Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

United States v. Blifford, 1887

[larceny by constable]

United States v. Blifford

United States Consular Court, Shanghai
Kennedy, 15 April 1887
Source: North China Herald, 22 April 1887

Shanghai, 15th April 1887
Before General Kennedy, U.S. Consul-General, Acting Judicially.
  The ex-policeman Blifford was put forward on the charge preferred against him in the British Court.  Chief Inspector Cameron and Inspector Fowler prosecuted.
  The accused in answer to his Honour said that he was an American citizen, but had not his naturalization papers which were in the possession of his sister in America.  He had written requesting her to send them to him, but she had not done so, as she was anxious that he should return home.
  His Honour - Then you are an American citizen?
  The Accused - Yes.
  The defendant said he pleaded guilty to taking the clothing, but he did not know that he was doing wrong, as they had been supplied to him.  The boots, produced, were given to him by the store-keeper, Mr. Miller, when he joined the force, and he never wore then as he had his own, which he had been wearing ever since.  He applied for his resignation, and the Captain-Superintendent refused to grant it, and the defendant thought that he was entitled to leave, and take the cloths, &c, with him.  He was only on probation in the force.
  His Honour then said that he would try the case on the ordinary police charge, as the accusation was too serious.  He therefore requested one of the officers to go round to the clerk's office and make an affidavit.
  Inspector Cameron then formally made an affidavit embodying the charges already published against the accused.
  The Accused stated that he went to the Sates when he was 12 years old, with his father who died there. He admitted the jurisdiction of the court to try him on the charge of larceny which according to Inspector Cameron's affidavit, was of goods to the value of $20.
  Inspector Cameron was put in the witness box to prove that the accused was acquainted with the contents of the Regulation book of the Municipal Police.  In Article I, page 38, the clothing, etc., supplied to members of the force were distinctly stated to be the property of the Municipal Council, and even old uniforms, when new ones were supplied, had to be returned by the council's store-keeper.  These regulations were read out to the accused on his joining, and he was also supplied with a Regulation book, with the contents of which he was supposed to be acquainted.
  His Honour - Has he any pay due to him?
  Inspector Cameron - I believe that he should have 13 day's pay, but his canteen and mess bills more than cover that.
  His Honour addressing the accused said that the Regulations of the Shanghai Police Force, article 1 age 38, made it so clear that he (accused) had no right to these clothes, &c., and it was absurd that a man of Blifford's' intelligence could suppose that he had any right to take them away.  It was distinctly laid down that they were the property of the Municipal Council, and the consequence was that his excuse of ignorance was worthless.
  The judgment of the court was that he should be confined in the consular jail for 60 days, and pay costs.  A fine was imposed, but as the prisoner had no means of paying the Consul-General remitted it.
  On the application of Inspector Cameron, the Court also made an order that certain goods purchased by Blifford from Chinese and foreign shops, and unpaid for, which were found in his possession when he was arrested should be returned to the parties from whom they were purchased.

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