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Colonial Cases

Chinese Government v. Benett and Mills, 1861

[arms smuggling]

Chinese Government v. Benett and Mills

Consular Court, Shanghai
1861
Source: The North-China Herald, 2 March 1861

 

H.M. CONSULAR COURT.

On Friday last a case was tried before H.M. Consul in which the Chinese Authorities were prosecutors, P. H. Benett and G. R. Mills, defendants.

PLAINT. - The defendants were apprehended in the act of conveying prohibited articles, namely, fire-arms and percussion caps, into the interior of the country for the use of the rebels.

The defendants denied the truth of the charge.

JUDGMENT.

That the defendant Benett be imprisoned for the period of three months and be fined the sum of five thousand dollars, or in default of payment of the same be imprisoned a further period of one year; and that the defendant Mills be imprisoned for the period of three months and be fined the sum of two hundred dollars or in default of the payment of the same be imprisoned a further period of two months.

(Signed) THOS. TAYLOR MEADOWS, Consul.

We assent to the above.  (Signed) J. WHITTALL, JAS. HOGG, R. JARVIE, H. TURNER, assessors.

There not being time to obtain a copy of the minutes for insertion to-day, they will be given in our next.

 

Source: The North-China Herald, 9 March 1861

H.B.M. CONSULAR COURT, SHANGHAI.

February 27th, 1861.

THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT versus P. H. BENETT & G. R. MILLS.

Before T. T. MEADOWS, H.M.'s Consul,

J. WHITTALL, JAS. HOGG, R. JARVIE, H. TURNER, Assessors.

PLAINT. - The Defendants were apprehended in the act of conveying prohibited articles, namely foreign fire-arms and percussion caps, into the interior of the country for the use of the rebels.

The Defendant Benett appeared and surrendered himself to his bail.

At ΒΌ to 12 o'clock no witnesses or prosecutor having appeared the cause was adjourned till 10 o'clock on the 28th February.

The Defendant Benett stated that he left the deposit of $5,000 in the Mercantile Bank as bail for his appearance at 11 o'clock on the 28th.  The Consul in answer to a question of Benett's agreed to receive $5,000 bail for the appearance of the Defendant Mills, if such were lodged in the Mercantile Bank to his credit.

Immediately after the separation of the Court and before the consul had left his chair, a letter was brought in from the Intendant stating that the witnesses had been summoned to assemble on the 26th at his Yamen on purpose to attend this day's trial, that they had not appeared, that they probably had been prevented by the wind from arriving, and he requested that the trial might be delayed till the 28th, or the 1st of March.

Notice of adjournment of the trial till 11 a.m. on the 1st March was ordered to be issued to the defendants and Assessors.

Friday, March 1st, 1861.

The Court reassembled at 11 a.m.

The plaint was read to the Defendants, and the Consul explained to them the meaning of it.  In reply -

H. P. Benett said, I deny the charge and plead not guilty, and G. R. Mills said I deny the charge.

CHIN-KWEI-LIN - being duly warned - said: - On the 9th day of the first month about the 3rd watch of the night at Man-hu-kan (Man-chiaou) I was there on guard.  The place is 120 le from Shanghae.  I saw two vessels coming, they were going westerly; I hailed them to come to me.  I was on shore at the time, my own vessel in which I lived was lying opposite me.  They were not willing to come.  One of the boats went without firing, the last one fired some 40 or 50 shots.  They wounded 2 Volunteers and 1 boatman.  The people did not belong to my boat, they were on board a guard boat.  I pursued them in one vessel, the one that fired made for shore, and some foreigners then jumped on shore.  There were three foreigners.  I did not see them jump on shore, it was dark.  I saw some people jump on shore, I could not distinguish them clearly.  On seeing them jump on shore, I also landed and pursued them.  There were upwards of ten of us, Volunteers and others who pursued them.  We caught 3 foreigners and 1 Chinaman a Native of Woo-seeh, also two Ningpo men.  I delivered the three foreigners to the general who was there at Chun-chin.  I myself delivered them to the Magistrate who afterwards sent them on to the general.  After I gave them to the magistrate, I had nothing further to do with them.

These three are the men - (pointing to the 2 Defendants and the consulate Constable).  It was about day-light when I delivered them to the Magistracy.  As to the foreigners were pursued on shore they were not seized, they were merely surrounded by the volunteers; I was there myself; they were not armed when taken.

By Assessors. - I distinctly recognize this man as one (pointing to Defendant Mills).  I am not quite certain of the other two (pointing to Defendant Benett and the Constable).

By Consul. - I did not go on board the foreigners vessel.  I understand that there were arms in the boat; I don't know it of my own knowledge.  The volunteers who assisted me are none of them now at Shanghai; the foreigners leapt out of the boat that fired on the volunteers.  I saw the Woo-seeh man.  I don't know what became of the Ningpo men.

The above was read to the Defendant (Benett) who asked whether the witness was certain that the boat and parties spoken of were themselves.

[By Defendant Benett]  - I am perfectly certain that there were three men, foreigners, jumped on shore; it was flood tide at the time.  The time was the latter part of the night; I can't say the exact hour by the clock.  At sunset the first watch begins to beat; there are five watches in the night.  The end of the 5th watch is day-light.  I am always on duty there during the whole of the night.  I sleep during the day after taking my early Meal.  It was in the 3rd watch when the foreigners jumped on shore, and about day-light when they were taken.  It was about the end of the 3rd and before the 4th watch, that the second boat fired.

WANG-SZE-CHANG - being duly warned, said.  I am in charge of a vessel, it is a gun-boat, attached to the Native Military.  On the 9th of the 1st moon I took some foreigners during the 3rd watch.  A foreign boat was passing mine.  I was told by my people, that a boat that was passing was foreign.  It was hailed to come alongside, but would not do so.  I then set off in pursuit; there were 3 or 4 other boats which pursued them.  I pursued then for about a le beyond Man-chiaou.  They began to fire on us with small arms; they fired a great number of times, I don't know how often.  They wounded two boatmen and one volunteer; these people were not in my boat.  I saw the two boatmen fall into the water; the boat to which they belonged was nearly in front of mine.  The foreigners boat was overtaken and surrounded by our boats and they began to throw things overboard.  Three foreigners then landed and one stayed in the boat; the foreigner left on board was seized by the people on my boat.  I did not land myself to pursue the men.  We took the boat and handed it over to my superior officer.  I did not go on board the foreign boat myself, I stood in the bows of my boat and gave orders to my men.  In the foreign boat we found 9 white deal cases.  I saw the contents of one box, they were foreign guns.  Besides the 9 long cases there was one square one containing caps.  The square box was opened at my superior's place, he is the General.  I saw the box opened, it contained caps.  The foreigner left in the boat was handed to the General.  I saw nothing of the 3 foreigners who went on shore. In the 3 rd watch of the night of the 9th, it was not raining, but it was a dull night, there was no moon.  The volunteer who was wounded was under the command of the Major, who had command of out party; he is still with the Major.

The above having been read to Defendants.

By Defendant Benett - I do not see the foreigner here in the Court, that was left on board the boat.

By Consul. - I delivered the foreigner to the Major of my party and afterwards he was taken to the general; in my boat by myself.  It was 9 le from the Major to the General.  The sun was well up when I took the man there.  I don't recollect whether he had red or black hair; he sat on the deck of my boat, it had no hold.  If I saw this foreigner again I could not recognize him.  I think he had some beard but I don't know for certain.  I was never at Shanghai before; until this man was taken I had never seen a foreigner before.  I was always employed on the North of the river.  I did not see anything on board the boat besides the nine cases and one of caps.  It was taken by my people.  I command the boat that took the foreigner's boat; there were a great number of b oats besides mine at the capture.  There was another boat aided us in the capture and the people on board it also went on board the foreigners boat.  There were three or four other firearms, some were long and some short, in the boat, they were not in cases; they were delivered over to the Major.  I did not go on shore myself.  I don't know whether the foreigners on shore fired or not.  I don't know what shot was fired from the foreigners boat, there were two foreign boats.  The first boat went on ahead, I don't know whether it fired or not; I did not observe particularly.

The CONSUL stated that the case was now closed for the prosecution.

P. H. BENETT states that he had no witnesses, that he was chased through the country  by some hundreds of Chinese, that he had wished to bring forward as a  witness a Canton boy who had acted as interpreter to him, but who was now in the employ of the military.  He was attacked by Chinese, and he had jumped in the water and the next day gave himself in to the Mandarin and asked him to send him down to Shanghai; he, the Mandarin promised to do so day after day and at last had done so.  These two witnesses had never seen him and he had never seen them.  Mills was his servant at $50 a month and knew noting of what was being done.  He (Benett) had never been to the rebels, and had never been beyond the lines of the Imperialists.  He did not believe that he was 100 le from Shanghai at 4 in the afternoon, and at 11 the attack was made; ad to Mills, he was at all events perfectly innocent.

JUDGMENT.

That the defendant Benett be imprisoned for the period of three months and be fined the sum of five thousand dollars, or in default of payment of the same be imprisoned a further period of one year; and that the defendant Mills be imprisoned for the period of three months and be fined the sum of two hundred dollars or in default of the payment of the same be imprisoned a further period of two months.

(Signed) THOS. TAYLOR MEADOWS, Consul.

We assent to the above.  (Signed) J. WHITTALL, JAS. HOGG, R. JARVIE, H. TURNER, assessors.

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