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Description found in Archives

Despatches exchanged with the Colonial Office [textual record] 

Sub-sub-series consists of


2 October 1846-24 December 1855

Place of creation

Various places

17.5 cm of textual records.

Scope and content

This sub-sub-series brings together four despatches and one associated document retained by Lord Elgin from his term as Governor of the Province of Canada (volume 26, pagse 1-62), plus drafts or copies of selected despatches he sent to the Colonial Office (volumes 27-29, pages 1-1242), a short sequence of letters (with enclosures received or supporting documentation using in compiling his response) exchanged with fellow governors and imperial administrators relative to his on-going interest in and role as an advisor on imperial concerns (volume 29, file 4, pages 1-88); plus the text of his 1856 speech and motion on the military establishment in North America (volume 29, file 5, pages 1-119). The patterns exhibited by these records indicate that Elgin diverged from the practices followed by his predecessors, who had kept entire sets of duplicate despatches received and letterbook copies despatches sent. Elgin appears very selective: confidential or secret despatches predominate in the drafts and copies he retained. (Drafts of his routine numbered despatches have been preserved in RG 7, series G 9. See Colonial Office 42 and 537 for the despatches received in London and the registers in CO 714/30 for a comprehensive list of despatches he sent.) Instances in which he retained both drafts and copies of a despatch support an assessment of his involvement in composing texts: from amending passages in drafts prepared by his secretaries or adding a paragraph of conclusion, to composing a text entirely in his own hand. By custom, secretarial drafts provided a wide left margin - up to half the page width - for amendments; Elgin's drafts occupy the whole page. His initials - as JE or E+K - indicated his approval of a draft, with or without changes. Fair copies may be marked "Sd. Elgin + K" while duplicates may bear his actual signature. The distinctions between drafts, fair copies and formal duplicates becomes apparent in the instances where to or more of these formats survive.

Textual records
90: Open
from 26 to 29
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Additional information

Availability of other formats note
Only the four despatches received and one associated memorandum were included in the 1958 microfilming (see Bundle 1 on reel A-396).