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Colonial Cases

Shanghai Police Court, 1870

[minor crimes]

Police Court records, Shanghai

Police Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 28 May 1870



May 20th, 1870

Before GEO. JAMIESON, Esq.


(assaulting a mawfoo, and injuring a pony and trap.)

Prisoner, an African, and an inmate of the Sailors' Home, was charged with having, yesterday afternoon, in front of the Home, maliciously damaged Dr. Johnstone's pony and carriage, and assaulted the mawfoo.

Prisoner said he had done nothing to the mawfoo; and did not know that the pony was so wild.

The circumstances, as sworn to by several witnesses, were as follows.  Dr. Johnstone had, while visiting at the Home, left his carriage outside in charge of the mawfoo.  Accused came out of the Home, and went and opened the carriage door, saying to the mawfoo that he was going to have a ride.  The mawfoo endeavoured to prevent him getting in, and told him he had no right to do so, when the prisoner struck him on the face.  He followed this up by striking the pony several heavy blows, which the animal, a nervous and high tempered one, resented by rearing and kicking.  Thomas said he would soon stop its kicking, and struck it again, but this treatment, so far from soothing, frightened the pony; and it continued kicking till it had injured itself so severely that it is likely to be of no more use, besides breaking the carriage and portions of the harness.

... A. Robertson, a man of colour, said he had been with Thomas at the time, and that, on seeing the pony standing at the gate, his companion said he was going to have a ride.  Witness cautioned him that if he went meddling with the pony he would get into a scrape.  Thomas said he wanted to get into a sc rape: his money was done, and he had no ship. Witness went into the Home, but returned as he heard the pony kicking.  Prisoner was striking it; and had an open jack-knife in his hand.  Could not be sure if he struck it with the point of the knife, but the knife was in the hand with which he was hitting the pony.

Dr. Johnstone said he was in the house when he heard of the affair.  He ran out, and saw the pony standing in the middle of the road, kicking furiously, with the reins hanging over its hind-quarters, and the harness broken.  It was cut very badly about the hind legs - the flanks torn, and the pasterns injured.  From what he had seen he fancied a tendon was hurt.  Mr. Kerr had it taken to his own stable to attend it.  He might mention that after having done this, Thomas came back and consulted him in the Home about a bad tooth, and, little thinking what the man had been up to, witness asked him to come to his house this morning and he would relieve him.  Thought the man was quite sober; and that as he must have known who the trap belonged to, the affair showed great malice.

Mr. Bailey, watchman of the Home, saw the whole affair.  The man came out of the Home, tried to get into the carriage, struck the mawfoo, and beat the pony.  When it was kicking witness ran out to stop it, and prisoner went in to the house, seeing Mr. Millar coming.

Cha-ning, the mawfoo, gave his evidence very clearly.  He did not think the pony would ever be of much use, as the wounds though they might heal now, would be very apt to open again.

Mr. Kelly said the man had been in the Home since the 11th May only; had about $15 when he came, and now had a dollar or two.  He was one of the worst characters in the House.  The night before last, he had tried to create a disturbance, and break into the shipping clerk's office.  They were obliged to confine him to his room, where he kept up a row, and said if he got outside he would cut the livers out of the white men.  At the time of the attack on the mawfoo and pony, prisoner was quite sober.  When the prisoner was arrested, the black man who appeared as a witness said he heard Thomas say he would do something before the day was done.

His worship said it was the most malicious and causeless injury ever he had heard of.  The consequences were bad enough as it was, but might have been much more serious, had the pony got away and run over some people, as he most likely would have done in such a crowded street.  He would inflict the greatest punishment he could - that prisoner be kept for six months\ in prison, with hard labour, and that every alternate week he should have low diet.


May 23rd, 1870.

(Desertion of duty.)

R. Stowell of the "Achilles," charged with deserting from his vessel, was sentenced to forfeit six days' pay, and to pay the costs of summons.


F. Pedro, of the "Rona," brought up on remand, charged by Captain Hutchison with desertion, was sentenced to eight weeks' imprisonment, to reimburse the prosecutor for expenses incurred in hiring a substitute, and the balance of the wages due to him to be forfeited to the crown.


May 25th, 1870.

(Begging, &c.)

John Connor appeared in dock, for the 5th time, charged with begging and making himself a public nuisance.  Prisoner had a balance of wages in the hands of the shipping agent, but could not be trusted to expend it.

Mr. Forrest proved the charge - prisoner having come up to him in a defiant manner demanding money, and his persistence was such that he handed the man over to the police.

Mr. Kelly, and Mr. Tapp, the shipping agent, each expressed an opinion that the man's brain was unsound.

His worship ordered prisoner a month in jail, but to be sent home by first opportunity.


Source: The North-China Herald, 2 June 1870


Shanghai, 27th May, 1870.

Before G. JAMIESON, Esq.

Insubordination on the S.S. Rona.

The 3rd officer of the Rona sued one of the lascars on board for being insubordinate, and the latter, on a cross-summons, charged the formed with assault.  His Worship dismissed the cases, ordering the lascar to pay the costs of both.

Another lascar of the same vessel then prosecuted the chief officer for assault.  This case was also dismissed, prosecutor to bear costs.

One of the above prosecutors, with two other seamen, charged by the Captain of the Rona for refusing to work, were each sentenced to forfeit six days' pay and the costs of the summonses.


28th May, 1870.

R. v. L. GREENDELL, Sailors' Home.

Drunk and disorderly - charge admitted, and a fine of $1 and costs imposed.



Prisoners said they were drunk, and did not know what they did.

M. SHARFF, seaman on the "Wild Deer," sworn, stated that yesterday, about ten o'clock, he went ashore, and at about 10.20 saw Smith carrying a bag into the "Green Shades" tavern.  At the time did not know whose it was; but on going on board again missed his bag.  Witness returned to the "Green Shades" ands asked for the bag; it was gone.  Applied next to the police, and got a constable to go with him to the "Green Shades."  While there, Varner came in, and a man with him (Henry Pemberton), and they went to a Chinese pawn-shop, and found part of the clothes there in the bag.  Several singles and trousers were still missing.  They had all been in the bag, inside a chest on board, and belonged to him.

K.  D. WRIGHT, an apprentice, said he was keeping tally when the prisoners tried to leave the shop with a bag - the same now produced.  The mate stopped them, and they went back.  Thought this was about 11 a.m.  The men did not seem drunk.

GEO. WILLIAMS, bar-man at the "Green Shades," deposed - Smith brought the bag (exactly like that in Court) to the "Green Shades," and walked through the bar into the dining -room, and said to Missus - "I want to leave this bag here for a few days, till I am paid off."  Missus advised him to go to the Sailors' Home.  Prosecutor was in the bar at the time.  Witness took no more notice; but, in the afternoon, prosecutor came back saying he wanted the bag.  Found on looking for it that it had been taken away.  Prosecutor went out and returned with a constable; and just at that time Varner came in, and the constable arrested him.  Witness afterwards identified Smith at the station.

ALFRED NICOL, P.C. - said he was sitting in the "Green Shades," talking to the Missus, when Smith came in wanting to leave the bag.  A discussion followed, in course of which Smith said the bag and clothes were his' and he ultimately left them there under a dresser.  Witness lost sight of them, and on inquiry found the things had been removed by Smith and two other men.  Stayed at the "Green Shades" till the prosecutor and sergeant came.  Then Varner entered with Pemberton.  The Missus pointed out Pemberton as the third man who had removed the bag.  Pemberton volunteered to show where they had taken it to, and he brought them to a Portuguese, who said he had bought the clothes but had since pawned them.

HENRY PEMBERTON - sworn - said, yesterday he was sitting in the "Green Shades," when Smith asked him to carry a bag, which he did; and they went with it to a Portuguese, to whom they sold it for $2.  Varner got the money.  Identified clothes.

JOSSUIT, the Portuguese, sworn - Acted as negotiator of a loan on the clothes.  Pawned them for $1 and 2 Rd., and gave this money to Varner.  The men were not  drunk.

Sergeant SLATER gave evidence as to the arrest, and finding the money spoken to with the prisoners.

Prosecutor was recalled, and asked the value of clothes still missing; these were reckoned at $15.

The prisoners were sentenced to ten weeks hard labour, with low diet every alternate week, and to pay prosecutor $7 ½ each out of their wages, and also jail expenses.


JOSEPH VARNER, one of the culprits in the last case, was charged with having in his possession, unlawfully, a slung-shot.  This he denied; but sergeant Slater proved the offence, having found it, when he arrested the prisoner on previous charge, fitted round his waist.  It was the same which was handed in.  The prosecutor in the last case volunteered the statement that he had seen prisoner making the weapon, on his way out.

Sentenced to one month's imprisonment, to be added to previous punishment, with the same conditions as to diet and jail expenses.



Refusal of duty.

These men, belonging to the "Rona," were charged as above.  They did not deny the offence, but refused to return to work; and were ordered six weeks each, and to pay expenses.

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