Charges of Arson and Piracy
The Canton Packet has been nine months from New Bedford, and has now on board 250 barrels of sperm oil. She put into the Feejee Islands on the 10th June, to recruit, at which place the American whaler, Two Brothers, of New Bedford was also refreshing, 25 months out, with 1000 barrels of sperm and 100 barrels of black oil. The Canton Packet has been compelled to come on to Sydney to undergo extensive repairs, and also to obtain a fresh supply of provisions, owing to her having been set on fire by some of her crew, who are now on board in irons. We have been furnished by Captain Sherman with the following particulars of the occurrence :-
The Canton Packet was lying at anchor at the Feejees, in a harbour called Labuka Overlow, where she had wooded and watered, and was to leave the following day to resume her voyage ; on the 18th June, at two a.m., the ship was found to be on fire, which afterwards proved to be an act of incendiarism. The chief part of the crew and officers were in bed at the time, and the fire had gained such an ascendancy before the alarm was given that many experienced some difficulty in reaching the deck owing to the dense smoke which was then in the vessel. The captain was the first person who discovered the ship was on fire, and immediately rushed on deck, and raised the fore hatch, when the flames rushed from below, the hatch was then closed again, and made as tight as possible by unbending some of the sails, and throwing them on it and the other hatches. The scupper-holes were then stopped, and the decks filled with water, when by means of boring auger-holes, the water was let into the hold, and for some time the flames were kept under, so that hopes were entertained that it would eventually be extinguished by these means. At 3 p. m., although it was discovered that the tryworks had settled six inches, to all appearance the danger was over, but at 6 p.m.., it seemed that the fire had got into the bread before the try works. Captain Sherman then found that the only chance of saving the ship was by scuttling her as the night was then coming on, and a hole was accordingly made under the fore chains, when all hands left the ship for the shore, as she was then settling down fast.
It was thought that she would sink, but when daylight again appeared she was riding at anchor with the water just washing over the upper deck. The crew having repaired on board, the scuttle was stopped by means of one of them diving and stuffing some clothing into it, when the hatches were removed, and with the assistance of Mr. Hunt, a missionary from an adjacent island, and some friendly natives who had accompanied him, they were enabled to commence pumping and baling from all the hatches, whilst some of the crew were stationed with firearms at different parts of the ship to keep off the other natives, who had flocked around in canoes for the sake of plunder.
At night, upon sounding, it was found that the water in the hold had been reduced four feet, and at eleven, the natives from the shore again surrounded the ship, when a volley was fired into them, and they withdrew. At four p.m., the pump sucked, and the hole being properly stopped, she was then safe, after being forty hours under water. It was found upon survey, that three of her deck beams, four deck beam knees, and four carlines had been almost consumed, and the deck in some places was burnt almost to a cinder, also four pipes of bread : all the spare oars, boat plank, and heading boards. The small stores and chief part of the provisions were also spoiled by the salt water.
Three of the crew who had expressed a wish to leave the vessel, were suspected of being the incendiaries, and were immediately placed in irons ; their names are Smith, Robertson, and Chadwick. After being confined a few days, Smith made a full confession, which proved that the suspicion had not been groundless. He stated that a man called Jinks, who was then residing on the island, had been the instigation of their committing the crime, having told them that it would be impossible to leave the vessel without setting fire to her. The three then consulted together, and having prepared the combustibles, comprised of pitch, tar, and ropeyarn, they were placed in the fore hold between decks, until a favourable opportunity of carrying out their scheme. At length a chance offered ; the watch on deck having gone aft ; about two a.m. Robertson and Chadwick went below and ignited the combustibles, whilst Smith kept watch at the hatchway. Upon their coming upon deck the hatch was replaced and they retired to their berths in the fore castle until the alarm of fire was given, which was done about twenty minutes afterwards.
The man Jinks, who had been their adviser, was suspected of a similar crime before at the same island, having belonged to the American whaler Elizabeth, of Freetown, which vessel had been set fire to in a similar manner on the 18th February, when she was so much damaged that Captain Gifford ran her on shore and scuttled her in hopes of saving a portion of the oil on board : but this, together with all the stores, sails, &c., which were not consumed, were plundered by the natives. The evidence against Jinks was not sufficiently strong to commit him for that offence, although generally considered the culprit ; but this second instance having, appeared against him, he was placed in double irons, and taken on board the Canton Packet, where he is now a prisoner, together with Smith, Chadwick, and Robertson. Being American subjects, it is considered that they will be forwarded to the United States to undergo their trial.
SG 25 Jul 1846
Captain Innes was engaged several hours on Thursday, July 30, in the Sessions Room at the Police Office, investigating a charge of Arson and piracy, preferred against Samuel Chadwick, of the County of Herkimer, State of New York ; Miner Robinson, a native of the Town of Northhaven, County of New Haven, in the State of Connecticut ; and James Smith, of the County of Bennington, of the State of Vermont ; also a charge of being an accessory before the fact to the same crimes against Jinks, alias John Remmington, a native of Dover, County of Harford, in the State of New Hampshire, all citizens of the United States. The prosecutor was Mr. Humphrey Shearman, of the American whaling barque Canton Packet, and the offence was charged as having been committed on board that vessel on the morning of the 19th June last, while she was lying at anchor at Labouka 0vula, one of the Feejee Islands. After the prisoners had been brought in, the following warrant under the seal of His Excellency Sir Maurice C. O'Connell, was produced by Captain Innes and read :
In the Colony of New South Wales. By His Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir Maurice Charles O'Connell, Knight, Commander of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order, Senior Military Officer in command of Her Majesty's Forces within the Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, Captain-General and Governor in Chief of the same, &c., &c., &c.
To all justices of the peace, and other magistrates, and officers of justice within the territory of New South Wales.
Forasmuch as a requisition hath been made by the authority of the United States of America, in pursuance of and according to the treaty in that behalf, made between Her Majesty the Queen and the said United States, for the delivery of Jinks, alias John Remmington, Samuel Chadwick, Miner Robinson, and James Smith, being persons charged with piracy and arson, within the jurisdiction of the said United States, who now are alleged to be within Her Majesty's territory of New South Wales ; these are, therefore, in pursuance of the statute in that case made and provided, and passed in the 6th and 7th years in the reign of her present Majesty, intituled "An Act for giving effect to a treaty between Her Majesty and the United States of America, for the apprehension of certain offenders," to command you and each of you within your several jurisdictons to govern yourselves accordingly, and to aid in apprehending the aforesaid Jinks otherwise called John Remmington, Samuel Chadwick, Miner Robinson, and James Smith, respectively, citizens of the said United States, and seamen of the American barque Canton. Packet, now in the harbour of Port Jackson, within the said territory, if they shall be found within the said territory ; and further to aid in committing the said several persons, and each of them to one of Her Majesty's gaols, within your respective jurisdictions, for the purpose of being delivered up to justice, according to the said treaty and of the statute hereinbefore recited.
Given under my hand and seal, at Government house, Sydney, this twenty-eighth day of July, A.D. 1846.
M. C. O'CONNELL.
By his Excellency's command,
E. DEAS THOMSON
SG 8 Aug 1846
Samuel Chadwick, Miner Robinson, and James Smith, seamen and citizens of the United States, charged with arson and piracy on board the Canton Packet, were yesterday committed to gaol, in order to their safe custody, till an opportunity occurs of sending to them to America. SG 15 Aug 1846.
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