PP/GC/LE/166 Letter from Sir G.C.Lewis, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, regarding the legal position of Great Britain in relation to the Ionian Islands, and a report on the defence of Canada, 26 December 1862
Letter from Sir George Cornewall Lewis, second Baronet, [Secretary of State for War], War Office, [Whitehall, London], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: the Ionian Islands are not a possession of the British Crown; the government holds them in trust, as appointed by the Congress of Vienna. It does not follow that if the government wish to renounce the trust, it can be surrendered to the body which created the trust, but they cannot be given to a third party. "They are ours to hold, but not to give." Great Britain has not undertaken to give the islands to Greece without the consent of the parties to the treaty of Vienna. Even if the consent were obtained, Britain has acted as if it had granted the islands to Greece. The proper course would be to surrender the islands to the Congress of Vienna and for the Congress to dispose of them. Officially Lewis has not yet received the report on the defence of Canada. The memorandum circulated has returned with unfavourable opinions from the Duke of Somerset, Gladstone and the Duke of Newcastle. "It has occurred to me that some contribution might perhaps be obtained from the loan. I fear that the House would be very reluctant to give anything." 26 Dec 1862
Two papers
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Congress of Vienna; Treaty of Vienna, 1815, by which Great Britain established a protectorate over the Ionian Islands
Edward Adolphus St Maur, sixth Duke of Somerset, First Lord of the Admiralty
Henry Pelham Pelham-Clinton, fifth Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for the Colonies
William Ewart Gladstone, Member of Parliament for Oxford University
British colonial defence; Canada; threat of invasion during the American Civil War
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