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such persons or bodies of persons as are by the merchant-shipping act, 1854, qualified to be owners of British ships is entitled, as owner, to any interest whatever, either legal or beneficial, in the said ship. And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously, believing the same to be true.



Made and subscribed the 1st day of March, 1862, by the above-named John Henry Thomas, in the presence of J. C. JOHNSTONE, JR., Registrar of Shipping, Port of Liverpool.


On the 4th March, 1862, the Oreto was cleared from the office of cus toms, Liverpool, for Palermo and Jamaica, as appears from her victualing-bill, of which the following is a copy :1


Spirits, foreign:




Wine, (for drawback)..
Beer, (for drawback).


Bonded and drawback stores in the. James A. Duguid, master, for Palermo and Jamaica. Men, 52; passengers or troops,

; guns,

; 178 tons.

Other spirits, not sweetened Spirits, British or plantation:



Other spirits, not sweetened.

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Net quantities taken on board.

2 cases; 54 gallons. 10 cases; 20 gallons.

8 cases; 16 gallons.

12 cases; 23 gallons.
20 cases; 40 gallons.

1 1 Appendix, vol. i, p. 8.

3 chests, 5 canisters; 240 lbs.
4 bags; 646 lbs.

1 barrel; 1 cwt. 8 lbs.


3 barrels (13 cwt. 2 qrs. 12 lbs.

3 boxes; 63 lbs.

2 boxes; 10 lbs.

12 boxes; 2 cwt. 1 qr. 26 lbs.
11 jars; 2 cwt. 1 qr. 18 lbs.

J. MUDIE, Searcher.


SAMUEL WAKEHAM, Broker, 17 Park Lane.

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The above victualing bill is in the usual form, printed with blanks

to be filled up according to the facts in each case. The blanks [57] following the words "passengers or troops" and the word "guns," respectively, are equivalent to a statement that the vessel had on board no passengers or troops and no guns. The words "178 tons" denote the registered tonnage of the ship.

It may be convenient here to explain briefly what is meant by the words "registry" and "clearance," and what are the duties of the officers empowered to register ships and of the officers of the customs in respect to granting clearances.

Registry signifies the recording, in a book kept for that purpose, of the name of a ship which the owner desires to have recognized as a British ship, together with certain particulars composing a general description of the ship.

The effect of registry is to entitle the ship to use the British flag and assume the British national character. The conditions necessary for obtaining a registry, in the case of a ship not already registered, are the production to the registrar of a certificate by the builder, in a form prescribed by law, and of a declaration (also in a prescribed form) that the ship is British-owned.

It is not the duty of the registrar to question or ascertain the accuracy of either the builder's certificate or the declaration of ownership. As a ministerial officer, he is bound to accept them, if tendered to him. For false statements in the certificate the builder is liable to a penalty; and for making a willfully false declaration, the owner is liable to be indicted for a misdemeanor and to forfeit his interest in the ship.

In Great Britain, as in the United States, the law does not positively require the registration of any vessel. But the disadvantages and disabilities incurred by omitting to procure it are practically sufficient to make the registration of British-owned ships universal.

The register, though, in ordinary questions arising under municipal law, evidence of the title of the person registered as owner, is not conclusive in a question arising between other parties, nor is it necessarily sufficient proof of the national character of the ship. A transfer to a foreigner, at sea or beyond seas, of a registered British ship is sufficient to change its ownership and the nationality of the vessel, though not followed by any registry. The law of registry is a part of the law by which British trade and navigation are regulated for fiscal and other purposes; and a ship is registered as British on the voluntary declaration of the person claiming to be owner, without further proof.

The number of vessels which were placed on the registers of the various ports of the United Kingdom in the year 1870 was 1,043, of which 970 were built within the United Kingdom.

Clearance signifies the final official act by which the proper officer of customs notifies that all has been done which the law requires to be done before the departure of ship and cargo. It is purely for customs purposes, the main objects being to protect the revenue and to secure statistics as to the number of ships and quantity of merchandise entering and leaving British ports. As there are in ordinary times no restrictions or duties on the export of articles of any kind from the United Kingdom, no rigid inspection is exercised by the customs authorities over the general nature of the goods shipped on board vessels in British ports. The attention of the authorities is mainly directed to the shipment of those articles on which an exemption from import duties otherwise payable, or a remission of import duties already paid, is claimed on the ground

of their exportation abroad. The object of the inspection is to ascer tain that the goods of this nature stated to be thus exported are really shipped and carried away on board the vessel. The agents who ship such goods furnish the customs department with statements, in the form of shipping-bills, of the amount and nature thereof, and it is the duty of the examining officer to ascertain that the packages placed on board the vessel correspond with these statements. Before starting on his voyage the master of the vessel is bound to produce a paper called a content, giving the number and description of any packages of merchandise shipped on board on which exemption from or remission of duty is claimed, but merely specifying any other articles as "sundry packages of free goods.' The master has also to produce a victualing. bill, enumerating the amount of stores liable to duty (such as tea, spirits, tobacco, and the like) which he has shipped for the use of his crew. These papers are compared with the shipping-bills and certificates already in the possession of the customs authorities, and if they are found to tally, a label, signed and sealed by the examining officer and collector, is affixed to the victualing-bill and certificates, and these papers are delivered to the master as his clearance.

It is true that, for statistical purposes, the agents to the master of the vessel are required to furnish to the customs department a list, called a manifest, giving the number and description of all packages of goods, whether liable to duty or not, shipped on board the vessel, and the shipping agents or exporters are also required to furnish specifications of all goods, described by the master on his content as "sundry packages of free goods," and subsequently further described in his manifest; but [58] the law does not require that these *particulars should be given before the vessel sails; it is complied with provided they be furnished within six days after she has cleared.

Previously to the year 1867, no penalty was attached by law to the departure of a vessel for foreign ports without a clearance, provided she was in ballast and had on board no stores except such as were free or had paid duty. Since that date, however, clearance has been required in these as well as in other cases.

A clearance may not be granted until the master of the ship has declared the nation to which he affirms that she belongs; and a ship attempting to proceed to sea without a clearance may be detained until such a declaration has been made. The officer, however, cannot question, or require proof of, the truth of the declaration. As to the destination of ships sailing from the United Kingdom, the officers of customs have little or no means of ascertaining this beyond the information which the master or owner gives on entering outward. It frequently happens that a vessel entered outward for a specified destination changes her course when at sea and proceeds to a different destination. There are no means of preventing this.

The number of vessels clearing from ports of the United Kingdom in the course of the year is very great. In the year 1870 the number of clearances granted was 203,031. Of these 13,214 were for vessels sailing from Liverpool and 17,037 for vessels sailing from London.

On the 22d of March, 1862, the Oreto sailed from Liverpool. Hermaster was James Alexander Duguid, a master-mariner residing at Liverpool, and the person named in the above declaration. Her crew were hired, as appears from the articles signed by them, for a voyage from Liverpool to Palermo, and thence, if required, to a port or ports in the Mediterranean Sea or the West Indies, and back to a final port of discharge

1 Appendix, vol. i, p. 161.

in the United Kingdom, the term not to exceed six months. They were not enlisted in the service of the Confederate States; and it is clear, from what subsequently occurred at Nassau, that they had no intention whatever of entering that service, and had at the time of sailing no knowledge or suspicion that the vessel was intended to be employed as a confederate ship of war.

The subjoined statements, made in the month of August, 1862, for the information of the commissioners of customs and of Her Majesty's government, by officers of the customs at Liverpool, and by the pilot who took the Oreto out of the Mersey, further show what was the condition of the vessel at the time of her departure, and the precautions taken in respect of her:1

Statement of Mr. Edward Morgan.

I am one of the surveyors of customs at this port: pursuant to instructions I received from the collector on the 21st of February in the present year and at subsequent dates, I visited the steamer Oreto at various times, when she was being fitted out in the dock, close to the yard of Messrs. Miller & Sons, the builders of the vessel. I continued this inspection from time to time until she left the dock, and I am certain that when she left the river she had no warlike stores of any kind whatever on board.

After she went into the river she was constantly watched by the boarding officers, who were directed to report to me whenever any goods were taken on board, but, in reply to my frequent inquiries, they stated nothing was put in the ship but coals. EDWARD MORGAN, Surveyor.


Statement of Mr. Henry Lloyd.

In consequence of instructions received from Mr. Morgan, surveyor, I, in conjunction with the other three surveyors of the river, kept watch on the proceedings of the vessel Oreto from the time she left the Toxteth Dock, on the 4th March last, till the day she sailed, the 22d of the same month. On one occasion I was alongside of her, and spoke to Mr. Parry, the pilot, and the chief mate. Neither I nor any of the other river surveyors saw at any time any arms or warlike ammunition of any kind taken on board, and we are perfectly satisfied that none such was taken on board during her stay in the river.


H. LLOYD, Examining Officer. Statement on oath of Mr. William Parry.

I was the pilot in charge of the ship Oreto when she left the Toxteth Dock on the 4th March, 1862. I continued on board to the day of her sailing, which was the 22d of the same month, and never left her save on Sunday, when all work was suspended. I saw the ship before the coals and provisions were taken into her; there were [59] no munitions of war in her—that is to say, she had no guns, *carriages, shot, shell, or powder; had there been any on board I must have seen it. I piloted the ship out of the Mersey to Point Lynas, off Anglesea, where I left her, and she proceeded down the channel, since which she has not returned. From the time the vessel left the river until I left her she held no communication with the shore, or with any other vessel, for the purpose of receiving anything like cargo on board. I frequently saw Mr. Lloyd, the tide surveyor, alongside the ship while in the river.



Sworn before me, at the custom-house, Liverpool, this 23d August, 1862. (Signed) S. PRICE EDWARDS, Collector.

On the 26th March, 1862, Earl Russell received from Mr. Adams a note dated the previous day, which contained the following passage:

It is with great reluctance that I am drawn to the conviction that the representations made to your lordship of the purposes and destination of that vesel were delusive; and that, though at first it may have been intended for service in Sicily, yet that such an intention has long been abandoned, in fact, and that the pretense has been held up only the better to conceal the true object of the parties engaged. That object is to make war against the United States. All the persons thus far known to

Appendix, vol. i, p. 34.


* Ibid., p. 4.

be most connected with the undertaking are either directly employed by the insurgents of the United States of America or residents of Great Britain, notoriously in sympathy with and giving aid and comfort to them on this side of the water.

Mr. Adams proceeded to enlarge on the dissatisfaction felt in the United States at the circumstance that the trade with blockaded ports was (as he alleged) chiefly carried on from Great Britain and her dependencies, and that this was permitted or not prevented by Her Majesty's government. He added:

The duty of nations in amity with each other would seem to be plain not to suffer their good faith to be violated by ill-disposed persons within their borders, merely from the inefficacy of their prohibitory policy. Such is the view which my government has been disposed to take of its own obligations in similar cases, and such it doubts not is that of all foreign nations with which it is at peace. It is for that reason I deprecate the inference that may be drawn from the issue of the investigation which your lordship caused to be made in the case of the Oreto, should that vessel be ultimately found issuing safely from this kingdom, and preying on the commerce of the people of the United States. Not doubting myself the sincerity and earnest desire of your lordship to do all that is within your power to fulfill every requirement of international amity, it is to be feared that all the favorable effect of it may be neutralized by the later evidence of adverse results. It is no part of my intention to imply the want of fidelity or of good-will in any quarter. I desire to confine myself closely within the pale of my duty, a representation of the precise causes of uneasiness between the two countries, and an earnest desire to remove them. Firmly convinced that the actual position of things in connection with the hostile equipment in British waters by no means does justice to the true disposition of Her Majesty's government, I am anxions to place the matter before your lordship in such a light as to obtain the evidence more perfectly to establish the truth.

In the above note Mr. Adams inclosed a copy of a letter received from Mr. Dudley, which was as follows:

Mr. Dudley to Mr. Adams.

UNITED STATES CONSULATE, Liverpool, March 22, 1862. SIR: The Oreta is still in the river. A flat-boat has taken part of her armament to her. A part of the crew of the steamer Annie Childs, which came to this port loaded with cotton, have just left my office. They tell me that Captain Bullock is to command the Oreto, and that four other officers for this vessel came over with them in the Childs. The names of three are Young, Low, and Maffit or Moffit; the fourth was called Eddy; the two first are lieutenants, and the two last-named midshipmen. They further state that these officers during the voyage wore naval uniforms; that they came on the Childs at a place called Smithville, some twenty miles down the river from Wilmington; that it was talked about and understood by all on board that their object in coming was to take command of this vessel, which was being built in England for the southern confederacy. They further state that it was understood in Wilmington, before they left, that several war vessels were being built in England for the South. As they were coming up the river in the Childs, as they passed the Oreto she dipped her flag to the Childs. I have had this last from several sources, and the additional fact that the same evening after the arrival of this steamer a dinner was given in the Oreto to the officers who came over in the Childs. I understand she will make direct for Maderia and Nassau.

1 have, &c.,


[60] *The above note was dated on the third day, and received (with its inclosure) on the fourth day, after the Oreto had put to sea. In answer to the above note, Earl Russell, on the 27th March, 1862, wrote to Mr. Adams as follows:

Earl Russell to Mr. Adams.1

FOREIGN OFFICE, March 27, 1862.

Sir: Upon receiving your letter of the 25th instant, I immediately directed that the treasury and customs department should be requested to take such steps as may be necessary to ascertain whether the Oreto is equipped for the purpose of making war on the United States, and, if that fact can be proved, to detain the vessel.

Appendix, vol. i, p. 6.

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