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Colonial Cases

Crew of the Annie S. Hall, 1881

[sailors, maltreatment of]

The Crew of the Annie S. Hall

United States Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: The China Mail,  16 February 1881



Shanghai, February, 10.

(Before Judge DENNY.)


The plaintiffs, Manila men, complained of ill treatment by the Captain and officers of the A. S. Hall.

They said they had been put in irons on Saturday last, and were not released till Monday. They could not stand the treatment they received on board; the mate and second mate used to beat them very badly.  They refused to work, and had wanted to see the Consul, and that is why they were put in irons.

His Honour - The names of some of the men are not on the articles, how is that?

The Master did not know the names of the men, but said the names must be there.

His Honour said, the men charged the master with inhuman treatment by tying them up in the 'tween decks.  What had the master to say to this?

The Master said he had no other place to put them, he was busy at the time, and could not do anything else but put them in the 'tween decks.

Mr. Coffey, in answer to the Court, stated that Pedro, one of the men, had expressed his willingness to return to the ship yesterday.

Pedro said the men were working and were beaten by the master and the officers with belaying pins all the way from Hong-kong to Shanghai.  A white man on board was willing to come and testify as to the treatment the men had received.

His Honour then examined the wrists of the men, where they alleged they had been fastened up.  He said he did not see any marks of serious treatment.

George McDonald said he had seen the defendants tried up in port.  He had seen the mate get a belaying pin, a club, or a stick, and strike one of the men with it for about half an hour.  The man was so badly beaten that he could not walk forward.  This was about a couple of days after the vessel arrived.  He had not seen either the master or the second mate use the men cruelly.  The mate put the men in irons.  In the daytime, they were ironed on deck.  At night, the irons were taken off and the men sent to the 'tween decks.

The Master said he did not know of any illtreatment of the men by the mate.

The men said they could not work after they were released as their hands were benumbed.

McDonald had seen the mate slapping the men over the head now and again.

His Honour said he thought the chief officer had cruelly treated the men.

The men said they wanted to be discharged.

The master said he had engaged the men for the round trip, and it would put him to great expense to get another crew.  The men had been on board one month and two days.  They had received one month's advance, and were in debt to the ship.

His Honour said that under the circumstances he thought the men should be discharged.  He would therefore order their discharge from the vessel. - Courier.

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