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Colonial Cases

The Benclutha, 1879

[shipping, wreck]

The Benclutha

Naval Court, Chefoo
11 March 1879
Source: The North China Herald, 29 April 1879



Finding of the Naval Court.

   At a Naval Court assembled at Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate at Chefoo this eleventh day of March, 1879, by order of Charles Edward Dring Wilcox, Esq., Commander of Her Majesty's Ship Growler and Senior Naval Officer present, dated the seventh day of March, 1879, for the purpose of investigating into the circumstances connected with the wreck of the British barque Benclutha.

   The Court having  deliberately weighed and considered the statement made by Mr. James Mirriliees, late master of the  said barque, as well as the evidence (upon oath) given by the several witnesses called, is of opinion that considering the nature of the circumstances, viz:-

   That in passing Cape Cod with a fair wind and no indication of barometer or otherwise of approaching bad weather, he was justified in standing on and endeavouring to get into port; that between Cape Cod and Chefoo a northerly  gale suddenly sprung up giving him a lee shore, and he was unable to stand to eastward so as to weather Cape Cod, or towards Chefoo with any hopes of fetching it owing to the state of the wind; that the ship was perfectly unmanageable owing to the  frozen state of his rigging, and that the curfew from intense cold were disabled from working the ship efficiently - the barque Benclutha was therefore unavoidably driven on shore.  The Court accordingly considers Mr. James Mirrilees free from all blame, and he is hereby acquitted.

   The Court also expresses its satisfaction at the way in which he saved all the crew, and throughout all the trying circumstances behaved in a most seamanlike manner.

   Given under our hands at the British Consulate at Chefoo, this eleventh day of March, 1879.

(Signed) JAMES MACFARLANE, Rev. HURST, T. W. FERGUSON, A.C. HEWER, B B. SAVILL, Clerk of the Court.

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