Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Re Foreman, 1859

[inquest into death]

Re John Foreman

Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 8 July 1859


EXAMINATION touching the cause of death of John Foreman Engineer of the British Streamer Remi  whose body was found in the Woosung river at Shanghae on the 5th day of July 1859.

At H.B.M. Consulate of Shanghae, this 6th day of July, 1859.

H.M.  Vice-Consul and F. C. Sibbald, Esq., M.D., proceeded to view the body, which had been deposited in the Mortuary Chapel of the Sailor's Burial Ground at Pooting.  The report of Dr. Sibbald is annexed to these proceedings.

This 6th day of July, 1859, personally appeared before me, John Markham, H.B.M. Vice-Consul for Shanghae, Peter Laen, Master of the Steamer Remi, who having been duly sworn states:-

On Friday, the 1st July, John Foreman left the Remi between 6 and 7 o'clock p.m., we missed him and made all search during Saturday, but heard nothing of him till Tuesday the 5th when I met Mr. Reynolds who told me a body was floating down the river.  We found the body on shore between the New Dock and Mr. Pinder's and examined it there; we recognized it as that of the missing John Foreman by the stockings which had the initials of his name.  His stockings on board also have the same mark.  The markings now produced are those taken from the body and also another pair taken from his chest which show a similar mark.

CHARLES SCOTTEN, Chief Engineer of the Steamer Remi being duly sworn states:-

I heard nothing of John Foreman from Friday night till Tuesday the 5th although I made every search after him.  Mr. Evans' boat came alongside and the man in charge of it told me that he had seen a body floating down the river I went in his boat to examine the body and met Capt. Laen there whose evidence as to the  recognizing of the body by the stockings I can confirm in every particular,

Examination adjoiurned till the 7th July.

[???] H.B.M. Consulate at Shanghae, this seventh day of July, 1859.

E. A. REYNOLDS of Shanghae having been duly sworn satiates:-

I saw a body floating past the Dock yard on Tuesday morning, it went on shore between my dock and Mr. Pinder's.  Having heard from Capt. Laen that his Engineer was missing and my servant telling me it was the body of a European, I mentioned it to Capt. Laen, and we both proceeded to the body to examine it, he went into the mud and examined it and thinking it was the body of his Engineer, he procured some Chinese who removed the stockings on which were the initials of John Foreman's name.  The chief Engineer and others then came up and after examination they identified it as the body of the missing Engineer.  These all having suspicion that the body had met with violence I followed it to the dead house, and caused the Chinese there to have the clothes and matting removed from the body that I might examine it better.

One side of the face was gone by a clean cut - the scalp was cut through and that part of the face was gone.  I was close to the body.  On the right hands two fingers were severed from the body.  On the left side there was a clean incision wound from which the entrails were protruding.  The body had on no trowsers or shies when it was found - only the remnants of a short and alpaca coat.  I heard that when he left the ship he had on a new pair of shoes and trowsers, and the chief Engineer stated that on one of the fingers that were cut off he wore a gold ring.

The examination was adjourned till the 8th July at 11 o'clock.



8th July 1859.

Before D. B. ROBERTSON, Esq., H.M. Consul,

J. MARKHAM, Esq., H.M. Vice-Consul,

Messrs. BARNES DALLAS, JAMES DOW, Assessors.

H.M. Consul being of opinion that the case assumed a very grave character called in the assistance of Assessors.  The previous examinations were reads, and the witness George Smith called in.

GEORGE SMITH, Hotel keeper of Shanghae duly sworn states:-

I knew the deceased John Foreman as 2nd Engineer of the Remi.  He came to my house about ½ past 6 or 7 o'clock on the evening of Friday the 1st July and left about 11 as I heard from my assistant.  When I last saw him he was sober.  I don't think he had any money as he put his name down in my book for some 4 dollars.  I saw him last about 10 o'clock on that evening.  I know nothing about his general character.

WILLIAM HINDS assistant to George Smith duly swoern states:-

I knew the late John Foreman as a frequenter of the house.  He came in on Friday evening about 6 to 7 o'clock and left about 11, as far as appearances went, perfectly sober, indeed he had but little to drink in the hotel.  I saw a gold ring with a white stone in it on his finger, which I remember well from the fact of his having promised it to me.  I could recognize it again.  He had no money with him and put his name down for the two glasses of grog I supplied him with.  He left the bar about 11 o'clock and alone.

JOHN MILLER of Shanghae duly sworn states:-

I saw John Foreman shortly after 11 on the bund a little below the Hotel.  I spoke to him and wished him "good evening" and he wished me "good evening" also.  He was going towards Mr. Fogg's.  He appeared to be perfectly sober.

C. CAWTHORNE, duly sworn states:-

I was standing on the bund a little below "Miller's Hotel" on Friday evening talking to Mr. Miller.  It was about ½ past 11 about whilst I was there John Foreman passed by, Mr. Miller wished him "good evening": and on my asking "who is that person" Mr. Miller replied, "Mr. Foreman of the Remi." I never saw him after.

The COURT having duly considered the evidence find the deceased John Foreman evidently came to his death by violence but by whom inflicted or when, there is no evidence to show.

Dr. SIBBALD's report above alluded to.

I hereby certify that I have examined the body of deceased John Foreman, 2nd Engineer of the Str. Remi, which was found to be in an advanced state of decomposition but nevertheless the body bore marks of having been extensively mutilated about the abdomen, head, and two fingers removed at the second joint.

Given under my hand at Shanghae this 6th day of July 1859.

(Signed) F. C. SIBBALD, M.D.

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