Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Elton v. Fuller, 1887


Elton v. Fuller

United States Consular Court, Shanghai
Kennedy, 25 May 1887
Source: North China Herald, 3rd June 1887

Shanghai, 25th May.
Before J. D. Kennedy, Esq., Consul-General, Acting Judicially.
  This was a claim brought by Mrs. Catherine Elton to recover the sum of $340 from Alexander Fuller, being the balance due to her on a contract for the sale of the "London Tavern" situated in the Yang-king-pang in the French Concession.
  The defendant admitted the purchase and that the price agreed upon had not been paid, but pleaded that through the action of the plaintiff his business had been ruined.
  The plaintiff was sworn and said that she was a British subject and resided in the French Concession.  In the beginning of 1883 the people who owned the "London Tavern," owed her $700.  She had a mortgage on the place, which was on the same year taken over by the defendant who was to pay her the balance of the debt.  He paid her $300 through Mr. Haas's office, and promised to pay the balance at $40 a month.  The contract was signed in Mr. Haas's office.  She left the contract in the U.S. Consulate with a previous Consul-General, and had not seen it since.
  The defendant only paid one or two monthly instalments, and she gave him a receipt for the amounts.  He now owed her over $300. But she could not fix the exact amount unless he showed the receipts.  Some time ago he wrote a letter saying that he would pay when he got employment.  Plaintiff had lost the letter.
  Cross-examined by the defendant - She did not remember the exact sum for which she sold him the business.  It was over $600.  She did go to his house once or twice, but not to interfere with the business, but to see the barmaid who had induced her (plaintiff) to take over the business. Plaintiff always signed the receipts for the monthly instalments, but did not write them; they were written by defendant or someone in his house, as she could not write very well.  She did not remember receiving $50 from Mr. Haas.  She had other business with him (Mr. Haas), neither did she remember having any interest in the house next door.
  Defendant was sworn and said that he bought the house in November 1883, giving the plaintiff promissory notes for the balance.  About a month afterwards he paid her $50 through Mr. Haas, and in the same month another $40.  He thought he had also paid her a further sum of $50, but as he had not the receipt for it would not be too positive.  The promissory note was to draw interest at 3 per cent. The plaintiff with two or three other women came to his house sometime after the first month, and said that the place did not belong to him, but to a Chinawoman, and told the customers that it would be better for them to spend their money with the foreigners next door.  Defendant went to Mr. Cheshire the U.S. Consul to complain, and he sent him to Mr. Mowatt in the British Consulate.  But Mr. Mowatt said that there would be no use in bringing rhe plaintiff before the court, as she had been there two or three times before, and no satisfaction was given by her.  She continued to come to his house and destroy his business by taking his customers away, for "a woman is a great attraction to sailors, your honour (laughter). This continued till he sold the house by auction in April.
  He made no money out of the house from November to April because the plaintiff went to it three or four times every day and took his customers away, and asked them for drinks, which insulted them causing them to go away.  Afterwards he wrote a letter to her asking her to give him $100 and he would give her over the house as he could not keep it any longer.  She replied that he would have to give it up whether he liked it or not.  When there were men-of-war in the harbor there were often 100 men in the house during the day.  He had no books, but whatever he took he gave to plaintiff.  The contract was that he should pay $300 down and $300 in monthly instalments.  She stipulated that she would not interfere with his business, by opening a house near him or in any other way.
  To the Bench - He sold the house for Tls. 92 which he handed over to Mr. Cheshire to be paid out for the expenses of the house.  The plaintiff often went to the house with French and German women.  He knew that the house next door belonged to her, because he had seen her pocket money paid over the counter for drinks.  At the time he bought the house he did not k now that she had any interest in the house next door.
  Cross-examined by the plaintiff - He did not go to her house at 137 Boone Road with his barmaids and beg her plaintiff) to lend him the money to take over the house.  He often saw her speaking to sailors and shore people in his bar, asking them for drinks.
  The plaintiff repudiated this assertion indignantly.
  Defendant said in reply to the Bench that a man told him that plaintiff had an interest in the "Welcome Tavern," next door.  The man was paying her $50 a month for the house in the same manner as he (defendant) was paying for the "London."  He often Saw her take men out of his (defendant's) house saying that it was kept by a Chinawoman.
  John O'Neill, who was called by the defendant, was sworn and said that he sometimes acted as Deputy Marshal of the Court.  He had no recollection of ever bringing 93 taels from defendant to Mr. Cheshire.  He knew nothing about the case.
  The plaintiff finally agreed to accept $100 in settlement of the claim, the defendant to pay the costs.

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