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Colonial Cases

The Lapwing and the Hochung [1881]

ships, collision at sea

Supreme Court for China and Japan


Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle etc (Portsmouth, England), 14 September, 1881, issue 5125 [1]

The Collision between H.M.S. "Lapwing" and the " Hochung ." - It will be remembered that on the night of the 17th of April a collision occurred not far from Ocksen between H.M.S. Lapwing and the steamerHochung , which resulted in the loss of the latter vessel. Cross suits having been instituted in H.M.'s Supreme Court for China and Japan at Shanghai for the recovery of damages by the owners of theHochung and the Commander of the Lapwing , against each other, they came on for hearing on the 13th July, it having been ordered by the Court that they should be heard at one and the same time.

Mr. Drummond and Mr. Wainewright appeared for the China Merchants' Steam Navigation Company, the plaintiffs in the original suit, and defendants in the cross suit.

Mr. Myburgh and Mr. Robinson appeared for the Commander William George Scott, of H.M.S. Lapwing, since deceased.

After a long hearing the Court dismissed both petitions, but made no order as to costs, beyond ordering each party to pay one-half of the Assessor's fees. At the adjourned inquest on the body of Commander Scott, who was found dead in his cabin with a pistol shot through his head. Just as the proceedings were drawing to a close, Commander McQuhae , of the Foxhound , stated that, in consequence of representations made to him, he had taken particular notice of Commander Scott, and had observed for some time that he was in a very worried and anxious state of mind. For a few days prior to his death the deceased seemed to have laboured under the idea that everyone was against him at the trial, and avoided his friends.

Staff-Surgeon Wodsworth also gave evidence to the effect that the deceased officer had neglected his private affairs and seemed sadly depressed.

The Jury found that "Commander Scott died by his own hand when in a state of temporary insanity induced by intense nervous excitement caused by anxiety in connection with the trial of the Hochung and Lapwing collision suit."


[1]  See also Aberdeen Weekly Journal  (Aberdeen, Scotland), 8 September, 1881, issue 8273; and Aberdeen Weekly Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland), 10 September 1881, issue 6973.

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