by Jon Malings

Transcribed from The York Herald, May 29th, 1894 


CAPTAINS’ PERQUISITES—At the County Court yesterday Mr. A. Rollit, registrar, heard the action brought by Captain Samman on behalf of the Deddington Steamship Company, Limited, to recover £30 18s 6d from W. H. Coysh, master mariner, formerly of the company’s steamer Somerton. Mr. H. C. Lambert (Hearfields and Lambert) was for the plaintiffs and Mr. A. M. Jackson for the defendant. There were several items which made up the claim, but the two in which the greatest interest centred were a charge of £10 for freight for 200 turkeys from Smyrna to Leith, and a charge of £4 5s. cost of alterations at Port Said  to wheel gear and chartroom, done without orders.  Defendant said he made the alterations for the safety of the ship. Of the 200 turkeys, 106 belonged to him, the others being the property of the mate and steward. He denied that his turkeys were fed on barley from the ship’s cargo. Witnesses were called who deposed to it being a regular practice for Hull captains to bring poultry from other countries, with the knowledge of the owners and without having to pay freight. That was considered a captain’s perquisite. They also said that they and many other captains made alterations to their ships if these were deemed necessary for the safety of the ships.—Mr. Lambert said the evidence as to alterations had taken him by surprise and he desired to call evidence in rebuttal.—The case was accordingly adjourned.

Transcribed from The York Herald, June 1st, 1894

CAPTAIN’S  PRIVILEGES —Yesterday Mr. Registrar Pollit delivered judgment in the Hull Court in the action in which the Deddington Steamship Company sued Captain Coysh, a former master of the steamship Somerton, for £30 18s 6d.—Mr. Pollit, on the question of the captain’s expenses to join his ship at Antwerp, said that he could not assent to the principle that where a servant was engaged by a master to enter on his duties at place other than that where the engagement took place the master would be by such an engagement, and without one word, committed to liability for travelling expenses of the servant to fulfil his engagement.  The next item involved an important principle: Was a master justified  in making a structural alteration to a ship without the owner’s authority, and further to debit the owner with the cost.  He held that a master of a ship had no more right to make a structural alteration to a ship, without consent, than the tenant of a house had to make a structural alteration to his house without the consent of the landlord, unless, in the case of a ship, such alteration was necessary to enable it to be safely navigated, and there was no opportunity to consult the owner on the subject.  In the case of the Somerton he had come to the conclusion that that she could have been navigated with safety without the alteration made by the defendant, and that he had no right to make the alteration. It followed, therefore, that he must bear the burden of the cost he thereby incurred.  The plaintiffs claimed in addition £6, the estimated cost of restoring matters to their former condition. As this work had not been done, and might never be done, he disallowed the claim of £6. The next item was a claim of £10 freight for 200 turkeys from Smyrna to Leith. He (the Registrar) was fully aware that as a fact masters of ships did—but to a more limited extent now than formerly—trade in poultry. An attempt had been made to import a custom justifying the practice, but in his view the most that had been established had been a licence on the part of certain shipowners more or less liberal. There was no evidence that the practice was universal. Captain Samman, no doubt, in this case did make the statement which misled the defendant, and he held that the captain was entitled to the privilege within in reasonable limits. In this instance he allowed freight of 6d. each on 108 turkeys, and expressed pleasure that the imputation that the captain fed the turkeys out of the cargo had been withdrawn as without foundation. On the question of the pigs his decision was in favour of the defendant.—This means a verdict for the plaintiffs for £12 0s. 6d.