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Colonial Cases

R. v. Fisher and others, 1888

[shipping, refusal of duty]

R. v. Fisher and others

Police Court, Shanghai
Hall AAJ, 29 October 1888
Source: North China Herald, 2 November 1888

Shanghai, 29th October, 1888
Before J. C. Hall, Esq., Acting Assistant Judge.
  Eight seamen of the Blue Funnel steamer Titan, named Fisher, Murphy, Porter, McVeigh, Ahls, Prendergast, Berry, and Malley, were charged with refusal of duty.
  Captain R. J. Brown was sworn and stated that on Thursday last Fisher came to him and said that he was sick.  He was examined by the doctor who said that there was nothing the matter with the man beyond a cold.  A few hours afterwards as Fisher did not come on deck, witness sent for him, and told him to turn to his work, but he refused. Witness again sent for him on Friday morning but he again refused to come and turn to his work.  On going to the forecastle later on, witness saw Fisher in his bunk, and he asked him to work which he refused to do.  He was then taken to the bathroom to keep him separate from the other mem.  The doctor told witness that the man was quite fit to work.  At 6 'clock next morning, Saturday, the chief officer went to turn the men to their work, whereupon they all became very insolent and refused to do their duty.  Witness sent for Fisher who used very strong language towards him (the captain) and refused to go forward when told, telling witness that he was no gentleman and that he (Fisher) would knock his d----d head off.  The prisoners assigned no reason for their refusal, and they did not ask for leave to go ashore to see the consul.  They were all sober at the time.  Witness said he would go and see the Consul and that they were to remain on board till he came back.  When he returned, they were all on shore.
  Cross-examined by Fisher - You did insult me grossly.
  Fisher denied having done so.
  Dr. Alfred Eccles gave corroborative evidence deposing that Fish was suffering from a catarrh, but was fit for work.
  E. Wilkinson, the Chief Officer, also corroborated the captain's statement, and added that the prisoner Berry had threatened to kill him (witness) on more than one occasion.  The prisoners had given continual trouble since they left Liverpool, and showed no willingness to do their work.  They were not hard worked.
  Prendergast, who acted as spokesman, said that they had too much work to do h whole of the voyage, having been on duty on Wednesday from sunrise till after sunset, and they wanted to leave the ship.  They came ashore to see the Consul and found that summonses had been issued against them on their return.
  His Worship gave the men, with the exception of Fisher, the option of returning to their ship and going to work quietly, or  being sent to gaol and then being put om board, if necessary in irons.  But the prisoners one and all declined to return to the ship.
  His Worship pointed out to them the folly of their conduct and they were each sentenced to a week's imprisonment with hard labour and to pay the costs, and to be put on board the ship if she sailed before the expiration of that period.  Fisher was in addition to pay a fine of $2.
  Three of the prisoners, McVeigh, Malley and Murphy, were further charged with drunkenness.  They admitted the charge and were each fined $1 with costs.

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