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Colonial Cases

Police Court, January 1870

[maritime cases]

Police Court decisions, January-February 1870

Police Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 11 January 1870



January 4th.

Before G. JAMIESON, Esq.

R. vs. A. BRENTSON. -  « Luju. »

Charged with breaching cargo and stealing therefrom two cases of gin, one case brandy and one case porter.

Prisoner admitted taking one case of gin, but denied having interfered with anything else.

Prosecutor failed to being proof as to prisoner having stolen all of the articles mentioned, and trhe Court on enquiring what would be the price of a case if gin, and being answered Tls. 4.58, ordered prisoner to pay for one case only, and sentenced him to eight weeks imprisonment; prisoner to pay for his own maintenance during his stay in gaol.

5th January.

Mr. Kelly of the Sailors home, brought up as seaman, who had appeared several times before the Court for drunkenness, and stated that he had found it quite impossible to get the man to remain sober; that, at the least opportunity, he would indulge to such an extent in samshoo, that he was afraid something would be happening to him. 

Prisoner is ill with dysentery and only five weeks before had been taken out of Hospital; he was now on the hands of the Consulate, and as he (Mr. Kelly) had received instructions from H.M.'s Consul to turn out all seamen supported by H.M.'s Government who would misbehave themselves and get drunk, and knowing that if he turned out prisoner that it would result in his death, he prayed that the Court would make an order that would tend either to have him sent home or taken care of otherwise.

The Magistrate was of opinion that the Consul should send him home as a distressed seaman in the meantime he would order him three days imprisonment.

6th January.

R. v.  WESTLEY LEE, cook of the "Luju."

Refusal of duty.

Thomas Douglas Scott. - I a master of the "Luju," prisoner is cook.  On one occasion, when the ship was in a critical position, I called on prisoner to lend a hand in pulling down the fore topmast studsail, and he refused to do so.  On another occasion he was ordered to boil down some pitch, but he also refused.  There were only himself and a boy on deck, the other men were aloft shifting the sails.

Prisoner said he did not consider the ship was in danger, his duty was cook and he had done it.

Rudolph Daly to prisoner.  I remember assisting the mate and my pulling down the studsail.  I remember it getting foul of the fore yard and going up and clearing it.  I remember the mate calling you to assist, but you refused.  The 1st mate gave evidence of prisoner's having refused duty on several occasions.

The Court considered that though he had shipped as cook it was his duty to assist the working of the chip at critical times as far as he could.  Fined half month's pay and to return to his ship.


A case for deliberately stealing, taking and carrying away, entered by Capt. Mooney of the str. "Bertha" against one of his crew, now discharged, was postponed to next Monday, pending the arrival of the "Bertha."  Defendant stated he was an American and objected to be tried before any other authority.  Mr. Eames who represented plaintiff said that enquiries had been made at the U. S. Consulate to ascertain if defendant was registered, and it appeared from information received that he was not.  Capt. Mooney had first entered the case at the U. S. Consulate, but for some reason had taken it out of that Court to this.

7th January.

Three sea-faring men brought up by the Police for being drunk and incapable, were punished, two with $1 fine each, and the other warned and dismissed.


R. v. ALEX. LEITH, second Officer "Dartmouth," assault.

Mathew Dickson - On 29th August last, while on the passage out, defendant about 5 p.m. asked me if I had nothing to do, and on my telling him that I had just finished my work, he ordered me to catch the ducks and put them in the coops.  I caught two ducks, but the others being less tame would not be taken, and flew overboard.  Defendant seeing this immediately commenced with a series of abuses against me, which ended by his knocking me down and kicking me in the face.

Defendant stated that he acknowledged to having struck plaintiff, but that it was only under a challenge and after great provocation, that in his position as officer of a ship he would be thought very little of if Dick, Tom and Harry were allowed to be insubordinate to to abuse him, without taking steps.

W. Rothwell. - I saw defendant and plaintiff fighting.  Plaintiff fell down and defendant kicked him twice while he was down.  This was done after plaintiff had been impudent to defendant.  Plaintiff challenged defendant to fight after he had been first struck.

Barnet, boatswain. - I saw defendant and plaintiff struggling with each other; saw plaintiff fall and defendant kick him while he was down.

Capt. Elsden. - I saw the whole transaction, plaintiff was very impudent and when ordered to go forward would not obey.  I myself ordered him to cease with his impertinence and leave the after-part of the ship, but he would not obey.  W. Rothwell,, in his evidence, has made a mistake; defendant did not strike plaintiff until he was challenged to fight and, in my opinion, this having been acceded to and plaintiff thrashed, constituted a legal fight, as it was by invitation it was done.

The Court was of opinion that, certainly, to keep seamen in order, means had to be adored; but in this case it was carried too far.  Kicking a man on the face, while he was down was certainly committing an assault, and would therefore fine defendant $3 and costs.


R. vs. the Crew of the Brit., Ship "Wm. Melhuish" Refusal of duty.

Defendants in pleading guilty stated that the captain had threatened them with a revolver, that he had also said if they went to sea with him he would work them off their legs and phsyic them all round, that it was very easy for as Captain to do so, as when any of them would go aft for Medicine he could give them what he liked.  Another objection raised, was the miserable condition of the forecastle, all of their beds were wet and had been so for four months, in fact the ship was not sea-worthy. They were half starved on board, only getting two pounds of fresh beef per diem, and as much bread as they could eat, besides Coffee and Tea.

The Captain stated that previous to Christmas, the crew had what they wanted, but owing to their recent behaviour he had given them not more than what he was strictly obliged to by the shipping regulations.  He was not aware of any thing being wrong with the ship, she was repaired some time ago, and her decks caulked and pitched.

The magistrate after looking over the shipping articles, told the Captain to give them in addition, some vegetables, and ordered the men to return to their vessel, as he was not of opinion that the Captain would treat them badly, that as far as the forecastle went, if they wished a survey, one would be ordered, the costs of which they would have to pay, if they were wrong in their surmise.  To pay cost of summons and return to their work.


ALLIE vs. R. HUTCHINSON str., « Rona. »

Claim for $22 for services rendered.

Defendant admitted owing $18.22, and stated he had tendered the money to Mr. Kelly, but that he would not accept it.  He did not know how $22 could be claimed as, according to his calculation, plaintiff had only worked a certain number of days, which when calculated at the rate of $25 per month would only make the sum already mentioned ($18.22)

Mr. Kelly stated in behalf of plaintiff, that he was not on the ship's articles, and that it was customary to pay $1 per diem to men who were so engaged.

The magistrate being satisfied as to the $25 a month and expressing himself of its fairness, ordered defendant to pay the $18.22, with costs.


Another Lascar preferred a claim of $54 as balance of wages.  Captain Hutchinson said that probably that amount or something near it was due to plaintiff, but that he had  deserted half an hour before the last departure of the vessel from this port, and in consequence of being short handed he had been obliged to employ deck passengers to lend a hand in the working of the ship.

C. T. KOFOD have evidence to the effect of his having seen the man running away, and the man admitted that he did not sail in the ship that voyage, that he had had nothing to eat the whole day; had applied for food, but could get none.  He then borrowed $1, from the mate and went on shore to buy some food, but when he came back the ship was going.  The steward stated he had given out provisions to the man that morning.

The second mate said no complaint was made to him about provisions; plaintiff came on board when the vessel returned, and on asking him why he had run away, he said he had got drunk and could not fetch the ship.

The Court ordered the amount of  wages due to be paid, Captain Hutchinson to deduct therefrom, whatever expense he was put top by the absence of the man, and costs to be divided,.


Other insignificant cases for wages were also entered into, but at once acknowledged and settled.


Source: The North-China Herald, 18 January 1870


Before G. JAMIESON, Esq.

11th January.


Claim for wages.  Plaintiff not appearing, the case was dismissed.


R. vs.  F. MILLS.

Selling liquors without a licence.  Defendant not appearing, proof of service of summons was taken and a Warrant wass forthwith ordered for his arrest.


12th January.

R. v. MATHEW DICKSON, "Dartmouth," Assault.  Admitted.

Alex. Leeth - I am second officer of the "Dartmouth."  This morning about 9 o'clock I was standing between decks, when I suddenly received a blow from behind with a stick; I turned round and saw prisoner with a broom in his hand.  I asked if it was him, he said yes and would give me more.  We put him in irons and he resisted and struck the 3rd officer several; times.

10 weeks imprisonment with hard labour, alternate weeks low diet, and to pay his own expenses.


R. v. JAS. OSBORN, "Bob-Tail-Nag," refusal of duty.

Prisoner in admitting his guilt, said he could not get on with the officers.

To forfeit six days pay and to return to his duty.


R. v.  JOHN MURRAY, drunk and fighting, and neglect of duty.

Inspector Stripling said that prisoner, one of the Municipal Constables ought to have been on duty at 11 o'clock last night.  About 9 o'clock he was found drunk and brought to the station.  He was unable to go to his duty.

Fined $25 or 3 weeks imprisonment (under 2 and 3 Vict. c. 93.)


13th January.

R. v. ABEL SMITH - "Dartmouth, refusal of duty and absence without leave.

Defendant in pleading guilty to the two charges said, that he did not feel at all inclined to go home in the ship, he could not get on with the 2nd officer and wanted his discharge.

Six weeks imprisonment with hard labour and to pay for his own maintenance and costs; the Captain to apply, if he chooses, for him to be sent on board before leaving.


15th January.


Assaulting several Chinese and being drunk and breaking four bottled of beer, - charges admitted.

Fined $2, and to pay $1.00 for the beer.


PETER FRAUST vs.  Captain Morton "Seringapatam."

Claim for $92 balance of wages, claim disputed.

Defendant stated he had left the sip of his own accord and his claim was made out to date.

The Captain in disputing the correctness of the account showed cause why the account claimed could not be due, and the Court being satisfied, delivered Judgment in the sum of $79.  Plaintiff to pay costs.

Source: The North-China Herald, 1 February 1870



Before G. JAMIESON, Esq.

Shanghai, 27th Jan.

R. v. ANDREW ROSE, Stowaway in ship "Wm. Wallace."

Charged under the 2nd and 8th sections of the Merchant Shipping Act.

Charge admitted.  Ordered to one week's imprisonment, and to be sent home by first opportunity.


January 28th.   

R. v. CARSTENSEN and H. JOHNSON, (Queensland.)

Charge of assaulting the master.

Capt. Falborg deposed that, on his passage from Yokohama, he had difficulty in passing through Vandiemen's Straits, and had to put back; had to reprimand Carstensen for bad steering in a critical position, and had at last to take the wheel out of his hands.  Carstensen then laid hold of him and used abusive language, and Johnson came up and struck him (witness.)

The Chief Officer corroborated the Captain's evidence.  And the Court sentenced Johnson to ten, and Carstensen to four weeks imprisonment, and to pay the costs of their maintenance in jail.

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