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Colonial Cases

R. v. Reeves and others [1865]

attempted murder - robbery

Supreme Court of China

6 October 1865

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 338, pp 3-16

6th Octr 1865

R. v. James Reeves

William Box

James Kelly

Vide Indictments

4 Chges - 1 Unlawfully shot at [blank] with int. to kill.

2 Shooting to maim

3 Robbery with violence

4 Simple larceny

Plea Not Guilty

Chinese Interpreter of Court (solemnly declares) that he will truly interpret

Niuh Chung Zen: (Sworn)

I am the Subordinate Customs Officer on the Chifou Barrier of the Yangtze Province . It is about six Li (12 miles) hence. I remember the 2nd of the 8th month ie 31st Septr. There came then to the Barrier two Boats containing foreigners about the 7th [???] about 8 or 9 o'clock. The Boat is in front of the offices - which is on shore about the length of this room. It is a large Boat. Men live in it. I live in it. I was in the Boat that Eveng - there were 12 in the Boat with me 5 of them were women. I was at the [???] of the Boat when the Foreigners came. There were about 15 Foreigners in the Boat. They came alongside - some jumped in - I thought they wanted to pass the Barrier so I got up to open it. Some had Pistols some swords [4] some axes. I went on to bring out a key to open the Barrier when one of the Foreigners caught me by the neck and wanted Dollars. They said "Yanshi" in Chinese. It means "Dollars." I answd I had none & I was then pulled into the cabin - there were 4 Foreigners in the first cabin, when I was pulled into the cabin. They were in company with a Chinese belonging to the Customs Boat, opening Boxes. There was no money there - they took some clothing - they took it to their own Boat - the Black Boat which was on the outside of the Customs Boat & the Sampan near the shore. The things were put into the Black Boat - the things were put into the Black Boat. They then pulled me on shore to the offices. They did not pull me into the Black Boat - they went with me to the offices. There were already some Foreigners there. I cannot tell how many. It was night - I think about 7 or 8. They were carrying Boxes of dollars out of the office. They belong to the Govt. (Customs). It had to be carried to another office. [deleted - I think there were] each contained 2000$. There were also 200 Dollars in a Bamboo Box. At the office they had Swords & Pistols but no Axes. When I first saw them weapons were not used - only a Pistol was pointed at me - When I went into the office there was already one man wounded. There was [5] a Ball afterwds extracted from the wound. After the Foreigners were gone I saw the wound shortly afterwds. "San Tu[?] Yang" was the wonded man's name. It was a Ball wound - a Ball was extracted. The wonded man was a Clerk in the office and a Comprador. He is since dead - he died on the 23 rd of the 8th month (the 12th of Octr). Two of the men took away the Dollars. Others pulled me about & continued searching in the office for money - they did not get anything. The money had already been taken. I ran away from them. People were then crying for help. I did not see the Foreigners but I heard some firing - several shots about 10. There was another man wounded in the office - Two men - a Bullet grazed the Forehead of the second man. I saw after the Foreigners went away there were Chinese with the Foreigners - the Chinese were masked - they went into the Boat with the Foreigners. I cannot say what country they were. They were in European dress - some in white dress some in Black. There was a Black man amongst them. I could not recognise them if I saw them again. It was night & there were so many of them.

X I did swear that I could not recognise the Faces of the men. The name of the man who went in to the

[6] cabin was "Sang chung Lu". He is here. He was pulled out of the Customs Boat. There was a watchman on Board called "Yung Sin." He is not here. When they pointed the Pistol at me I was close to them. I could see the Pistol but not the face. The Foreigners did not injure me personally. I did not see any of them myself injure the Chinese. I heard afterwards. After the Foreigners were gone, I went into the House & saw the wounded Chinese. I saw the Chinese with the Foreigners assisting them in carrying away the Boxes. They came with the Foreigners. Some remained in the Sampan - there were two or three Chinese in the Boat with the Foreigners but I did not see any on shore. I saw two Foreigners carrying away Boxes. I have been told that some Clothes in Boxes were carried away - some of them belonged to "Wang" the Chief Officer, some to subordinates. I do not know Chan Ying.

Han or Hua[??]:

I am a Customs Officer at the Chifou Barrier - In the office. On the 21st of Septr last I was in the office. About 8 or 9 o'clock some Foreigners came to the Office & knocked at the Door. It was opened to them. I heard the knock - the Boy opened the Door. They came into the Office & took away a Box or Jar containing 240$ and after that they got into the Room where I was. I told them

[7] not to come in and asked them what they wanted. They said something which I did not understand. One Foreigner took hold of his hand and one fired at him. When they came in a friend was with me. The friend ran away. The Ball struck me in the hand. It is plastered up. Blood flowed from it. I fell down & the Foreigners went into the House. I do not know what they did - I became invisible. Before they came into the Office there 4345$. [Margin note: 9 Boxes] there were two safes each containing 2000$. I became visible after the Foreigners were gone. The Boxes were broken & the money taken away. There was another man wounded in the office. I saw him as wounded after I became visible. I saw the wound. It was a Bullet wound. The wounded man is dead at Chifou. Nobody else wounded. I saw about 10 Foreigners. It was dark & no moon. I could not recognise them - it was night - they were dressed in European clothes. I cannot say whether there were any Black men. I could not see whether they were white or Black. The Dollars belonged to the Taxes & Government.

X I did not see the Box of 240$ or the jar of 145$ carried away. I saw them come into the office but I did not see them taken

[8] the $ away. The Pistol was not fired at me, but I was struck with it. I was invisible. I did not see the 4500$ carried away. I only saw Foreigners I did not see any Chinese.

Sen Chung Sing:

I am the Customs Officer at the Barrier. I was at the Barrier on the night of the 21st Septr last. The Boat was visited[?] Foreigners on that night - when they came I was sleeping. I cannot say how many came. Three came into the place where I was sleeping two or three. They took hold of me and asked me for dollars. They used the word "Yanshi" $. I answd there were none. They pulled me into the 2nd cabin & took away some clothing. They broke open two Boxes containing clothing - they belonged to the [?? ??] The Chief Officer. They kept my head down so I could not see how many of them - they remained a short time - they pulled me into another cabin - they took a small Box containing [???] as well as the two Boxes. I did not see them taken away. When the Foreigners were gone I did not see the Boxes again. While the Foreigners were trying to open the door in the stern of the Boat I deleted - jumped] fell over into the water & got on shore. I went on shore & the same

[9] foreigners came to me & took hold of me again & demanding money - this was on the bank of the Creek. The office is in the shore - I told them the money was on shore & they pulled me up to the office. I took them into the clerk's office. The clerk's name is Liu [?] - they went inside searched the office, knocked the [?????] shelves [???] about with their muskets. I ran away. I heard some firing. The Foreigners had Swords & Axes Pistols. I did not see any one wounded. I could not distinguish their faces. They spoke a language I do not understand.

V H Ning: a Prisoner:

I am a Sailor. I recollect the 21st of Septr. I was called by some foreigners to go to Chifou. I was then in Shanghai . A foreigner was in the American prison called me, I was at Hongue[?] at a small bridge on a creek. I only saw the man who called me when I got there - I stopped there about an hour - then the foreigners came, talked & went away. It is the middle one of the Prisoners - (Reeves). I saw them again - this was three days before as stated. I was kept in a House with the American. I did nothing there. The man told me the Boat is ready - we are going now. I found the Boat near the American Consulate.

[10] There were only 2 Boatmen in at first. We went to a corner near a Bridge - One Foreigner was in the Bt. He is not apprehended - I know his face. I had not seen him before - he remained half an hour - About ten men came into the Boat. (Kelly) came into the Boat at the Bridge. We then went to a Steamer upon the French Commission & waited 2 hours. Nobody joined us at the Steamer. Only two Foreigners went with us on the Boat to the Steamer. Kelly went - when we went away from the French Commission four or six Foreigners were in her - we went towards [???] - when Foreigners came into the Boat from Sampans - altogether 14 - these three were there amongst them. From [???] we went to a creek called ----------------- we did not stop. We anchored about 4 [??] from [???] We remained there two hours. We again started about seven o'clock. The foreigners had some muskets with them & nothing else. There were four of the Foreigners in the Sampan - they had nothing with them. We went to Chifou. We went directly to a Barrier. They ate something, while at Anchor & painted their faces with gunpowder - they then started for the Barrier itself. I saw then some Pistols and swords - they were about their Persons. They took them and after they smeared their faces

[11] they loaded these Pistols. The three Prisoners were armed with Pistols. At Chifou they ran into the Black Boat, the Barrier Boat, & got into it. Some went into a Boat & some on shore. There is a Bridge from the Barrier Bt to the offices. There was some clothing thrown into the Black Boat. It was worn clothing. I was in the Black Boat. I did not go with them to the offices. They were about an hour & a half in the offices. They carried some money into the Sampan. It was a Box full. - I was told by the Sampan man. The Sampan was astern of the Black Boat. I heard some firing - but I do not know whether they used their Pistols in the offices. After they finished robbing at the offices they started immediately aftwds - we came back. "Box" & "Reeves" came down to Shanghai in the Black Boat. Whether "Kelly" landed or went in the Sampan I cannot say - it came down before us. We landed at [???] & crossed in Sampans. Nothing was taken out of Black Boat & put into Sampan. The Black Boat brought down some clothing from Chifou. The money was in the small Boat. - the Sampan that we took up Reeves and Box told him to take away the Box that was in the Black Bt. I took them to a lodging & then next day to a Pawn shop & there I was apprehended. I was taken upon the mixed Court

[12] I made a statement. I was asked to point out the Englishmen who went up the River. I first identified Reeves. I pointed him out to an Englishman. I next pointed out "Kelly" [several deletions here] and then the American "Box." I know Reeves but had no communication with them I did not know the other two. I got 11$ for the trip from a Foreigner who is not apprehended who went up. This is the clothing (clothes produced) I pawned it. It is what Reeves and Box allowed me to take away. It was 8 o'clock in the morning when we went away from Chifou. I saw them distinctly.

X I am a Tailor. I am not carrying it on. I have not carried on for six years - since six months I am a Coolie. I get ½ a dollar a day for tailoring. I was told by the Foreigner that they were going on a pleasure excursion. I was told we were going out shooting. I did go on board the Barrier Bt but was pushed away by one of the Foreigners. I want to run away. I was to get ½ a dollar a day. I wished to run away because they began to plunder. I feared punishment. I was kept alone in a Cabin & could not run. I went with one of them It was

[13] ordered by one of the Foreigners to take a Bag and an axe. I was told that I should [earn?] my pay. I did not know whether my pay was to come out of the robbery money or their own money. At Chifou I thought of running away at Shanghai . I thought of payment - the clothing that was given me was [???] I took the clothes because they were offered to me. When the Foreigners first came into the Bt I did not see weapons. When we reached the place we were going to I saw Pistols & swords. They divided the money early in the morning at one of the prisoners' Houses. When I went in they were concealing money up stairs. A Boy down below was talking about it. I only know "Kelly" by seeing him in the Bt. He did not have me to do Coollie work for him. I do not know Paul and Italian. I never proposed to any one to go up to Chifou to commit a robbery. I have never been punished before.

C. Nay Dong:

I am a native of C[???] I was never employed at the Barrier of Chifou. I was a Boatman there. I know the three Prisoners, they went with me to Chifou on the 2nd of the 8th month 21st of Sept.

[14] we went up in two Boats - one was a Black Boat & the other a Sampan - the Blk Boat belonged to the Prisoners. I was in the Blk Bt. Box was in the Blk Boat. The other two in the Sampan "Reeves & Kelly." I remember the Bts stopping - the men smeared their faces - there were 14 of them altogether - they had some muskets & some Pistols - & swords. Box had Pistols. Kelly musket & sword - & also Reeves. When at Chifou the Boatman was ordered to run into the Barrier Boat - then some foreigners got into the Boat & some went on shore. I was taken to the Gate of the offices & kept there. One of the Foreigners had hold of a Chinese demanding money from him. I saw in the Boat about 10 pieces of clothing brought from the Barrier Bt. I could not see what they did in the offices. I saw a white leather Box brought out by them containing money. It was raining. I did not see where it was carried to. I did not see it aftwds. At some place I was taken ashore & walked with the Foreigners. Reeves walked to Shanghai . I heard them firing when I got into the Boat - when we got into the Settlement I was not allowed to follow them. I recd no remuneration then - I had not known the Prisoners before.


V. H. Ning: recalled on application of Prisoners.

I did know Reeves three years ago when I was a Tailor.

Case for the prosecution.

Mr. White - for the Prisoners.

Robbery with Violence; 3rd Count.

3 Years Penal Servitude.

Sentence to be undergone at Hong Kong.

[16] Explain disinclination to allow a Prisoner to plead guilty.

Prisoner's Confession.

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