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Colonial Cases

R v. Hartog [1899]


R. v. Hartog

Consular Court, Yokohama
Source: San Francisco Call, 27 March 1899



There was a peculiar fatality on the British ship Haddon Hall during her voyage from Puget Sound to Yokohama.  It is the old story of "Didn't know it was loaded," as tale of which rarely if ever comes from the sea.  The Haddon Hall arrived in Japan prior to the sailing of the Doric and the story of the tragedy is as follows:

The Haddon Hall sailed from the Sound last December and all went well until the vessel was passing through a group of islands known to be infested with pirates.  Chief Officer Thomas Jones had no gun, so Captain Pritchard loaned him a revolver with which to arm himself in the event of the ship being attacked.  The mate put the pistol in a drawer in his room and there Harry Hartog, a 19-year-old apprentice boy, found it.  He had never handled such a weapon before and was delighted with "the plaything."  He showed it to William Hughes, another apprentice boy, who said the revolver was not loaded, as the mate had drawn the charges.  Hartog began snapping the pistol at Hughes and the third time the hammer fell it went off and the bullet struck Hughes in the neck.  Captain Pritchard and Mate Jones did everything possible for the lad, but he bled to death in twenty minutes.  The Haddon Hall went from San Francisco to the Sound to load and both boys were well known in this port.  Hartog was tried before the British Consular Court in Yokohama and acquitted.

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