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Colonial Cases

Miscellaneous cases concerning sailors

Sydney Gazette, 12 August, 1804

On Thursday last a seaman belonging to a vessel in the Cove, who had absented himself without permission of his officers was apprehended  as a riotous and disorderly person, and after receiving a slight corporal punishment, was sent on board with every mark of ignominy suited to an abandoned character.


Sydney Gazette, 9 September, 1804

   And a seaman for threatening and abusive language to his officers, was ordered to be imprisoned 14 days.


Sydney Gazette, 11 November, 17804

TUESDAY, Nov. 6.

 William Wright, a seaman belonging to the Union, was brought forward on a charge of practising deception in order to obtain permission to leave his ship. This man came out as one of the Experiment's crew, and obtained his discharge from her on pretence of being a subject of the United States of America; he then engaged with Capt. Pendleton as such: but taking umbrage at such pecuniary supplies  as he thought proper to apply for being refused, recanted from his first affirmation,  and declared Wapping Old Stairs to be the true place of his nativity. In consequence of such irregular conduct he was very severely reprimanded, and ordered to return to his ship, on pain of imprisonment.

. . . 

   Stephen Castreuse,  a seaman formerly belonging to the Fair American was also committed on a charge of inveigling and seducing from their duty two youths, who having incurred a debt of 8£ with their Commander, had absconded. The prisoner was suspected of having been accessary to their absence and concealment; and being interrogated by the master, professed himself ignorant of any knowledge concerning the absentees but declared a willingness to discharge any debt by them contracted. This circumstance strengthened the first suspicion, and further enquiry confirmed it; he was committed accordingly.


Sydney Gazette, 2 June, 1805

   On Monday night last Wm. Johnson, a seaman belonging to the American ship Favorite, died suddenly on shore, owing to the fracture of a blood vessel, occasioned by a violent cough.


Sydney Gazette, 30 March, 1806


   A seaman named Hunt, belonging to the Tillicherry, was brought before the Bench on a charge of absenting the vessel with intention to desert her. He was apprehended near Parramatta by several constables in search of three others who had deserted some time before; and his only motive for leaving the ship was to visit an acquaintance at Parramatta, from whence he intended to return the following day, having no complaint whatever to make of his Captain and Officers. - Ordered into the gaol gang till further orders.


Sydney Gazette, 2 November, 1806


Sydney Gazette, 22 March,1807

A seaman who had engaged with the owner of a colonial vessel to proceed on a whaling voyage, was the same day brought before the Bench on a charge of absenting his employ; and it appearing that he was under an actual engagement, and had received an advance thereupon, he was ordered to be held to public labour in the gaol gang until the vessel he was considered to belong to was ready for sea, and then put on board her. - This example, it is hoped, will have the desired tendency of checking a species of fraud that has been severely injurious to the owners of craft in the colony.


Sydney Gazette, 18 December, 1808


Henricus Lahmbkhie, a Danish seaman belonging to the City of Edinburgh, was indicted for stealing on board the said ship 30 yards of canvas, value 50s. the property of Captain Pattison, who in support of the charge deposed  that the prisoner, a sailmaker of the vessel, had the ship's canvas under his care, and that several bolts had been lost in a manner  which he could not account for; that he had received information  from one Michael Donovan,  a seaman of his having  purchased from William Field six yards of canvas which he had received from the prisoner, and which being produced, Captain Pattison declared to be of the same quality as that which had been lost.  .  .  .   [Dismissed.]




The Age (Melbourne, Vic.) , 1 January, 1890

A MEAN THEFT. - At the Port Melbourne court on Monday John Anderson, a seaman, was charged with stealing a coat and vest and a pair of boots from the ship Wavertree, lying at the town pier. The articles belonged to his mates, and accused pawned them for 15d.  Anderson's excuse was that he intended deserting the ship, and took the articles to procure some money. For stealing the coat and vest he was sentenced to one month's imprisonment; and for the theft of boots he received 14 days' imprisonment.


The Port Pine Standard (S.A.), 1 January,1890


On Christmas Day a seaman on board the ship Cedric the Saxon fell down the hold of that vessel, and injured his spine so severely that it was found necessary to remove him to the Jamestown hospital, where he died on Monday last. His name was James Henderson.


Newcastle Morning Herald (N.S.W.). 1 January,1890


   Samuel Romilind, 56, a seaman, .  .  .   fined 5s. in default 24 hours' gaol for drunkenness.


The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 1 January,1890


The iron clipper ship General Roberts, one of the four-masted order of modern merchantmen, arrived last evening from London with a full general cargo. .  .  .   One cloud which overshadowed the voyage at it commencement was the tragic fate of one of the crew, an able seaman named Sjoquist, a Norwegian, who, when engaged aloft, fell from the main topgallant yard on deck. Death was instantaneous. 


South Australia Register (Adelaide), 1 January,1890


28. The German barque Apollo stranded on the western shore of Spencer's Gulf, Captain Husted and a seaman named Hink drowned by the capsizing of the Apollo's boat while proceeding to Port Augusta.


Port Pine Standard (S.A.). 1 January,. 1890

Another fatal accident - a seaman fell down the hold of the Sutlej on Christmas Day.


Port Pine Standard (S.A.), 1 January 1890



On Monday evening another fatal accident following closely upon the sad shooting case on board the Apollo cast a gloom over the Port. For some time only the most meagre information came to hand, but it was from the first ascertained that the captain and a seaman belonging to an unknown ship stranded near Port Lowly were drowned. Subsequently, it was learned that the name of the ship was the Apollo, a German vessel.  [Johann Hustede and Frederick Hink]


Evening News (Sydney), 2 January,1890

   The ship Centennial made the run from New York to Sydney in eighty-three days. On the voyage of the ship Centennial from New York a seaman named Heinrich Wilhelm Gisen fell overboard and was drowned.


The Age (Melbourne), 2 January,1890


FOUND DROWNED. - The District Coroner held an inquest on Monday on the body of an able-bodied seaman Joseph Halligan, aged 26 years, belonging to the s. s. Romanoff. The body of the unfortunate man was found floating in the water by the side of the vessel, which was berthed at the railway pier, Williamstown, and the last time the deceased was seen alive was at about 11.15 p.m. on Christmas day.  .  .  .    Mr. John Johnstone, surgeon, attributed death to asphyxia. A verdict of found drowned was returned.


Daily News (Perth, W.A.), 2 January,1890

   The Victorian Express of December 23rd contains the following telegraphic message from its Carnarvon correspondent, of last December 23rd, respecting a sad fatality at sea: The cutter Empress, from Fremantle to Coassack, put in here today. Captain Brown reports the suicide of a seaman named William Ross, under most painful circumstances. It appears the deceased had been drinking hard, and was suffering from the effects. Captain Brown discovered the deceased cutting his throat with a table-knife, but with assistance he managed to stay deceased from doing at that time any fatal injury to himself. He then secured him. Ross, however, managed to get loose from his fastenings and was again secured. Shortly after he commenced to struggle violently and broke loose once more. Going into the hold of the vessel the captain followed him, and as he saw him washing his face and as he appeared calm, and spoke rationally he deemed it advisable to leave him alone. Shortly afterwards, however, Ross came up on deck and quickly threw himself overboard. The act was not witnessed by the captain; the man at the tiller, however, saw the man spring off the ship and immediately brought the vessel round. A search for deceased was made for some time, but without success. Finding all attempts to recover the body useless Captain Brown made for Carnarvon, and on arriving here reported the matter to the police. The deceased was well known at all the northern ports.


Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.), 2 January,1890

.  .  .   An inquest on the bodies of the captain and seaman of the barque Apollo was held at Port Augusta on Monday afternoon. A verdict was returned of found drowned  .  .  .  


Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic.), 4 January,1890

   A shocking discovery was made recently on board the Hull steamer Kovno, which arrived in the Tyne from the Baltic. A stowaway Russian seaman was found in the forepeak hanging dead by a rope from the ceiling. He had asked the captain at Riga for a passage to Hull, which was refused.


Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.), 4 January, 1890

DESERTION, - James Ganniford, an able-bodied seaman, was charged with deserting from the barque Decapolis, but was discharged, as the master had gone to sea with his ship.


Sydney Morning Herald, 4 January, 1890

Robert W. Large, 20, a seaman belonging to H.M.S. Rapid, was charged with having stolen three pairs of shoes value 10s. 6d., the property of Edward A. Swinburne, a bootmaker carrying on business in George-street North.  Constable M'Sweeney, who arrested the accused on Thursday, said the man was under the influence of liquor; witness saw him carrying three shoes in his hands and he had another in his jumper; it was believed that the accused stole the articles from the shop-door. Prisoner said he did not know how the shoes came into his possession. He was sent to gaol for a month, with hard labour.


Evening News (Sydney), 6 January,1890

   A seaman of the steamer Mangana, named Faulkner, was severely injured at Circular Head, on Tuesday, while shipping horses.


The West Australian (Perth, W.A.), 6 January, 1890.


.  .  .  [Suicide of Ross.]

  It appeared from the information furnished to the Commissioner, that on Friday evening the Empress was seen from Cossack flying a signal of distress. Constable Wilson put off in a boat to her assistance, and upon reaching the vessel found her in the charge of only one person, a man named Stuart. Stuart reported that the vessel had made a very rough passage, owing to the stormy weather, and had narrowly missed being capsized, owing to the shifting of the ballast during the gale. 

   The second fatality occurred off Enderby Island, thirty miles west of Cossack. Captain Brown was struck by the boom and fell overboard, and was drowned.  .  .  .   The Empress was brought into the Creek, and moored there.


The Sage (Melbourne, Vic.), 6 January,1892


At midnight on Saturday a number of seamen, belonging to the German ship, Renne Rickmars, qand the English ship Wavertree, while returning to their vessels, lying at the Town pier, Port Melbourne, quarrelled, and began to fight. The boatswain of the Wavertree, David Inglis, went ashore to bring the carpenter of his ship away from the disturbance, when knives began to be used in the scuffle. Inglis was stabbed on the left side of the head, above the ear, which was split. He also received other wounds in the struggle. Dr. Malcolmson was called, and dressed Inglis' wounds. 

   Laster on, Senior Constable Bergin and Constable Porter, being informed of the assault, proceeded with Inglis to a  

Boarding house with the object of discovering Inglis' assailant, but being unsuccessful they proceeded to search the ship at the pier. On boarding the Renne Rickmars they discovered some tubs containing a mixture of blood and water. Making inquiries the police found Olaf Guislischen, who was in the disturbance, and who showed a deep wound on the back of the right shoulder, and his wrist was cut, the sinew being almost severed.  Another seaman named Charles Bruindt received a severe cut on the right leg.  

   The police next searched the forecastle, and found a seaman named Carl Nunnunberg answering to the description of the man that used the knife; and Inglis subsequently identified him as his assailant.  A knife was found on the prisoner which had blood stains upon the handle. The police lodged Nunnunberg in the watch house.  He will be brought before the local court today, and probably be remanded.


Newcastle Morning Herald, 6 January,1890


While at work this morning on the old A.S.N. Co.'s wharf, a seaman named Robert Hulner, aged 57, received some painful injuries through a case of galvanised iron falling upon him. He was taken to the Sydney Hospital, where it was found he had sustained injuries to the left shoulder and ankle, in addition to a very nasty laceration of the left hand.

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