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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

Kearns v. the Sophia [1805] NSWKR 7; [1804] NSWSupC 7

seal catching - sailors, contract of employment

Court of Civil Jurisdiction

Atkins J.A., 15 May 1805

Source: Sydney Gazette, 19 May 1805, 2

            An action was brought by Mr. Matthew Kearns in behalf of the joint creditors of William Jones, formerly chief officer of the ship Betsy from Madras, against the Master and Owners of the ship Sophia who had, from motives of disinterested friendship and humanity, interposed to liberate him from a prison by binding themselves to responsibility for the payment of his joint debts in the following manner, viz. that the said Wm. Jones, being willing and desirous to enter into an engagement with the Master and Owners of the above vessel, consented that his lay in a sealing party should be wholly retained in the hands of his employers until the whole debt should be liquidated; or, should Mr. Jones not remain in their employ so long as should be requisite to effect which ( the debts amounting to 140¿ and upward), there and in that case the Master and Owners were bound to surrender [?] him up to creditors again, his claim upon the employers was then consequently to cease.   Mr. Jones performed so much of his engagement as to accompany one trip to the Southward; but remaining and very inconsiderable time found his way back to Sydney shortly before the departure of the Myrtle, Captain Barber, by which vessel it is more than suspected he effected his escape from bail.

            The defendants stated no objection whatever to the efficiency of the bond; nor would it have been suffered to come before a Court at all, but as a measure necessary to the ends of justice in transmitting its determination and other proceeds for the prosecution of the offender at whatever port the vessel that had clandestinely taken him away might arrive: as well as of every person who assisted or connived in his escape.


Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University