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Colonial Cases

R v. Wilson [1873]


Supreme Court for China

Shanghai, 22 March 1873

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 339, pp 71-74

Regina v. John Wilson.

Indictment: Manslaughter

Jurors sworn: F. Annand; J. P. Barnes; A. Davis deleted; A. Campbell; H. Everall; N. G. Greig.

Prisoner pleads - Not guilty

John Siddon -

---A. B. of S. Craigforth. I was in the forecastle taking my dinner on the 17th of Feby at 12.30. Wilson came on board. I saw Kite go up to him & say he was sorry that Wilson had been locked up & that if he had had the money he would have bailed him out. I did not hear anything else until I saw them scuffling. Kite had his shirt on. I saw Wilson [sit] & about five minutes aftwds he said to Kite I'll fight you if you will go on deck. Kite said "all right my Son" - they went on deck & I followed. The fore starboard gangway Rail was unshipped. I saw them squaring at each other - no blow was struck that I saw then. I saw the 3rd Mate run across the Deck, he ran between the two men, taking hold of Kite by the trousers with his left hand & with his right hand in which he held a [book/hook] he tried to shove Wilson away. I saw Kite staggering at the same time, his [??????????????] the covering/crossing board. Wilson was scrambling about & tried to hit Kite with his left - not a violent blow - & then the Mate [suddenly] let go of Kite who fell backwards & the Mate caught hold of him by the lower part of his trousers - his weight was too much & so he could not hold him & he fell head foremost in trhe water & I ran to the gangway. I heard the 3rd Mate or some body say "He's gone" & I ran to put a line over the side - he did not come up. The Mate sang out for the grapnels & I ran for them. I saw Henry overboard & diving for him. The Carpenter found the grapnels & they grappled for him. I stopped about an hour. I heard Wilson say "Try to save him." Both of them in liquor - Kite was very drunk. The body has been recovered.

Mr. Litchfield watched the case for the Prisoner.

Both men were good friends, both were quiet men. There was some wrestling. I did not see which had the best of it. Wilson sat down. All the men in the forecastle were in liquor. I lit my pipe before I followed them on deck. I did not see any blow struck until the Prisoner struck Kite with his left hand, not a violent blow - he was staggering back at the time. Kite had given up sparring when the 3rd Mate interfered. After the blow he fell overboard backwards. Kite had his shirt off. I did not see him take it off. He fell away from the Prisoner when the blow was struck.

Lewis Tindal

I am 3rd Mate of the Craigforth. I came out of Cabin about 5 min past one. I saw Prisoner & deced in attitude of fighting, they were on the starboard gangway off the fore hatch. I went to stop them. When I got there deced was falling backwards. I put my right arm before Wilson to stop him. I did not think deced would then fall over the side. When I turned round the deced was just dfalling over the side. I caught him by the leg of the trousers. I slipped down to get a good hold - he was too heavy [???] & his weight wrenched his trousers out of my hand.


I went up to stop the fight. I saw no blow struck at all. There could have been no blow after I got there. I never touched him until he was falling. It is a mistake. I did not touch the man but once when he was falling - the deced was very drunk. The Prisoner was slightly drunk.


I was watching where I was going to & did not particularly observe the men until I got to them. The Prisoner expressed great anxiety - he is a well conducted man - he is a Russian.

Case for Prosecution

P. Henry for Prisoner.

I fully saw what took place in the forecastle.

Mr. Litchfield for Prisoner.

Verdict: Not Guilty.

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