Skip to main content

Mercantile Marine—The "Lockesley Hall"—Question

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 4 May 1876

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to a decision of Mr. Paget, in the Thames Police Court, on Friday last, in reference to the mutinous conduct of a sailor in the ship "Lockesley Hall," for which the sailor was sentenced to two days' imprisonment and the captain to twenty-one days' imprisonment, the punishment of the latter being for putting the sailor in irons when at sea on his "refusing to obey orders" and "striking the mate, doing him grievous bodily harm," which was admitted; and supposing the above sentences are in accordance with Law, what means a captain has of maintaining order and navigating his ship unless the Law be altered?

Since this Question was put on the Notice Paper I have been in communication with Mr. Paget. I must say there has been a mistake in one part of the Question. The striking of the mate and doing him grievous bodily harm is not admitted, nor was there any evidence brought before the magistrate in proof of that statement. Undoubtedly there was an assault in law, but it was of a trifling character, and it was committed under the provocation of an absolute, positive, and repeated refusal on the part of the man to do his work. The magistrate was influenced by the fact of the man having been put in irons 49 days, part of which time he was kept on bread and water, although he might have been released at any time if he had accepted the offer to be set free on the condition of obedience to orders. The man had irons placed on his legs as well as his hands after he escaped up the rigging, but no bodily injury was inflicted upon him. I understand that since the magistrate heard the case he has received from various quarters the strongest testimony as to the character of the captain for humanity, and I have therefore come to the conclusion that he has undergone sufficient punishment, and directed that he should be released, which has been done accordingly. As to the question of the means which the captain had to maintain order and navigate his ship unless the law were altered, I beg to refer the hon. Gentleman to my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General.

said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not answered the second part of the Question.

said, it was a pure question of law as to whether there had been an excess or not, and he would rather this Question were put to his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General than himself.