In this section

by Jon Malings 


Although the number of persons stowed together in the Brutus was such as was very likely to produce some pestilence or rnortal malady, it has been stated that the vessel did not take a greater number on board than the law allows. If this be the fact, it would subject us, or any other person connected with the press to actions for damages were we to remonstrate with the proprietors of the vessel in language such as humanity would suggest upon the melancholy occasion. The Legislature should be instantly petitioned to attend the law, and adopt the precedent set by the United States of America, where a vessel is prohibited taking on board more than two persons to each live tons burden. According to that scale, a vessel would not have been permitted to carry as many passengers as the Brutus contained unless she had been of 825 tons burden. Now the Brutus was only a vessel of 380 tons burden ;  and had there been the same prohibitory law here as in America, instead of 330 passengers she would not have been allowed to receive on board so many as 200. We conceive that the total number of persons on board the Brutus must have exceeded the number stated, as we presume that the 330 were passengers only, to which the number of the crew must be added.

By the Passenger’ Regulation Bill, passed in 1828, vessels taking emigrants to the ports of British America are prohibited from taking more than four persons for every three tons of the registered burden, and it is enacted that two children under the age of fourteen, or three under the age of seven, or one child under twelve months and its mother, are to be computed as one person. Thus it will be seen that whilst the American law prohibits the taking of more than two passengers for every five tons, the British law actually allows four persons for every three tons, or nearly three times the number. In the Mercury of April 4, 1828, we gave the substance of this precious bill, and accompanied it by some remarks, from which we extract the following: The first section actually permits the carrying of more passengers on board a ship than the number of slaves which were allowed to be carried by the traders from Africa to the West Indies in the latter days of the traffic, when, as we have just been reminded, 74 slaves were the greatest number carried by vessel of 301 tons burden. By the new law a vessel like the Canada, of 570 tons, is entitled to carry 760 full-grown passengers, or, if the average families of emigrants should each consist of a man, his wife, a servant, and three children, which we conceive to be about the mark, these would be reckoned only as four persons, and consequently the Canada may lawfully carry 1140 men, women, and children across the Atlantic!” 

We can confidently say that we have done all in our power to call the attention of  the public and the Legislature to the important subject of emigrant ships, and we have been repeatedly threatened with prosecution for our interference. We trust, however, that the frightful mortality on board the Brutus will be forced upon the attention of the Legislature; and we strongly recommend the subject to the notice of Mr. Ewart.