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LORD DARTMOUTH TO GOVR TRYON.
[Lond. Doc. XLIII.)
Whitehall 4 Novr 1772. The State of the French Claims on Lake Champlain appears to me, as far as I am at present informed to be a consideration of great difficulty and delicacy, and by no means of a nature to admit of an hasty decision. Those Claims are now before the Board of Trade in consequence of a reference from the privy Council, and I will not fail from what you say of the State of the Colony, as well in respect to those Claims as to the increasing disorders & confusion on the Eastern Frontiers in general, to press an immediate attention to both these important considerations.
The whole of this very important business will, I am persuaded, be discussed by the Lords of Trade with that impartiality that has always distinguished their conduct; I shall therefore avoid saying any thing more upon that subject or upon the Canadian Claims further, than, that I think it proper to observe that the proposition in your letter No 43, that all the territory on the south side of the River St. Lawrence was the property of the five Nations, and therefore that every Canadian Grant on that side of the River, was an encroachment on the British possessions, does not appear to n.e, from any information I have been able to collect, to be maintainable on any fair ground of argument; an observation which I think I am called upon to state to you, lest by my silence on that subject I should appear to acquiesce in a proposition that, if adopted in the extent you stale it, would strip one half of the King's new subjects of their ancient possessions and must spread an alarm that may have very fatal consequences to the King's interest.
I am, ettc.
MINUTE OF MR. EDMUND BURKE ATTENDING THE BOARD
Thursday Nov 12th 1772 At a meeting of His Majesty's Commte for Trade & Plantations
Present, Mr Gascoyne, Lord Greville Lord Garlies ; The Earl of Dartmouth, one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of
Staté, attending Mr. Edmund Burke attended & moved their Lordships that he might be heard by his Council, as well in behalf of the Province of New York as of sundry persons, Proprietors of Lands within the said Province, under grants from the Governor and Council thereof, against the confirmation by the Crown, of any grants made by the French King or the Government of Canada-within the limits of the said Province of New York.
Their Lordships upon consideration of Mr Burke's motion, agreed that he should be heard by his Counsel, and he was desired, só soon as his Councel should be prepared, to acquaint the Secretary therewith, in order that an early day might be fixed for the further consideration of this business.
Ordered that the Secretary do acquaint Mons Lotbiniere who now attends to solicit the Confirmation of two seigneuries on Lake Champlain, of which he claims the possession, with Mr. Burke's application to be heard by counsel, and that he will also be at liberty to be heard by his Counsel in support of his pretensions if he thinks fit.
GOVR TRYON TO LORD DARTMOUTH. EXTRACT.
New York 5 January 1773 The opinion I presumed to give your Lordship respecting the Canadian Claims, was grounded on the following facts, which if I am rightly informed are capable of satisfactory proof. I hope considering the importance of the subject, to be excused in submitting them to your Lordpps consideration.
The Dutch, who first settled this Colony, claimed the whole of Connecticut River and Lake Champlain, and all the Country to the Southward of the River St. Lawrence down to Delaware River; this appears from many ancient Maps, and particularly from Blair's and Ogilby's, which I have had an opportunity of seeing. In 1664, King Charles the Second granted this country to the Duke of York, expressly comprehending all the Lands from the west side of Connecticut River.
On a late actual survey, by Commissts from this & Quebec Governt, the head of that River is found to lie several miles to the Northward of the Latitude of forty fire degrees, lately established by his Majesty as the boundary between this Colony and Quebec.
A west line therefore from the head of Connecticut River (which will comprehend Lake Champlain) has been always deemed the ancient boundary of New York, according to the Royal Grant ; nór has it been abridged but in two instances. His Majtys proclamation limiting the extent of Quebec, and an agreement confirmed by the Crown with Connecticut. Every Act and Commission subsequent to King Charles's grant, describes the Province in General words—“ The Province of New York and the territories depending thereupon” and supposes its limits to be notorious, & properly established by that grant. On this principle the Judicatories, here have grounded their determinations, in suits between the New York Patentees, and the N. Hampshire claimants. The original Colony of New Hampshire as it was granted by the Council of Plymouth, & confirmed by the Crown about the year 1635, lay altogether on the East side of Connecticut River, which it did not reach by 20 miles. As it was new modelled & enlarged by the Commission to Govr Benning Wentworth in 1742, no distance from the sea, or station is given : but it is, bounded to the west by the King's other Governts and could not comprehend the Lands on the west side of the Connecticut River which were already a part of New York, as established by the Grant of the Crown abovementioned. Hence on the footing of original Right, our Courts determined, that the New Hampshire Grants were void for want of a legal authority in that Govern'. They considered His Maj''s order in Privy Council in 1764, as a confirmation of a prior Right, & not as having altered or enlarged the ancient Jurisdiction.
I am now cautious to give an opinion on the propriety of this decision, but barely mention the principles as they have been represented to me for your Lordp's information.
Whether the Dominions of the French in Canada interfered with the bounds of this Colony as anciently established by King Charles the Second, remains to be considered. All the Country to the Southward of the River St. Lawrance originally belonged to the five Nations or Iroquois, and as such, it is described in the above mentioned and other ancient Maps, & particularly Lake Champlain is there called “Mere des Iroquois," Sorel River which leads from the Lake into the River St. Lawrence “ Rivier des Iroquois," and the Tract on the East side of the Lake, Irocoisia.
So early as the year 1683, the Five Nations by Treaty with the Gov: of New York, submitted to the Sovereignty & protection of Great Brittain, and have ever since been considered as subjects, & their Country as part of the dominions of the Crown.
By the Treaty of Utrecht, the French King expressly recognized the Sovereignty of Great Brittain over those Nations.
Godfrey Dellius's purchase from the Mohocks, & grant under the Seal of New York in the year 1696, is esteemed a memorable proof of the Right of this Province, under the Crown, to the Lands on Lake Champlain. It comprehends a large Tract extending from Soraghtoga along Hudson's River, the Wood Creek, & Lake Champlain, on the East side upwards of twenty miles, to the northward of Crown Point; & it is thought a circumstance of no small importance, that this Grant was repealed by the Legislature in the year 1699, as an extravagant savour to one subject; which act would have been a nulliiy if that territory had not been within the jurisdiction of this Province.
Altho' the Canadians by their Savage depredations had long obstructed the settlement of this Frontier part of the Colony, it was not till the year 1731, that, in profound peace, they took possession of Lake Champlain & ordered Fort St. Frederick at