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Colonial Cases

Crew of the Annapoora, 1898

[ships' crew, discipline]


Crew of the Annapoora

April 1898


Source: The Japan Times, 16 April 1898





It has been your correspondent's painful duty, on more than one previous occasion, to record in these columns details of disturbances on board that ill-fated steamer known as the Annapoore, which is making a protracted stay in this port. It would be difficult to name one of her officers who has not at some time or other figured either as defendant or complainant in Court proceedings within the past two months.

This morning once again, the members of the press felt quite comfortable and unembarrassed when they recognized the old familiar faces.  JOHANNES W. KARSTEN, the second engineer, looked up in the box, accused of assault and battery on the sacred person of WILLIAM DE CAULON WETHERALL, the chief officer, who explained that at midnight on the 30th, the accused entered his stateroom and without warning proceeded to pummel him about the head, at the same time assaulting him with vile and abusive language.

The third engineer, boiler-maker and watch-man substantiated the complainant's statements, but the accused taking up an awkward line of cross examination, showed pretty clearly that a strong prejudice existed against him on account of his foreign nationality, and that a petition to the British Consul had been drafted by the complainant, and signed by the above named witness, praying for his removal from the vessel. 

The accused admitted raising a disturbance, but pleaded not guilty to assault.  Capt. Cameron, avowed his knowledge of proceedings, and testified to the accused's excellent character, and uniform sobriety.  His Honour (Mr. R. G. S. Forster) attaching credence to the accused's contention that a conspiracy existed against him, though unable to ignore the evidence of three witnesses, inflicted a purely minimal fine of five dollars and the costs of the Court.


The Japan Times, 26 April 1898



Today was quite a field day in H. B. M.'s Court, for the docket containing the names of seven delinquent sons of the sea, guilty of absenting themselves from their ships without leave. Superfluous were it to add, that the good old steamer Annapoora contributed its quota, Nesbitt, the boiler-masker, Blewett the night watch-man, and another worthy named Wilson, faced the bench with unblushing effrontery.

Nesbitt, whose physiognomy is expressive of one who labours under a permanent grievance, denied Captain Cameron's accusation point blank, and flourished a medical certificate in the air, as he vociferously declared that he had general leave to go ashore as soon as he had finished his daily task of hammering spavined boilers, and that any little delay in his return was due to a sprained ankle. He invoked the saints and the chief officer to testify to the truth of his assertions, and the case was adjourned until the afternoon for the evidence of the latter, the same being unavailable.

Blewett forfeited two days' pay, while Wilson was discharged on payment of the costs of the Court. 

Further evidence was taken in Nesbitt's case in the afternoon, and the accused convicted on two separate charges, in the first to forfeit two days' pay and to pay costs, and in the second to go to gaol for seven days.

. . . 

Four salts from the Artemis answered to a similar charge. Two of them, whose impudence showed that they were hard cases, were sent to gaol for seven days, while the other two, who expressed their readiness to return to their work, were forfeited two days' pay.

The Japan Times, 30 April 1898


The steamer Annapoora, after being detained nearly six months at this port, for repairs, and in consequence of financial complications, left for Tientsin with a cargo of railway ties, this morning. Her departure is an appreciable loss to those who have a penchant for physiological studies. Certainly it would be difficult to find a more extraordinary human assortment than the Annapoora's crew. Now she has gone H.B.M.'s Court will enjoy a vacation.

The Japan Times, 1 May 1898


The Annapoora did not sail yesterday, though she is expected to go away today. The interval was long enough, however, to permit her to figure once more in H.B.M.'s court for Japan. 

This time the plaintiff was a Yokohama resident named Frank E Drew, who sued the second mate Gei. T. Bright for the sum of yen 18.70. The defendant did not appear. His Honour non-suited the plaintiff on the strength of Section213 of the merchants' Shipping Act, which declares that a debt exceeding in amount, five shillings, incurred by any seaman, after he is engaged to serve, shall not be recoverable until the service agreed to is completed. The debt in question, therefore, cannot be recovered until the completion of Annapoora's voyage.

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