Sydney To Dorchester, September 3, 1788

My Lord,

Your Lordship will have seen, by the proceedings which took place in Parliament in the course of the last Session, the Arguments which were made use of on the Introduction of the Petition brought by Mr. Lymburner from Quebec, for a Change of the present Constitution of the Province, and the reasons which occurred to His Majesty’s Ministers for avoiding any decision upon that very important Subject.

It will, however, be absolutely necessary that it should be resumed very shortly after the next meeting, and it will, of course, be a matter of great importance to His Majesty’s Servants, that they should be previously prepared to enter into a full discussion of the business, and to propose such arrangements as may be found to be expedient for removing every just and reasonable cause of complaint that may exist among His Majesty’s Subjects, of any description whatsoever, who are Inhabitants of that Province.

The variety of applications which have from time to time been transmitted from thence upon this business, of so opposite a tendency to each other, render it extremely difficult to fix upon any Arrangements calculated to satisfy all the Parties interested in, or connected with it; His Majesty’s Servants however, are desirous to give the matter a full consideration, and that they may be the better enabled to form a competent judgment of the steps adviseable to be taken, they are solicitous of obtaining from Your Lordship a full and impartial account of the different Classes of Persons who desire a Change of Government, as well as of those who are adverse to the Measure, specifying, as nearly as it can be ascertained, the Proportion of Numbers and Property on each side in the several Districts; and, That your Lordship at the same time should state in what manner, either the interests, or influence of the latter, might be affected by any alteration, and what is the Nature and grounds of their apprehensions from the Introduction of a greater Portion of English Law, or of a System of Government more conformable to that established in other British Colonies.

In particular, They wish to be informed from what Causes the objection of the old Canadian Subjects to an House of Assembly chiefly arises: Whether, from its being foreign to the Habits and Notions of Government in which they have been educated, or, from an apprehension that it would be so formed as to give an additional Weight to the New Subjects, and lead to the introduction of Parts of the English Law which are obnoxious to them; or, from an idea that being invested with a Power of Taxation, it would eventually subject their Property to Burthens from which they are at present exempted; In like manner, whether the Objections which appear to exist to a farther Introduction of Trial by Jury, arise either from Prejudices against the Nature and Mode of such a decision, or from the difficulty of finding Jurors properly qualified, and the inconvenience to Individuals of the necessary Attendance; or from the Notion of this species of Trial being necessarily coupled with Modes of Proof and Rules of Law, different from those to which they are accustomed.

Though several of these points have already been noticed by Your Lordship in some of your Letters to me, and in the Papers which accompanied them, yet His Majesty’s Servants do not think that they are sufficiently explicit to enable them to form a decided opinion.

The anxiety of His Majesty’s Servants to be perfectly informed with regard to all these matters as soon as possible, has induced them to send out an Extraordinary Packet Boat, and they are in hopes of receiving from Your Lordship upon her return, a full communication of the Sentiments entertained upon these several heads of enquiry, and which communication they wish to be made in a manner that may be proper to be laid before Parliament at the next meeting.

I find, upon an examination of the Plans submitted by Your Lordship’s predecessor, that the most considerable part of the disbanded Troops and Loyalists who have become Settlers in the Province since the late War, have been placed upon Lands in that part of it which lie to the Westward of the Ceders, and beyond those Lands (excepting only Detroit and its Neighbourhood) which are granted in Seigneurie; as these People are said to be of the number desirous of the Establishment of the British Laws, It has been in Contemplation to propose to Parliament a division of the Province, to commence from the Boundary Line of the Seigneurie granted to Monsieur de Longueil, and to take in all the Country to the Southward and Westward in the manner described in the inclosed paper. But, before they take any step towards the execution of this measure, they are desirous of receiving the advantage of Your Lordships opinion how far it may be practicable or expedient; or, whether any other line or mode of separation would be preferable. Your Lordship will however understand, that it is The Kings intention that the New Settlers in that part of the Province who now hold their Lands upon Certificates of Occupation, shall, at all events, be placed upon the same footing in all respects, as their Brethren in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, by having their Lands granted to them in free and Common Soccage, with a Remission of Quit Rents for the first Ten Years; and Instructions will be prepared accordingly, as soon as Your Lordship’s opinion upon the plan abovementioned shall be obtained.

With a view to the execution of the Plan in question, it will be necessary for you to consider, previously to your Report upon it, what sort of Civil Government ought to be formed for its internal arrangement, & whether the Number and description of the Inhabitants and other Circumstances are such as do, or do not, make the immediate Establishment of an Assembly within this district, practicable and adviseable. At all events It will be natural, as the greatest Part of these New Settlers are attached to the English Laws, that that System should be introduced as the general Rule, with such Exceptions or Qualifications as particular and local Circumstances may appear to require; At the same time Your Lordship will attend to the situation to which the Old Canadian Settlers at Detroit would be reduced, provided it may be found expedient, in consequence of the Information which the King’s Servants expect to receive from Your Lordship, (and by which you will understand they mean in a great degree to be guided) to resist the Application for any Change of the Constitution of the remaining part of the Province; and, Your Lordship will also consider, in case of such a determination, in what part of the Province within the reserved limits, the Settlers at Detroit, if they should desire to be removed, might be accommodated with Lands the best suited to their advantage.

I am &c., SYDNEY

Kennedy, William P. Statutes, Treaties and Documents of the Canadian Constitution: 1713-1929. Oxford Univ. Pr., 1930.