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Army—Desertion—Case Of Samuel Chappell—Question

Volume 229: debated on Monday 29 May 1876

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asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the case of Samuel Chappell, charged with deserting from the 85th Regiment twenty-two years ago (1854) being then only seventeen years of age; whether it was not proved before the justices at Stockport that Chappell had since served many years in the army of and become a naturalized subject of the United States; whether Chappell has not been in prison on this charge from the 24th of April; and, whether he will feel disposed, under the circumstances, considering the lapse of time and the imprisonment already undergone, to advise the use of the Royal Prerogative to release the man?

On the 18th ultimo, Sir, the clerk to the borough magistrates at Stockport reported to the War Office that Samuel Chappell was charged with desertion from the 85th Regiment in 1854, and that he admitted the charge, but in defence produced a certificate of naturalization as an American citizen, dated the 1st of November, 1867. He was attested on the 14th of June, 1854, declaring his age to be 18 years, and he deserted on the 2nd of February, 1855. The clerk added that the prisoner had been remanded on bail pending the Secretary of State's instructions. In reply, dated the 20th of April, the magistrates were referred to Section 15 of 33 Vict., cap. 45, which enacts that a British subject who becomes an alien—

"Is not thereby discharged from any liability in respect to any acts done before the date of his so becoming an alien."
The magistrates thereupon committed him as a deserter, and he was removed under escort to Portsmouth, after the necessary inquiries had been made that there was sufficient evidence to try him. He was tried on the 16th of May and found guilty of desertion, but, on account of the state of his health and other circumstances, was not sentenced to undergo any punishment. An order for his discharge from the Army, with a protecting certificate for the future, was sent to Portsmouth on the 26th instant.