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Hope, w. I.
Leslie, C. P.
Montgomery, sir J.
Sinclair, sir J.
Steward, R. T.
Pricer, sir C.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Tuesday, April 3.
Richardson, W. Irving, J. Robinson, hon. F.
[Captain Warwick LAKE AND ROBERT Innes, P. Rochfort, G. H.
JEFFERY.] Sir Francis Burdett rose to Kenrick, W.
Rose, right hon. G. submit to the House the motion of which Kingston, J.
Rose, G. H. Knatchbull, sir E.
he had given notice relative to the conRussell, M. Kynaston, P. J. Ryder, right hon. R.
duct of captain Lake and the proceedings Lascelles, hon. F. Salusbury, sir R. T. in his case. Upon the perusal of the paLascelles,, hon. H. Scott, C.
pers relative to this subject, he found so Leigh, J. H.
Scott, right hon. sir W. Leigh, R. H.
many and so important considerations Seymour, lord R. Lethbridge,'r'. B. Shaw, sir Jas.
arising out of them, that he thought the Lloyd, H. Sheldon, R.
best way would be to move for a commitLockhart, W. E. Simeon, J.
tee to examine the whole of them, and to Loft, J. H. Simson, G.
report what further proceeding, if any, Loftus, W.
Singleton, M. Long, right hon, C. Smith, H.
ought to be had. In his opinion, a subLongfield, M. Smith, Jos.
ject of more importance could not be Loraine, lord Smith, T. A.
brought under the consideration of parliaLowther, James Sneyd, N.
ment. The extraordinary circumstances Lowther, viscount Somerset, lord A. J. H,
of the case the consideration that the Lushington, S. R.
Somerset, lord C. H. Lygon, hon. W. B. Staniforth, J.
aggrieved individual was an English seaMacleod, R. B. A. Stephen, J.
man-one of a class of persons entitled Macnaghten, E. A. Stevens, Sam.
to the peculiar protection of that HouseMagens, M. D. Steward, G.T.
all these circumstances concurred to point Mahon, hon. S. Stewart, bon. C. W.
out the transaction as deserving of the Maitland, J.
Stewart, sir Jas. Manners, lord C. M. Sterling, sir W.
most serious attention. He did not mean Manners, lord R. Strahan, A.
to enter upon the subject at any length at Manners, Robert Strutt, J. H.
present. The facts themselves were Manning, W. Stuart, W.J. H.
stronger than any language in his power Marryatt, Jos.
Sturges Bourne, W. Maxwell, W. juu.
to use could represent them. It was not Sumner, G, H. Mellish, W. Sutton, C. M.
bis wish to aggravate any thing in this Monckton, hon. E. Swan, A.
extraordinary case by high colouring, to Montague, M. Sykes, sir M. M.
withdraw the attention from the plain jusMontgomery, sir H. E. Taylor, w.
tice of the case, or to excite any other Moore, lord H.
Thellusson, G. W. Mordaunt, sir C. Thompson, sir T. Be
feelings than would naturally arise from Morgan, sir C. Thornton, Robt.
the bare contemplation of the facts. This Morris, R, Thornton, S.
was a salutary principle in our criminal Muncaster, lord
Thynne, lord G. jurisprudence to which he would willingly Mundy, E. M. Thynne, lord J.
conform. Murray, lord James
Townshend, hon. C.F.P.
His attention had been first called to
this transaction by a paragraph, which he
Lake on the island of Sombrero.
This O'Neil, hon. J. R. B. Wallace, right hon. T.
statement was followed by no remark exOrd, sir J. Ward, Rt.
pressive of abhorrence of the act. It Owen, J.
Wedderburne, sir D. seemed to have been regarded as a light Parker, P.
Welby, W'm. earl Palmerston, viscount
and trivial matter, like a common occurWemyss, Wm. Patteson, J., Wharton, Rd.
rence of the day, such as, “a stage coach Peel, sir R. Wilberforce, W.
was overturned in Piccadilly, but we are Peel, Robert Williams, R. J.
happy to say that none of the passengers were hurt." His first object, then, was to stances. All thse things induced him (sir ascertain, whether the government knew F.) to think, that the appointment of a any thing of the circumstance, conceiv- Committee to examine the whole of the ing, that the safety of the seaman, as well papers would be the best mode of proceedas the character of the government and of ing. the country, were at stake; and he still Many curious circumstances had come thought, that, notwithstanding all that out before the Court Martial, but upon had been done, some further proceeding the whole, he rather thought that the man was necessary, and it was under that im- must have perished upon the island. But pression, that he was induced to submit whether he had or had not, the moral to the consideration of the House the mo- guilt of this, he believed unexampled act tion with which he meant to conclude. of oppression, was the same. One cir - The first paper amongst those laid be- cumstance worthy of observation however, fore the House, was a letter from Mr. was, that the principal witnesses produced Morgan Thomas, who had been purser of before the Court Martial, Spencer and his Majesty's sloop Demarara, and who Hobson, could hardly, upon their own stated that he had discoveries to make of evidence, be considered as less than acfrauds which had been committed in the complices in the act. What he had, in West Indies. To his intention to make the first instance, intended to propose was, these discoveries, he ascribed bis being an Address to his Majesty, that he would prevented from coming home. He had, be graciously pleased to order captain he said, “resigned his warrant into the Lake to be prosecuted for murder, by the hands of sir Alexander Cochrane, upon Attorney General. But, as a grand jury condition of being discharged from might have hesitated to find a bill, the service altogether. The admiral su- when no remains of the inan were found, perseded him, but ordered that he should and while there was some doubt as to his be detained, being impressed with the idea death, he thought the House would hardly that it was possible he might have de- be disposed to direct a prosecution in a frauded government.” Even this was a case where a bill would not be found. circunstance deserving of inquiry; and However, he would be relieved from this he thought Mr. Thomas ought to have difficulty by the plan which he now probeen sent for home, that he might give posed. evidence as to the matters alleged in his It appeared by the evidence that this letter. Mr. Thomas asserted that capt, man had taken, or, as the witnesses said, Simpson, late of the Star, had made a false stolen, some spruce-beer, which act was muster, and signed bills on government set up as the justification of this atrocious before they were due, thereby to enable proceeding. To him, however, it seemed, a master to desert from his Majesty's ser- that there was some ground to believe that vice. This was another circumstance it sprung from another source, that there which called for investigation. Mr. Tho- was a conspiracy to get rid of the man. 'mas also stated, that sir A. Cochrane being
The hon. baronet then read several ex-applied to for a court-martial on captain tracts from the master's (Spencer's eriSimpson, refused to grant the wished for dence, and called the attention of the 'inquiry. This likewise was matter for in-. House particularly to the circumstance, vestigation. The letter then went on to that, when the vessel was near the island
state the circumstance of the landing Jef- of Sombrero, and the master had replied fery, the seaman, on the island of Som- to a question of captain Lake, that there brero. Now, this letter stated names and were two thieves on board, without nam. facts. One of the facts had been proved, ing any of them, captain Lake had said, and there was every reason to give credit “send up Jeffery,” and when the man to the rest. Mr. Thomas had also stated, came up, had told him, that he would not
that he had requested to be sent home, in keep such a fellow ou board his ship. It order to have the alleged suspicion of his appeared from another part of Spencer's -having defrauded government, decided evidence, that he (Spencer) had olten said upon; but that he had been buoyed up to captain Lake, that it would be a very with promises, though since his applica- good thing if they could get him (Jeffery) - tion, iwo vessels had been sent express for out of the ship: that flogging would do England, while he was detained as super him no good. From these circumstances, numerary for victuals only, and saw no the hon. baronet deduced the suspicion ihopes of a speedy alteration in his circum- that there was a conspiracy: to get oft Jeffery in this way. But even if Jeffery would not think it sufficient barely to in. had been guilty of a higher crime than form a person who had violated every stealing sprace-beer; if he had committed principle of justice and humanity, if this a much more serious robbery, or even fact could be established against him, that murder, captain Lake was not justified in he had done wrong. proceeding as he had done. It did not But the testimony of those, who had appear in evidence that the island was in- been sent to search the island, was likewise habited ; on the contrary, the inference attended with very singular circumstances. to be deduced from the whole of the evi- It would be seen by the evidence that the dence was, that it was not inhabited. persons, employed to make this search, There were no houses seen upon it, no took with them the materials for enjoying traces which could be presumed to indi- the diversion of shooting the birds upon cate the residence of human beings. Be the island. Mr. Spencer had stated, that sides, in order clearly to shew that they they found part of the trowsers of the unthemselves were impressed with the idea, fortunate man while, they were occupied that Jeftery must perish, the hon. baronet in the amusement of shooting. Nothing adverted to the circumstance, that they could appear more shocking to him, than robbed the man of his clothes and money, this inclination to diversion in those who and supplied him neither with food nor were sent upon one of the most solemn water, thinking that as the man must at inquiries in which it was possible to he last necessarily perish, these things would engaged; that al a moment when they be of no use to him.
were to ascertain the life or death of one The next part of this horrible case, to human being, and perhaps, to decide upon which he felt it necessary to direct the the life or death of another, they should attention of the House, was the curious and be so little impressed with the dreadful ineffectual but imperfect search which had duty in which they were occupied, as to been made two months afterwards for the turn it into a party of pleasure, and divide body upon the island. And he could not their time between searching for the body but condemn in strong terms the indif- and shooting at wild birds. It was also ference displayed on the occasion by sir extremely important, that all the persons A. Cochrane, who thought an admonition concerned in this search should have been sufficient punishment in so aggravated called; or, if any selection was to be and singular a proceeding, and who had made, he was sure that, those who had sent back to search for the man the very concurred in the act of exposing this man, persons, who had been concerned in land should have been the last objects of that ing him on a desolate island. The search selection. Was it not an extraordinary too was so unsatisfactory that no individual circumstance, then, that the others, who who could exercise his reason, could look went in search of hin, should not have upon it as any palliation of the original been called and that the only person, offence in the exposure. He then advert- beside Mr. Spencer, who was called on ed to the letter of sir A. Cochrane, who the trial, should not have been examined, stated that it had been reported in an to the facts to which Mr. Spencer was American paper that the man was alive. examined, for the purpose of determining Was it not matter of serious surprize that how far his evidence was true or false? one in sir A. Cochrane's high situation Why was not a boat's crew landed to proshould have allowed the matter to rest secute the search? The statement, that no with a bare admonition ? He trusted the traces of the man were found, rested on House would not allow this wanton act of Spencer's evidence alone, It was recruelty and oppression to rest upon such markable too that not a single question an issue. He remarked, that the nearest had been put on this point to Hobson, the inhabited island was at the distance of only other person with Spencer at the about 30 miles. Nothing, therefore, could time of the search, that was examined be more shocking than to see the indif- before the Court Martial. ference with which this transaction had It was material also to bear in mind, been regarded. But whatever might be that it appeared by the evidence of the opinion of the gallant admiral, he Spencer, that the distance of Anegada was sure, that that House and the people from Sombrero was seven or eight leagues; of this country, would not be satisfied; / yet that was the island which admiral their justice would require something more Cochrane had represented as so near and in such a case than a bare reprimand, they convenient. It appeared however, that captain Lake might have taken the man off Hobson, who had said that he understood the next day if he had been disposed; the man was landed for having stolen and though, it had been insinuated as an spruce-beer. He likewise owned that he excuse, that captain Lake was insane or in had marked him down in the ship's books liquor at the time; that excuse could as having deserted; it was of his own achardly have served for his neglect next cord he did so; and that about six weeks day. Jeffery, it seemed, had stolen some before the trial, capt. Lake had said, that rum before, for which offence he had been he should have marked him as discharged flogged; the only other offence was that at Sombrero. He thought at the time the of taking the spruce beer, which must island was inhabited by French fishermen. have been considered as the ground of He had heard capt. Lake, at a subsequent this extraordinary, punishment by cruel period, after hearing that it was not inhaexposure on a desolate island. One of bited, at Barbadoes declare, that he would the witnesses, on being questioned as to rather have given 20,0001. than that it the grounds, upon which he concluded should have happened. With respect to that the man was safe, had stated, that be the fate of Jeffery, he had heard from had heard, from one whc had heard from Mr. Windsor, who had heard from capt. another, that an account appeared in one Crofton, that he had seen an account of of the American papers, stating, that he his escape in an American paper, and atwas taken away by a vessel which touched tempted in vain to procure a copy of it for, at the island. So that it was the hearsay captain Lake. of a hearsay; and, after all, the only foun- But to return to the evidence of Mr. dation of the hearsay was the statement of Spencer, he again adverted to that part in an American paper.
This defence was which he confessed that he had often comabsurd—but supposing that such a thing plained to capt. Lake of Jeffery, and obhad been stated in the American papers, served, that it would be well to get him the proof was very questionable. It was out of the ship; from this advice, coupled well known that our own papers were apt with the act of that unfortunate man's exto kill and to bring to life without much posure, he inferred, that there was a confoundation ; and that gentlemen had spiracy between Spencer and capt. Lake sometimes the happiness of finding their against him, and contended that it would friends alive whom they had been led to have been more merciful, if they had consider as dead.
thrown him into the sea. Thomas Jenkins, Spencer, too, had owned, that he had John Pearson, and Joseph Mott, concurred often told capt. Lake, that Jeffery was a in saying, that the people seemed all to man of very bad character, and ought to consider the island as uninhabited, and be got out of the ship. He did not think agreed, that it was an act of great cruelty that Sombrero was a desolate island, nor and injustice. It was impossible, he (sir did he think the captain thought so when F. Burdett) contended, that any one would they landed Jeffery. On going there think the island was inhabited; and quotagain, however, they found neither ed, in support of his assertion, Brookes houses, nor fresh water, nor any marks of and other gazetteers,' all of which de. habitation. The hon: bart. here adverted scribed it as barren and desolate. It apto Mr. J. Elvy's examination, who stated, peared in evidence, that the crew murthat he saw Jeffery go into the boat; he mured at his treatment; every one who believed his offence was broaching a cask bad given an opinion upon the act, bad of spruce-beer ; a patch was affixed to his stigmatized it as cruel. It appeared also coat with the word “thief.” He did not from the evidence of Jenkins, a serjeant of know at the time whether the island was marines, that when the crew said that inhabited or not, but considered it a cruel | Jeffery would be starved to death, Spencer act. No ship or boat was in sight at the came up, and said, “ You be
dd," time when Jeffery was put on shore. which the witness understood to mean, Francisco Vala, one of the seamen who “that the man would do very well;" which had landed Jeffery on the island, stated, the hon. baronet observed was a curious that when the unfortunate man was land construction of the words. But, if captain ed, lieutenant Mould, and others of the Lake was sincere when he said, that be boat's crew, climbed the rocks to see would give 20,0001, rather than have exwhether it was inhabited, and on their re- posed the man, he should, at least, have turn said, that it was not.
spent a part of it in forwarding inquiries The next evidence was that of James in America respecting his fate. It had
been said, that capt. Lake was nol sober,, higher command. Perhaps this might be but no state of mind could excuse an act of excused by saying, that the admiralty at such flagrant cruelty. With respect to home was not acquainted with the transthe defence made before the court-inartial, action. it was as unsatisfactory as the evidence As to Hobson, who was also engaged on was conclusive against him. Capt. Lake the shooting-party, the court had never seemed inclined enough to commiserate his asked him a single question, which went own situation, notwithstanding what he to corroborate or contradict the testimony had shewn of his commiseration in the of Spencer. Their examination seemed case of the unfortunate Jeffery. He had | intended to palliate, rather than to expose, complained of having never seen his ac- the conduct upon which they sat in judg. cuser before; but that, so far from being an ment; and that court seemed as ready as objection, was a presumption that no ma- the witnesses to catch at the report of a lice could exist in the mind of the accuser. report, in order to imagine those conseIt was, therefore, rather favourable than quences most favourable to the accused, otherwise. He had denied the motives But it was an act which neither they, nor attributed to him, declaring that he only any other power could justify; it was cruel, meant to put the man in jeopardy; he unjust, and abominable. If he was drunk, believed the island to have been inhabited or mad, in the commission of it, still should at the time, and was certain that he had it have excluded him for ever from the pronot placed him beyond the reach of hu- fession to which he belonged. At least it man assistance; the place of his conceal should have prevented his promotion to a ment, he owned, was not discovered, but more important command, in which the he had no doubt that he had escaped. lives of others were exposed to bis cruelty The word concealment, he (sir F. Burdett) or his madness. But intoxication could not thought a strange one. There was no well be pleaded; he had had time to rereason for concealment on the part of the fect upon his conduct, the sun had gone injured. It was strange, he contended, down upon his wrath, but it had risen that such an act as capt. Lake had com- with his wrath also. Whatever the offence mitted, should be punished only with ad- of which the man so punished was guilty, monition and dismissal from the service. the idea of 24 hours exposure on a desert All the world, he believed, must agree, island, without food, or water, or raiment that he was guilty; seeing that there was the horror that must attend on such a no evidence but such as might be said to situation, even for such a space of time, have been chosen by the accused himself, was surely an adequate, if not an overseeing the strength of that evidence, and strained visitation. Ile hoped, for the then comparing it with the vague supposi- safety of the mariner, and for the honour tion of the victim having escaped to of the House, and of the country, they America, he did not think it was possible would not let this business end here withto come to a contrary conclusion.-Ile felt out resorting to some further proceeding. himself in a painful situation; for he could From the great enormity of the act, and not mention, with approbation, any of under the little probability of escape, those concerned in any way with the mat- though there might not be ground for a ter, whether as perpetrators, as witnesses, prosecution for murder, there was, upon or as investigators, of the fact. The the whole of the evidence, enough to call court-martial had not adopted that strict- upon the House to appoint a Committee ness of scrutiny, which it was their duty for the purpose of considering what farto h?ve pursued, they had not pushed ther should be done upon an occasion so home many important questions, essential extraordinary and aggravated. The hon. to be answered. If the body of Jeffery had bart. concluded with moving for the apbeen found, the murder was plain ; but, pointment of a Committee, “ To take into • if not, the inference was not so easy, that consideration the papers relating to theconthe murder was not committed. There duct and trial of the hon. capt. Lake, and appeared, in his opinion, an unwillingness to report thereon to the House." in the court-martial to press important The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not questions, and a desire merely to take off wish in any manner to repress the feelings the edge of public indignation. He then which the statement of the hon, bart., and remarked how singular it waś, if captain the case necessarily excited. It was cerLake had been apt to be insane or drunk, tainly a case deserving of very serious atthat he should have been entrusted with a tention; but however he mighibe disposed VOL. XVI.