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Colonial Cases

Deaths at Sea

The Observer, 7 July 1793

   A son of Sir Hector Munro was killed by a tyger on his passage from India.  The young gentleman went ashore with a watering party on an island at which they touched, and was reclining with his companions under some trees, when the tyger sprang from an adjoining thicket, and seizing him in his mouth, tore out his heart.


The Observer, 27 June 1802

   A [?????] man who came passenger in the Anna, from Bengal, cut his throat with a razor, on board that vessel, as soon as she arrived in sight of Brighton, on Tuesday last.  It appeared that the loss of an amiable wife in India, had affected his intellects.  He had four children with him, who were landed a few hours after he expired.


Cambrian, 20 November 1813

   The ship Draper has arrived at Milford: she shipped a sea on Friday night to the westward of the Smalls, and lost two men. - She had, at one time, three feet and a half in her hold.


Cambrian, 9 October 1813

   We regret to announce the loss if the Hinchinbrook packet, Capt. James, on her homeward passage from the West Indies.  She sailed from Jamaica on the 19th of July, and six days after was wrecked on Watland Island.  The crew were all saved, with the exception of Mr. H. Thomas, the surgeon; but the mail was lost.


Cambrian, 4 September 1813.


Bow-street. - In consequence of the application of certain Lascar on Monday, the Second Mate of a country ship, from the East Indies, was last week brought in custody by Pearkes, one of the officers who apprehended him, on a charge of having been guilty of the wilful murder of none of the Lascars, on board the shop, near Calcutta.  After being examined before Mr. Read, he was committed for further examination.  Since the above a second examination has taken place, and unequalled acts of cruelty have been sufficiently proved against the prisoner, and other officers, by means of an interpreter, as induced the magistrate to commit him for trial.  The murdered man was kicked overboard by the prisoner, upon the Lascars expressing a wish to have it buried on shore according to their religion; and upon their boatswain, or serang, remonstrating he received a blow from Mr. Brown, chief mate., and received 84 lashes; he was then kept in irons for four days.  The captain afterwards gave him 36 more, and likewise flogged his mate.  Brown at another time ordered the Portuguese cook to be flogged, who jumped overboard and was drowned.  Another lascar received six dozen at twice, in Sauger Roads, and seven dozen at Batavia.  The java having been boarded by a King's boat, this unfortunate being gave information where some men were concealed, for which he again received seven dozen, and was kept nine days in irons.   Sedan Malony received a blow from Mr. Ballard, boatswain, of which he died; the body was thrown overboard by bathe prisoner and Brown.  Many other details were given of acts of cruelty exercised upon this unfortunate crew, 37 of whom deserted, and 25 died during the voyage, owing to the provisions, which is peculiar to their religion, having been destroyed, as well as other acts of cruelty.



Cambrian, 14 September 1816

Horrid Murder.

An account was received yesterday from the mate of the Crelle schooner, arrived off Dover from Smyrna, stating, that on his passage two of the crew nailed him up in his cabin, while they murdered Capt. Johnson, and threw him overboard, wrapped up in the square sail. - That after a considerable confinement he got to speak to the boy, and learned that the two men, of the names of Turner and Smith, had possession of the ship, and were about to murder him (the Mate), whom they had determined to hang; but the boy told him, that himself, and another man of the name of Masson were determined to stand by him, if he (the Mate) would and could attempt to recover the ship. That soon afterwards the Mate was taken upon deck, and had his hands tied, and was made fast to a stantion.  That the two mutineers had then possession of about 600 doubloons, which they had taken from the captain's drawers.  In the evening they began to quarrel about what should be done with the ship; and the mate contriving to get loose, suddenly seized a musket, which he knew to be loaded, and put it to Smith's ear, while Masson attacked the other, and thus regained possession of the ship, which has passed Dover, on her way to Standgate creek, whence the murderers will be brought in custody to London.  ...



The ship Charlotte from Calcutta via Mauritius, having left the latter place the day before the above named vessel [Jeune Ferdinand].  The Charlotte is commanded by Mr. MOFFETT, late chief officer, the master Mr. HENRY COUCHER having died at sea about a fortnight ago.  The personal servant of the latter, a Malay boy, is in custody here on charge of administering poison to his master; and the other officers complain of having been dangerously ill from a similar attempt.  This vessel brings a general cargo of India goods.

   The boy stated above, whose name is DEPPER, this day underwent A strict examination before the deputy Judge Advocate, the Rev. R. Knopwood, A. W. H. Humphrey, And James Gordon, esquires.  After hearing a variety of witnesses, which occupied the attention of the Court for nearly six hours, And nothing being Adduced which could in Any degree implicate him As the perpetrator of such a base and heinous transaction as that of poisoning his master, he was discharged.


Cambrian, 4 April 1818

On Wednesday last was committed to Haverfordwest gaol, by A. J. Stokes, Esq. one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the county of Pembroke, W. H. Newton, master of the brigantine William, of Barbadoes, from Liverpool for Pernambuco, charged by the crew with having on the 5th Nov. last, on the passage from Maranham to Liverpool, administered poison to Capt. Rider, late master of that vessel, which caused his death in a few hours afterwards; also with having, at the same time, administered poison to the mate, Bowden, who is expected at Milford in a few days.


Cambrian, 5 December 1818

   A brig was towed into Bermuda on the 18th of October, bottom upwards, and when righted it was discovered by her papers that she was the Mary, of Bristol (England) from Wilmington North Carolina, for Demerara, S. Bennett, master.  Part of a human body was found.


Cambrian, 15 May 1819

The Amphion brought to England 13 refractory seamen, several of whom had been concerned in forcible taking possession of the Ann, of Liverpool, and murdering the captain.


Cambrian, 4 September 1819

   A few days ago the brig William left Liverpool for Newfoundland; when arrived in sight of the Isle of Man, the Captain, J. T. Barton, while on the cabin alone, let off a brace of pistols at his head; the crew, hearing the report, instantly repaired to the cabin, and found that he had shot completely away the part of the skull over the left eye; two pistols were found near him, one of which had flashed in the pan, and was still loaded with gun powder and small shot; he died instantly.  The vessel returned to Liverpool on Wednesday, where an inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of Lunacy returned.  Disappointed love, we understand, was the cause of this suicide.


Cambrian, 1 January 1820

Melancholy Shipwreck. - Extract of a letter from New Ross, dated the 20th Dec.:- There has been an awful wreck on the Kivors.  A fine West Indiaman, very large and valuable, named the Demerara, John M'Lune, master, from Demerara to Liverpool, struck on the night of the 16th, and almost immediately went to pieces.  Twenty of her crew were buried in one grave on Saturday, at Cullen's Town, and two more on Sunday - not one saved that we know if!  The vessel is totally lost, and the cargo nearly so. [IRL?]


Cambrian, 1 January 1820

The Conway, 28, Capt. Barnard, and Bacchus, 18, Capt. Parkin, have arrived at Plymouth, from the East India station. - The ships Elizabeth and Penniscowles, both belonging to Liverpool, from India, with valuable cargoes, were totally wrecked at the Cape of Good Hope about the 23rd October - crews saved.  The second master and two men belonging to the Conway, were lost in assisting one of those ships.



The Mauritius Gazette of January 29 reports the arrival there of the Tuscan whaler, from London the 5th October, belonging to James Birnie, Esq., of Port Jackson, under the command of her chief officer, Mr. Allen; the commander, Captain Colman, having died at sea from the blow of as whale, after lingering 15 days.  The Tuscan is bound for Port Jackson.


1821 Elizabeth Mantanzas

Freeman's Journal, 19 March 1821

  From the New York Advertiser, - March 12.


   The Elizabeth sailed from, Mantanzas on the 13th of February, with a cargo of coffee, sugar, &c., belonging to the captain and Messrs. White and Sage, passengers.  The weather continued pleasant until the 16th, when a sudden and heavy squall came on from W.S.W. at half past 4, A.M. in which the schr. was immediately upset & filled with water.  After 3 hours, with the greatest difficulty, they succeeded in cutting away the lanyards, when the vessel righted, but continued under water.  They now lashed each other to the fore top mast and fixed it across the quarter rails near the stern, in which situation the sea continued to break over them during 48 hours.  To describe the feelings of the sufferers at this periods, language is inadequate.  Mr. White from St.  John's, Cuba, after remaining twenty hours on the wreck, with no other clothes than his shirt, died in extreme agony.  The next day Mr. Francis Sage, of Middletown, Connecticut, died.  On the third day the wind began to abate, when the captain and crew, 6 in number, and Mr. Weygent of Pennsylvania, the only remaining passenger, being nearly exhausted, through hunger and fatigue, endeavoured to obtain some water or provisions from the wreck, but after many attempts, could only succeeded in obtaining 7 oranges and a few roots of unripe plantain; the latter having been floating in salt water afforded very little nourishment.  An orange was divided into 7 parts, which was equally distributed amongst them every day, and was the only sustenance could be procured.  On the 7th day their sufferings increased to such a degree, that death would have been considered by all as a happy release.  Their scanty allowance being now exhausted, & no prospect but being buffered by the winds a few days longer, drove them to the verge of despair.  On the 9th day their misery was beyond description, their legs and arms were attacked with the most excruciating pains - and broke out in every direction with ulcerated sores - their speech failed and a continuous tremor pervaded the whole system.

   On the 10th day Mr. C. Weygent, after enduring unparalleled sufferings, expired - his fingers having become numb, he had eaten them off to the second joint.  On the 11th day, about day break, a vessel was discovered, standing towards them, the wind was blowing a gale; it was the brig Statira, Captain Patten, from New Orleans bound to New York, who with the utmost difficulty, and at the imminent risk of his life, succeeded in rescuing the sufferers from the wreck, and to whose liberality and unbounded humanity, they feel the greatest obligations.  The Capt. is now in the most helpless situation, the whole of his property was in the vessel and cargo, and when taken off from the wreck he had neither coat, hat, stockings, or shoes. - And to add is possible to human suffering, he learned that the whole of his family consisting of his wife and two children, had died about two weeks previous to his arrival.


HOBART TOWN GAZETTE & VDL ADVERTISER, 15 November 1823 (Tasmania)

In latitude 42' South, off the Island of St. Paul's, the brig Belinda experienced a most tremendous gale of wind, in which she lost both her masts, all the boats on deck, and the caboose.  Two seamen and a boy, named John Grunner, William Ramsay, and Joseph Noel, were washed overboard at the same time, and unfortunately drowned. ...




On Thursday the King George whaler, Captain Charles Bryant, from England, lastly from the Cape, in ballast, put into Storm Bay Passage, to join the Thalia, in the whaling season here.


While the King George was on her way hither from the Cape, a whale hove in sight, which one of her boats succeeded in taking; but being fastened to the animal at the time, it was unfortunately taken down with the whale, which sunk soon after it was killed; and the third officer, Mr. Thomas James, and Samuel Turner, one of the crew, being in the boat, were, we regret to say, unluckily drowned.




On Thursday the King George whaler, Captain Charles Bryant, from England, lastly from the Cape, in ballast, put into Storm Bay Passage, to join the Thalia, in the whaling season here.


While the King George was on her way hither from the cape, a whale hove in sight, which one of her boats succeeded in taking; but being fastened to the animal at the time, it was unfortunately taken down with the whale, which sunk soon after it was killed; and the third officer, Mr. Thomas James, and Samuel Turner, one of the crew, being in the boat, were, we regret to say, unluckily drowned.


The Cambrian, 21 October 1826   Death at Sea

LOSS OF HIS MAJESTY'S SCHOONER MAGPIE. - The Dartmouth frigate, which arrived at Portsmouth on Thursday last, brings an account of the loss of his Majesty's Schooner Magpie, Lieut. Edw. Smith, seven leagues from Saddle Hill, off the south end of Cuba, on Saturday evening, the 27th of August.

   It appears from the narrative of Mr. Chas. M'Lean, one of the survivors, that on the above-named evening she was cruising off the coast of Cuba, and running for Cape Antonio (having had intimation of a piratical vessel being there), was overtaken with s heavy squall (all sails by this time being shortened, except the reefed foretopsail and stay foresail) off the Saddle Hill - she filled, and went down in about ten seconds after the squall took place, leaving only on the surface of the water, besides some trifling things, a small boat filled with water, to which nine persons clung, among whom were Lieut. Smith (the commander of the vessel); Mr. M'Lean, mate; and Mr. Meldrum, gunner's mate - the two latter are the only survivors. 

   Nothing can equal the deplorable situation of these persons, who clung to the gun whale during the night.  In the morning the sharks were very numerous. And came to close as to touch them, which so much intimidated some of the men, that at ten next morning two were drowned, from the boat turning over.  Lieut. Smith, after being twice bit by a shark, resigned himself to his fate. - he shook hands with all around him, told the strongest, if he survived, to make his respects to the Admiral, and requested he would serve Meldrum, if in his power.  At three, A.M., on the 29th, James Smith and Robert Wilson became delirious; they both swam from the boat and went down, leaving only Mr. M'Lean and Meldrum.

   At day-light, they observed a brig standing towards them, and about six o'clock were picked up of the Pan of Matanzas, by the brig Aspasia, of Baltimore, after having been drifted by the current nearly 70 miles, and being 32 hours exposed, completely naked, in a swamped boat, to the sun by day and the dews falling very heavy by night, which, in my opinion, was the cause of the delirium which ensued.  Nothing van exceed the kindness and humanity with which we were treated by the Captain of this vessel, who, next morning, at six o'clock, put us on board the brig Laurel, of Liverpool, who brought us in to Havannah, and by two o'clock on the same day, we were on board the Pylades.

   The names of the sufferers are: Lieutenant Edward Smith, Commander; Mr. S. Ross, Mate; Mr. Alexander Wood, Assistant Surgeon; William Bartlett, Stephen Whitlock, John Lauren, John Ruby, William Wilkinson, ----- Ackerman, John Rodgers, John Smith, ------ Brennan, William Jackson, George Screwton, George Thompson, Robert Wilson, John Carr,  James Smith (1) (four able seamen lent from H.S. Pylades) Serjeant Cheetham, Timothy Babb, William Coleby, John Parker, William Gay, William Fovey, Marines.


The Cambrian, 22 April 1826   Deaths at Sea

MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT. - The small boat Maria, Capt. Whitney, from St. Kitts to Antigua, unfortunately ran on Sandy Island, a few miles to the northward of St. John's, Antigua, in the night of the 27th Feb. and was totally lost, with every person on board, except the mate, who was providentially saved in the boat, being picked up near St. Kitts two days afterward.  He says that he heard the most appalling cries of distress for some minutes after he got into the boat.  There happened, unfortunately, to be several passengers on board, principally the Methodist Missionaries, and their families, from St. Kitts, having met there on their annual convocation.  The following are the names of the unfortunate passengers:- Rev.. T. Truscott, his wife and child; Rev. Wm. Oke; Rev. Mr. White, his wife and three children; Rev. Daniel Helloer, who has left a widow and five children at Antigua; Rev. John Jones and his wife; two coloured female servants; two gentlemen from St. Thomas's, named unknown; Captain Whitney, and a crew of seven persons.



We regret to find, that four duels took place among the passengers per the ship Harvey, during her voyage; one of which, we are sorry to state, ended fatally.  The survivor was tried before a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction at the Cape, and was acquitted.


The Cambrian, 15 March 1828   Death at Sea

   Mr. Conway, the tragedian, who went from this country to America a few years since, threw himself (24th Jan.) into the sea, whilst on his voyage from New York to Savannah, and was drowned.


Carmarthen Journal, 28 March 1828  Death at Sea

   Henry Thurtell (the brother of John Thurtell, the murderer of Weare) who went out, last year, as Master-at-Arms, in the Atlas East Indiaman, fell overboard, and was drowned, while the vessel was lying in the river at Canton, in the early part of October last.




Crowther v. Carns. [Cairns.]




Sailed on Saturday last the ship Cumberland, Captain Cairns, for England direct, with a full cargo of Colonial produce, ... besides the original cargo shipped at Sydney.  - Passengers, Mr. W. Emmett and two children, Mr. H. Walker, surgeon, R.N., Mr. Commissary Clements, Mr. W. O. Vallance, Peter Robinson, and ---- Mead.



Court of Vice-Admiralty.

JULY 25, 1827.

Before the Honorable FRANCIS FORBES, Judge of the Vice-Admiralty of New South Wales.

Sims and Foster v. the ship Cumberland, Robert cairns, Master.

This was a suit preferred by the plaintiffs, who were late seamen on board the ship Cumberland, against the defendant, who is Master of that ship, for wages.

   The plaintiffs, on their arrival in this Colony from England, entered into His Majesty's service, on board a man-of-war, in consequence of which the defendant refused to pay them wages for the time they had been in his employ, alleging a breach of their contract against them. They having stipulated for the voyage outward and home again, and not to demand their wages, or any part thereof, until the ship's return to the port of London.  After hearing evidence, HIS HONOR pronounced the following judgment on the case:

   BY THE COURT - By the maritime law, it is a principle that the payment of the wages of the seamen shall depend upon the earning of freight by the ship.  According to this general principle, the present applicants would be entitled to their wages up to the discharge of the outward cargo in this port.

   The question then is raised whether this general principle of maritime law has been so far altered by the provisions of our municipal code, as to affect its application to the case before me.  The policy of our Legislature has been to ensure the return of British seamen to their Country, and with that in view it has restrained the payment of wages on foreign ports, and pointed out the form in which every contract of hiring between the Master and the seamen shall be drawn up.  By this contract the seamen stipulate to perform a voyage outward and home again, and not to demand their wages, or any part thereof, until the ship's return to port.  In the ordinary course of things, this stipulation would be conclusive against the present demand; for, by the express terms of their own contract, the complainants have precluded themselves from demanding their wages, until the return of the ship to the port of London.

   But an important circumstance has taken place in this port - the complainants having entered into His Majesty's service; and that, it is contended, outs an end to the contract between the Master and the complainants, and protects them, by the provisions of the statute, from the usual consequences of forfeiture for quitting the ship.  This is not denied, and the only question then is, whether they are entitled to recover their wages before the ship's arrival at her port of discharge, and up to what period.

   I at first entertained doubts whether, by the terms of the contract, any wages could be recovered until the arrival of the ship in London.  Had the applicants remained with the ship, they could not have demanded their wages before the completion of the voyage, and their quitting the ship should not place them in a better condition than they would have been on, had they remained and fulfilled their contract.

   But I incline to think, upon mature consideration, that the form of the contract directed by the statute must be taken altogether, and that such part as restrains the demand of wages to the ship's return, must be construed, in conjunction with the tenor of the whole articles which go to enforce the continuance of the seamen in the service of the ship, until her ultimate arrival at the port of discharge, and suppose their actual return with such ship, I do not think it was intended to apply in cases of impressments or entry into His Majesty's service; by the circumstance of such entry or impressment, the contract of such persons with the Master is completely at an end - they become disunited from the ship - they have no longer any interest in the voyage - and as, under every reasonable probability, they would not be present at the arrival of the ship at her ultimate port, they would lose the best security for the payment of their wages, the body of the ship itself.

   I regret that I cannot find any case decided which embraces the point at issue.  There is an anonymous case referred to in 2 Campbell's Reports, N.P. 320, something like the present; but the wages due for the first part of the voyage were paid into Court, and the point was not touched.  I must therefore meet it upon general principles.

   I am of opinion, that, taking the whole of the provisions of the statute and the articles together, they do not apply to the case of seamen entering into His Majesty's service; that, by the last part of such entry, the contract was at an end; and that such seamen became entitled to a proportion of their wages, in the nature of a quantum meruit, for the services performed out of such freight as may have been earned.  In this case the outward freight to this country has been paid.  I therefore order, that the wages of the present complainants, calculating such wages to the time of the ship's delivery of her outward cargo, be paid to them.




The following extract of a letter, written on the 12th instant, at Hobart Town, from a Gentleman to his friend in Sydney, with which we have been obligingly furnished, throws considerable light on the fate of poor captain Cairns, and his unfortunate ship:-

   When the Bengal Merchant was at Rio, the Clorinda, Captain Crew, from London, came in, the Captain of which reported, that in lat. 3 deg. N. he was boarded by a pirate brig, (from the description I think it was the same as paid [Mood?] a visit.  Captain Crew was taken on board the brig, and lashed to a bolt in the deck, while his ship was robbed of a large quantity of goods.  While in this situation he observed two buckets on the brig's deck, on which had been painted "Cumberland;" an attempt had been made to obliterate it, but it appeared quite legible, so that it is more than probable that this ship had been taken, and her unfortunate crew and passengers murdered by those savages.  A council of war was then held, whether Captain Crew and his crew should be murdered, and the ship scuttled, or allow them to proceed; the Captain was for the latter proposal; two of the crew, however, insisted that they should walk the plank, when the Captain drew two pistols from his belt, and shot them dead on the spot; Captain Crew was then released, and desired to proceed on his voyage.

   Such is the statement I have just received from a gentleman, who tells me he had it from Captain [Duthie?], of the Bengal Merchant (currently here in the Sir Charles Forbes).  I do not vouch for any part of it, but I am afraid that poor cairns, and his unfortunate crew and passengers, have been savagely butchered.

   The brig Columba, from Glasgow, for this place and Sydney, was at Rio when the Bengal Merchant left.



COLONIAL TIMES, 9 January 1829



This day the Civil Court held its first Sittings at this place. ...

Birrell v. Fereday, Sheriff.

This cause, which excited considerable interest, was brought for the purpose of recovering the value of two boats and other property, belonging to the plaintiff, seized under a writ of Fiere Facias, issued by Mr. WILLIAM EMMETT (who was a passenger in the unfortunate Cumberland) in May, 1827, against Mr. CHARLTON.  The facts of the plaintiff's case were most clearly and luminously stated by the Solicitor-General, ALFRED STEPHEN, Esq.; and, after a trial of ten hours, a verdict was returned for the plaintiff of 155 Pounds, being the value of the property seized and sold by the Sheriff.


COLONIAL TIMES, 2 January 1829 (Tasmania)

In addition to the intelligence received by the Roslyn Castle respecting the late atrocious piracies, it appears that some of the prisoners secured at Cadiz had confessed to the plunder of the ship Cumberland, off the Falklands Islands, and the general murder (horrible to be told) of all the passengers and crew.

   It is likely, therefore, that the accounts of the buckets being seen on board the pirate by Captain Carew and others were correct, as well as of the hull being seen afloat dismasted off the River Plate.  The English subjects that were found among the crew of the schooner at Cadiz were taken to Gibraltar and have been executed.  It is known, however, that there are no less than three piratical vessels on the seas committing outrages on merchant vessels, and the Lang, after the example of most other ships, did not sail without being properly armed, under a license taken out for that purpose. 

   An account by the Lang states, that after a sharp action with a King's ship, off the cape, a piratical vessel was captured and carried into Gibraltar.  Some of the crew confessed being party to the murders on board the unfortunate Cumberland, and several were executed.



We were misinformed as to the number of the pirates taken at Cadiz, about to be sent to England - one of them only we understand is to be given up to the British authorities, and he is a native of Guernsey.  Seven of these miscreants have been already hanged at Cadiz.  The number of pirates altogether belonging to the schooner was upwards of 70. - Morning Herald.

   The following are the names of the unfortunate passengers by the Cumberland: - Mr. W. Emmett and two children; Mr. H. Walker, (Surgeon), R.N. Mr. Commissary Clements, Mr. W. O. Vallance, Peter Robinson, and Mr. Mead.



As above; extra details on Mr. Clements.



The pirates who committed the depredations on the British vessel Morning Star, Gibbs, from Ceylon to London on the 19th February 1828, off the island of Ascension, and believed also to have been concerned in the fate of the unfortunate ship Cumberland, Capt. Cairns, from this place, were tried for the former offence and executed at Gibraltar in the end of January last.  Ten of the pirates of the Brazilian brig Defensor de Pedro, were executed at Cadiz on the 12th of January, and 5 others (Portuguese) were condemned to the galleys for 8 and 10 years.


The Cambrian, 7 June 1828   Death at Sea

At sea, on the 30th April, Horatio Paget, Midshipman of his Majesty's  hip Talbot, and third son of Rear Admiral the Hon. Sir Charles Paget.


Carmarthen Journal, 4 July 1828

MELANCHOLY CATASTROPHE. - An event without a parallel of marine misfortune occurred on board the brig Mary Russell, of this port, commanded by a person of the name of Stewart, which arrived on Thursday in Cove harbour, from Barbadoes. .  .  .   {Also Cambrian, 7 July].


Carmarthen Journal, 11 July 1828



The Cambrian, 23 August 1828

TRIAL FOR MURDER ON THE HIGH SEAS. - On Monday Stewart, the commander of a trading vessel called the Mary Russell, was tried at Cork, for the murder of a passenger and several of the sailors, who unfortunately sailed with the diabolical wretch in his shoo, from the West Indies. .  .  .  . the following verdict was finally recorded:- Not Guilty, because we believe the prisoner was labouring under mental derangement when he committer the act. - The Lord Chief Baron then directed that the prisoner should be conveyed back to gaol, to remain there until further orders, and it is to be hoped for life. - If a few such madmen were hanged, however, we suspect these bloody freaks of insanity would more rarely occur.               


Carmarthen Journal, 26 September 1828

CAPT. STEWART. - We understand that an order has been received to transit this unfortunate individual to the Lunatic Asylum at Dublin, there to be confined for life. - Cork Paper.


HOBART TOWN COURIER, 15 November 1828 (Tasmania)

An inquest was held at Cork on the 3d of June, on the bodies of Captain [Raynes?], a passenger from Barbadoes in the ship Mary Russell, and six of the crew of the same ship, who were barbarously murdered at sea by the master of the vessel, Captain Stewart. Stewart had become insane, and after tying the hands and feet of his unfortunate victims, put them cruelly to death by beating out their brains with an iron crow bar.  Verdict - that the several sailors and passenger were killed by the hands of Captain Stewart, being then and for several days in a state of mental derangement.


HOBART TOWN COURIER, 31 January 1829 (Tasmania)

Captain Stewart, who was lately tried at Cork for having murdered the greater part of his crew, is ordered to be confined in the Lunatic Asylum, Dublin, for life. [ACCESSED 14 June 2013]

The affair of the Mary Russell was at the time described in the Belfast press as "an event without parallel in the annals of maritime misfortune."  This description was not in the least exaggerated.  The dreadful story has a certain amount of local interest owing to the fact that her captain belonged to Londonderry and that the captain of a Belfast brig also plays ba principal part.

  The brig Mary Russell belonged to Cork.  On May 9, 1828, she sailed from the island of Barbadoes with a cargo consisting of hogsheads of sugar and bales of hides.  Her master was Wm. [William?] Stewart, a native of Derry, and her crew consisted of a mate and seven men, two of whom were muleteers working their passage. There were also three apprentices, aged respectively 15, 13, and 12 years.   Also on board were a young boy passenger and a man named Raynes, who was described as a "naval gentleman."

  All went well at first, but as the days went on the master began to act in a peculiar manner; the truth was he was a dangerous lunatic, but as yet no one suspected it.    First he had a delusion that a mutiny was brewing on board and that Raynes was the ringleader.  Raynes, it appears, was very friendly with the crew.  He spent a lot of time forward, and often conversed with them in Gaelic, a language that the captain did not understand.  The mate also incurred his suspicion, and he ordered him out of his cabin and made him sleep in the half-deck.   One day he charged Raynes with plotting mutiny, and when the charge was denied he ordered one of the boys to throw all the charts and navigating instruments overboard.  He also destroyed the log-book and told the mate that he was to make no further reckoning.  His idea was that this would prevent the mutiny coming to a head, as he was the only one on board who would have any knowledge of the ship's position, as he had already stowed away sufficient charts and instruments for his own use.


Death Threat to Mate.

  Some days later the Mary Russell spoke to the Mary Harriet, bound from New York to Liverpool.  Both vessels hove to, and Captain Stewart went on board and returned with a pair of pistols.  On the night of June 13 the mate came into the cabin for an implement to trim the binnacle light, and on leaving made a noise that awoke the captain.  Next morning,while the mate was asleep, the captain came along, woke him, and told him that if he had found him forward with the crew he would have him put to death as a mutineer.   The mate presumably resented such language, and there were probably words between them.  In any case the captain threatened the mate with a harpoon and ordered some of the men standing by to seize him.  This the men refused to do and walked away.

  Here was mutiny in earnest, the men had actually refused to obey his orders.  The mate went below, and two or three of the men went with him and, thinking to appease the captain, they advised the mate to let the captain make him prisoner, and, unfortunately, the mate agreed to take this line of action.  The captain had him bound, and he was carried below and put in the lazarette, where he lay for three days, and in that time was given only one meal.  The lazarette was a store room in a sailing ship situated under the cabin, and was usually entered through a trap door in the deck or floor.   In the madman's brain was now conceived the amazing plan of making every member of the crew a prisoner and with the assistance of the boys bringing the ship into port himself.  The brig was now about 400 miles W.S.W. of Cape Clear, going along with a fair wind and fine weather.  On Saturday, June 21, the captain commenced to shorten her down, and when the men were aloft he got the boys into the cabin and told them of his plan.   He said that if they assisted him they would get 100 guineas each, and that he himself would get œ7,000 or bœ8,000 from Lloyd's and would also probably get command bof the largest ship out of London.  The boys agreed to help, and one of them was sent forward to tell one of the men that he was wanted in the cabin by the captain.


How Crew Was Bound.

  The cabin was entered by an almost vertical ladder, and the man after descending found the captain standing with a pistol pointing towards him.  Two of the boys came forward, and he allowed himself to be bound.  In this way, one at a time, six of the seamen were secured. There were now only two left.   The seventh man may have had his suspicions aroused, for when he was halfway down the ladder he looked round. When he saw the captain with the pistol in his hand he didn't wait to discuss matters, but made a bolt for the deck. The captain let go both pistols, but fortunately they both misfired, and the man escaped forward and joined his companion in the forecastle.  It is hardly credible that, although these men were safe enough in a sunk forecastle,

where he could not get a shot at them, the captain actually talked them into coming out and agreed to be bound by the boys.

  Next morning, Sunday, a bright ides entered the madman's brain.  He secured some staples and drove them into the cabin deck at the heads and feet of each of the prisoners, and then with a length of rope to these staples he lashed each prisoner.  Next he went forward to see how his other two prisoners were getting along, and was profoundly shocked to find that one of them had managed to free himself.  When this man refused to allow himself to be again bound the captain fired two or three shots at him and, although not seriously wounded, he fell down and pretended to be dead.   A few moments afterwards a sail hove in sight and, although distress signals were exhibited, the stranger sheered off, probably being suspicious of a trap on seeing a ship going along with a fair wind under shortened canvas. The captain turned his attention to the man he had shot, intending to throw him overboard, and was cute enough to notice that the supposed dead man had moved his position. He again fired at him, and the bullet entered his leg. The man got to his feet.  Armed with a harpoon and axes,the captain and the  boys attacked him.  A terrible fight ensued.


Struck with an Axe.

  He rushed the captain, knocked him down, and took the pistol from him, but before he could do anything more he was struck on the head with an axe by one of the boys. Covered with blood, he managed to get away and hide himself in the fore hold.   That afternoon another ship hove in sight.  They were now getting among shipping.  This vessel also sheered off and refused to have anything to do with this suspicious looking craft.  This seemed to drive the madman to distraction.  Followed by the boys and armed with a crowbar, he butchered every one of the seamen that were lying lashed to the cabin deck.  Below him in the lazarette the mate was lying, and he was next to be dealt with. In the cabin deck or floor there was a hole for ventilation, and through this hole with a harpoon the captain attacked the mate, who was lying bound underneath.Although severely wounded, the mate managed to roll out of range of the harpoon.  Beneath him were bundles of hides, and the madman kept jabbing at these until he felt sure that his victim had been despatched.

  The mate afterwards managed to get clear of his bonds. He then broke through the wood bulkhead and joined the other wounded man in the fore hold.  Apparently quite satisfied, the captain now lay down and fell asleep, but was awakened by hearing a voice hail the Mary Russell.  He rushed up on deck, and a ship was hove to quite close by.   The stranger asked the captain what was the matter, and he was told by Captain Stewart that there had been a mutiny

on board, that eight of the mutineers were dead, and that one had escaped.  One account says that the stranger was the Belfast brig Mary Stubbs, and another that she was an American vessel, the Mary Stubbs, bound from Barbadoes to Belfast.  The stranger lowered a boat, and her captain (Callender) came on board, and, needless to say, he was horrified by what he saw.  He then went along with Captain Stewart to search for the man that had escaped to the hold, and Captain Callender persuaded the man to come on deck.   To the consternation of Captain Stewart up came his mate also.  These two wounded men were in such a condition that they were sent on board the Mary Stubbs, from which two seamen were transferred to the Mary Russell to help the captain and the boys to navigate her.  Both vessels now proceeded on their way towards Cork.  Two days afterwards, on the 25th, Captain Callender again visited the Mary Russell, and he was no sooner on board than Captain Stewart began to tell him that the two seamen he had sent on board were also plotting to murder him.  It was only then that Captain Callender for the first time began to realise that Stewart as a madman.  The men that he had sent on board the Mary Russell refused to stay any longer, and to get them to carry on Captain Stewart was induced to return with Captain Callender to the Mary Stubbs.

  The ships were now approaching land, and twice Stewart jumped overboard.  On the first occasion he was rescued,and on the second was picked up by a hooker.  He convinced the skipper of third craft that his life had been attempted on board the Mary Russell, with the result that the hooker cleared off with Captain Stewart on board and brought him into Cork.

  As soon as Captain Callender arrived he lodged an information, and a warrant was issued for the arrest of Stewart.  On June 28, 1828, an inquest was held, and the bodies of the murdered seamen were inspected by the jury just as Captain Stewart had left them.  The cabin was a shambles,, with the bodies, some of them horribly mutilated, lashed to the deck.


Sent to an Asylum.

    At the inquest Captain Callender told his part of the story much as it is told here.  Two of the boys, Henry Richards, aged 12, and Dan Scully, aged 14, were the most important witnesses.   The jury found that the several sailors and passengers were killed by Captain Stewart, he being then and for some time previously in a state of mental derangement.  He was afterwards tried on the capital charge, but was acquitted on the grounds of insanity and ordered to be confined in a lunatic asylum for life.  No mention is made of Captain Stewart's age.  After being detained in the asylum for seven years he was released in July, 1835.  In February, 1834, the Mary Russell went ashore near Yarmouth and became a total wreck.

Copyright © 2013 DIPPAM. All Rights Reserved. [Accessed 14 June 2013]


An event without parallel in the annals of marine misfortune, occurred on board the brig Mary Russell, Captain Stewart of Cork, on her passage home from Barbadoes, which arrived at Cove on Thursday.
There were on board, besides the master and mate, 8 men and 4 boys ; of these, six seamen and a naval gentleman, passenger in her, were found dead in the cabin on Monday morning last, by Captain Callender, of the Mary Stubbs, of Belfast, (which was also on her passage home from Barbadoes, and spoke the Mary Russel on the above morning,) having been killed on the day before by the Captain, according to the statement of the four boys. The cause assigned by the Master to Capt. Callender was, an attempt on the part of the crew to mutiny, and his apprehension that they would take away his life ; but to save himself, that he induced them to be tied in the cabin, each singly, before another was called down ; and when all were rendered powerless, that he put those seven to death with a crow bar ! The mate named Smith, and one sailor named Howes, by some means extricated themselves, and escaped death ; after being wounded in several places. It appears he was in the act of tying the boys also, when the Mary Stubbs hove in sight. Capt. Callender held by the Mary Russell and saved Capt. Stewart from being drowned, he having leaped twice into the sea for that purpose. Wednesday again, for the third time, he flung himself overboard off Castletown, and was picked up by a hooker. A warrant for the apprehension of Capt. Stewart, has been issued, by Sir Antony Perrier, on the information of Capt. Callender, and an inquest held on the bodies of the seven men. We cannot conceive that anything but insanity could induce a human being to imbrue his hands in the blood of seven fellow creatures under circumstances so horrible as the above represents. -Limerick Chronicle
[Captain Stewart of the Mary Russell, is known here, as having commanded both the Sir James Kempt and the Albion, engaged in the Irish trade. He must have been under the influence of insanity to have committed such a cold blooded and horrible act.]


Carmarthen Journal,  2 October 1829

Captain Stewart, of the Mary Russell


COLONIAL TIMES, 4 September 1829 (Tasmania)

A Captain Poisoned !

 On Sunday last the barque Navarino arrived in port from Calcutta, with the Commander of the vessel, Captain PETER BROADFOOT (a Gentleman well known to many of our readers), a corpse.  It appears from the most accurate information we have been able to obtain, in the absence of the evidence of the Coroner's Inquest, that the deceased was taken ill, together with the rest of the persons, including a Miss BERRY, a passenger, who messed in the cabin, on the 12th of August last.  Conceiving that poison had been administered to them, either in their tea or otherwise, they all immediately took emetics, except the Captain, which had its desired effect of removing the poison from their stomachs.  Captain Broadfoot did not however use this precaution; but, on the contrary, supposing he was attacked with the Cholera Morbus, instantly took brandy and laudanum, being the usual remedy applied in India for that disorder.  The consequence was, that he continued languishing till Thursday se'nnight, the 27th ult. (three days prior to the arrival of the vessel in port), when he died.

   This circumstance having caused a great sensation in the minds of the Public, a Coroner's Inquest was forthwith deemed necessary; and accordingly it sat on the body, on board the vessel, on Monday last.  JOSEPH HONE, Esq. acted as Coroner, and summoned the following Jury: - Dr. Ross, Foreman; Messrs. Moriarty, Collicott, Hewitt, Stodart, Stokell, Lewis, Bunster, Robertson, Todd, Walker, Dudgeon, and Grey.  The body was of course opened, which operation was attended by the following  medical Gentlemen:- Dr. SCOTT, Colonial Surgeon; Dr. HENDERSON, Dr. GENCOATS, the Assistant Surgeon of the 63d regiment, and Mr. BEDFORD.  These gentlemen, we understand, were of opinion that the deceased had been actually poisoned by corrosive sublimate, the most subtle preparation of mercury, and a most deadly poison

   Witnesses were examined, and the investigation continued until half-past five o'clock; when the Coroner adjourned to the Commercial Tavern, at two o'clock the following day. - The investigation continued on Tuesday, until seven o'clock in the evening. - The Jurors met again on Wednesday; but the Coroner being occupied in a very important investigation at the Police office, which occupied the whole day, could not attend.  Owing to some of the Jury not attending yesterday, the investigation did not proceed.

   Mr. SMITH, the Chief Officer, who is now acting as Captain, and LIONEL HAYES, the second Mate, were examined. - Miss BERRY, one of the cabin passengers, was also taken ill, but has since recovered.  The steward and cook are at present in custody, until the result of the Inquest is known, which was to be resumed this morning, when they will be either fully committed or discharged. - The Inquest was resumed again this morning; but when we went to press at four o'clock this afternoon, no verdict had been returned. ...


COLONIAL TIMES, 11 September 1829


We mentioned in our last, that the Coroner's Inquest, which had been all the week sitting upon the body of this gentleman, had not returned their verdict when we went to press.  The Jury was assembled again on Saturday and Monday last; when, after examining several witnesses, a Verdict was returned, that - "Captain Broadfoot died by poison - how or by whom administered, they know not." - Two of the Jurors were very anxious to have their opinion, that the deceased died for want of medical attendance, and drinking laudanum and brandy immediately after the poison, and not by the first cause.


HOBART TOWN COURIER, 12 September 1829

The inquest on the melancholy death of Captain Broadfoot, lasted till a late hour on Saturday, but after a most patient inquiry no clue could be obtained to ascertain the cause of the fatal act.  Some suspicion seems to rest as to the Malays on board, one of whom now holds the place of the steward, who was originally suspected, but whose innocence, as well as that of the cook who was at first in irons, was made apparent. ...



Oct. 26. - At sea, by poison, on the passage from Calcutta, Capt. Peter Broadfoot, aged 24, late owner of, and commander of the ship Navarino of Calcutta.



By the Denmark hill we regret to learn a melancholy and fatal accident at the cape, while the Parmelia was there on her way to Swan river.  Assistant Surgeon Daly, of the 63d, was returning on board with his daughter, during a heavy gale, when the latter slipped from between the boat and the vessel, and was drowned, while her father in his effort to save her, was so jammed against the side of the ship, that he died next day.


Carmarthen Journal, 26 March 1830

 HORRID CRUELTY AND MURDER. - On Friday evening an inquest was held in the Vestry Room of St. John's, Horsleydown, for the purpose of inquiring into the circumstances attendant upon the death of John Smith, a mariner, aged 19, who was reported to have died in consequence of ill-treatment, which he had experienced on board the Armenia trading vessel, Daniel Wilson, master, during a voyage from Belfast to St. Michael's, and thence to London.  The inquiry excited great interest, and the Jury Room and vicinity were crowded pending the proceedings.

   The Jury having been sworn, proceeded to view the body, which appeared shockingly disfigured by contusions and lacerations, and the following evidence as hen adduced:-

   John Thomas, a seaman on board the Armenia, deposed that the deceased entered at Belfast, as a foremast man.  Witness joined the vessel at St. Michael's, at which time the eyes of the deceased were blackened, and he was also much bruised about the arms and other parts of the body.  On leaving St. Michael's, the master beat the deceased daily.  About a week after they had left for London, the Captain beat him with the stick of the van-staff, about two inches and a half thick, for taking some oranges. - When they left St. Michael's, the deceased was very ill, and not strong enough to do his duty, but the master frequently called him, and then beat him till he was unable to stand, and when down kicked him.  The Captain once beat him over the face and head with an outail (a think rope), until his face streamed with blood.  At one of these times the deceased's nose was split open.  He was frequently sent up to the foretop cross-trees for fifteen or eighteen hours at a time, without is jacket, and his allowance of food kept from him.  About four days before deceased died, the Master went into the forecastle, and beat the deceased about the head with a tin pot to such a dreadful degree, that about a quart of blood came from him.  The poor fellow was afterwards lashed to the main-shrouds, and the bots were ordered to give him several dozen of stripes, and if the lads did not obey the order they were flagged.  Every man on board was flogged except witness.  The deceased was so far reduced by ill-usage that he became crazy some days before his death, which occurred two days before they arrived at Gravesend. The deceased was never insolent to Capt. Wilson.  He was kept on a biscuit a day, and a very small piece of fish.

   William Jones, a lad about 15 years of age, serving on board the Armenia, deposed that he went on board at Belfast, where the deceased also joined the vessel.   Soon after they were at sea, the Captain chastised the deceased severely with an outail, and beat him repeatedly afterwards, sometimes twice or thrice a day. - Witness and other boys were often compelled to give deceased four or six dozen lashes at the main rigging.  At one time the captain flagged him in the forecastle till he became senseless, on which occasion witness remembered having seen a bucket nearly full of blood, that had come from the deceased.  On the passage from St. Michael's to England, the Captain reputedly flogged him three and four times daily with an outail.  Deceased was often sent aloft to the foretop cross-trees, where he was compelled to remain during the whole night, with scarcely any clothes or sustenance, and frequently in very heavy gales.  About four days before the vessel reached the land of England. The Captain fogged the deceased with the vane staff about the had and face, till he fell, and when down, kicked him most unmercifully.  On repeated occasions the master had called deceased aft, and said, "here let me dress your sore;" and ten would commence flogging him. 

   The deceased as found dead on he or-deck by h cabin=boy.  They were afraid to interfere on behalf of the deceased.  Deceased, when he left Belfast, was in good health, and perfectly free from sores.  The sores were not dressed after the de ceased had been beaten.  The mate often flogged the deceased by command of the Captain.  Witness did not think that any doctor saw the deceased after he was dead.

   John Green, the cabin-boy, stated tat he had joined the Armenia at St. Michael's, and came to England in her.  Deceased was very ill when he first saw him, apparently from exhaustion and ill-usage.  Both his eyes were blackened, and he was bruised and cut over many parts of his body.  At that time witness did not think him in a condition to perform his duty.  From tee time she left St. Michael's until the vessel reached the river, the captain flogged the deceased daily.  On one occasion, the deceased was lashed to the main ratlings, and received several dozen lashes from the crew, who were compelled to obey orders.  When near Dover, witness discovered the deceased lying on the forecastle deck dead, and informed the captain, who went forward, and holding up the deceased's head, said, "he is dead, sure enough."  The body was removed into the Captain's cabin.  Witness was on deck the next day, when he heard the pilot say that the deceased's death would prove a bad job.  When the ship reached Freshwater wharf, knar London-bridge, the Custom-house officers came on board, and when they questioned witness as to the cause of deceased's death, he told them that he had been  murdered by the Captain.  This coming to the Captain's knowledge, he told witness to go on shore and not to shew his face again.

   Mr. Wm. Misken, surgeon, of Braid-street, Bermondsey, deposed hat he had examined the body, which had been disinterred for the purpose.  There was a laceration of the scalp, and the bone on the left side of the head was fractured.  The bone of the nose had received a severe injury; the fracture might have been occasioned by blows from a pewter or tin por.  In the opinion of witness, death was occasioned by fracture of the skull.

   The parish beadle stated, that he had caused the body to be brought on shore, and it was disinterred for the [purpose of the inquest.

   The Coroner recapitulated the evidence, and the Jury consulted for a short time, and then returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Captain Donald Wilson, of his brig Armenia, of Belfast.

   The Captain, who was in attendance during the inquiry, just before the Jury returned their verdict, left the room.  The Crooner issued his warrant for his apprehension, and placed it in the hands of Martin, the officer, to execute.  The inquiry excited great interest, and lasted till nine o'clock.


The CAMBRIAN, 3 April 1830

Captain Donald Wilson, master of the Armenia of Belfast, charged with the death of a lad, one of his crew, by repeated flogging and ill-usage, absconded after the inquest, and is yet at large.


Carmarthen Journal, 9 July 1830

   The packet ship Boston, belonging to the Boston and Liverpool line of packets, commanded by Captain H. C. Mackay, was struck by lightning on the night of the 25th ult. while on her passage from Charleston to Liverpool, and burnt, with her whole cargo, which consisted of cotton.  The passengers and crew saved themselves in the ship's boats, and, with the exception of a lady, who died from fatigue the day after the accident, were taken up two days after.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 6 March 1830

SLOOP RUN DOWN BY A STEAM VESSEL. - About one o'clock on Wednesday morning, the steam vessel Corsair, on her voyage from Belfast to this port, and the sloop Ceres, of Cardigan, laden with herrings, from this port to Newry, came in contact at sea, when the sloop sunk, and the master David George, was drowned - the mate and two boys (the remainder of the crew) were saved. .  .  .   Liverpool Journal.


LAUNCESTON ADVERTISER, 239 March 1830 (Tasmania).

Advices from Mauritius ... Captain NICHOLLS, of the Eliza, and Captain Addison, of the Waterloo, both lately arrived here from these Colonies, were sailing in the habour in a gig, when a sudden squall upset the boat, and both the gentlemen perished.



A melancholy accident happened at Port Louis lately.  Capt. Eldridge of the ship Edward, and Capt. W. Nichols of the Eliza, from Sydney, having gone on a visit to a gentleman at Port Riviere in a small boat, were upset about one mile from the shore, and sunk to rise no more.


The Cambrian, 6 March 1830

   The Moira, of Ilfracombe, Richard Germain, master, sailed from Pool, on Friday, the 5th ult. for Bristol, and is supposed to have been lost the following day near the Lizard.  The crew, consisting of five persons, were drowned.  Captain Germain has left a widow and one child.


The Cambrian, 28 August 1830

   The East India Company's ship Princess Charlotte, arrived on Thursday.  On doubling the Cape four sailors went aloft in a gale of wind to furl the  sails, when the mast was carried away, and three perished; the fourth fell on deck, broke both his legs, and was dreadfully mutilated; he still exists, but with little hopes of recovery.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 18 September 1830


   The Rose arrived at Halifax on the 23rd August, from the St. Lawrence, in consequence of the death of her commander, Captain J. G. Dewar, whose body she had on board. The circum stances connected with this melancholy occurrence are as follows:-

   Capt. Dewar went on shore with his first lieutenant, M. Wakefield, a little after one o'clock on the 15th August, to tale a walk on the uninhabited island of St. Charles, one of the Esquimaux, near Mingan, on the Labrador coast.  They had walked several miles, and were returning to their boat, when, about four o'clock, a number of wild ducks appearing in the creek they were then passing, they tried to send a Newfoundland dog belonging to the Captain in after tem; but as the dog did not see the ducks, Capt. Dewar waded in to induce him to follow, requesting Mr. W. to go lower down and prevent their escape in that direction.  In a little time the first lieutenant saw that the water was much deeper than they had anticipated, and called to Captain Dewar to take care of his watch, which he apparently attended to.  Soon after this the first lieutenant saw him swimming [part line missing] distance below, to meet him on the other side.  Almost immediately afterwards he heard the captain call out something which he could no distinctly understand, and he hastened across the ford. The ground was so rugged that it was impossible for Mr. W. to keep his eye on the captain all the time in crossing, and although only hall a minute had passed, when he again looked for him, he had disappeared, no doubt  from cramp,- as the wind was northerly, and the thermometer 53 deg. At noon.

   He then hurried immediately o the part of the creek nearest which he had last seen the Captain swimming, but perceiving no sign of him, he ran for the gig's  crew, who were about half a mile distant, and returning with them, with boat-hooks and a rope, ineffectually endeavoured by these means to recover the body.   The creepers were afterwards obtained from the Rose, but not until after day-break had the officers and men the mournful consolation of finding it, which they did in about nine feet of water.  It appeared that the deceased had waded about a hundred yards, and swam nearly twenty, and that he was about three-fourths of the distance across.  The Rose immediately proceeded to Halifax.


The Cambrian, 26 June 1830

   The East India Company's schooner St. Helena was plundered by a pirate felucca under French colours, on the 6th of April, in lat. 1.30 south, and long. 90 west; the pirates murdered Capt. Harrison, the Chief Mate, Dr. Waddle of the Hon. Company's medical service, and twelve of the crew.



A native of Manilla, cook on board an English whaler, during the passage to the Sechelles Islands, cut the throats of the captain, two lieutenants, and five seamen, and then threw himself overboard.  The cause of this diabolical instance is said to have originated solely from the Captain giving him a box on the ear for not having the carving knife sharpened for dinner.



The merchant ship Victory, of London, put into Mauritius in distress.  She was bound from Manila to England, laden with coffee and sugar.  Having lost several men by sickness, the captain engaged five Manilla men to assist to navigate her home.  These, in the dead of the night, contrived to get the entire watch to themselves, rose upon the ship's company, and murdered the captain, second mate, carpenter boatswain, and cook, and took charge of the ship for eight days.

   Bering incompetent to manage her they liberated the chief mate and ordered him to take them back to Manilla, with which he was forced to comply.  One night, however, when they were in a state of intoxication, the mate seized the opportunity of taking a hatchet, inflicted a mortal blow on the ringleader, shot another, and then liberated his companions, who secured the rest of the gang, and then carried them into the Isle of France.

   They were tried, and two of them executed on the 16th ult., and the fifth was transported for life.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 22 May `1830

COWES, MAY 17. - Arrived the English ship Vittoria, Andrews (late Smith) master, from Manila, bound here for orders; left Manila 23d August, Isle of France 2d January, and St. Helena, 20th March.  On the 7th September, in lat. 9 17, N. long. 127 00 E., four of the crew of the Vittoria, composed of manila men, mutinied, and murdered Mr. John Smith, the then master; Wm. Thompson, second mate; Robert Tindal, boatswain; Wm. Brown, carpenter; and Charles Ashdown, seaman.

   On Mr. Andrews, the present master, then chief mate, whose watch was below, hearing a great noise and groans, he went on deck, and was immediately ordered below, on dread of being murdered also.  He thereupon went below, and barricaded himself in his cabin, but was soon called on deck by the assassins, who said to him, "The captain is dead, and we will spare your life conditionally that you navigate the ship to the coast of California."

   On the 9th September he (Mr. Andrews) proposed a plan to the other men to retake the ship, and on the 12th of the same month succeeded by putting to death the two ringleaders of the mutineers, and confining the other two, who took their trial in the Isle of France, and were condemned to death.  One was hung on board the Vittoria, and the other reprieved on the scaffold and sent back to Manila. .  .  . 


Monmouthshire Merlin, 15 January 1831

   Information has been received at the Admiralty of his death of Captain Arthur Bingham, of his Majesty's ship Thetis, employed on the coast of South America.  It appears that the unfortunate officer and the Chaplain of the Thetis were drowned by the boat getting athwart-hawse if a vessel lying at anchor off Guayaquil, and upsetting.  .  .  .  . 


The Hobart Town Courier (Tas.), 5 May 1832

   Capt. Plunkett, of the Persian, we regret to say, enjoyed so bad health in England previous to his departure on the 26th Dec. that he was despaired of.  For the first two or three days of the voyage he seemed to recover, but afterwards relapsed, and died on the 5th Jan.  Mr. Friend, (nephew of Capt. Friend of the Wanstead), who succeeded to the command, wished to have interred the body at Madeira, but not being allowed to land it, he was compelled to consign it to the deep.


The Hobart Town Courier (Tas.), 17 March 1832

   A truly distressing accident happened to the whaling ship Sophia, 419 tons, Captain Alcock, in December last. In latitude 31/2 south and 49 east, they fell in with several fish and killed 2.  The 1st and 2nd mate with ten men went in pursuit of the whales, in two boats, but from some cause not ascertained they never returned to the ship, although Captain Alcock cruised about the spot for 4 days in the vain hope of meeting with them.  He entered Table Bay, at the Cape, on the 28th Dec. to replace his officers and men.


The Bombay Times, 16 January 1839


(From the South African Com. Advertiser.)

   In the case of the Master and Mate of the "Blake," tried by the COURT OF COMMISSIONERS here the week before last, found guilty of Manslaughter, and sentenced to Fourteen Years' Transportation ni N. S. Wales, it appeared in evidence:-

   That a seaman on board, named MATHEW ALMS, aged about 55 years, having been previously afflicted with scurvy, on the 9th of May fell from the mast on deck, and was severely injured in the arm, and, from the symptoms, probably in the lower part of the spine.  His arm was bound up, and he was furnished with a crutch ten or twelve days after he fell to enable him to walk.

   For some weeks after his fall he seems to have had his full allowance of water and provisions, with some comforts, such as they ship could afford, and was apparently recovering, though far from being  well.

   From the 25th of June the Master and Mate insisted on his going to work at the ordinary duties of mariners; and on his pleading inability, a series of severe, harsh, and cruel expedients were used to compel him to obey their orders.  From this time the man appears to have gradually sunk, and on the 30th of July he died.

   The details, as given by the witnesses, are disgusting, and as we understand that a full Report is likely to be published in a pamphlet, it is the less necessary to insert them in our columns.

   That the treatment he received tended to shorten this man's life is, we think, perfectly clear.  That it was the intention of the Master and Mate to murder him, was not, in our opinion, established.

   But had it been proved that they knew the state of his body - that he was unable to work from the time of his fall, and that subsequently, it towards the end of June, he was fast sinking under disease, the facts sworn against them would have amounted to murder.

   The mitigating circumstance is, that they believed he was skulking.  This does not justify the means they used to force him to work; but, if believed, it takes away the murderous intention.

     Leaving the master and Mate, for the present, let us say a word to the Owners of the Vessel. ...


Monmouthshire Merlin, 5 September 1840


   By the Arabian, Captain Bankier, arrived at this port (Bristol), from Launceston, New South Wales, we have the particulars of the following distressing accident which occurred to her at sea.  She left Launceston in the latter end of April, and on the 13th May, having been out a fortnight, she was about 300 miles to the east of New Zealand, in lat. 48 S, long. 175 W.  Just at break of day a sudden squall came on and a tremendous sea swept over the ship, forcing her in bulwarks and carrying off her wheel, with the man at the helm, and the round house on deck, in which the passengers and part of the curfew slept.  In one moment eleven human beings were swept into eternity! No arm could be stretched to save them - no assistance by any possibility would be rendered.  In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the whole were overwhelmed in the midst of the rolling billows, and nothing was heard but the hoarse roar of the remorseless waves as they swept past with their victims.

   Several others of the seaman had narrow escapes.  One man was caught by the spindle of the wheel as the waves were hurrying him across the deck, and another was driven with great force against the sides of the ship.  A large quantity of the stores of the ship were also lost.

   The names of the unfortunate sufferers are Henry Miles, the second mate; Dirk Vanderson, the carpenter; John McBride, seaman; and Alfred Skelton, apprentice.

   Of the passengers, Mrs. Younghusband and her three daughters, all young girls about six or seven years of age; and Mrs. Matthews and two children were ,lost.  Mrs. Matthews had another child with her on board, an interesting, intelligent little boy, about six years of age, who was providentially saved.  The little fellow had been taken by one of the sailors into his berth, and thus escaped destruction.  Mrs. Matthews was a  widow lady, and was on her return to her friends in England.  Her husband, who was a coach-builder in Launceston, died suddenly a short time before.  All now left of the family, is the poor little boy, but he is not left alone, for with the generosity which characterises the British sailor, there is not a man on board the Arabian, from the caption to the seaman before the mast, who does not feel a deep interest in the boy's welfare, and who would not willingly endure any privation rather than see him want. .  .  .  .   Bristol Gazette.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 26 September 1840


THE LATE DR. CARPENTER. -Upon making inquiry, we find that the report is correct as to the discovery of the remains of our late respected fellow-citizen, the Rev. Dr. Carpenter, who was drowned on the night of April 5th, on his passage from Naples to Leghorn.  The body was washed ashore between Naples and Civita Vecchia, 40 miles S.S.E. of Rome, about the middle of June; and, according to the sanatory laws of the country, was consumed by fire.  His watch, seals, and pocket-book, found on the person, sufficiently identified him.  The Consul transmitted these articles to his agent in London, for Dr. C.'s representatives. - Bristol Gazette.




On the afternoon of the 1st October, two of the steerage passengers on board this vessel, named Thomas Henderson and George Hand, quarrelled on deck, and ultimately fought.  The second mate interfered, and, as Hand said he did not want to fight any more, went away.  Immediately afterwards, however, some of the passengers urged the men to fight again.  They did so, and Henderson felled Hand to the deck, and when picked up he was dead.

   Twelve of the passengers were empanelled as a court-martial, and found that Henderson had caused the death of Hand, in consequence of which he was at once put in irons, and will be delivered up to the Liverpool authorities.




In our impression of Tuesday (October 14) there appeared an account of a fatal affray which took place on board the Champion of the Seas.

   Yesterday (October 16) the person charged, whose name is Thomas Anderson, was brought before Mr. Mansfield, in custody of detective officer Kennedy, who said the prisoner was given in charge by Captain M'Kirdy, of the Champion of the Seas, for having caused the death of a passenger on board. 

   Captain M'Kirdy said there was a fight took place between the prisoner and deceased on the deck of the vessel.  He did not see it, but was called up, and found the deceased dying or dead at the time.  The surgeon of the ship said, about midday on the 1st October, he was called up to see the deceased, and found him on the deck in a reclining position.  He felt for pulse, but could not find any.  He opened a vein, but only about a teaspoonful of blood came.  The man was dead.

   He subsequently made a post mortem examination of the body, and inside the head he found an injury, extending behind the left ear to three inches.  There was blood corresponding with injury effused on the brain, and also into the substance of the brain.  All the other organs of the body, with the exception of the kidneys, were in a healthy state.  Death, no doubt whatever, was caused by the injury described, and that injury was the result of a blow or fall.

Mr. Mansfield: Then the man died from external violence, as marked by the internal injuries?

Witness: Yes. The internal injury was caused by the external violence.

Mr. Mansfield: Yes, that's what I mean, as the marks corresponded.

Surgeon: They did exactly.

   John Armstrong, one of the passengers by the ship, said both the prisoner and deceased were passengers also.  I was present at the time the transaction took place, which resulted in the death of the deceased.  One of the passengers and deceased had a dispute about the payment of a bottle of ale, and deceased called the prisoner, and left the matter in dispute to him.  He decided against the deceased, who then became angry and violent, and called the prisoner bad names. They had some words, when deceased began to kick at the prisoner.  They wrestled a round or two, and the prisoner struck with his fists, but the deceased continued to kick, and said if he could not strike he could kick.  The second matte came up and told the deceased to go away, but he refused, and continued to kick the prisoner.  They then grappled each other and wrestled about, when both fell on the deck, the deceased being under.

Mr. Mansfield: You say deceased began it?

Witness: Why so far as what I have just stated, he did, for I just tell the whole of it.

   In reply to Mr. Snowball, who defended the prisoner, the witness said what the prisoner had done was on his own defence from the kicking of the deceased.

   The captain, in reply to Mr. Snowball, said the prisoner expressed great sorrow at what had happened. 

   There were two other witnesses produced, and they gave exactly the same version of the case as the first witness.

   Mr. Snowball said there were two questions on the case - first, was the deceased killed by the prisoner at all; and, second, if he were killed, do the prisoner do it in his own defence?  From the evidence it was clear that the affair was an unfortunate accident or one of chance. On the evidence before the court no jury on earth could convict, and he therefore called for the prisoner's discharge.

   Mr. Mansfield said he found, buy documents handed to him, that the authorities had done what seemed to him a very necessary thing on board, they had held a coroner's inquest on the body, and had very properly returned an open verdict in the case.  He did not remember a precedent for holding an inquest on ship board, except one on the voyage of Sir Walter Raleigh, when on the verdict, there was a man hanged. He thought the Champion of the Sea's jury had done better, both in their proceedings and their verdict.  It was quite clear from the evidence that a jury could not convict the prisoner, and therefore it was useless to send him for trial.  He then ordered him to be discharged. - Liverpool paper.


The Observer, 15 August 1858


AT SEA. - The captain of the European (s.s.), from Limerick, arrived in the Thames on Wednesday, reports that on Saturday morning, about half past three o'clock, a passenger, named David Ions, jumped overboard.  A life-buoy was thrown to him, and every exertion made to save his life, but without effect.


The Manchester Guardian, 27 September 1859

FLOGGING IN THE NAVY. - The following is an extract of a letter from Her Majesty's ship Lapwing, dated 40 miles from Malta, 22nd of August:-

   My dear Friend, - This is a very sad thing I am going to tell you, and likewise others.  One of our boys has cut his throat.  The boy's name was John Knight.  There was to be twenty-dozen served out on board the Lapwing, all among boys, and he was to have four dozen over the back, with a cane, whipped with wax ends; he had been flogged last month.  They kept the body till they got to Malta, and as soon as the anchor dropped they sent a boat to the hospital for a coffin, ands buried him without any court of inquiry.  The poor boy's back was black and blue from his former lashes.  There is another boy that was to have been flogged a second time, but the doctor said he could not stand it. - Daily News.


DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS, 24 December 1861 [New Zealand]


(Before Thos. Beckham, Esq., R.M., and W. C. Daldy, J.P.)

SHORTLY after the routine business had been disposed of yesterday at the Resident Magistrate's court, an inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Frank Keith Adair, late third mate of the ship 'Mermaid,' was gone into before the presiding justices.

   Mr. F. WHITAKER said he attended on behalf of the captain and owners of the ship 'Mermaid,' lately arrived at the port of Auckland from London, to offer such evidence to the court as it was in the captain's power to bring forward regarding the death of the late third officer of that ship.  The unfortunate circumstances which led to this inquiry occurred during the voyage from London, and as the captain had had no means of holding an investigation on board, he took the earliest opportunity of applying to the authorities on his arrival here, to make such inquiries into the matter as would preserve the character of the ship, and save the captain from any unfair imputations by the friends of the deceased, who would naturally enough complain were some official cognisance not taken of the event, when they read the note which the deceased wrote previous to his death regarding the treatment he had received in the ship.  The following was the note referred to:-

"Wednesday, 3 p.m. - I can't bear my life any longer.  This is like a grave with a living inhabitant.  You have not treated me fairly, though I suppose you thought differently.  I have heard reports of my being charged with something more than I am at present aware of.  I swear on the oath of a dying man, I am guiltless of anything except getting drunk and violence.

   Never, as you have a heart, inflict the misery you have inflicted on me on another of God's creatures.  God forgive you, and have mercy on me.  Ask Mr. Allom to write to my father. - A.K."

[This was written in pencil on a page torn from a small pocket diary.  It was folded and addressed, "Captain Rose," in pencil writing on the outside.]

The necessity for holding an inquiry was apparent after reading this note, but owing to the absence of the body of the deceased a coroner's inquiry could not be held.  The only thing to be done was to secure a magisterial inquiry, and examine such witnesses as might be able to throw light on the unhappy transaction, and show whether any doubtful circumstances existed.

   But so far as he (Mr. Whitaker) was aware, there were no doubtful circumstances to be detailed, nor was there the slightest suspicion attaching to any party.  The bench would, however, inquire into all the circumstances relating to the death of the unfortunate man and declare, after reviewing it, whether blame could be attached to any person or not.

   Mr. BECKHAM - Do you intend to conduct the inquiry?

   Mr. WHITAKER - No; I desire that the court may do it.  I will first call the captain of the ship.

   HENRY ROSE examined - I am captain of the ship "Mermaid." She arrived at Auckland last Monday morning, the 16th instant, from London.  She was a passenger ship, full in the saloon, but there was not a sufficient number of passengers on board to being her under the "Passenger Act."  She was commanded by myself, and I had four mates.  The third mate was named I believe, Frank Keith Adair.  He was drunk three times during the voyage, and used very abusive language.  I overlooked the first occasion when he was drunk.  I merely reprimanded him then, but did not enter the offence in the log.  On the 22nd October I made the following entry -

"Oct. 22, 1861. - Soon after midnight Mr. Adair, 3rd officer, was found to be in a state of intoxication, using abusive language.

4 a.m., complained to the chief officer, who had charge of the deck, that the men would not come off to muster as usual.  Upon Mr. Deighton inquiring the cause, they replied they would not be bullied by the third mate.  He then commenced abusing the chief officer, and challenged him to fight.  I was then called by the chief mate, and I immediately went on deck and put Mr. Adair off duty, but he refused to go below, and continued on deck abusing several persons.  He also went forward and cut the hose attached to the fire engine, rendering it useless for the time.

1 p.m. - Mr. Adair having slept, and being now sober, called him aft and told him that this being the second offence of a similar nature, I did not consider him fit to hold an officer's position, and that for the future he should do his duty before the mast.  This he refused to do, upon which I told him he should be kept in confinement for the remainder of the passage.  I then ordered the carpenter to prepare the hatch-house for his reception, and at 6 p.m., confined him in it."

(Signed) H. ROSE, Master, R. M. DEIGHTON, C O.

   Examination continued - I ordered him before the mast, and he refused to go, and then I put him into solitary confinement during the rest of the voyage.  The chief mate had charge of the watch in which the third mate was.  There are two officers in each watch.  It was the duty of both officers to be on deck during their watch.  He was first found drunk at twelve o'clock at night, abusing the people about the deck.

   Mr. BECKHAM - How do officers and seamen get liquor on board to get drunk?

   Capt. ROSE - I know that my cargo was broached by the crew, but by whom I don't know.  I found that out on September 28th.  They broke through the bulk-head from the fore store room to the cargo. The chief officer has general charge of all stores on board the ship; the boatswain and purser have charge of their own peculiar stores.  The third officer had been drunk before.  I discovered the cargo was broached.  I put a lock and key on the bulkhead, after it had been first broken through, and it was broken open again.   It was the duty of the third officer to go down with the seamen, for sails or ropes, to the store-room, from which they broke through into the cargo.  There was a good deal of beer stowed near the bulkhead.  Beer was broached.  We were obliged to take in the cargo as we received it.  The captain is responsible for how the ship is laden; but, in this case, I did not go on board until a few days before she sailed.  We had a regular stevedore, who is held responsible to the owners; but we are responsible to the merchants here in case of loss or damage.

   Up to September 7th the conduct of Mr. Adair was good.  His friends asked me as a favour to take charge of him, as they could not get a ship for him.  I knew that drink was his failure ashore, from what they told me.  he only received 1s. a month as wages.  The length of the hatch-house where the third mate was confined was 8 feet 2 inches inside, breadth 7 feet 4 inches, height 5 feet 10 ½ inches.  There were two doors and four windows.  There was plenty of air.

   Mr. BECKHAM - What became of the third mate subsequently to the 22nd October? 

   He was confined up to December 11th, when he hung himself.  The following is the entry in the log -

"Wednesday, December 11th, 1861, 5 p.m. - On boy Dixon going at the usual hour with Mr. Adair's tea, found him hanging to the roof of the hatch-house, by his comforter made fast round his neck.  He immediately reported it to me, and I hastened to cut him down, and called for the doctor, who proceeded with the usual remedies to restore animation, and at 8 p.m. pronounced life extinct.  On inquiring when he was last seen I was told by the boatswain that he had seen him about 4 p.m., looking out of the window.  Found two notes he had written, one addressed to self, and one to Mr. Dearden, 4th mate.

(Signed) H. ROSE, master, R. M. DEIGHTON, C.O., ABRAHAM [mark] CORAN, JAMES NIXON."

Examination continued -

   During the greater part of his confinement he had had an hour's exercise every day on the poop.  Up to October 30th, he was exercised on the poop; but conceiving that this annoyed the passengers, I changed the place of exercise to the quarter-deck.  He had books, and pipe and tobacco, during his confinement.  He made no complaints of his health during his confinement.  He was not supposed to converse with any one, but I believe he did talk through the glass. He once asked to see the doctor, who went to him.  He asked me to be allowed to be more at liberty, but I looked upon him as a prisoner, and thought the exercise I gave him sufficient.  He died on the 11th December, five days before we came to port.  I was the first to go into the hatch-house.  I cut him down with my own hands.  I found the letter read by Mr. Whitaker on the floor of the hatch-house.  Up to the 22nd October his dinner was bread and water, and from that, his food was the same as if he had been at work.  On one occasion he broke out of confinement.  This is the entry in the log -

"Saturday, November 30, 1861. - 1 a.m. - I was awakened by Mr. Stafford, saloon passenger, who informed me that Mr. Adair had broken out of confinement, and had been in his cabin, and was evidently the worse for liquor.  Upon going on deck the boatswain reported the same to me.  I then saw the prisoner, and on my ordering him into his house he ran away and hid.  After searching some time, discovered him struggling with the boatswain in the port forecastle.  I then ordered him to go into his house, which he obeyed, and when abreast of the hatch-house, he told me to 'go to h---,' besides using other obscene language.  I then put him into irons, but found a short time afterwards that he had managed to slip them off.  Finding the hand cuffs too large, endeavoured to secure him by lashing; but not wishing to stop the circulation of the blood b y lashing too tight, he slipped them off three times.  All this time he used very threatening and filthy language to self and chief officer, called me a -----, and threatened the life of self and chief officer.

   I then handcuffed him a second timer with his hands behind his back, but soon found he had released himself, as he commenced smashing the windows of the hatch-house in which he was confined.  Finding him quiet after this, I allowed him to remain in the house, without irons during the day, and secured in irons at night. (Signed_) H. ROSE, master, R. M. DEIGHTON, C.O., GEORGE BULMER."

Examination continued -

   The next day I made an inquiry as to how he got the liquor, and had released himself, and the result of my investigation is in the following entry -

"Monday, Dec. 2, 1861, 11 a.m. - Having had information that the prisoner had been drinking with two of the steerage passengers, named Lloyd and Ciomb. I questioned Lloyd on the subject, who first denied and then admitted having been in the prisoner's company on the starboard side of the forecastle, and had there given him (Adair) two nips of spirits, and that after he had left their company his companion Ciomb had also given the prisoner some more.  On being further questioned Lloyd informed me that the prisoner had been in the starboard side of the forecastle, and that others as well as himself knew of the circumstance.



Mr. BECKHAM - How do the steerage passengers get drink?

Captain ROSE - A small quantity of spirits, or wine, or porter is usually sold to a passenger if he requires it.  This is customary in all Australian ships.  The quantity is left to the discretion of the captain.

ABRAHAM CORAN examined -

I am boatswain of the ship 'Mermaid.' I was in that ship during the whole voyage.  I recollect the third mate, Mr. Adair.  He was drunk three times during the voyage.  The captain overlooked the first case of drunkenness, afterwards he used abusive language to him and other people on board - part of the crew and passengers; he was then in a beastly state of intoxication. The captain confined him in thr main hatch house.  The last time I saw him alive was about four o'clock in the afternoon, five days previous to out coming to the port of Auckland.  He was looking out of the after part of the hatch-house.  He appeared to be in his usual way; he usually laughed at the people passing and repassing.  He appeared to be quite cheerful, and seemed to wish to get some one to speak to him.  I saw him three or four times a day during his confinement.  I exercised him every other evening.  He made no complaints about his confinement, but he several times threatened the chief officer's life to me.  The last time he escaped from the hatch-house I attacked him, and assisted to out him back, and after that he did not appear to be so friendly with me.  He never complained of his food to me. 

   I rubbed his body for two hours after he was cut down.  The greater part of his time was taken up reading during his confinement.  When he was in a state of intoxication he was very noisy and troublesome.  He was not what I would call a powerful man - nearly as stout as myself.  I took the third officer's watch after he was confined.  The first and third officers appeared to be on good terms until after he took to drink.  I do not know how he got the drink.  He threatened to take the chief officer's life when I attacked him to put him back into the hatch-house.  He was then drunk.

   JAMES NIXON examined - I am cabin-boy in the ship 'Mermaid.'  I recollect the third mate - Mr. Adair.  I used to take his meals to him, morning, noon, and night, during his confinement in the hatch-house.  He had bread and coffee for breakfast, potatoes and meat at dinner; but for the first few days he had bread and water for sinner.  He used to leave some of his food after meals.  He said to me that he was happy enough there doing nothing.  On December 11th, at 5 p.m., I saw him suspended to the ceiling by his comforter.  It was sewed tight round his neck, and fixed along the ceiling by a chisel.  One of his feet was nearly touching the ground.  I did not stop to see where the other was.  The chisel was pushed in at the window at the top; and the comforter was round it.  His back was towards me when I went in.  He never made any complaint to me of the treatment he received.

   Captain ROSE recalled - When I cut him down, one of his legs was triced up to his thigh by a piece of tape.  His hands were perfectly free; and one of his feet was touching the ground.

   Dr. R. R. Norris examined - I was surgeon on board the ship 'Mermaid,' from London to Auckland.  There were four officers on board, besides the captain.  On the morning of the day when the third mate was confined I saw him, and he acknowledged to me how foolish he had been in getting drunk, offering to fight and insulting others.  He had then a slight attack of delirium tremens, and asked me to give him something.  He asked for very unsafe doses of chloric ether, and stated that he took such doses when ashore after fits of intoxication.  In my opinion such doses would have deprived him of life.  I gave him safe doses of the medicine.  He was of an excitable temperament, but had not the appearance of being addicted to drink.  I supplied him with some medicine during his confinement for constipation, but he never complained to me of want of proper care or attention.  In my opinion the hatch house was amply sufficient as a place of confinement.  I do not think the confinement was of such a character as to affect the mind of the deceased.  It was not solitary confinement in the sense usually understood by the phrase, for he could converse with any one near him when the window was open.  I made the following entry on December 11th -

"I, the medical officer of the 'Mermaid,' hereby certify that I as called at 5 o'clock p.m. to attend to Mr. Adair, whom I found had shortly expired, apparently, from symptoms, about 20 or 30 minutes.  Notwithstanding all pulsation has ceased, and his lips and tongue were quite cold, there was some warmth on the surface of the body.  The most persevering efforts to reanimate him were continued for three hours.  No evidence was seen to contradict the opinion that he was dead when discovered suspended.  He enjoyed good health.  Some marks on his left arm indicated an attempt to bleed himself.

(Signed) R. R. NORRIS, N. D."

Examination continued -

The marks on his arm were recent; but appeared to have been inflicted before the day on which he hanged himself.  I saw a few spots of blood on the floor of the hatch-house when I visited it.  I did not see anything in the conduct of deceased to lead to the supposition that he would commit suicide, nothing except the request for a large dose of medicine before his confinement indicated a rash resolution of that nature.

   ALBERT JAS. ALLOM examined -

   I was a saloon passenger on board the 'Mermaid' from London to Auckland.  I recollect the third mate, Mr. Adair.  I have had conversations with him about his father and other relatives.  I had opportunities of seeing him during the voyage.  Up to the first occasion of his drunkenness his conduct was very good; after that formed a bad opinion of him, though his appearance would not have led any one to suppose so of him.  He was confined for drunkenness, insubordination, and violence.  I did not speak to him after the captain forbid all intercourse with him; and though this order was subsequently relaxed I purposely avoided all conversation with the deceased.  I consider the captain's conduct most kind and humane; indeed, I have formed the opinion, and it is not a solitary one, that if Captain Rose erred at all to the unfortunate man it was on the side of leniency.  He was allowed to take exercise first on the poop and afterwards on the quarter deck.  His confinement was not more strict than was necessary; if more severity had been used, and the irons kept on day and night this result would not have happened.  I do not know that he threatened to commit suicide.  During his intemperance he was very violent.  I have not heard that he threatened to commit suicide.  I took this note from the deceased's writing desk the day after his death, when making an inventory of his effects.  I believe it to be his handwriting.

   Mr. WHITAKER - I will now read it to the Court:--


"Ship 'Mermaid,' October 15, 1861.


We are now in the track of homeward bound vessels, so I write in case we may have an opportunity of putting letters on board of some.  I like this ship pretty well; the captain is a very quiet man, and the chief is a very agreeable officer.  The 2nd do. is quiet and reserved, but very touchy.  I have luckily not trodden on his toes yet.  The 4th mate, a young fellow named Denton, with whom I live, is a first-rate, quiet, kind-hearted fellow.   He and I get on well together - as well as it is possible for two fellows to get on.  I hope sincerely that the Governor has made some satisfactory arrangement about wages, as if I do not get news to that effect in Auckland, I should consider it foolish to remain on board a ship for nothing.  In mentioning the officers I forgot the purser.  He is a jolly, good-natured, passionate, witty little Patlander."

[This letter was unfinished, and bore no signature.]


Mr. JAS. LYEL, examined -

   I was a saloon passenger on board the ship 'Mermaid,' from London to Auckland.  I recollect the deceased third officer, Mr. Adair.  He seemed to be quiet and obliging during the first part of the voyage.  He was subsequently drunk and excited.  He was put in confinement for insubordination and drunkenness.  I noticed no change in his manners.  The captain's conduct was very kind and considerate to the third officer.  He had struck one of the cabin passengers, and he would not acknowledge that he was wrong; he agreed to make an apology, and promised not to take drink during the voyage again.  The captain overlooked this offence in consequence of that promise, which he did not keep.  He was by no means treated harshly.  Had my opinion been taken I would have been more strict, as, considering the cargo we had on board, I thought him a dangerous man.  We had several tons of gunpowder on board.

   Mr. WHITAKER - There were about 80 tons.

   He then stated that Colonel Gamble would have been present but for the nature of his military duties; he had, however, sent a letter to Captain Rose, accounting for his absence, which he would read to the court.

"Auckland, Dec. 21st, 1861. - My dear captain Rose, I fear that the move of the troops into camp, and the necessity of my preceding them, will prevent my attending the inquiry into the circumstances connected with the sad death of the late Mr. Adair.  You are, I feel, quite right in seeking an investigation, to avoid the possibility of any future imputation.  You will, no doubt, fully satisfy the magistrates that the unfortunate young man was not suffering from any unnecessarily harsh treatment at your hands.  We all knew of your great leniency to him on the occasion  of his first committing himself, and of your subsequent relaxation of the strictness of close confinement by allowing him books, pipe, and so far as I know, ordinary diet.  And that your latterly placing him under personal restraint was only the evidence of your regard for the general safety of the sup and passengers.  I am aware, moreover, of your providing for his taking regular exercise in the evenings, when he was allowed to converse with others. It is no harm to remark now that I even construed this indulgence in to almost an error in the way of leniency.

   I am sure the sad termination was wholly unexpected by me, nor did anything at all seem to make it likely.  As to cruelty, I believe you to be wholly incapable of anything approaching the name, and that while the discipline of your ship would be, of course, your first object, you would, and did, do everything in your power for the comfort of the crew and everyone on board.  With every good wish, believe me, sincerely yours.

(Signed) D. J. GAMBLE, Lt. Col., D. Q. M. General."

   Captain Rose stated, in reply to Mr. Beckham, that he never heard of the deceased having threatened to commit suicide, nor was he even aware of the request for heavy doses of medicine.

   Mr. BECKHAM said it was unnecessary to call for any further testimony.  It would seem, from the testimony of the witnesses produced, to have been absolutely necessary for the preservation of discipline, indeed, highly essential to the preservation of the ship and cargo, and the lives of the passengers committed to his charge, for the captain to have acted towards the deceased as he had done.  So far from harshness having been used, it appeared on the contrary, as Colonel Gamble had remarked, that the error was on the side of leniency, if any error had been committed.  The bench were of opinion that captain Rose was wholly exonerated from any imputation whatever in relation to the death of his late third officer, and what he did was absolutely necessary for the preservation of the ship.

   The finding of the court was ordered to be entered on the official log, and the proceedings terminated.


COLONIST (NEW ZEALAND), 15 August 1862

Captain Peter Jepsen, a passenger on board the Ripon, which arrived at Southampton on May 18, committed suicide whilst the Ripon was in the Bay of Biscay.


The North China Herald, 31 July 1868

We regret to notice the death of Lieut. Stepford, R.N. Commander of H.B.M. Gunboat Starling.  In the course of a cruise she called at a place in Hainan to get a pilot, Lieut. Stepford and four hands going ashore to find one. On their way back, a squall upset the boat.  A Chinese sampan saved the four men; but Lieut. Stepford was drowned.


The Cambrian, 31 December 1831

The Congress frigate, which was engaged for Don Pedro, which was to form part of the expedition against Don Miguel, has been wrecked off the coat of France, near L'Orient, and the Captain, Lieut. Smith, and several mariners drowned.


The Shipping Gazette, 1 September 1856


(To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.)

SIR       , - I cases of death by accident in England the jury frequently levies a fine on the defective machinery or inefficient gear which has led to it.  This, as most of your readers are aware, goes to the benefit of the widow, or surviving relations of the deceased, and is not only a provision for them, but operates also as a wholesome check on owners of property; who are too often apt to be more careful of their "plant" than of the human lives which may be endangered, or lost, in charge of it.  Might not the same rule be very properly enforced in the colonies!  How often are small vessels cast away and lives lost, because their owners send them to sea with second-hand and insufficient rope and sails.  On the voyage from England in the vessel in which I sailed, a part of the rigging gave way, and a boy was struck off into the sea and lost.  The weather at the time was quite as moderate as we had had for some days previous, but, on examination, it was found that the broken part had never been of the proper strength, and had happened to give way, as such things so often do, just at the moment that its doing so involved the loss of life.

   Would it not be well if some kind of inquest could be held on such deaths when the vessels arrive in port.  Very frequently the crew would be in a position to give evidence as to how and why the defective rope or gear gave way, and if it could be clearly proved that the accident took place from the false economy of owners or officers, (in wearing out gear that should have been replaced before it finally broke,) a deodand should certainly be placed on the ship.

   Such an investigation would at least have the effect of making people, who have charge of the lives of others, much more careful than they often are, and would probably prevent a good many of the accidents which are now of too frequent occurrence.  I am, Sir, &c., A SUBSCRIBER.


Otago Daily Times, 16 December 1861

TRAGEDY AT SEA. - The barque Czarina arrived at this port this morning, in charge of the first officer of the ship, D. B. Metcalf, Mr. Seritt, who gives the particulars of a terrible tragedy resulting in the death of four persons, as follows:

  The barque Czarina is owned by John Dwyer of this city, had been on a voyage to Cronstadt, and was on her return to this port when the murders took place.  The captain hired at Queenstown, on his outward voyage, John Crotter, as his first mate.  This man was reprimanded by Captain Dwyer, on the 15th July last, for the bad condition of the vessel.  After that time no more trouble of consequence occurred until two days before the murder, when a dispute took place in the cabin, resulting in the throwing of a plate at the captain by Crotter, which inflicted a wound upon his head.  On the night of the 30th July, some time during the "middle watch," (from 12 to four) Crotter was seen by a boy at the wheel to go down to the captain's cabin.  It afterwards appeared that he had murdered the captain with an axe as he was sleeping in his berth.  He then put on some of the captain's clothes and took his money, went on deck again at 4, a.m., and murdered the second mate, Mr. Cammett, of Boston, probably with the same weapon.  During the day the crew, finding that Crotter was a desperate and reckless murderer, consulted together, and agreed to kill him.  Giving a pledge each to each, to stand by the other, they commenced the attack on the next day, July 31.  Crotter, however, was not in the humour to submit, and as the crew came round he produced a pair of revolvers, loaded with ball.  The attack and defence which followed was of the most desperate character.  The Carpenter, who made a pass at Crotter, was shot and thrown overboard by him.  The boy at the wheel threw the carpenter a rope, which he caught, but Crotter, on perceiving it, cut it, and the carpenter soon after sunk.  Another man then approached, who was shot at by Crotter, but at the moment the former jumped up suddenly, and the ball lodged in the shoulder of a Russian passenger, Mr. Alexander Tresketsky

  At this time one of the crew, who had an adze in his hand for self defence, struck Crotter a severe blow on the shoulder which somewhat cowed the murderer.  It soon appeared that this wound was mortal, and he was placed in a boat on deck, where, after several hours of horrible raving, he died.

  At six, p.m., same day, was boarded by British barque, Harlequin, which obtained the particulars of the mutiny, and proceeded on her course.  August 3d was boarded from ship D. B. Metcalfe, and obtained from here a navigator, Mr. Seritt, who brought the Czarina to this.  The mate, after killing the captain, destroyed all the papers.  The bodies of the dead were all thrown overboard.  Captain Dwyer was about 33 years of age, and belongs to this city. He leaves a wife and one child.  The following are the names of the crew:

  Henrich S. Blujal, a Swede;

  John Shaw; Henry Cann, James Wilson, Englishmen;

  Carl W. Nesbur, Carl Swerholm, both Swedes; and

  Charles Percival, American.

  The murderer, Crotter, was an Irishman, and doubtless this was not his first crime upon the high seas.  He had been on the coast of California, and he often bragged of the murders he had committed among the Chinese there. His design, probably, was to take the vessel close to the shore at some appropriate place, set it on fire, and abandon it.  With this view he had loaded a boat on deck with the captain's valuables and other property.  John Shaw,  one of the crew, stated that "on the 30th July I went to the wheel at four o'clock in the morning; saw soon after the second mate drunk; saw the mate with bottle and cup; he got the second mate drunk, so that he was speechless; afterwards he was quiet.  Soon after the mate called a man named John to come aft; heard John singing out; looked overboard and saw him, with a cut on his head, swimming; I sang out to the men, 'A man overboard!' and threw the spanker sheet to John with a hatchet, saying to the man, 'Go to h-ll with the captain;' the man swam behind twenty minutes; the mate with a revolver in hand ordered the carpenter and a Swede to throw overboard the second mate, who was on the deck bleeding; he swam for about fifteen minutes; the mate stood on the house laughing at him; the vessel was going about two miles an hour.  He then looked at me and told me not to be afraid as he was not going to hurt me yet.  The remainder of the watch were on deck at the time.  He cut at one, and he escaped; he cut at another, and struck him on the back; told the captain [] he did not want to hurt him then; the carpenter went forward; he told all the hands to get down on deck the largest boat; got chains up for ballast.  He told me he was going to leave the ship, and set her on fire; said the crew might go to h-ll with her; told me he was going to take me, the steward, and two men; told another man that he should not take me and steward; in the morning g he called all the hands, and said he was captain of the ship, and that the first man who disobeyed his orders he would immediately put a ball through him; he told me to go to work; we worked upon the boat.  At two o'clock told us to throw the carpenter overboard; he lay in berth, with head cut and brains protruding; I sewed him up in bed-clothes, and we threw him overboard.  

  In the evening he called all hands aft, and put us in irons; left one man to look after the vessel; let out men at different times, two at a time, to relieve the watch; on the morning of the 31st saw a vessel coming up to us; he ordered all hands to make sail to get away; we made sail and got out of sight of her; that afternoon at two o'clock, I saw the mate running forward, the carpenter having struck him with a topmaul; he shot at the carpenter, who ran forward and jumped over the bow, and hung upon the chains; he shoved his head up, and the mate shot at him; he then went overboard; the mate ran aft,  and one of the men struck him on the head with a hammer or adze; he lived till seven o'clock; I put the wheel down to save the carpenter, but could not see him." -Boston Journal.


North China Herald, 28 January 1885
Shanghai, 27th January 1885
Before Colin M. Ford, Esq., H.B.M.'s Vice-Consul, President. W. Strugnell, Nav. Lieut., R.N., Edward E. Mahon, Staff Surgeon, R.N., Samuel Richards, Master, British ship Northampton.
  A Naval Court constituted as above, which has been sitting on the 23rd, 26th and 27th inst. to investigate charges made by members of the crew against the Master, Mate and Second Mate of the British barque Robert S. Besnard, today delivered the following
  Finding and order of a Naval Court held at the British Consulate-General, Shanghai, on the 23rd, 26th and 27th days of Jan., 184, to investigate the following charges made against the Master, Mate and Second Mate of the British barque Robert S, Besnard, by Daniola Dominico, John Frederick, Joseph Downey, Wm. F. Stevens, William Tynes and John W. Buckley, seamen of the said barque, viz:-
  That Oliver O. Reynolds, second mate caused the death of Lorenzo Soltos, seaman by knocking him off the main upper top-sail yard.
  That Lamuel Gordon, mate caused the death of Arthur Dennison, by causing him to go unnecessarily in a position of danger and by failing to take due precautions for his safety when in such position.
  That Daniel Davis died of scurvy caused by insufficient or improper medicines.
  That Oliver O. Reynolds threatened the lives of Daniola Dominico, William Buckley, and others on board, and pointed a revolver at Dominico and Buckley.
  That Lamuel Gordon, mate, did assault and beat William Tynes on several occasions, and on the 31st August last fired a revolver at him. And on the 30th November last struck him on the head with a scrubber handle.
  That the Master M. J. C. Andrews assaulted William Tynes, and causelessly put him in irons, using irons too small.
  That Oliver O. Reynolds, 2nd mate, did assault and beat William Tynes on several occasions.
  That the master neglected to supply the ship with sufficient food and water, and proper anti-scorbutics.
  That the master, mate and 2nd mate were guilty of cruel and tyrannical conduct during the voyage.
  Having carefully considered and heard the evidence given before the court in the presence of the accused and their statements in defence,
  The Court find that the Robert S. Besnard left New York, bound for Shanghai, on or about the 5th July, 1884.
  That on the 11th day of October, 1884, Lorenzo Soltos, one of the crew, was killed by falling from aloft on to the deck of the vessel.
  That Arthur Dennison, another of the seamen, was washed overboard on the 10th day of October, 1884, and drowned.
  That Daniel Davis who shipped as Henry King, another of the crew died on the 5th day of January, 1885.
  That Oliver O. Reynolds, second mate, is not guilty of casing the death of Lorenzo Soltos by knocking him off the main-top-sail yard. The said Soltos having, as far as can be judged from the evidence, fallen from the top-gallant yard while the second mate was on the poop occupied with the spanker.  The Court considers that he met his death from accidental causes.
  That Lamuel Gordon, first mate, is not guilty of causing the death of Arthur Dennison by compelling him to go unnecessarily into a position of danger, or by failing to take due precautions for his safety while in such a position.
  That the master, M. J. C. Andrews, did not omit to take proper and requisite steps for preserving the life of the said Arthur Dennison; on the contrary, everything appears to have been done that was possible under existing circumstances.
  The Court considers that Arthur Dennison met with his death from accidental causes.
  That there is no evidence to show that Daniel Davis (alias Henry King) died of scurvy caused by insufficient or improper food and medicines.
  There is nothing to show the disease of which he died die, but he appears to have been treated and cared for to the best of the master's knowledge and ability.
  That Daniola Dominico, John Frederick, Joseph Downey, William F. Stevens, William Tynes, and John William Buckley have not only failed to substantiate the charges of cruel and tyrannical conduct  during the voyage brought by them against the master, mate and second mate, and the charge of neglecting to supply the vessel with sufficient food and water and proper anti-scorbutics brought against the master, but the Court considers them to be vexatious and without foundation, and also the charge that the ship was leaking and unseaworthy when she left New York.
  The Court returns to the master, M. J. C. Andrews, and to Lamuel Gordon, first mate, their certificates of competency.
  The Court order that in accordance with the powers contained in Sec. 263 of 17 and 18 Vic., c. 104, the costs of proceedings of said Court to be paid by M. J. C. Andrews, master of the Robert S. Besnard, one of the parties thereto, and he is hereby ordered to pay the said sum accordingly, but that he be and is hereby empowered to deduct the same from the wages of Daniola Dominico, John Frederick, Joseph Downey, William F. Stevens, William Tynes, and John William Buckley, in equal proportions.
  The Court order that in accordance with the powers contained in Sec, 263 of 17 and 18 Vic., c. 104, William Tynes be discharged from the Robert S. Besnard, of Parrsboro', Nova Scotia, and the balance of wages due to him after payment of his portion of the costs of these proceedings as above decided, retained by way of compensation to the owner.
  The expenses of this Court are fixed at 14 Ponds and ten pence and are approved.
  Dated at Shanghai this 27th day of January, 1885.
Before Colin M. Ford, Esq., H.B.M.'s Vice-Consul, President.
W. Strugnell, Nav. Lieut., R.N., Edward E. Mahon, Staff Surgeon, R.N., Samuel Richards, Master, British ship Northampton.


Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School