Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

United States v. Thulmann [1898]


United States v. Thulmann

United States Consular Court, Shanghai or Canton

Source: San Francisco Call, 22 August 1898


American Ship Captain Arrested in China.

The officers of the British steamer Glenfarg, which arrived from Hongkong last Saturday, gave some interesting information of happenings in the Orient.  An American ship captain was in jail in Canton awaiting trial on a charge of murder before the United States Consular Court.


When the Chinese Government heard of the defeat it immediately dispatched 1000 soldiers up the river from Canton to Wuchau, where the fighting had taken place.  Some of these soldiers went on the American steamer Dosing, captain Thulmann.  On arriving at Wuchau, the captain asserts, there was a mutiny among the crew and an attempt made by the sailors and the Chinese ashore to butcher the soldiers.  The Chinese compradore, who was looking after the vessel's cargo, got mixed up in the row, and captain Thulmann shot him dead.

   Then there was trouble.  The friends of the dead man were furious, and offered $5000 for the Yankee's head.  United States Consul Bedloe at Canton was telegraphed to, and he at once issued orders for the murderer to be brought to Canton.  This was done, and Captain Thulmann for safety was put aboard the British steamer Kong-pak and locked up in an iron cage.  The Chinese are very much wrought up over the matter and assert that they will demand indemnity from the United States for the murder of their countryman.  They have sent to Hongkong and secured the services of G. K. H. Brutton, a well-known English solicitor, and Wei Piu, a famous barrister.  The latter was educated in England, and is one of the foremost attorneys in Hongkong.

Thulmann is a German by birth, but says he is a materialized American citizen, and was in command of an American vessel.  Consul Bedloe will make him prove his citizenship, and if he fails will turn the prisoner over to the German Consul.


Source: San Francisco Call, 15 January 1899



Captain Richard Toulmin has been sentenced to imprisonment "for the term of his natural life" by a United States Consular Court sitting at Shanghai.   ... John Goodmon, United States Consul General, and H. R. Williams, United States Consul, conducted the trial.  Toulmin was to be sent to Hongkong on the United States gunboat Concord and from there to San Francisco to serve out his sentence.


Source: Northern Territory Times (Darwin, Australia), 27 January 1899


For killing his compradore in July last Captain Toulrain [Thulmann], of the steamer Dosing, was sentenced last month by the U.S. Consular Court at Canton, to imprisonment for life with hard labour.


Source: Los Angeles Herald, 7 June 1901



The president today acted upon fourteen applications for pardons.  He commuted four sentences and granted five pardons.  Among those pardoned was Richard Toulmain, who was convicted by the United States consular court at Shanghai, in 1898, of the murder of a Chinese on the American ship Dosing, and sentenced to life imprisonment in Shanghai prison for American convicts.

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