effect their removal and had my advice been pursued and the complaints conducted with moderation prudence, and I may even say common sense, the object wou’d have been easily obtained, but the sanguinary disposition of a certain person (who parted for revenge more then he wished for justice) outstep’d his object and in the very commencement of the complaints. I foresaw their fate and withdrew myself from a matter so utterly misconnected. The result verified my predictions. The manner in which that wretch requited my associating with him. You know something of the history. But I shall forbear to give a look to my feelings on a subject which I wish to remember only as a memento of caution and an instructive lesson of dear bought experience. I regret extremely that your present worthy Governor has been induced to sanction a project for a Tax on the Lands of the Proprietors. Not, I assure you Sir from what I shou’d have had to pay under such an arrangement, but that I was convinced from the moment I learned the design that it wou’d raise all the spirit of party animosity which I trusted wou’d have died away, and wou’d create a contest between him and those who much respect him and wou’d wish to give him every support; and I am certain if carried in the Island, it wou’d to all intents and purposes have proved ineffectual. You may rest assured Sir, such a measure wou’d never have obtained the Royal Assent, and that after Years of ineffectual struggle, to the injury of all parties, none wou’d have benefited, – and depend upon it Sir whilst those struggles are going forward the Union of all the abilities of such as a Pitt and Fox and all the Politicians from the days of the Flood to the hour of general conflagration will never produce any good on the Island. The first thing that can induce a Landholder to improve his Estate is the security of his title*, the Merchant before he adventures his Capital must have confidence in the Administration of the Laws. That within one or the other has been the Case in your devoted Island for 20 years past is a fact no Man who has a knowledge of the Island can controvert except the short period that the worthy and lamented McCachrane presided in your Court[.] Let me ask you Sir what has been the state of the Island? If you have not been a sufficient time on the Island to know from your own observations what the conduct of the Court has been I am confident you must have heard sufficient from others. You have now a new Chief Justice on his way. I hope to God for the sake of the Island, for the sake of individuals and for himself he will prove worthy the important situation he is to fill and that the juries by and by be sensible of the sacred trust they have to discharge.
* This was Colonel DesBarres precept but he did not think that a general assessment for the improvement of the Country was in conceptual with the precept on his way.
(Signed) J. Hill
Rotherhithe 10 May 1807
J. B. Palmer Esq.
What, my good Sir, has been the affect of the late measures? The attempt at a Land Tax has given the Governors adversaries the opportunity of making him unpopular with the Inhabitants, defeating his measures in the House of Assembly, alienating the good wishes of many of the proprietors at home and again sowing the seeds of that contention which I fear has already taken deep root in that too fruitful soil of discord. The representations coming officially from the Island unsupported by interest here, and what is still worse, furnishing the ground for the Governors enemies on this side of the water to weaken his consequence and sap the foundations of his interest with Government will I fear even endanger the stability of his administration –
Captain Codd told me that a certain Person* called on him a few days ago saying – "Well Captain Codd, You are now sole agent, and have got your instructions. The next instructions will be to eject DesBarres from the Island." I took the liberty when I wrote you last to write the Governor my sentiments on some of the matters without reserve, whatever may be the result, my motives are good, and with my best wishes, that I write to him and you my opinion and presume to differ. Not one word will escape my lips at office here that is hostile to his measures.
(Signed) J. Hill
* I always understood this person to be Captain Stewart. [J. B. Palmer’s footnote.]
From the preceding statement and Mr. Hills Letters it may probably appear that a combination existed against Colonel DesBarres measures. From those letters it will also appear that Mr. Hill considered me as having some influence in the administration of affairs at that time. This opinion, however well or ill founded, was so prevalent as to have the affect of exposing me to the attack of a number of persons who dared not level their shafts directly against Colonel DesBarres – a Governor in the Colonies always requires a professional Man to assist him, and if I had been detached from him there was not any other person to supply my place until the arrival of Mr. Roubel which was in the latter end of the year 1808 and then he was uninformed as to Colonel affairs. An independent Lawyer is a subject of perpetual alarm in P. E. Island.
Five professional Men have from time to time during a period of about 20 years taken an active part in occasionally suing certain Members of General Fanning’s late administration and every one of those five have by sinister means been drove away from Prince Edward Island viz. Mr. Grandin, Mr. Alpin, Mr. Wentworth, Mr. Roubel and myself. Such persons as were indebted to me were urged and encouraged to dispute and delay the payment of the Sums due to me. On the other hand I was forced to pay my Debts, some of them to a large amount in specie when there was scarcely any to be had in the Island. My enemies had their Salaries and places to subsist on. I had a large young family to support by my personal exertion alone, nevertheless my debts are every year decreasing altho’ I suffered a considerable loss lately, and my opponents are each day becoming more involved. This if necessary I can enter into minute proof of, and if my moral and official conduct during ten years residence in the Colony cannot be effectually attainted w hen under such acute observation, I submit that the conference must be rather in my favor.
To have the acts of this confederacy circumstantially from its first establishment wou’d far exceed the proper limits of the present statement. The following is a copy of an Affidavit sworn by Mr. Hazard the Agent of Stephen Sullivan Esq. Proprietor of 80, 000 Acres of Land, and which Mr. Hazard has himself a very handsome unencumbered Estate generally considered to be the best farm in P.E.Isd. – The Affidavit is here set forth to shew not only the existence but the views and mode of proceeding of this party.
The Chief Justice Colelough declared that he had long since laid those Affidavits with others of a like nature before The Secretary of State. –
From this confederacy the Sheriffs and a very considerable majority of the Grand Jurors are chosen – and from those persons the addresses affidavits and certificates come on which they themselves so much rely for support. To a Stranger unacquainted with the Colony those addresses might seem to express the sentiments of the people at large. But very little examination will shew the colour and deceit which here as in too many other instances is practiced by this party. –
The Chief Justice usually nominates three Persons one of whom is to be the Sheriff of the entire Colony for the succeeding year. –
The Sheriff selects the Grand Jury from any part of the Colony which he may think proper, they cannot exceed 23 in number and they meet twice in every year. So that in fact the Chief Justice has the appointment of the Jurors because tho’ he may not personally name the Men who are to be summoned yet it is very well understood that if he understood that if he chooses a Sheriff out of the confederacy the Grand Jury (with probably a few exceptions for the sake of appearances) will be of the same description as to conduct. Indeed the number of Persons composing this confederacy is so much limited that nearly a majority of the very same persons are upon every Grand Jury.
As this is the primary Cause of complaint of the Colony at large it wou’d be very improper that I shou’d leave the truth of the fact depending on my bare assertion. More particularly as the alleged abuse of this power in the Chief Justice is one of the reasons assigned by the House of Assembly for addressing Colonel DesBarres to suspend him from execution of his office, and the subject cannot be fairly discussed without entering into it rather at large –
The Power of the Chief Justice to nominate Sheriff proceeds from a Statute of the Colony by which he is directed annually to nominate three fit and proper persons one of whom to be Sheriff, and the Governor is to pick the Name of such one person, and if such Nominee shall refuse to act the Chief Justice is to return another List of three fit and proper persons [ _ ] and the person so refusing is to pay a fine of £20. The abuse of that power is now to be proved. –
The following List of Nominees – persons chosen for 5 years will shew that there was a very limited selection returned by the Chief Justice.
Picked by the Lieut Governor
Persons nominated in lieu
Persons who served
John Fredr Holland
John Fredr Holland
Honr Harry Compton
John Fredrick Holland
The very nature of this subject requires that some strictures shou’d be made on the characters and situation of the persons returned – nothing less then the safety of the Colony because under the present system those Persons must govern any Governor and as they are universally despised & detested so highly by Mr. Brecken the consequence must be obvious. Messrs John Cambridge, Lemuael Cambridge and George Wright are P artners in Trade – Mr. Wright is Mr. Cambridge’s Son in Law, Mr. Cambridge’s Name is mentioned in some of Mr. Hills Letters already set out, and in another Letter written by that person to me dated 8th Sept 1806 when he calls Mr. Cambridge the Man who so far from being a sufferer, was benefited by his Bankruptcy, having between him and his Connections continued to get all the property of his Creditors in the Island into his hands. "I have" (Mr. Hill adds) "received only eleven pence in the pound from his Trustees as a final division of his effects" –
Mr. Cambridge is perpetually engaged in various law Suits and he, incapable of taking the Sheriff’s Oath being a Quaker. It appears that in four successive Years the Name of some one person in the above partnership has been returned five times as a Nominee –
Mr. Charles Worrel returned in 1808. Mr. Haszard’s affidavit goes to shew the nature of his political opinions. Election Banners & Mottos No Taxes. This Gentleman did at a Season of great scarcity draw and present a Petition to the Lieut't Govr in Council against an Embargo signed by a number of dishonest Persons under his influence, upon which Petition the Council Board on the 10th Sept. 1810 came to the following unanimous resolution which is entered on the minutes. "That the Petition is highly disrespectful and indecent in its language, containing "a number of false assertions and sophistical arguments and tending to create a dangerous degree of irritation in the mind of the people." On the 17th Sept last the House of Assembly came Resolutio ns, which is very material for consideration and is in those words set out from the Journals – 3 Resols. Mr. Worell’s subsequent contumacy fully appears on the Journals of the House.
Mr. John Frederick Holland a Nominee in 1808 is a principal person in the confederacy. He is now Adjutant General of Militia, also an acting Magistrate, Barrack Master and Ordnance Clerk, situations neither compatible or consistent with that of Sheriff. He had privately been ordered to quit the 7th Fuzilar Reg’t in which he was a Lieutn at Halifax. At Charlotte Town he on the public hasting accused General Fanning with having taken a large sum of Money out of the Treasury to England. He was appointed Post Master by Colonel DesBarres who afterwards was obliged to displace him on account of deficiencies and irregularities in that department – Mr. Holland is not only the Buffo at the Public Dinners of this party – where strangers are first deceived and entrapped but he has turned the Court of Justice into a scene of ridicule, ha ving sat as Sheriff in Court with a Broad Crimson Ribbon, similar to that of a Knight of the Bath and a Glass Star. Mr. Holland was an unsuccessful comic Actor on Drury Lane Stage in 1806 and he has designed a kind of dramatic procession which is still continued every day in Term time – The Chief Justice and such Gentlemen of the Bar as think fit to accompany him walk in their Robes all thro’ this Town to Court proceeded by a Man in a strange Dress blowing a Bugle Horn and attended by the Sheriff and a number of Men carrying Instruments representing Halberds or Battle Axes, but made of Tin. – Fifty pounds per annum is allowed to the Sheriff for this procession out of very limited Revenue. Colonel DesBarres as Chancellor was obliged to make some attachment Orders against Mr. Holland for the payment of Money which had been cadged with him as Sheriff. He is deeply much embarrassed in his circumstances and when his wife’s family were in an absolute state of distress he brought a Woman from Halifax and lived in notorious intimacy with her in Charlotte Town last Summer very much tending (in that Country particularly) to degrade the character of a Public Officer and to produce still worse consequences for one of his Sons absolutely asked the Chief Justices leave to shoot her.
Mr. Brecken is the confidential friend and Merchant of the Chief Justice and of Mr. Stewart the Attorney General. –
Colonel Compton when he was nominated in 1809 had the Lieutn Governors leave of absence to go to England[.] He then expected to sail in a few Weeks, and did afterwards come to England. He was a Colonel of Militia and Member of Council situations which generally exempt Persons from being Sheriffs.
Mr. Williams nominated in 1810 came to Prince Edward Island in embarrassed circumstances and still remains without any landed property – he was a violent partisan at Elections under the Banners and Mottos before described – Mr. Williams lived in notorious intimacy with a Woman by whom he had several avowed Children living with him in a small House or Hut built by Earl Selkirk. Very shortly before Mr. Williams was nominated he published at the door of a Church or place of worship a libelous paper in his own hand writing against Dr. Macauly the Minister of the congregation containing also strong reflections on Government, for which Libel a prosecution is now depending
Mr. Chas Stewart nominated in 1810 the cousin and Brother in Law of the Attorney General.
Mr. George Wright the third Nominee in 1810 is the Nephew by Marriage of Captain John Stewart Receiver General of the Quit Rents. Process of the Court of Chancery having issued against Mr. Wright’s Partner and Father in Law Mr. Cambridge. Mr. Wright in Oct 1809 abused the Person who went to serve this process but at the request of the Person he was excused on apologizing in Court[.] Nevertheless when Mr. John Stewart (the Attorney Generals Son) was committed and was in Custody of the Sergeant of Arms of the Court of Chancery for a high contempt of that Court it appears by the Affidavit of the Sergeant of Arms and the Gaoler sworn in Janry 1812 that Mr. Wright, Mr. Holland, and sundry other Persons followed the Officer thro’ the streets of Charlotte Town, and Mr. Wright publicly used contemptuous and bantering language and gestures to the Man who was old and infirm. It also appeared in evidence before the Lieutenant Governor and Council on the 11th of April last that Mr. Wright had accused Government with peculation of a sum of £500 of the public money for which assertion the Board advised that he shou’d be prosecuted and at the last Election he behaved in a very riotous and improper manner.
Mr. Edward Worrel nominated in 1811 is the younger Brother of Mr. Charles Worrel before mentioned, living in the same house with him.
Mr. George Irving Sheriff in 1811 was in embarrassed circumstances at the time of his appointment and previously he had been then but a very short time on the Island. – During his [tenure] he knocked a Man down in the public street no riot or tumult subsisting , declaring that he Mr. Irving, was of the other party. – This appears by affidavit.
Mr. Lemuel Cambridge the present Sheriff is the son of Mr. John Cambridge. His conduct at the late Election a place called George Town was highly improper. A tavern was hired for his friends – the only public house in the Neighborhood. His Servants drove out of the House two of the Candidates – he being in the House also a Candidate. The Electors were secreted in the House, and one of the Candidates E. LePage Esq. a respectable Magistrate and Merchant was assaulted at the House by the Brother and the Nephew of the Attorney General and menaced and grossly abused by Mr. Gardner one of the Candidates.
Mr. Robert Stewart nominated in 1812 is brother of the Attorney General, and one of the Persons who assaulted Mr. LePage.
Mr. Birney also nominated in 1812 is married to the daughter of Captain John Stewart Brother of the Attorney General. He was the principal Subscriber to the expense of the last election which amounted to a very large Sum, about the time of the Honorable Villers’s defalcation in the Marine department. Mr. Edmund Waters his Clerk sent out merchandise to Prince Edward Island to the amount, as he himself said of £70,000 a capital infinitely too great for the Country. Mr. Birney is the clerk of Mr. Waters[.] A considerable part of this Capital has been expended by him in wild speculations. He is a misguided young Man who has permitted every individual of the Attorney Generals family and their adherents to run deeply in debt to the House. Mr. Birney was one of the Members who seceded from the House of Assembly last Session.
As the before mentioned Nominees are invariably on each Grand Jury (with one or two occasional exceptions or changes in order to give an appearance of variety) it will be sufficient to describe a very few characters who occasionally accompany them comprising in number & infl'ce a large majority of the Jury and then to shew some acts of misconduct on the part of the Grand Jury which were consternated and indeed patronized by the Chief Justice
Dugald Stewart Cousin of the Attorney Genl. but who returned in time to avoid the note of censure.
John Gardner one of the seceding Members of the House of Assembly. – H e had also been concerned in the before mentioned afray at George Town.
Richard Rollings the Nephew and Agent of Mr. Hodges, a Landed Proprietor, a Timber Merchant, formerly a contractor with Governm ent. Mr. Hodges sent out a Number of People from Scotland to Prince Edward Island from several of whom he obtained Cash for Engraved Notes purporting to be payable at the Bank of Prince Edward Island, but on the arrival of the emigrants they found that there was no Bank in the Island or any funds for the payment of the Notes. Mr. Hodges was also concerned in a Suit in Chancery where some very fraudulent ending on his part uncollected. Mr. Rollings at an election made an Affidavit that he was a resident housekeeper for the last Six Months in question , the House to which he alluded was tenanted by another Person and Mr. Rolling had scarcely entered it during the six months in question.
Thomas McNutt the Nephew of the Attorney General. Mr. McNutt is in Partnership with his father who has been dismissed and is now under a Crown prosecution for defalcation as a Collector of Public Revenue.
Benjamin Evans the former Clerk of Mr. Cambridge and Trustee for him in a number of deeds which are charged to be fraudulent in various proceedings in Chancery.
Richard Yates the Clerk of Mr. Hill. This young Man was prosecuted for perjury in an Affidavit sworn by him relative to the Society of Loyal Electors. The perjury was directly proved by the oaths of above ten Witnesses all Men of probity and respectability but the Grand Jury ignored the Bills. – Mr. Yeates in another Affidavit swore with a view of obtaining a Writ of Ne exicat Regno that Mr. Roubel was indebted to Mr. Hill in a sum of £70 over and above all just allowances, when in truth, if Mr. Roubel had been at all indebted to Mr. Hill it must have been but a very few shillings.
Fredk B. Holland a weak young Man, the Brother of the celebrated Mr. Holland. John McDonald the Cousin and Protégé of Captain John McDonald mentioned in Mr. Hill’s Letters. Captain McDonalds Name was not in the Commission of the Peace and he was a Roman Catholic . The Chief Justice upon his own authority at Chambers actually ordered Captain McDonald to be sworn and admitted as Magistrate and an entry thereof to be made in the Records of the Supreme Court. This act alone may be sufficient to shew the necessity of suspending the Chief Justice. An attested Copy of the Order can be produced. –
Fade Goff an avowed insolvent Debtor lately arrived from Newfoundland – the Factor of Captain John Stewart residing in his House.
John Plaw an outlawed Bankrupt who constantly acts as a joint Magistrate with Mr. Holland from which they derived a considerable emolument.
Thus with four exceptions, the Names of the Grand Jury are given who in Hilary Term 1812 voted an Address of thanks to the Chief Justice for striking Mr. Roubel off the Roll of Attornies. Whereas from the Rule or Judgment of the Court it appears that Mr. Roubel was struck off for a Contempt – the very Rule itself shewing that the Court had no authority to make it.
One of the four Persons above excepted, Mr. David Murray, afterwards voted as a Member of the House of Assembly for the suspension of the Chief Justice.
The conduct of such Grand Juries may in some measure be conceived[.] – Their refusing to find the Bills against Yeats for perjury was not a singular proceeding. An Indictment for perjury was also presented against a W. T. A. Steyner Clerk in the Commissariat department who voted at an Election and swore he was a resident housekeeper because he had a room in the Kings Barracks[.] – This Indictment also supported by proof indubitable shared the same fate and many other indictments equally well supported[.] While on the contrary Grand Jurors were so inclined to take an active part when it suited their purpose that they found a presentment against a Military Officer for perjury alleged to have been committed in an Affidavit made and filed in Chancery containing charges against the Attorney General then and yet undetermined for professional misconduct[.] Also an Indictment for extortion in a Bill of Costs allowed by the Court of Chancery agreeable to its established Order (which is the same as the Court of Chancery in Nova Scotia) in a matter against the Attorney Generals Son. – Each of those proceedings of the Grand Jury having taken place without the previous permission or knowledge of the Court of Chancery – thus exposing the officers and Suitors of that Court to the attack of a Grand jury. The Chief Justice quashed the presentment for perjury on the ground that it was not sufficiently specific. But he did not state that the Affidavit cou’d not be used without leave of the Court of Chancery, nor did the Attorney General inform the Grand Jury to that effect but on the contrary he was the Person who having been previously sworn was examined by them to prove the alleged perjury – another shocking instance of maladministration of the Law. – The Chief Justice also quashed the presentment for extortion not upon the merits but because the proceedings he said shou’d have been taken under a particular statute. The Grand Jury went so far as require the Lieut General to call a meeting of the House of Assembly, and to as remark upon the right of the Court of Chancery to confirm The Attorney Generals Son for a high contempt of that Court. This young Man afterwards escaped from Gaol and now holds a public employment in the Colony. –
All those circumstances can be proved by official documents – on demand, as also that there were a great number of Men of property and respectability whose Names given never returned either as Sheriff or Grand Jurors.
Certain Letters and Depositions have been published by The Chief Justice a copy of which publication is hereunto annexed – because it is presumed that an attentive perusal of that paper will be alone sufficient to shew that he is unworthy to hold his situation. The Chief Justice calls this publication a contradiction to Colonel DesBarres Letter – Colonel DesBarres states that he gave the Judges permission to have access to sworn on Affidavits as Mr. Serini had the Originals. "You had full leave to call on him for them" – Colonel or Judge Gray states that Colonel DesBarres words were "The Deputy Clerk of the Council has the Affidavits, from whom you may have them" the Chief justice having previously expressed a hope that "His Excellency wou’d suffer the law to take its course"[.] – So far from a contradiction appearing in those statements there is scarcely any inconsistency in the truth of both because it is the actual words spoken which are to be considered and not the understanding of interested or prejudiced Men as to the construction of those words or intent of the Person uttering them. Those papers were lodged in the Court of the Lieutn Governor and His Majestys Council, a Court competent, (as is His Majesty in his Privy Council) to take cognizance of state affairs[.] The affidavits cou’d not have been taken out of that Court[.] The Court might have permitted attested Copies thereof to be given, and directed the Officer to attend any another Court with the originals for the furtherance of justice[.] – But consistently with the Law of England and of Prince Edward Island such an order cou’d not be made until the subject matter to which the affidavit related had been previously heard and finally disposed of – and even then the Order cou’d only be made upon the application of some party who wou’d afterwards be responsible in an Action for a malicious prosecution.
To that the Lieutn Governor had not the power if he desired it to give up the original affidavits and therefore "the Law" did not "take its course" and the affidavits were obtained by sinister and illegal means.
The Chief Justice publishes what he calls "Depositions made by the several Sheriffs who have served for the last five years." Those depositions, or rather this affidavit is signed by the Sheriffs for four years, and Mr. W Cambridge certifies that the present Sheriff "will swear in a similar one." The affect of the affidavit is that the Chief justice did not directly or indirectly interfere with any of the Deponents respecting the Persons to serve on Juries. Even if the affidavit were admitted to be true it does not tend to establish anything for[,] by appointing the Sheriff[,] the Grand Jury were appointed as a natural consequence under the present order of things. – The sympathy of feeling or rather of expression between the Chief Justice Colonel Gray and those Deponent Sheriffs when descanting upon the resolution of the House of Assembly wou’d scarcely denote something like a prison [mode – wrong word] of attack . – The Chief Justice calls the Resolution as Persons thrown out by seven Members of the House of Assembly with intent to injure Chief Justice Coleclough. Colonel Gray speaks of seven Members. The Sheriffs say it is "most falsely insinuated or asserted by seven Persons styling themselves Members of the House of Assembly. The Resolution itself is a regular and deliberate proceeding of the House. On the 18th of August the papers were moved for on the 21st they were laid before the House and read. On the 4th of Sept the matter underwent a long discussion in Committee who entered upon some twenty R esolutions. On the 8th of Sept Mr. Goff moved that the thanks of the House be presented to The Chief Justice. – Mr. Murray moved the Order of the day which was carried by 12 against 4. – From thence until the 26th of September the subject underwent various discussions. The Deputy Clerk of the Council was examined at the Bar on the 23rd of Sept who deposed that there was not any Order of Council for the affidavits to be given up. The Lieutenant Governors Letter was read on the 25th Sept where he positively says "no order whatever relative to the delivery of the affidavits in Question has been given by me" and he also says "I had not the most distant idea of the possibility of these affidavits being applied to the purpose of carrying on any criminal prosecution against the Persons who made them". On the 26th of Sept, after the examination of Mr. Roubel at the Bar, the subject was fully taken up by the House. Judge Curtis a Member of the House entered into a vindication of the Chief Justice, and after some hours debate the following Resolutions were carried by seven Members against two. (S et out Resolutions) Five of the Members of the majority belonged or had belonged to the Loyal Electors Society, but Mr. Murray or Mr. Townsend who voted for the Resolutions are not nor were not Members of that Society. – Judge Curtis from his judicial concurrence in the measure complained of was implicated by the Resolution yet he was not considered as disqualified to vote against it whereas only one Member on the other side, Doctor Macauly, was affected by the transaction or rather one of the transactions complained of. If it shall be asserted that the Resolutions were passed when but few Members were present to is pretty obvious from the vote of the 17th of Sept relative to the secession of Mr. Worrel and other Members, and from the subsequent proceedings of the House that the remaining number used every means within their power to enforce a full attendance.
Part of the Resolution relates to the abuse of the Chief Justice’s powers in the nomination of Sheriffs. – His Letters written to Colonel DesBarres on different occasions relative to those appointments were fully considered by the House. – I have attested copies of them, ready to produce[.] In point of absurdity of argument and ungentlemanly language they almost exceed examination –
The epithet "Democratic" is applied by the Chief Justice to the Society of Loyal Electors. – Colonel Gray calls them "a Club instituted for the avowed purpose of regulating and controlling the Government, and headed by two Men without principle and without property, one of them the Author of the most inflammatory Affidavit and of the three and the other (meaning myself) his Counsel ." And there is a note to Colonel Gray & letter not allowed as evidence of that wild equanimity which found a practice in trial conduct. The Sheriffs say that any insinuation tending to impeach or reflect on the Judicial character of the Chief Justice is a most wicked, vile and infamous calumny to their firm belief. – That wild and inexorable intemperance of mind which characterizes Chief Justice Colclough (created or promoted by intemperance of living) is strongly exemplified in his attack on a peaceable and Constitutional body of respectable Men. He has been called to Order in Council for abusing a Gentleman who was in the act of giving evidence before the late Lieut Governor. – He will not suffer of the proceedings of this Council Board to be read to without interrupting the Clerk. In His Excellency’s presence he has frequently flown out of Council Chamber in a passion upon some trifling o ccasion, and he attends both Council and levee with a great Watch Coat a leaden Whip and three monstrous Dogs who cannot be put of the room. – He on the Bench in open Court extrajudicially abused Mr. Hyde a reputable and wealthy Farmer, who he said, had the impudence or effrontery to sit up as a Candidate for the House Of Assembly, calling him "a reptile". – His judicial decision and opprobrious language in Court will be stated in Mr. Roubels charge forming really a frightful detail. – His conduct in the Streets is scandalous – entering into the little Shops, and asking the opinion of ignorant Country People about his decisions in Court, Horsewhipping his servant thru’ the Streets at noon day, quarreling with Blacksmiths. – Committing Persons illegally to the Stocks and to Prison, himself sometimes being the escort as was the case with an old Woman whom he met intoxicated in the street. All those circumstances and many more the greater part being proved by affidavits are perfectly reconcilable with the foregoing epithet. –
Colonel (or Judge) Gray is Treasurer of Prince Edward Island. The House of Assembly found on the examination of Witnesses and documents that certain public Debtors had not been called upon to make their payments, whilst other Persons did not receive a like indulgence. They found that a large Sum of Money was due by Government (part of which had already been lost by delay) and a large Sum was due to Government upon which latter sum the Treasurer received interest as a probate emolument and also received 7½ percent commission on all public Money. I brought in a Bill to remedy those evils which Bill passed and has very much promoted public confidence and satisfaction, but has not equally satisfied Colonel Gray who thus loses a considerable Yearly Sum. – To his charge that I am poor, I plead guilty[.] When justice takes place I shall not be so poor. When he says I am without principle he must have changed his mind lately for I have some Letters from him where he compliments me highly[.] But Colonel Gray is in the habit of altering his sentiments for he was one of a Committee of His Majestys Council who upon examination of Judge Curtis’s conduct in his then situation of Treasurer and Store Keeper, after stating different acts of his conduct therein came to a resolution the 17th Sept 1807 of which the following is an extract. "The Committee are therefore of opinion that Mr. Curtis has rendered himself incapable of serving the Public as Treasurer of this Island" which report with Mr.Curtis's defense being considered was unanimously approved of by Lieutenant Governor Fanning and the Council the same day[.] Mr. Curtis accordingly was displaced from his employment forthwith, & it was instantly given to Colonel Gray. As to the character of Colonel Gray it appears in a letter written by Mr. Hill to me dated Rotherhithe 20th July 1806 of which the following is an extract – "Stewart told me (I had an interview with him) that the Governor had taken measures to secure to Mr. Gray the salary of Chief Justice whilst he officiates in that capacity. I am confident the Governor will do what he thinks right, but if he [Stewart] knew what his [Gray’s] conduct has been, even to me, he [Stewart] wou’d not I shou’d conceive think him [Gray] much entitled to his protector. I will briefly state it["]. Then he gives a long account of landing a Vessel of his to P.E.I. in which Colonel Gray was a passenger and which Vessel was lost at the Island and add[itionally] Gray a passenger with him. [Here begins Mr. Hill’s story.] When the Vessel came to the Island, Shuttleworth insisted on the Vessel going into the Harbour of Saint Peters. The Master of her remonstrated at the danger on a view of the Harbour, and the information he obtained. Gray insisted on it that it was perfectly safe, and Shuttleworth declared if the Vessel did not go in he wou’d sue the Captain for damage. He at length reluctantly complied, and as he had foreseen the Vessel got ashore, and received so much damage and lay in such a state that on a survey being taken it was advisable to sell her for the benefit of the underwriters. It was thought nearly impossible to get her off. She was publicly sold, and my agent bought her and after this by good luck and great exertion they got her afloat again and afterwards repaired her. Gray wrote home a Letter to a friend of his who was then an underwriter and who he desired to communicate the same to the underwriters of my Vessel, in which he stated that the Captain on her passage out had several times attempted to leave the Convoy and to get the Vessel taken by the enemy but not succeed[ing] in that[,] he had purposely put her into the situation at Saint Peters in order to lose her[.] And he conceived she was insured at considerable more than her value and that it was an intended fraud on the underwriters. He also stated the Sale to be unfair, and that she was bought by my agent in a dishonest way. A calumny more infamous never issued from the pen of the most malicious spirit[.] This Vessel was one of five which kept with the Convoy refuting the charges got on the Bank of Newfoundland, and the Captain as well as my Clerk John W. Stowe that was on Board did everything possible to keep with the protection with the Man of War, and the circumstances of going into St. Peters was as before stated. I was likewise many hundred pounds short insured of the Ship and Cargo. This scandalous transaction determined me that I wou’d avoid as much as possible sending another Vessel of my own to the Island to expose my reputation. –[Here ends Mr. Hill’s story.] Then Mr. Hill states an anonymous Letter that was written by an incendiary to the Master of Lloyds Coffee House respecting another transaction about insurance and adds "this Letter was not in the hand writing of Gray but it was evidently written by a Person well acquainted with the former calumny, and I am fully justified in contending who the Author was. After making those attempts on my character you will, by the Petition I have sent, partly be acquainted with what happened to my property. I was considered at that time the only (at least the principal Person) who cou’d and wou’d resist the views of the party, and no stone was left unturned to destroy both my property and my reputation. I leave you this to judge what confidence I have in the administration of justice from the hands of such a Man. Captain McDonald represented all this and more to your late worthy! Governor who never deigned to take the least notice of it. I wou’d even at this late period state it to your present Governor but it wou’d perhaps involve him in trouble and if the present Chief Justice comes out I hope he will put your Court on a respectable footing, and that property as well as character will be so far safe. I know every measure has been taken and will be continued to render him and that nothing will be left untried to undermine even the Governor himself. However I hope and trust he will have that support on the Island, and that protection here which will enable him to remove from places of importance Men who disgrace them, and replace them with those of a different stamp. I have confidence he will do it when he sees their true characters". –
The people of Prince Edward Island are shrewd & inquisitive and the old Letters are well informed of a number of anecdotes upon which they can estimate the value Of Colonel Gray or Mr. Curtis’s assertion placed in contradiction to that of Colonel DesBarres. Those Judges have given their testimony on various occasions. The present Commander in Chief Mr. Townshend in a Memorial which he presented to the then Lieutenant Governor Fanning, accused Mr. Curtis of have committed willful and corrupt perjury. And Mr. Cambridge has made a like accusation. – Mr. Curtis’s irregularity and improper habit of living may be estimated by the before mentioned Affidavit of Mr. Haszard and also by the following extract of a very long affidavit sworn in Court 23rd Feb 1807 by Doctor Macauly. "This Deponent saith that on the Night of the said nineteenth instant at the Tavern of Mr. Hutchinson in Charlotte Town Deponent met the said Mr. Justice Curtis, Messrs. Brecken, The Attorney General, Charles Stewart Esq. who Deponent understood to be Solicitor General, and Alexander McDonell Esquires who were all drinking together. Saith that the Attorney General and Mr. Stewart left the room very soon after Deponent had entered and Deponent saith that the said Curtis shook hands with Deponent, using these words "I can smile upon the Man I hate" or words to that effect. Deponent saith that he sat for a considerable time with the said party who drank freely of brandy and water and Deponent having say’d that he opposed a certain Person at the last Election Curtis answered that Person wore a Sword and that Curtis wou’d fight Deponent for him or wou’d fight Deponent on his own account, or words to that effect, and during the course of the sitting said Curtis had seemed anxious to irritate Deponent but Deponent answered that he was "determined not to fight with a Man who was to judge him the next day" – those facts were not denied by Mr. Curtis. –
Chief Justice Colelough denied that he called Mr. Hyde a reptile on the Bench, but several respectable Persons made Affidavit that they heard the words spoken. Thus it is submitted that the House of Assembly exercised a sound discretion in crediting the assertion of His Majesty’s Representativ e, wh o has never yet been convicted of having uttered a falsehood. T hese are not less than gross falsehoods in the very title of the Chief Justices publication.
The Affidavits which were thus obtained from the Clerk of this Council by the Judges were handed by the Chief Justice to the Clerk of the Court in open Court and ordered to be filed at the same time that the Court declared them to be libelous and scandalous whereas scandalous matter shou’d be always taken off the file of a Court. Mr. Roubel who swore one of those Affidavits was called to take an Oath in Court that he wou’d answer all such questions as shou’d be demanded of him. He expressed his readiness to answer written interrogations in the usual way but the Chief Justice told him it was the practice in Ireland – Mr. Roubel of course declined to take such an Oath and he was struck off the Roll for a Contempt. Informations were granted against Doctor Macaulay and against Mr. Haszard whose Affidavit has been here stated on the motion of the Attorney General – no prosecutor being Named.
The House of Assembly thought that when such incredible and unexampled extravagancies had been committed under Colour of Judicial power and many other illegal acts which were mentioned, the Person presiding in the Court was no longer worthy to hold his situation. –
I have commenced an action in P. E. Island of a Mr. L. C. Welsford for publishing a libel purporting to be an extract from the proceedings of The Loyal Electors Society designated by the Name of the Political Cor responding Society wherein I am made to move for a Secret Committee and described by that title of Citizen Palmer[.] But it is in vain for me to go to trial under present circumstances. Proceedings at Law and in Equity at the Suit of other Persons to a vast extent lay dormant for the same reason. – Different demands against the Attorney General. An Action against Colonel Gray for £600 for building his House. A large demand against Insher Curtis at the Suit of Mr. Callbeck as his agent[.] Various suits against General Fanning the intimate friend and hourly companion of the Chief Justice[.] Mr. Hill himself and other Persons whom it wou’d be unappealing at present to contend with and there is not now in P. E. Is’d a Practitioner at the Bar who is capable of conducting a Cause thru’ all its stages. – The Attorney General has a knowledge of practice as far as the Colony afforded it. But he is now prevented from speaking in Public by some guttural impediment. –
In stating the conduct of this confederacy I have principally confined myself to such acts as related to the jurisprudence of the Colony being the apparent subject of immediate attention but a determined opposition was given to every measure which the late Lieutenant Governor proposed – as may reasonably be inferred from the foregoing statement as well as from the Journals of the House of Assembly last Sessions, and which opposition I can prove if required. Nevertheless that Gentn removed the prejudices which it may naturally be supposed had been created in the mind of illiterate people against Government by conduct such as even Mr. Hill has stated on the part of the former administration. – Colonel DesBarres measures produced a rapid improvement of the Estates of several of those very proprietors by whose agents or representatives joined with an unprincipled factor, he was apposed. – The Country prospered under his administration notwithstanding the increase of the Timber trade which is well known to promote idleness extravagance and exorbitant high wages. The ruinous Clans of former days have been abolished, and the people have been taugh t to regard the constituted authorities with esteem. Then enjoying the hope that their property wou’d be henceforward protected participating in the rights of British Loyalists and seeing the Revenue faithfully appropriated (as was fully demonstrated last Session after a minute investigation of unexampled strictness) a spirit of Loyalty liberality and improvement has been dispersed throughout the Colony which if properly fostered and encouraged cannot fail to produce the happiest consequences to His Majestys Government –--
March 4 1813
J. B. Palmer