Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

The Fiery Cross v. The Margaret Eliza, 1862

[shipping, collision]

The Fiery Cross v. The Margaret Eliza

Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 5 July 1862





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

July 4th.

Thos. Vincent, E. BYRNE, Assessors.

... LAWRANCE, Esq., Counsel for Plaintiff.

Plaint. - The Margaret Eliza   fouled my [ship] the Fiery Cross whilst at anchor, causing [damage] to her and other vessels.  I claim from [defendants] the amount of damages done to my [ship] together with amount of damages done to [?????] vessels, with which the Fiery Cross came [into] collision, owing to the Margaret Eliza fouling [????]. [First page poorly trimmed, so gaps in text.]

... CROCKETT, being duly sworn, said: - I [arrived] in this harbor on 27th June and anchored [????].  The harbor Master told me that I was in the [????}, I then asked him where there was a berth.  He [pointed] one out.  I removed my ship into that [????] and moored her there, the Harbor Master [was on] board the whole time.  The Margaret Eliza came up the river on the 30th June.  She [anchored] on my port quarter when I was riding [the] flood tide.  On the afternoon of the same [day I] observed that the Margaret Eliza was [????] to me and I remained on board until [????] water, and as the ship swung she came so [close] we had to fend her off; she also fouled the [????].  No damage was done at that time.  I [????] the officer in charge of the Margaret Eliza {????] had given us a foul berth.  He said the [????] had put him there.  I then said that if he [stayed] there damage would be done.

J. HEWITT, Assistant Harbour Master, being duly sworn, said: - I saw the Fiery Cross arrive.  She anchored in the channel when [????????] her.  I told him he was anchored in [????] channel, and he said, "where am I to go?"  [I told] him there was a berth ahead of the Reiver; [it was] then ebb tide.  The captain said "very well."  [he gave] orders to get the anchor up.  UI told him [????] took no charge of the vessel, but simply [????] out of the berth.  She took up the berth [while I] was on board.  The Margaret Eliza had [????].  My instructions are to board a vessel [to] point out a berth, and to state that we take [????].

[By the] Court. - I said I did not take charge.  [I would] know if a licensed pilot was on board [or not.].  The captain superintended the mooring [of the] Fiery Cross.  I did not remain on board for [any] particular purpose.  I gave no orders to the [captain] or his officers about mooring of ship.

.... ROWE, Master of the "Philippine," on [being] duly sworn, and states: - I am master of the Philippine.  I was in harbour at the time of arrival [of] the Fiery Cross. I did not see her take [???] berth.  I saw her a short time after.  I [????] she had a very good berth.  TheMargaret Eliza had not taken up a berth.  She did [not do] so till 2 or 3 days after the arrival of the Fiery Cross.  I asked my chief officer if he had [remonstrated] with the master of the Margaret Eliza for taking up a foul berth.  He said he [had] remonstrated.

[By] the Court. - I was anchored a short distance above the Fiery Cross.  TheMargaret Eliza was right ahead of me.  I consider she had [????] a foul berth.  She was lying rather on [my port] bow.

... SIMPSON, duly sworn, states: - I am [chief] officer of the Philippine. I was on board the Philippine when the Fiery Cross arrived.  I was [????] when the Margaret Eliza arrived about [????] after.  I saw the Margaret Eliza take [????] berth.  I consider she had taken a foul [berth]. When the Margaret Eliza swung [on the] flood tide, I called the attention of her [chief] officer, asking him how she was moored.  [I told] him I did not think his ship has room to [swing] clear of the Philippine.  He said he thought [she] did.  She was hanging by the starboard [????] and he thought she would swing clear.  [On the] next tide the Margaret Eliza swung [???] the Philippine and Fiery Cross, she fouled [the] Fiery Cross first.  I consider the Fiery Cross has taken up a fair berth.

[By the] Court. - I do not consider the Fiery Cross could have avoided the collision, except by [the] Margaret Eliza's moving.

[By the] Defendant. - I think the three ships were [too] close together, there was not room for them [to swing].

By Court. - Before the Margaret Eliza came there the Fiery Cross and Philippine had room to swing.  I consider the Margaret Eliza gave us both foul berths.

... A. MACLEAN, duly sworn, states: - I am chief officer of the Fiery Cross.  I was on board when the Margaret Eliza took up her berth.  The collision took place at 10 p.m. I came on deck as the collision took place.  The first thing I saw was the bow of the Margaret Elizastriking our quarter.  She canted us round.  She lay with her bowsprit in our rigging exposed to the full strength of the tide, causing us to drag.  The Fiery Cross, the Margaret Eliza and another vessel floated down and fouled several othetrs vessels.  The first was theRattlesnake.  We continued dragging and dropped down upon two barks, one was the Ocean Bride, I think the other was theGlendower.We then carried away our bowsprit and slewed round fouling two other barks.  We then cleared these vessels and theMargaret Eliza and fell on two other barks; the three of us then fouled the Glendower there.  We lay there till slack water.  We had a perfectly fair berth.

By the Court. - I do think the Fiery Cross could have avoided the second collision.  The Margaret Eliza fouled us in the afternoon.  Captain Crockett told an officer on board the Margaret Eliza that he had given him a foul berth.  I heard no reply.

By Defendant. - There was no one on board the Fiery Cross in time to prevent the main boom being broken.  I did not veer away chain.  I did not observe that the paid out chain on board the Margaret Eliza but very slowly. I did not observe the cables of the Fiery Cross were slack on the evening of 30th June when we were riding to the ebb tide.

R. ROBINSON. Being duly sworn, stated: - I am Master of the Margaret Eliza.  I arrived in the lower anchorage in the afternoon of Sunday the 29th June about 2 p.m., and anchored about 3.  One of the Harbour Master's assistants, Mr. Rouse, came on board and pointed out to the pilot in charge, Mr. A. Wilson, a berth for the vessel and ordered him to take her there as soon as he could.  It was too late to do it that evening.  On the 30th June, the next morning she was taken into that berth, Mr. Wilson, the pilot in charge, assisted by one of the junior pilots, took the ship into the berth pointed out by the Harbor Master's assistant.  We were moored there about 9 a.m. on the 30th. I went on board in the evening.  The chief officer told me we had a foul berth saying we had slightly fouled the Fiery Crossand Philippine at 5 that afternoon.  I said I would see about it as early as possible in the morning and get the vessel shifted.  Just after midnight on the morning of July 1st, being then low water, I was on deck and saw the Fiery Cross commence swinging and turn towards us.  We had not commenced to swing.  I was in hopes she would pass clear of our vessel when she got her stern opposite our fore rigging.  She appeared to come astern all at once right into us.  I believe we had not swung half a point. She appeared to be swinging with a strong tide.  All was done by both vessels to bear each other off.  We cleared cable as fast as we could.  Directly she touched us she made us drag.  We went drifting down together and ripping each other up for about 20 minutes when my starboard quarter fell foul of the starboard bow of the Philippine and the three of us began to drift together.

On board the Philippine they appeared to be paying out cable as fast as they could get her clear.  We kept drifting up together till we fouled some other vessel.  At last the Fiery Cross shipped clear of my bow.  My anchor then began to hold.  At the same time I was lying heavy upon the chains of the Philippine.  Soon after the Fiery Cross slipped the tide began to slack and we lay very quietly.  My cables were very near my bottom.

By Court. - My Chief Officer said that some one from the steamer spoke to him saying he had a foul berth.  When I was cautioned I did not make any charge in my position.  I took it for granted that both vessels were berthed there.  I took up as nearly as possible the berth given me by the Harbor Master.

By Plaintiff. - The pilot pointed out the place for me to anchor.  If the pilot pointed out a foul berth I should not take it.  My reason for not moving the ship that night was because I could not get a pilot.

S. [LINCOLN], being  sworn. States:- I am chief officer of the Margaret Eliza.  I was on board the Margaret Eliza when she came to anchor.  I was placed there by the harbor master.  I took up the berth he pointed out.  It struck me we were too close to the Fiery Crossand the other vessels.  We were too closely moored to the Fiery Cross.  When we first swung we swung very close and cleared her.  I was not warned that I was in a foul berth.  When we swung to the ebb tide somebody said we had a foul berth.  I told the Captain we have a foul berth.  His reply was that we would have the ship moved in the morning.  I made no suggestion about moving the ship.

C. LEESE, being sworn, states: - I am a pilot.  I brought the Margaret Eliza in Sunday the 29th.  Another pilot anchored her.  I was only acting as assistant to Mr. Wilson, the pilot.  He is my superior.  He took charge of the vessel when we came to the shipping.  Mr. Rouse came on board and told us to anchor inside the Fiery Cross, close under the Philippine's stern; and she was moored there as near as we could get.  I think she had a clear berth. I was not on board at the time of the collision.  I think that we were rather close to the Fiery Cross.

By Defendant. - I consider myself bound to place a vessel where the Harbour Master directs me.  I heard the mate tell Wilson we had a foul berth.  I consider the pilot has full charge of a vessel.  The Master had nothing to do with it.  The Margaret Eliza was as near to the shore as she could possibly lay.  When she was moored she had only 6 feet of water under her bottom.

By Court. - I would attend to any suggestions the Captain might make.  In the event of the pilots running the ship into danger the captain should act for himself.

By Plaintiff. - Wilson's answer to my question was that the Harbour Master told him to put the vessel there.


The Court is of opinion that the Margaret Eliza was in fault, and consequently responsible for the damages claimed by the Plaintiff, the decision is therefore for the Plaintiff with costs.

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

We assent to the above.  T. VINCENT, E. BYRNE, Assessors.

Source: The North-China Herald, 12 July 1862

CONSIDERABLE attention has been given by all parties concerned with the shipping interest at this port, to the case of collision between the Fiery Cross and Margaret Eliza, decided at H.B.M. Consular Court recently, and reported in our last issue. ...

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