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Colonial Cases

R. v. Horrebow [1789]


Supreme Court at Calcutta

July 1789

Source: Argus (London, England), 5 January 1790, issue 250 [1]

Captain Horrebow received sentence in July last, in the Supreme Court at Calcutta, for carrying slaves, in a Danish East-Indiaman, which he commanded from Chandernagore to Colombo. Captain Horrebow pleaded his ignorance that he was infringing the laws, and the deranged situation of his affairs, from his imprisonment, &c. in mitigation of judgment. Sir Robert Chambers, in delivering the sentence, expatiated upon the circumstances of the offence, and mentioned the only cases in which slavery was lawful under the Mahometan religion, viz. - Infidels taken prisoner in war, fighting against Musselmen, were considered as slaves of the captors, and the slavery extended to their children. In case of famine publicly declared, it was lawful for farmers to sell their children; and persons of more than fifteen years of age might sell themselves to get subsistence. But that the exportation of subjects of the Musselmen Government, to be sold, was unknown. He wished it to be understood, that if a similar offence should ever unhappily be tried before the court, the punishment would be more severe. Captain Horrebow then was sentenced to three months imprisonment, to pay a fine of 500 rupees, and to give security for his future good behaviour for 3 years, himself in a bond of 10,000 rupees, and two securities in 5,000 rupees each.


[1]  See also St. James's Chronicle or the British Evening Post (London, England), 2 January 1790, issue 4479; Whitehall Evening Post (1770) (London, England), 5 January 1790, issue 6464.

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