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Colonial Cases

Sylverton v. Winter, 1862


Sylverton v. Winter

Consular Court, Shanghai
7 April 1862
Source: The North-China Herald, 19 April 1862



WE are requested by the conductor of the late Shanghai Daily Times to publish in extenso, the proceedings against that journal; at H.M. Consulate yesterday, by the employes in the establishment.  The following are the minutes of the proceedings:-


Before W. H. MEDHURST, Esq., H.B.M. Consul.

April 7th.

... A. SILVERTON v. WYNTER & Co., Proprietors of the Shanghai Times.

Plaint. - Defendants are indebted to me in the sum or Mex. $33 for balance of wages due as Reporter, and $20 for sundries supplied - in all $53

Mr. SMITH, and Mr. LAWRENCE as Counsel, appeared for Messrs. WYNTER & Co.

The Defendants in reply admit the claim.

Mr.  LAWRENCE states I appear here in behalf of Mr. Smith, not to dispute the claim since it is already admitted, but because Mr. Smith thinks it fair to himself and to the subscribers to the paper to lay before the Court a succinct statement of the affairs of the concern.  Mr. Smith is placed under very peculiar circumstances, and I am now going to state all that has occurred since Mr. Wynter left Shanghai; and while it will be found to exonerate Mr. Smith from all liability it discloses on the part of Mr. Wynter, the proprietor, a course of conduct so flagrant and disgraceful a character, as is seldom met with in a court of justice.

1st. Mr. Wynter left Shanghai on the 1st January, 1862, leaving defendant to act for himself under a power of attorney as Editor and Manager of the Shanghai Daily and Weekly Times.  He took with him the whole of the subscriptions for the current year, amounting to upwards of Tls. 4,500, leaving Mr. Smith (deft.) without a cent, but stating that there were accounts unpaid to the amount of Tls. 2,500. Of this amount defendant has only been able to collect Tls. 920, the remainder being disputed.  The majority of them were said to be for advertisements which were never ordered, but were evidently copied from the Daily Shipping and Commercial News and inserted by Wynter's order in his own paper.

2ndly. - The books have been fraudulently kept.  The first item in the cash book, Mr. Wynter takes credit for a sum of Tls. 5,000 as having been invested in the purchase of stock, such as printing press, type, &c.  It mow appears that this has never been paid for, Wynter having given bills for the amount payable in installments, the first of which falls due on the 10th May next.  Wynter having given a power of attorney over the whole of the property on default of payment.

3rdly. - In addition to the above, it appears that Wynter in December has borrowed a sum of Tls. 4,000 of a gentleman in Shanghai (I wish to abstain from mentioning any names) at the same time giving him a bill of sale over the whole property, and pointing out the entry in the cash book ort Tls. 6,000 before alluded to, as a proof that the stock in trade had all been pair for and assuring him that it was unincumbered.  It is needless to say that this gentleman would not have advanced this money had he been aware of the real facts of the case.

Fourthly. - There is a list of the debtors entered in the books as good, of which defendant has not been able to collect one-third.

Fifthly. - Yet in the face of all this he has the audacity (for I can use no milder term) in writing from Anjer on January 20th of this year, to tell Mr. Smith to sell some of the Chinese type, which was already twice mortgaged, to pay the bill falling due in May, and to remit the amount to him in London, the bill being payable in Shanghai.  This was the first intimation Mr. Smith had of the fact that the types and presses were unpaid for,

6th. - There appears by the books to be a sum or 1,499.45 taels unaccounted for, and for which no vouchers, can be found. 

Under all these circumstances, I think the Court will be of opinion that there was only one course for Mr. Smith to pursue, viz: - to place himself unreservedly in the hands of his creditors.  He has worked early and late in the interests of his employers, and has by his energies and abilities increased the circulation of the paper, but all these energies and abilities were to no purpose while this heavy class of liability was tried round his neck, which he was unable to throw off, and the only interest of which he was unable to discharge.  He has instructed me to make this statement on his behalf that it might go forth to the public that it has not been through any want of zeal on his part that the paper has met with such w premature and violent death.

H.M. CONSUL remarked that he considered Mr. Smith quite justified in making this statement of affairs under the circumstances, but he had no power to wind up the estate, there being no bankruptcy law at this place, but each creditor could, if he chose, take out a judgment against the estate, and these judgments would be satisfied in their order by distress warrant.  He would recommend Mr. Smith in the meantime, in fairness to the public, either to publish the minutes of this cause - to which of course he could have access - or to advertise the concern as closed, until he could wind up his accounts and meet all claims.

Judgment. - For Plaintiff with costs.

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