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Colonial Cases

Shanghai Police Court, 1869

[minor crimes]

Police Court records, Shanghai

Source: The North-China Herald, 5 June 1869




May 22nd 1869.

Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq.

R. Burke, seaman belonging to the White Adder was charged with refusal of duty.  The prisoner said his refusal to work was consequent on an injury he received by falling when drunk against a spar.  It appeared, however, that he had been able nevertheless to go on shore more than once without leave.

His Worship sentenced him to 2 weeks' imprisonment, and to pay costs of summons.

Mr. H. Mills, proprietor of the "Boar's Head," appeared on summons to answer to the charge preferred against him by Detective Yeomans of harbouring a deserter and interfering with the police in the discharge of their duty.

The defendant denied the charge.

Detective Yeomans, sworn, deposed:- That on the 13th April he received notice at the Central police station that a man of war's man named Charles Parker had broken his leave; and  from information which he had subsequently received repaired to the "Boar's Head" where he saw a man of war's man half asleep.  On entering the place he called out "Parker, when are you going on board your ship?" He answered to the name.  An unemployed man, named McDonnel, was there at the time, and he said to him "I know this man, he is no straggler from a ship."  He told him to mind his own business, his affairs had nothing to do with him.  McDonnell then went up stairs and called the defendant, who came down and asked him had he a warrant, and told him that the next time he came to knock at the door and ask permission to come in.  He then told him he came for that man of war's man and would hold him responsible.  He afterwards met Sergeant Parcell, who returned with him to defendant's house.  They asked where the man was gone to, and the defendant said he knew nothing about him.

To the defendant: - I was not in uniform.  I had a stick in my hand.  It was a small one.  You were upstairs.  I don't know how long the man of war's man was here.

The defendant here stated to the court that he never interfered with the prosecutor; that he was, long and well known in Shanghai and was never brought to court before, and could not understand how the prosecutor could frame such a charge against him.  On the occasion in question, the man of war's man was not over two minutes in the place, and he came down when he heard that a man was going to be arrested in his place.  The prosecutor had always had ready access to the place, when his duties required.

Thomas W. Provat, stated he was navigating lieutenant of the Firm, and the papers which prosecutor had (description of the "straggler") was what is usually given as authority to arrest deserters.  It was sent to the station.  The "straggler" was on board shortly after 10 a.m.

Yeomans, in reply to the Court, said he usually appears in plain clothes, and never wears uniform unless when attending the court.

His Worship said that it did not appear from the case for the prosecution that the defendant was at all aware at the time that Parker was in his shop or that he was a straggler, and that all that was in evidence against him was that he had thrown a certain amount of obstruction in the way of the police.  He pointed out that if a man put difficulties in the way of the police arresting anyone whom they claimed as a deserter, he would undergo the risk of being presumed to have known that he was a deserter if it should turn out that he was in fact such; and the penalty for harbouring deserters was a very serious one.  With this warning - the present occasion being the first that defendant had had to appear before him - he would discharge him, ordering him simply to pay the costs.


May 27th, 1869

Before E. A. MOWAT, Esq.

George Pusey surrendered himself on bail to answer the charges of embezzlement preferred against him by Mr. Tarrant.

The prosecutor, sworn, deposed: - That in April he sent the defendant, who was then in his employ, to the French Concession to ascertain in what establishments his paper was delivered.  On his returning he said that a copy was delivered in the Cafe de Re-union.  He then made out a bill and sent him to the cafe to collect it.  The defendant came back and said that the proprietress told him she had previously paid it to Mr. Jones.  He allowed the paper to be delivered until he should know whether the Express would be again started.  When it was, he again sent to know whether she would take the two papers, and she returned the answer that the subscription had been paid when the bill had been presented. 

He also charged the prisoner with the larceny of the bill from his office.  Shesaid it was paid to an Englishman.

His Worship said he would require her evidence, as her reply to the prosecutor could not be received as evidence.

The prosecutor then said he would make another charge seven times worse than the former, and proceeded to state that on the 16th May he sent Pusey to Mr. Silverthorne to ask him to collect $3.60 from Mr. Snowden, the pilot.  He had since written to Mr. Silverthorne to enquire of he had collected the $3.60, and had received a reply to the effect that he told the party who came, to call on Mr. Snowdon himself.  He then applied to that gentleman and received the reply that it had been paid.

Prosecutor here handed in as evidence the bills that had been paid.

With reference to the bill that had been paid by the French Municipal Council, he did not bring it as he understood the defendant admitted he had received it.

The defendant said he thought that charge had been dismissed.

Prosecutor went on to state that on that day the defendant got drunk and wrote to say he would not work any more.

His Worship said the prosecutor had adduced no evidence yet against the defendant, he had not produced any witnesses to prove the payments

Prosecutor said Mr. Silverthorne promised to be present.

In reply to His Worship, the prosecutor stated he could not remember whether the defendant had brought back the bill he presented at the Cafe de Reunion.  If so, it might have been left on his desk to collect again.

His Worship said he could not under the circumstances understand how the charge of its larceny could be maintained.

His Worship said that he felt it was hi s duty to remark strongly on the conduct of the prosecutor in coming in to the witness box and making statements against the defendant which he did not at the time substantiate, and added that he felt very undecided as to whether he ought to accede to the prosecutor's application for an adjournment.

The prosecutor said if it was refused, he would appeal.

His Worship asked the defendant whether he consented to an adjournment.  If he did not he (His Worship) would decide the case at once, - and that would be by dismissing it - as he would not allow prisoner to be out to such inconvenience and have such a charge hanging over his head, when the prosecutor had ample time to secure the attendance of witnesses.

The defendant said he would also ask for an adjournment, as he would be able to show the character of the prosecutor in a true light and prove that his statements were utterly false.  He had given twelve months' labour to Mr. Tarrant and only received $10 from him. 

Mr. Tarrant then made application to His Worship asking him to forbid the publication of the report of the case, and added that he had power to do so by act of parliament; but did not assign any reason for the application.

His Worship said that he thought this desirable in the interest of the accused, as no positive evidence whatever had been adduced against him.


May 28th, 1869

Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq.

Alexander Campbell and John Smithson, seamen belonging to the [Bardwan], were charged with being drunk and fighting in Hong que.

The prisoners stated that it was all the result of liquor, and that they had been five months shipmates together without ever having an angry word.

His Worship fined them $3 each.


Mohammed, the man charged with stealing iron from Muirhead's works, was again brought up, when the evidence of Yu Kin was received.  He stated that he was by trade a blacksmith and knew the prisoner, having been in the same employ with him.  He saw him last about three weeks ago in a tea shop.  Apo had asked him to sell some iron for him.  He assented and sold it to a man named San kee for the sum of $37, of which he returned $34 to Apo.  It was on the following day when with Apo that he saw the prisoner in the tea shop and saw Apo giving him $20.

His Worship committed the prisoner for trial.


The case of Woods, who was charged last week with assaulting a Chinaman with a hammer, which had been postponed to obtain medical testimony as to the amount of injuries sustained by the complainant (who appeared in court apparently unable to support himself or state his complaint) came on for hearing.

The complainant, however, appeared again in Court in the same apparently feeble condition, with his head surrounded by bandages.

His Worship said he had sent him to the hospital to have his wounds dressed, and had received a communication from the doctor, stating that he did not consider him a fit subject for hospital treatment, as the cut was a trivial wound.  His Worship thought he was imposing on the court, and would again send him to the doctor for inspection in the care of a constable, who was to see that he did not in the meantime remove any of the plasters which gave his head such a b ad appearance.


May 29th, 1869

Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq.

A seaman named Burns, an inmate of the Sailor's Home, was charged with bring drunk and disorderly.  He was fined $3; or in default 10 days' imprisonment.


George Collette was charged by a Chinese female with assaulting her.  Complainant deposed: - That on asking him for money to pay the rent he struck her, knocked her down and kicked her.  This occurred in his friend's home, where she went for the money, as he had previously told her to go there for it.  The amount of rent due was $31.  She had taken out a summons previously against him; but on hjis solicitation, and as he gave her a promissory note for the amount, payable on demand, she withdrew it.  She has not been paid since.  He also owes her $60, for which she got a judgment.

His Worship sentenced the prisoner to a month's imprisonment.  He intimated, however, to the prisoner that the Court might be prepared to remit part of the sentence on his application, if in the meantime he satisfied the claim of the complainant.


May 31st, 1869.

Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq.

Alexander Campbell and Joshua Saunders, seamen belonging to the Bardwan, were charged with being drunk and incapable.  It being Saunders' first offence he was dismissed with a caution; but Campbell, who had been up on last court day on a similar charge, was fined $2.


Two men, named Evans and Clements, the former ship's carpenter and the latter boatswain, were charged with being drunk and incapable.  Evans, whose salary is L. 6 a month, was fined $3; and Clements whose salary is L. 4 per month, was fined $2.


Coleman, Frueins and Ericson, three seamen belonging to the Woodbine, were charged with refusal of duty.  They admitted the charge; but said they were compelled to it by the bad treatment they received.  The ship, it appeared had been a fortnight in harbour, and no complaint had been made till now when the ship was on the point of sailing.  Ordered on board and to pay costs

Frueins one of the above was charges by the chief officer of the vessel with assault.

The prisoner could not remember anything of what had occurred, as he was drunk at the time.  Hjis Worship fined him $6, and costs.


The charge of embezzlement against George Pusey, which was postponed to enable Mr. Tarrant to produce witnesses, was brought up for hearing.

The prosecutor commenced by stating that he had in his hand a copy of the S.C. & C. Gazette, in which it appeared that the prisoner admitted appropriating to his own use $2.50, but without intent to defraud, inasmuch as [prosecutor was (he alleged) indebted to him for wages; and that he was in his employ appeared also from the same statement.

His Worship said it was admitted that the accused was in his employ.  What the prosecutor had to do was prove the embezzlement.

Prosecutor then proceeded to say that the prisoner entered into his employ on the 8th April - and that did not make it some months as reported.  On the 14th of May he got a bill to collect from the French Municipal Council for $1.80 for advertising, and came back with the excuse that he was to call again.  He heard no more about it for a day ort two.  On the 178th, he said he was to call the next day.  He did call on the 28th and got the money.

His Worship said he would require proof of this.

Mr. Tarrant said that was one point on which he should make a stand; he had a right to state how the prisoner came by the money.

His Worship desired him to proceed with the other charges if he was not in a position to substantiate what he said with reference to that particular one.

Prosecutor continued.- On the 19th May he received a letter from the prisoner, in which he stated that he would require some settlement before again working, and adding that he had gone to live at the "Boar's Head."  On the following day Mrs. Mills of the "Imperial Hotel" called on him to know where Pusey was, stating that he had left her place and blaming him (prosecutor) for giving the prisoner money whereby to get drunk.

His Worship again requested Mr. Tarrant to confine himself to the charges.

The Prosecutor said he should be heard; he had been in many courts before and had never met with so man y interruptions as he was now meeting with.

His Worship again desired him to confine himself to the case.

Prosecutor proceeded: - When Mrs. Mills said that he gave Pusey money to get drunk with, he sent around to find out if he had collected any bills, and learned that he had collected one from Mr. Severans of the French Municipal Council.

His Worship said that he was returning again to the old story.

Mr. Tarrant said that one was admitted; but he wanted to have that settled before entering into the other charges.

His Worship said the case was adjoiurned to enable Nr. Tarrant to produce witnesses - where were they?

Mr. Tarrant said he would call Andrew Campbell.

Alexander Campbell, sworn, stated, that about the 24th of May he got a bill from the prosecutor to collect from Mrs. Van Hamme, (recognizes the bill.)  He saw it before it was given to him to collect.  He presented the bill, but she said it had been paid.

His Worship said this last statement was no evidence.

Mr. Tarrant went on to ask the witness to whom did she say she paid it.

His Worship told the witness not to answer the question.

Mr. Tarrant wanted the Court to take a note of its objection.

His Worship declined.

Mr. Tarrant then said he would take a note himself of the Court telling his witness not to answer the question.  He then wanted witness to tell what the office boy told him about seeing Pusey going to a drawer in the office, but His Worship said this also was not evidence, and added Mr. Tarrant himself ought to know it.  He would require the office boy himself to prove what he saw.

Mrs. Virginia Van Hamme, sworn, stated: - that she was the proprietress of the Cafe de Reunion.  It was not she who paid trhe money; it was her daughter.

Miss Lizzie Van Hamme stated that she was 16 years of age.  Never saw the prisoner before.  She had previously seen the bill.  A European brought it, and she told him her mother was out and to call again in three days.  In a few days after, a Chinaman came with it and the boy brought it upstairs to her mother, who gave the money to the boy.  When she went down she saw the boy giving it to the Chinaman.

Mrs. Van Hamme, recalled, said that the second bill of the 24th of May was presented by the first witness, Campbell.

The prosecutor said this was a case of special larceny.  The bill when brought back was put into his drawer and the prisoner stole it.

His Worship: - Prove that.

Prosecutor said if the charge of embezzlement was not entertained he would charge the prisoner with the larceny of the bit of paper.  He felt he could do so as he had a very clear train of evidence.

His Worship considered that if there was any it was, to say the least of it, very confused.

Mr. Silverthorne was then examined, but he failed to prove anything more than that he had told the accused where Mr. Snowden lived.

Alexander Campbell, recalled, and shown a bill by Mr. Tarrant, could not say whether it was the one that Mr. Tarrant gave him or the one he saw with Mrs. Snowden.

Mr. Tarrant wanted to know from the witness what Mrs. Snowden said to him.

His Worship said that was not evidence.

Mr. Tarrant pressed His Worship to take a note of his objecting to allow the witness to answer.

His Worship declined to do so.

Mr. Tarrant then said he would, and proceeded to do so himself.

Mr. Kelly, sworn, stated he remembered the day when Mr. Tarrant came to look for some one to do watchman's duty for him.  That was about six weeks ago.  Pusey left that night.  He did not recollect any agreement being made.  Recollected when the prosecutor first made the acquaintance of the accused, it was when he came up destitute from Foochow.  Mr. Tarrant went security for him at the Home.  He remained there 40 days.

His Worship thought this was a great loss of time; the prosecutor ought to prove something.

Mr. Bonny was then called by the prosecutor, and was asked if the accused collected any bills for him while in his employ.

His Worship would not allow the witness to answer such questions; they had nothing to do with the case.

Mr. Tarrant said he wanted to show the prisoner's character.

His Worship said there was no evidence against him as yet of embezzlement.

Mr. Tarrant contended that there was, and he could show the Court what embezzlement was, and would quote him the law on the subject.

His Worship asked if he had any witnesses to prove the charge.

Mr. Tarrant then made application for another adjournment.

The accused, on being asked by His Worship if he objected to another postponement, said he left the case entirely in His Worship's hands.

His Worship dismissed the case

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