Letter from a Scottish lawyer requesting information from a ship captain in Baltimore about an ill-fated Indian Ocean voyage aboard the Semaramis that included accusations of drunkenness, incompetence, theft, and mutiny

Greencock, [Scotland]: 1849. Unbound. Four-page letter. In nice shape with mailing folds and minor soiling. Transcript included. Very good. Item #009089

In this letter, a ship captain’s attorney, Jonathon Macdougall, requests information from his client, Captain James Welsh, in order to pursue a legal action in Scotland against a ship owner named Cairnie. It appears that the ship, Semaramis was “lost” during the voyage, and Welsh’s suit may have been related to a reduction in or forfeiture of his pay. Cairnie challenged some of Welsh’s initial claims, and Macdougall needed additional input so that could refute those challenges in court. Specifically:

“1st Cairnie alleges that no Spirits were [to be] allowed . . . for the crew . . . while at Madras and on the homeward voyage. . . . You will there for explain why they were allowed [and] who consumed the Rum in question. 2nd Cairnie repeats . . . that no voucher was produced for the 50 Rpees of coach hire. . . . You will therefor explain whether there was another Bill or account. 3rd You will remember the statement you made that [four seamen] had mutineed, and that having been tried and convicted you were obliged by the regulations of Madras. . . to pay their Wages to Captain Byden [and] you got receipts which were lost with the Semaramis . . . further [Cairnie claims] two Seamen who were punished for mutiny were not the men for those wages you make charge. . . . This is the most important of all the items objected to, and you will therefor be particular in explaining everything about it. 4th Cairnie [claims] that Rice and Cotton were damaged by the stowage of Sugar in the Cabin, and alleges that Sugaar ought not to be placed above Rice and Cotton – explain this. (Perhaps this occurred before the Semaramis was lost.) 5th Cairnie [states] you got £6/6 for tobacco for the Crew and you have not accounted for it. . . . Nothing of importance can be done till I get your explanations.”

A fascinating letter about what must have been, to say the least, a very interesting voyage. Certainly worthy of additional research, especially regarding the mutiny.

Price: $300.00

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