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Colonial Cases

R. v. Estelle and others, 1875

[ship's crew]

R. v. Estelle and others

Police Court, Shanghai
10 February 1875
Source: The North China Herald, 11 February 1875


Feb 10th.

Reg. (Master of the Star of Jamaica)



Refusal of Duty.

   Defendants, who are seamen of the barque Star of Jamaica, were charged by A. W. Stack, the master, with having refused duty on the 8th inst.

  In answer to his WORSHIP,

   ESTELLE said: I refused to work because I wanted to see the Consul.  The Captain would not give me permission, saying that the consulate was not open.  I came on shore on Monday.

   His  WORSHIP - That is an offence in itself.  The captain told you quite correct when he said that the Consular office was not open.  It was not open yesterday even.

   CARROLL. - The Captain called the hands aft and asked why we refused duty.  I said that I was not satisfied with the vessel, and I did not get enough to east; I asked for my discharge.  It was refused; I then wanted to see the consul.  The Captain said that the office was closed.  I then refused to  work until such time as I did see the Consul.

   ADAMS. - I asked the captain on Saturday evening for my discharge; he  said that he could not give it to me then, but that I might get it on Monday.  When the Mate turned us to on Monday morning I refused to work, upon the strength of the captain's promise to give me my discharge.

   WESTBURG made a similar statement, to which his WORSHIP replied: You have committed the same mistake as the others.  The Captain of a vessel is bound under a heavy penalty to allow the men to come and state their grievances to the Consul, but it is for him to appoint a time, and give you permission to leave the ship.  I will not go into any other complaint until after this case is decided.  It is not as if the captain had gone or attempted to go to sea without allowing you an opportunity of seeing the consul.

   Captain STACK - The men shipped in Hamburg, and made the voyage top Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony, Mauritius, Freemantle, to this Port, we have been three weeks in port, but the first application to see the Consul was made on Monday.  I have five A.B.'s and one ordinary seaman on board.

   His WORSHIP, to defendants - You have been in the ship since May last, and hitherto made no complaints, although you have been three weeks in this port.  Now I will hear what your complaint is about your food.  You have a scale of provisions on the articles, and I suppose you get all that you signed for.

   Defendants - No, Sir.

   His WORSHIP - What is it you don't get?

   WESTBURY - Our meat.  At sea the scale was 2 lbs out, and on one occasion, the 10th of January, the pork only weighed 8 lbs instead of 10 lbs.

   His WORSHIP - But this was at sea.  I don't suppose you intend to refuse to go to sea now in the ship because on one occasion you had 2 lbs of meat short between the lot of you.  I do not consider that you have any cause of complaint; therefore as the Captain does not press the charge, I shall send you back to your work.  You must pay the cost of the summonses.

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