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Colonial Cases

R v. Harvil [1885]


R. v. Harvil

Supreme Court for China and Japan

Shanghai, 31 August 1885

Source: Supreme Court of China (Shanghai), Judges' Notebooks, Vol. 3 (1880-1893), The National Archives (U.K.), FO1092: 340, p 


Regina v. James Alexander Harvil.

Charge - Embezzlement

(Indicted under 24 & 25 Vic. C. 96, sec. 80.)

Plea - Not Guilty.

Jury. Lewis Moore, (Deleted - John Straub), James Simpson, (Deleted - George Smith), J. F. [Christian], A. Burrowes, F. F. Ferris.

Mr. Wilkinson, Crown Advocate, for Prosecution.

Mr. Wainwright for Prisoner.

Mr. Wt objects the [consent] of A.G. or S.G.

Mr. Wn states that he as C.A. has given said [consent]

Court holds this sufficient.

Mr. Wilkinson opens case for prosecution.


and calls

Alfred Barnes, duly sworn.  A British Subject and Gaoler of H.M.'s Gaol at Sh'ai.  I served prisoner with a copy of the document shown me (notice to produce letters [???]).

Not XXd.

[???????] J. M. [Jennings?], duly sworn. A British Subject and [Manager] at Sh'ai of the Ch. Bk. of J. A & Co.  I wrote letters [Ex. A, Ex. B] produced to Prisoner & recd the reply shown me, 28th Septr 1884.

[??] Malcolm Jones, sworn.  Clerk of Supreme Ct. 

No. 1.  I produce letters of Admon granted to Prisoner by this Court in estate of Robert Smith decd.  Also the original [oath] & [bond] of the Prisoner as Admin. [????] [98] [&] Power of Atty from Mother of Decd authorising Prisoner to take over admon.

Not XXd.

  1. J. M. Jennings recalled.

No. 3.  I recd the Power if Attorney from Mrs. Smith as produced.

No. 5.  I wrote letter of which, this is copy.

No. 6. I recd the letter from prisoner dated 4 June 85 the letter therein referred to is that of which No. 5 is a copy.

No. 9. I wrote letter of which this is a copy to Prisoner dated 11th June.

No. 10  I recd letter from Prisoner dated 12th June.  No. 9 is therein referred to.

No. 11.  I recd the letter from Prisoner dated 13th June.

No. 12.  Also this letter of 19th June. 


No. 13.  I wrote letter, of which this is a copy, to Prisoner on the 19th June.

No. 15.  I recd this letter of 4th July  

No. 16 from prisoner with account enclosed.

No. 17.  I recd this letter of 7th July from Prisoner.  There was an enclosure in that letter

No. 18. Of whichthis is a copy.  I returned the original enclosure to Prisoner.

No. 20.  Is a letter dated 7th July.

No. 21.  I recd the letter of 8th July from prisoner.

No. 22.  I wrote to him letter of 8th July.

No. 23.  I recd letter from Prisoner 9th July, letter referred to therein in No. 22.

No. 24.  I recd letter from Prisoner 10th July.


No. 25.  I wrote letter to Prisoner 10th July.

No. 26.  Recd reply from him of 11th July.

No. 2.   This is a cheque [No. 824  27] drawn on [my] Bank by the prisoner.  It was paid to UK Bank in a/c of Prisoner.

Ex. C.  This is a draft No. 279  21 of our UK [branch?] for the balance of deceased's account in favour of Prisoner.  It was endorsed by Prisoner to the Comptoir d'Escompte.

Ex. D.  This is [Consular] order for interest on Decd's account paid to prisoner.

Alfred Murray Robinson, sworn.  B.S. & Solicitor practising at Shanghai.

No. 14.  This is a copy of a letter written by me to prisoner 29 June 85. 


No. 19.  I recd letter shown me from Prisoner dated 7th July.  That was in answer to a letter I had previously written him of which

No. 18.  I am now shown Copy.

No. 8.   This letter shown me dated 9 June is in Prisoner's handwriting.

Not XXd.

E. J. O. Rowland, sworn, a B.S. & Clerk to Mr. Wainwright.

No. 7.  This is a copy of a letter written by Mr. W. to the prisoner.  Mr. Wt received

No. 8.  This in answer.

Not XXd.


A. J. M. Jennings, recalled by Me. Wilkinson.

No. 3.  When I wrote to Prisoner on the 3rd June I then recd P/A.  The P/A gave me the requisite authority.  I gave the P/A to Mr. Wt to be shown to the Prisoner.

   The value of the 5 G.B.C. shares was L. 50 at par about Tls 200.  I have recd nothing else from Prisoner on account of his indebtedness to Mrs. Smith.  He could not at all satisfy them that he could pay the money.

XXd b y Mr. Wainwright.   I had one interview with Prisoner at the Bank while the correspondence was going on.  [103]

   I had previously been to his office in March or April.  I went at his request and he showed me a press copy letter book.  I recd a copy of a memo in it.  This shown me is that I recd.  It appears to be in the handwriting of the Prisoner.  I do not remember Prisoner making any particular statement to me.  I do not remember his saying that he had sent the [??????] [?????] the memo.  It was the only proof he offered me that he had paid Mrs. Smith. [104]

    I was informed by you of business speculations of prisoner at Yokohama & Tientsin.  [We/he] did not think then of [???????????] drafts of Unwin Bros had passed through his Bank some on Chinaman & some on prisoner.

Re-Exd by Mr. Williamson.  The memo in press copy book does not appear to have [copied] the same day as preceding letters by the look of the ink.  Prisoner gave me a copy of the memo which I sent to our London Office.  It did not strike me as being a business like sort of remittance. [105]

   After I got the P/A he never mentioned the alleged remittances to me aftwds.

Henry E. R. Hunter, sworn.  A B.S. and cashier in H & S Bk at Shanghai.  Was acting in that capacity in June 1885.

No. 2.  This cheque came into my hands about that time and the proceeds were applied in part payment of a draft of Unwin Bros. on one Ching Chong.  I cannot say [???????].

Ex. D.  The amount named in this C. O. was similarly applied.  Prisoner had an account at our Bank.  On the 5th April 1885 the proceeds of our L. 100 Chinese Bond and coupons of L. 4 were placed [106] to his credit.

Not XXd.

Charles C. Inchbold, sworn.  Am in service of Comptoir 'Escompte as Clerk.  This is a memo made by me.  Prisoner had an account with the Bank.

   On March 3rd 1883 there was placed to his credit     Tls. 2596.98

   On the 9th March                                                        Tls. 2390.99

   On the 12th March                                                      Tls. 3415.30

   On the 28th March                                                      Tls. 1401.92

   On the 14th April                                                        Tls.   279.21

This last amount was proceeds of Order (Ex, C.)

Not XXd.  


W. M. Harvie, sworn.  A B.S. was in the office of prisoner in 1883.  I wrote the letters in Prisoner's press copy book immediately preceding the memorandum shown me.  If the memo had been copied on 14th March 1883 I should have seen it in the ordinary course.  I did not see it [Unwin - side note] nor ever before until now.

12.45 adjourned to 2 p.m.

Resume at 2.10 p.m.

W. M. [Harvie] recalled.

XXd by Mr. Wainwright.   I arrived in Sh'ai shortly before Xmas 1882.  Prisoner is my uncle.  I left him early on Dec 84.  I was clerk with him.  There was anr Foreign Clerk there for [108] a month or two aftwds I first went there.  I don't know who kept the books during the time I was with my uncle.  We had separate [desks/duties] & [???????]  We were both pretty busy.  The business was importing & [????????????].  The largest amount was done through Unwin Bros.  I am now in business on my own account.  There is no ill feeling towards Prisoner on my account.  I do not speak to him.  I am running an opposition business.

To a juryman.  I looked into press copy book after the mail had gone but don't remember seeing the memo.


Mr. Wilkinson sums up for prosecution.

At request of Mr. Wainwright, Prisoner is allowed to make a statement to the Jury.

Admits that he received all the monies in question.

Mr. Wainwright addressed jury.

Verdict Guilty.

Sentence Two Years impt with hard labour.

R. T. Rennie, Chief Justice.


Source: North China Herald, 5 September 1885

Shanghai, 31st August, 1885.
Before Sir R. T. Rennie, Chief Justice, and a Jury consisting of Messrs. L. Moore, J. Simpson, A. Burrows, F. F. Ferris, and J. F. Cheetham.
  The Prisoner was indicted under four counts charging him with having fraudulently appropriated to his own use, or that of some other person than Mrs. Jane Smith, the person for whom he received it, money or property to the value of Tls. 9.780.00, received by him as administrator of the estate of the late Robert Stuart Smith.
.  .  .  
  Mr. Wainewright reminded his Lordship that the prisoner had already been under confinement for two months.
  His Lordship, addressing the prisoner, said he had been guilty of a very serious offence, and one which, although only a misdemeanour, was punishable by seven years' penal servitude.  The prisoner had said nothing in extenuation of his offence, and his Lordship thought it was a case in which a sever sentence should be passed.  His Predecessors had considered, however, that in such a climate as this penal servitude should only be imposed in cases where the extreme gravity of the prisoner's offence rendered it absolutely necessary.  His Lordship would therefore inflict the maximum term of imprisonment.  The sentence was that the prisoner should be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for two years.

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