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Colonial Cases

Re Molloy and Mears [1912]

[right of residence in China - religion]

Re Molloy and Mears

Consular Court, Shanghai

Source: The Daily News (Perth, Australia), 29 February 1912





The case of Miss M. E. Molloy and Miss N. E. Mears, who were deported from Ichang by order of H.B.M.'s Consular Court in that port, for refusing to obey the order of the British Consul and come in with other British subjects, has had a curious sequel, says the "Rangoon Times."

Miss Molloy and Miss Mears arrived in Shanghai under warrant and were taken in accordance with the usual practice to the British Consular gaol, where they were lodged as first class misdemeanants.  It was learned that they have friends in Shanghai, and with the ready permission of the senior judge they were told that they might go to these friends, on the understanding, of course, that they should come up for the consideration of their case when called upon to do so.

 This, however, Miss Molloy and Miss Mears absolutely declined to do.  A carriage was offered them with any assistance that they might require, but they refused to leave the gaol under any consideration whatever, their argument being that their home was in Ichang, that no man could interfere with their right to preach the gospel to the Chinese, and that as the Government had put them in prison, they would not remove thence unless the Government took them out and restored them to Ichang.

 On December 29 they were brought before Sir Havilland de Sausmarez, judge in the Supreme Court, when Mr. H. P. Wilkinson, Crown Advocate, appeared to support the decision of the court in Ichang.

   Miss Molloy addressed the court at considerable length on behalf of Miss Sears and herself.  She appealed against the conduct of Mr. Hewlett (British Consul at Ichang) as unreasonable, tyrannical, insulting, crafty, cruel and criminal; against his employment of the consulate writer, Mr. Yang, as his unscrupulous took in carrying out his designs against then, against the conduct of the captain of H.M. gun-boat Woodlark, and Dr. Graham, of the Church of Scotland mission, Ichang, in wrongfully aiding and abetting Mr. Hewlett in his treatment of them.

 His Lordship said that the determination on the consul's part was to his lordship's mind quite clear, that the safety of the Europeans in Ichang should not be endangered by the conduct of the defendants.  That they particularly became tithe object of his action was their fruit and no one else's.  It seemed to him that they chose to be guided by a passive adherence to their own opinion in defiance of that of the consul and the counsel of many others. That obstinate adherence to their opinion and a claim to divine guidance seemed to him to be almost impertinent; he would not say irreverent, inasmuch as it involved a denial of divine guidance to any one whose opinion was opposed to theirs.

 The Court was empowered to keep them in custody, but he would be very reluctant to do so, and would be prepared to accept the very lightest bail, practically nominal as long as it was given by a responsible person, that they would reside with their friends.

 Miss Molloy: We have already declined to provide any security, which we consider is equivalent to saying we are guilty.

 His Lordship: No, it is not.  There you are quite wrong.  It is not security at the present moment you will not return to Ichang, but that you will remain in Shanghai during that time to consider the matter.

 Miss Molloy: We cannot do any such thing.  We cannot allow anyone to go bail for us.

His Lordship: Why not?

 Miss Molloy: Because when we were free to act at the very first opportunity we would return to Ichang.

 His Lordship: But if you give me your word -

 Miss Molloy: We ought to obey God rather than you.

 His Lordship: You assume you are the only person who is -

 Miss Wilkinson: In communication with Him.

 His Lordship: Which would justify a person in assuming they were right.  That is a proposition that cannot be accepted.

 Miss Molloy: Of course, your Lordship has made the statement and the Crown Advocate had made this statement that we claim this divine guidance.  I do claim it for myself, and I believe it is the right of every individual Christian to claim it.

 His Lordship: yes, but you deny it to others.

 Miss Molloy again refused to allow security to be given, and his Lordship said they would have to be detained in custody until arrangements for their deportation should be made.

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