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Colonial Cases

R v. Davey [1873]


Supreme Court for China

Shanghai, 3 January 1873

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 339, pp 58-62

Regina v. John Davey

Assault causing great bodily harm and assault.

Not guilty.

Jurors: W. W. Hyde; F. H. Balfour; R. B. Williams; W. Jaffray; A. T. Duval.

See Depositions.


I am cook of the "Hilda." Accused is the Capt. On Staurday 30th Nov I think I had orders to take coals from the forecastle for 14 days. This was at Hokodadi [Hokodate, Japan]. There were sevl. baskets of Charcoal on top of galley. I was engaged in doing this - when the Steward took away the Potatoes. A little while after this the Capt sent for me. He asked me what made the Potatoes so dirty. I ansd - it might be some coals had dropped on them. After that the Capt caught me by the Collar with one hand & with the other caught my tail & threw me down on the deck. After that he kicked me sevl times in the ribs & chest. After that I tried to run away but the Capt caught hold of a Broom & struck me with it. I ran to my bunk. I felt my head wet. I touched it, felt blood & my tail was cut. I then vomited blood & rice. I then laid down on my bed, I could not move. A little while after the Capt sent the Steward. The Mate came & asked me to go to the Cabin. Capt & 2nd Mate came & carried me to the Cabin & gave me some lotion & medicine. The lotion was hot water & vinegar & the next Capt gave him pills & a mixture. It was nearly six days before I could attend to my duty. On the 6th day I was told to return to my work. I did return but felt still pain.


You asked me if I was well enough to return. I said no I am not & want a few days rest. I say it was the dirt of the charcoal from the top that got into the Galley & made the Potatoes dirty. It had been there about five days. No one had told me the Cook House & Pots were dirty.

If the charcoal was not touched it would not dirty the food - the Sailors removed it to the hold & that made the galley dirty. You never had called me into the cabin & cautioned me about the food complaing it was dirty. I had been there 2 months.

John William [Hore]

I was chief officer of the Hilda. I saw some portion of this affair. At Breakfast the capt called the Cook aft & asked him how it was the things were dirty - dirty finger marks. He asked him to come down to the cabin 5 or 6 times - he refused - the Capt caught hold of him & pulled him down by the collar & tail. He fell against the table & then he laid down. The Capt slapped him 2 or 3 times on the face. I then went on deck. I did not care about seeing it any longer. I left the cabin because the Capt was beating - 2nd Officer - he followed me up. I saw the Cook going aft. I did not see him for day - I believe the Capt washed him & put him to bed. The Cook was a very dirty Cook.

The 2nd Mate generally came down after we had finished. I don't remember you orderg the 2nd mate on deck. Sevl times you had called the cook aft to complain. I have seen you complain in the galley about its state. I have heard the men complain of the food being dirty. I have often complained to him after had to cut the outside of the bread off. The salt was wasted. You had told me you would not lay your hands on the Boys - they might do what they liked. It was my business. I am not in the habit of beating the sailors. I have never seen you strike a sailor. I thought the Cooked deserved [margin note: 27 Deposition] what he got that morng. The Charcoal had been on the [house] about five days. It had nothing to do with the dirt. The Galley is a good one. He never touched the Charcoal - sometimes he has got coals up. You pulled him down into the Cabin not dragged. You had asked him to eat the Potatoes. The Capt helped him to walk aft.

G. Lobeck

I am an able seaman. I have left the ship. I saw the Cook in the forecastle, he showed me his head. The hair was pulled out & the [pores] were bleeding. The hair only left in front. He turned into the bunk - he was vomiting rice & blood - he was bad - he was not shamming - he was trembling. He was off duty some [????]. He did not [????] fit for working. From the look of the head it seemed to me he had been severely punished.


He was off duty because you punished him. I cannot complain about him - the one before was dirty. I was off duty - my time was up. I have never had any quarrel.

Accused addresses the Jury.


Imprisoned for one Month & pay a fine of $200.

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