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Colonial Cases

Ting Ho Ming v. Wyles, 1875


Ting Ho Ming v. Wyles

Civil Summary Court, Shanghai
7 June 1875
Source:The North China Herald, 12 June 1875


Shanghai, June 7th
Before R. A. MOWAT, Esq.
  Plaintiff sued defendant to recover $77.25, or the return of certain goods.  He had also summoned the same defendant for assaulting him while on the voyage fro Shanghai to Hanlow, but the charge, as will be seen below, was not pressed.  The case presented some peculiar features.  Heding acted as interpreter.
  Defendant is chief officer of the Peking, and the plaintiff is a lamp-trimmer on board the same ship; in reply to his HONOUR the former admitted that he held in his possession a chest, $6, a watch, and a clock, the property of the plaintiff.
  The HONOUR asked why defendant held possession of the property?
  Defendant replied that plaintiff had deserted from the ship.  He was entered on the articles, and his time would not be up for two months.
  Plaintiff acknowledged that he had no permission to leave the vessel, - he left because he had been beaten, and was afraid of being beaten again.
  His HONOUR said if plaintiff left his ship without permission, the captain or officers could retain his things until his return.  He appeared to have entered for a certain time - why did he not return?
  Plaintiff replied that he had entered for four months, ands had served his time.  He was not told to put his name down again, and did not agree to serve for any time afterwards.
  His HONOUR asked to see the ship's articles.
  His HONOUR, on referring to the articles, said the plaintiff appeared to have signed for four months from the 30th March.
  Plaintiff said he knew nothing about it.
  His HONOUR asked whether the articles were signed at the Consulate Shipping Office?
  Defendant said they were signed on board the ship.  Plaintiff deserted ion the 1st June, having served two months under the articles the second time.
  His HONOUR said plaintiff must know that in English ships, seamen entering were required to sign their names.
  Plaintiff said he was not called upon to sign, and he was not able to write.   
  His HONOUR, referring to the articles again, said it was clear the same person had made the same mark for all the crew.
  The CAPTAIN said each man touched the pen while the mark is made.
  His HONOUR said it would be just as well, in all cases for each man to make his own mark, as to touch the pen.
  Plaintiff was then examined as to why he deserted, and said; when he left Shanghai he had some salt fish and some mushrooms which the mate threw overboard.  He had also a handkerchief, which the mate, finding some foreign letters upon it, accused him of stealing, and beat him four or five times with a rope while on the voyage to Hankow.  When the ship got to Hankow, his (plaintiff's) fiends complained of that treatment, and the mate was summoned to appear that the English Consulate, but no decision was given.
  His HONOUR to the defendant) - What is your version of that?
  Defendant said it was the captain who was summoned for a sulking the plaintiff, and he was fined $20.  The plaintiff deserted the same night, and came down the river in the steamer Nanking.
  His HONOUR - He charged you with assaulting him.  Was the captain fined for the assault you committed?
  The CAPTAIN interposed by saying - I gave the mate orders to flog him.
  Defendant said the plaintiff was always in possession of smuggled goods on board the ship, - salt and other things.  He (defendant) had thrown overboard 28 bags of salt which the plaintiff had brought on board on the voyage in question.
Plaintiff said he did not know the Captain was fined $20 for assaulting him.  Hr was told by the consulate authorities to go back to the ship, but did not go.  The Captain told the chief mate he was to do able seamen's work, which he could not do, and so was afraid to go back.
  The CAPTAIN said that that order was for only one day.  Another man was put to do plaintiff's work as a lamp-trimmer, for the time he was away at Court, and he was to have gone back to his own duty the following morning.
  His Honour said plaintiff must go back to his ship now.  He need not be afraid that the Captain was going to beat him again and get fined $20 for it.  How many bags of salt bad the defendant thrown overboard?
  Defendant relied 26, 12 of them having been taken out of the plaintiff's chest.
  Plaintiff said the bags did not contain salt, but mushrooms.
  His HONOUR   said if plaintiff, when he went back to his ship, would attend only to his lamp-trimming, there would be nothing the matter.  It had been found that the plaintiff had charged the Captain with assaulting him, and he had been fined $20; but the Captain said he had given the mate orders to flog him, and that was the assault now complained of.  Did the plaintiff want the mate punished as well?
  Plaintiff said his only wish was not to work in the ship any more.
  His HONOUR asked the Captain is he wanted the man back again?
  The CAPTAIN replied that he did.
  His HONOUR said he must then send him back to his ship.  If he had heard the charge of assault, he should, in the case, have only ordered the defendant to pay costs.  The defendant was nevertheless liable, as well as the Captain, for the assault on the plaintiff.  The defendant must of course obey all lawful orders of the Captain, but an order to commit an assault was not a lawful order.  The plaintiff, however, did not appear desirous of pressing the charge, and the summons would be dropped.  Plaintiff must pay the costs in the civil summary case, but the costs in the criminal case, $1.50, would be returned to him.  He must also go back to his ship, to his duty, and he would not be beaten again.  He was not entitled to have his property returned to him until he had completed his term of service.
  The judgment was explained to the plaintiff, and the parties left the Court.

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