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Colonial Cases

R. v. Lee and Jervis, 1886

[mutiny on ship]

R. v. Lee and Jervis

Police Court, Shanghai
Rennie CJ, 17 December 1886
Source: North China Herald, 22 December 1886

Shanghai, 17th December 1886
Before Sir R. T. Rennie.
  This morning Inspector Cameron brought up George Marcus Lee aged 29 years, cook on the sailing ship Lennie Burrell, and Cornelius Jervis, 25, able seaman, the first named charged with having while on the voyage from New York o Shanghai stabbed with a dirk knife one James Collins who is now dead, and the second with having while on the same voyage been guilty of mutinous conduct and also with having assaulted and wounded, with a knife, the master and mate of the vessel.
  The prisoners, who presented a very miserable appearance, were brought into court handcuffed together, and one of them, Lee, looked in wretched health.  It was stated that Jervis had been in irons for 127 days.
  Inspector Cameron said that the master of the ship, James Murphy (upon whose information the prisoners were arrested by detective officers Keeling and Jones) wished for a remand in the cases till Monday, as the ship was not yet moored in the river.
  In answer to His Worship, the Inspector said that Lee was suffering from scurvy, upon which the Court ordered the man to be attended to by the doctor.
  The Captain, being sworn, said that he could really only charge one of the men, Jervis, as his knowledge about the other man was merely from hearsay.  But he saw the wound that the deceased man received, although he did not see the prisoner Lee inflict it. As his ship only came up last night and was not yet in her berth, he could not bring any witnesses to prove the charge.  He brought the charge against Jervis himself, but it was upon the advice of the consul that he instituted the other charge.  The officers of the ship who could support the charge against Lee were not able to attend today.  Witness could testify that he saw a wound on Collins' left leg and also one on his left side.  Lee had told witness that he was sorry that the affair ever happened both for his own and for Collins sake. He (witness) had the dirk with which the wound was inflicted, in his possession.
  His Worship remanded the prisoners till Monday at 10o'clock.
20th December.
  The men, Lee and Jervis, the first of whom is charged with causing the death of a fellow seaman named Collins on the Lennie Burrell, and the second with mutinous conduct and stabling the Captain of the vessel, were brought up on remand this morning.
  Mr. Latham, who appeared for the prisoners, asked for an adjournment as he had only been just engaged in the case and had had no time to receive instructions.  The case was accordingly postponed till Tuesday week.  The prisoners were much improved in appearance, since they were taken into custody by the police.

Jamison AAJ, 28 December 1886
Source: North China Herald, 29 December 1886

Shanghai, 28th Dec., 1886
Before Geo. Jamison, Esq., Acting Assistant Judge.
  The man, Cornelius Jervis, was put forward charged, on remand, with having been guilty of mutinous conduct on the ship Lennie Burrell while on the voyage from New York to Shanghai, and also with having stabbed the Captain and mate of the vessel with a dirk knife.
  Mr. Latham defended.
  Mr. Wainewright who appeared for the captain, asked leave to have a further count of threatening the Captain, and firing a revolver at the mate, added to the charge.
  Mr. Latham objected because he had had no notice of the fresh charge, but the Court over-ruled the objection.
  The Witnesses, with the exception of the Captain, having been removed from Court, Mr. Wainewright proceeded to give a resume of the case against the prisoner.  He said the occurrences complained of took place on 12th of August this year, the Lennie Burrell being a British ship belonging to the port of Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, and the Captain James Murphy.  Jervis shipped in Barbadoes, the ship being at the time in St. Thomas.  He was insubordinate from the very first and when he got on board refused to join the ship, and tried to escape.  On the 12th August he refused to do his work and threatened the master and mate.  He first wounded the mate with a knife and then caught the captain's pistol and also cut him on the hand in two or three laces with the knife.  The Captain's pistol went off by accident, and the mate went forward to get Jervis out of the forecastle when the prisoner fired the revolver at him, after which the prisoner was wounded and secured.  Since then he was to a certain extent in confinement on the ship, being too dangerous to be allowed to be any liberty, but he was allowed out on deck for several hours each day.
  The prisoner pleaded not guilty.
  Captain James Murphy was then sworn, and examined by Mr. Wainewright said - I am master of the ship Lennie Burrell which is a British ship registered at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  The accused was a seaman on board, rated A.B. He was shipped in Barbadoes having been sent by the Royal Mail seamer from St. Thomas.
  Mr. Latham objected to this as it had nothing to do with the case.
  Mr. Wainewright said he wanted to show that Jervis as mutinous from the very beginning.
  The Court ruled the evidence admissible if it had to do with the general conduct of the prisoner.
  Witness continuing his evidence said - At 8 o'clock on the morning of the 12th  of August, the mate, Gilbert Sanderson, called me, as I was dressing for breakfast, to come out and dress his arm as he had been stabbed by the man Jervis.  I went out of my room and saw that the mate had a very severe cut on his arm, just below the elbow.  It was bleeding very badly at the time.  I dressed it to the best of my ability the wound being more than inch in depth.  After that I went into my room, and putting my revolver in my right trousers told Michael Sullivan, the boatswain and acting second mate, to get the handcuffs and come with me forward to put Jervis in irons.  We went to the forecastle and I ordered Jervis to come out.  He distinctly refused to do so.  I ordered him a second time, and he asked, "What do you want me out there for?" I said, "That s my business, not yours" but he again refused.  I told him he would have to come out and stepped into the forecastle and caught him by the muffler round his neck, whereupon he drew his knife of me.
  The Prisoner interrupting - You are on your bible oath Jimmy Murphy.
  Witness resuming - I tried to pull him out and he resisted me, and cut or scratched my hand in three places with his knife.  One place was sore for 6 weeks after.
  The Court - I think you may call that a cut.
  Witness - I let him go as he drew his knife and putting my hand in my pocket drew out the revolver.  I told him to drop the knife or I would fire at him. I think he words I used were "I'll shoot you." I meant to intimidate him so as to make him drop the knife.  He refused to drop the weapon, and came stooping towards me and attempted to stab me, defending himself with one arm raised over his head.  I retreated backwards and in doing so fell over the forecastle door.  As I fell, I dropped the revolver and I went off.  I cannot tell whether it went off in the air or while it was in my hand, but I did not mean it to go off then.  I was then on my back and he made a rush at me with his knife.  I kicked him away across the forecastle or he would probably have done me serious injury.  At this time he had the revolver in his hand, but I don't know exactly when he got it, as I was only thinking about saving myself when I fell. I don't remember the exact expression he used, but I think t as "You son of a a------ I'll shoot you" but I won't be positive.  I then got out of the forecastle as quick as I could, and told the mate and Sullivan that Jervis had my revolver and his knife and that we should have to secure him.  Before I got far away I heard him fire one shot.  When he threatened to shot me, he was pointing the revolver at my head.  Mr. Sanderson and Mr. Sullivan then went forward and I went into my cabin to get something to help me to secure him, when I heard several shots fired.  I did not stop to get anything, but ran forward to stop the firing if I could.  When I got forward, I saw Jervis with his hat off, and his head down and the pistol on the deck.  I ran and snatched his knife out of its sheath and threw it overboard.  He said that he was shot in the hand.  The officers were using him pretty roughly and I stopped them.  After I got there, one shot was fired.  I cannot say by whom.
  To the bench - When I got forward Jervis was struggling with Sullivan and his head was bleeding. He said "I'll give up." My impression was that he was struggling with the second mate Sullivan, but in an exciting encounter like that it was very difficult to remember every detail.  When I heard the last shot I told the mate to stop.  One of the officers gave me my revolver back again.  When I came forward the revolver was not in Jervis's hand.
   Resuming - The officers and I then caught him and secured him.  I saw that he had some cuts on his hand, one between the fingers like a shot wound.  He also had several cuts on his hand. I took him aft and he then became very abusive in his language, and said he was sorry he had not killed someone.  I then locked him up in the lazarette.  I did not then put him in irons but the mate made his arms secure behind him.  He had irons on his left hand.  His right hand was swollen.  He was sober at the time, and he could not be anything else, there being no liquor for him on board the ship, and he could not get drunk except on water and coffee.  He was confined during the rest of the voyage, but was allowed out for a couple of hours every day for his meals and for fresh air, till we came to Woosung. He may have been some days, when it was stormy without being allowed out.  Witness produced the log, and said he had written the account of the whole occurrences described; but he could not say how many days after they took place. He read the entries over to Jervis who said he had nothing to say to them,
  MR. Wainewright tendered the log in evidence.
  His Worship said that the sworn testimony was better evidence.
  The log was however put in evidence.
  Witness to Mr. Wainewright - The reason that the prisoner was put in irons was that he did not consider it safe to allow a man to be at liberty who had used a deadly weapon in the way Jervis had.
  Cross-examined by Mr. Latham - The occurrence described took place in latitude 25.15.S longitude 11 W. to the east of the island of Tristan da Cunha, and between it and the Cape of Good Hope.
  Mr. Latham submitted that if any crime had been committed on the ship it was outside the jurisdiction of the Court, as it was more than a hundred miles from the court.
  His Worship sent for the new Orders in Council, which showed that a British subject could be tried in the Court for offences committed on a British ship anywhere on the high seas.
  Witness further cross-examined - The reason Jervis refused to come on board in St. Thomas was that he said he had not received his allowance of an advance of 3 Pounds.  I had to pay $10 for his fare from Barbadoes, when he refused to come on board.   Told the Consul who was on the ship at the time, and he ordered the police to put Jervis on board.
  The prisoner interrupting - It was the consul's son who gave you the order.
  Mr. Latham advised the prisoner not to interrupt the proceedings, and continued his cross-examination of the Witness .  .  .  
We are obliged through want of space to hold over the remainder of the evidence till next week.

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