Lot 141
Sold for £6,000 (US$ 10,084) inc. premium
Lot Details
Series of nearly sixty autograph letters by Sir William Robinson, last Governor of Trinidad and first of Trinidad and Tobago, to Stephen Herbert Gatty, Attorney General and Chairman of the Royal Franchise Commission for considering the introduction of elections into the colony: a fine outspoken series covering most of the burning issues of the day, such as the education bill (January 1890), their opponents in the press and Assembly ("...shameful & disgraceful way in you have been abuse..."), sectarian problems when building faith schools ("...a fight is going on between two sects..."), the Widows and Orphans Fund (with which Gatty was entrusted), the "Pitch Lake business" ("...Tobago will be a howling wilderness ere long..."), the value of archives for the production of legal proof ("...There is no doubt that the records of the Crown Lands office are in a disgraceful condition..."), "a possible combined Venezuelan Fenian Raid", the Board of Health, the Water Ordinance, the Jubilee Memorial Committee, etc.; together with a draft legal opinion, other correspondence and printed material, the Robinson letters comprising some 150 pages, minor dust-staining, one seemingly incomplete, mostly 8vo, St Anne's, Trinidad, 1887-1890


  • "RESOLVED THAT THIS THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL OF TRINIDAD HAVE NO OBJECTION TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE ANNEXATION OF TOBAGO": an important series of letters written by the man who more than any other forced through the union of the two colonies at the behest of the home government, to the law officer responsible for drawing up the amended resolution upon which the union was carried in the Legislative Assembly; this task being entrusted to Gatty with typical forthrightness in Robinson's "Confidential" eight-page letter of 6 March 1887: "I must ask you to take up the tangled thread of Tobago. I did not trouble you with the matter in the first instance because I knew you could hardly get through the Trade & Taxes work, but I never anticipated such a 'Jumble' – When annexation or incorporation with a single Treasury were proposed I laid all the papers before the Unofficials & put them into personal communication with Mr Llewellyn [Governor-in-Chief of Tobago] & Sendall [Administrator] – When the latter went down to Tobago the legislature of that Island resolved on a separate Treasury, & the administrative connection only. Mr Sendall met the Unofficials & I understand explained matters. This puts matters on quite a different footing & I imagine the C.O. will undoubtedly accept the Tobago scheme. The Unofficials having been consulted up to this point I asked Mr Philips to bring the matter before Council really as a matter of courtesy to the Unofficials who might otherwise have thought they were being left in the Lurch. His resolution was as you pointed out wrongly worded. – I c.d suggest another reciting 'Whereas H M Gov.t has expressed an opinion &c &c &c & whereas the Leg Council of Tobago has by resolution said so & so Resolved that this the Legislative Council of Trinidad have no objection to the administrative annexation of Tobago with this Gov.t on the lines laid down by the Tobago Legislature on the understanding that such annexation is approved & desired of by H M's Gov.t, & on the public understanding that no pecuniary charge is now or hereafter to be imposed on the Revenue of Trinidad for any service connected with the Is of Tobago, or the aforesaid annexation for administrative purposes... You had better start the Hare on Tuesday & get Mr Finlayson who adjourned the sitting to ask you a leading question".

    Generally, the series reveals the complete confidence in which Robinson held Gatty, as for example when he tells him on 15 March 1890: "Having entrusted this delicate matter to you I wish to suggest nothing having full confidence in your ability but I fail to see how I can accept any interpretation which any dunderhead may put upon what I may say – if contrary to my intention"; although a letter written on 13 October 1889 demonstrates that, however useful he might have been to the Governor, Gatty was no mere cipher: "it is neither to the interests of the Queens Government nor to ourselves that any misunderstanding should exist between us. Your view of the responsibilities of your office and the line you adopt force me to fall back on the rights and privileges of my office, which, in ordinary practical official life, it is seldom necessary... you see you are only responsible for the advice you give a Gov.r".

    For other of Gatty's papers, see under 'Gibraltar' above.
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