The Belfast Commercial Chronicle
Monday, 16 February, 1852

     Emigration Horrors - The Navigation Laws.
A case of no ordinary importance to emigrants
of the charterers or owners of emigration vessels
was heard and decided on Saturday in our local
court. Although we have reported the trial as
fully as our space would permit, yet a brief abstract
of the facts may not be out of place or devoid
of instruction, as affording an addition to the number
of convincing proofs we have had of the iniquitous
facts that have arisen from the repeal of the navigation
laws. We may allude in the course of our observations
to some matters elicited that are not reported,
because they were not immediately connected with
the action the magistrates were to try, though
they came out in evidence.
     An Austrian vessel named the "Milla" came to this
port from Odessa with a cargo of grain in December
last. She had previously been here under the command
of the owner who was master as well; and he had
navigated her, as a passenger ship, to New York.
After discharging her cargo she was chartered
by Mr. Quinn of this town, to convey passengers
to the United States, her destination being
New York. The number of those who took berths
on board was 126; they were all steerage passengers
and adults paid we understand,  3 each for the transit
Her registered burthen was, we believe, under 450
tons. The ship had got her compliment, and in accordance
with the Emigration Passenger Act, Dr. Moore, as medical
inspector, examined the passengers and gave the ship a
clean bill of health. Mr. Joynt, acting during the illness
of Captain Starke, as emigration superintendent for the ports
inspected the provisions and water so that everything on
board should be in conformity with the legal regulations.
Those inspections concluded the "Milla" dropped down
the Belfast Lough, but contrary winds detained her for
eleven days in the roads. Mr. Joynt again visited the ship.
He took an inventory of the provisions and water, and
supplied every deficiency caused by the detention; and
with that prudential care and humanity which uniformly
characterise his conduct in such circumstances,
he examined the ship from stern to stern. He made sure
that ten weeks provisions were on board, and he
furnished the passengers with instructions to
cleanliness in their quarters, what they were to do
to preserve comfort and how they were to act during
the passage. So far there was nothing wrong Mr.
Joynt did his duty by the passengers, and indeed something
more, for a warm heart admits of no barrier
when a humane object has to be accomplished. Dr.
Moore did his duty also but mark the result.
The "Milla"  sailed from the lock for New York.
She had her health certificate. All was apparently
well, and yet she was but a few days cleared when small
pox broke out on board. There was no doctor on the vessel.
The Captain did not understand one word of the
English Language. Not one of the crew knew a syllable
of English except the  second mate and his knowledge
of the tongue was most imperfect. The Captain was
utterly unable to read the charts because they were
in English, and when he was at fault he was obliged
to make his wants known by signs. Instead of taking
the Northern passage he steered southwards, and after
some fourteen days beating about the channel, he put
back from, as he alleged, stress of weather, although
the only loss he sustained was an insignificant spar
- a topgallant yard - which was immediately replaced.
While returning, the small pox extended among the
passengers. Belfast Lough was entered with three dead
bodies, two of which were consigned to the deep by
the Captain's orders, although within a mile of a
Christian burying ground. One of the children that
died was coffined by the exertions of William Knocks
the passenger's cook, and the other was thrown
overboard after being sewn up in a sack, weighted
with coals, and this off Carrickfergus headland!
The father of the child told his simple story to
the magistrates on Saturday, and we felt very, very
sad and sorrowful during the recounting of his
sufferings. That is not all. Mr. Joynt secured
provisions and water on board for a ten week
voyage. He detailed the quantities provided
originally, and how he replenished the deficiencies;
and yet it was testified that before entering
Waterford, the extreme extent of the "Milla"
trial trip - the passengers were served with
half rations. Joseph Adamson, a most intelligent
young man, proved to the water, the rice, and the
sugar having been reduced in supply to one half
the legal quantity. William Knox, who had been
several times to New York, and who gave his
evidence with great perspicuity, made a similar
statement. Both - and others also - applied to
the master of the ship, but no redress was afforded.
Either the Captain did not comprehend what was
wanted or he would not. And so the passengers were
brought again to Belfast half starved, and contagion
on the vessel. Rather they continue in what they
conceived a charnel house, and most of the passengers
left the "Milla" and sued Mr. Quinn for the return
of their passage money.
     This is the history of the transaction, but to what
reflections does it give rise. An Austrian vessel with
and Austrian crew and Captain, is chartered to take
emigrants to America. Not one official on board can
speak English. One hundred and twenty six human
beings are left to the mercy of men who might as well
be deaf and dumb with no interpreter on board. The statute
regulations on reference to space are complied with,
and there is no medical man for the marine hospital- for
such did it turn out to be. The Captain is obliged to
call on the cook to assist him on reading his charts and
navigating his vessel. With abundance of food and water
on board the passengers are reduced to half rations. The
crew, to use the words of Knox, "lived like pigs" and
the poor people whose small means have been expended
in the hope of seeing better days are cast on the world
so much the poorer, the workhouse or beggary being their
only refuse from starvation, and misery and possibly
death. No fault can be found with those who chartered
or inspected the "Milla". They obeyed the law in every
respect. It's provisions were tenaciously adhered to
and perhaps over-leaped to the aide of humanity.
But it has been the infatuation of our governors
that they will carry through a threat irrespective
of transparent issues. Mr. Joynt saw proper
ventilators on board the "Milla", and all the witnesses
swore that when they were at sea these ventilators
were bundled up into the store room, and kept there.
It was too much trouble for an Austrian Captain
to give British passengers a breath of fresh air.
The ventilators were ship shape before the chops
of the Lough were cleared, but after danger was
passed, as to detection, down with the wind-bags,
the passengers might go to "Davey's Locker" for all
the Captain and crew cared. To quote the expressive
words of Knox, the cook "when the hatches were battened
down, the state of the vessel was fit to raise a plague".
Is it not monsterous that the souls and bodies of
126 living creatures should be committed to the charge
of fifteen individuals, so ignorant of our language,
our religion and our customs that they were unable
to converse with a solitary person on board. The
observation of Mr. Rea, that such things were of rare
occurrence under the old Navigation laws, was
incontrovertible. Until quacks dabbled in those laws,
men could be treated as men, and not (as Knocks said) as
Austrians lived like pigs".

 

The Belfast Mercury
Tuesday, 17 February, 1852

                BELFAST POLICE COURT
                               Saturday, Feb.14
[Before W.S.Tracy, Esq., R.M.,  and JOHN CLARKE, Esq.]

  IMPORTANT EMIGRATION CASE.- Mr. Quin, emigration agent, was
charged by a number of persons who had taken passage in the
Milla, an Austrian emigrant vessel, which sailed from this
port on the 7th of January, for New York, for the
non-fulfilment of his contract, in not putting on board a
sufficient quantity of provisions and water, in consequence
of which the vessel had to put back, and for compensation for
the loss thereby sustained.
  Mr. REA stated the case for the complainants.  He said that
in consequence of the neglect of the parties to fulfil the
contract with the passengers disease had broken out, and a
number of persons had died. The vessel proceeded to sea with
an insufficient quantity of provisions, and, when this was
ascertained, had to put back.  It might be said that stress
of weather was the cause, but, if so, it was strange that the
vessel had not put into dock to repair, nor, he believed, was
intended to be.  One remarkable fact was, that there was no
medical officer on board, although there were about 135
passengers.  Had it been a British or Irish vessel, indeed,
such might not have been so much required, but now, since the
repeal of the navigation laws, when all kinds of vessels were
admitted, he considered it absolutely necessary that a
medical man should accompany so great a number of passengers.
  Another remarkable fact was that neither the captain nor any
of his crew could speak a word of English; and they were so
unacquainted with the navigation, that they were unable to
take the ship out of the channel, which, he believed, was the
real cause of their putting back.
  Joseph Adamson examined - I was a passenger aboard the
Milla.  I got my passage-ticket at Mr. Quin's office, and
there I paid my money.  I went on board on the 7th of
January, at 9 o'clock in the morning.  There were 135
passengers on board, together with the captain and crew.  The
ship went down the Lough that day, as far as Garmoyle.
Mr. Joynt, emigration inspector, then came on board, together
with the doctor, and they made an examination of the
passengers and vessel.  Mr.Joynt stopped two hours, and the
doctor only one.  The vessel remained at Garmoyle ten days;
during which time they took on board a quantity of water and
some bread.  There was one case of smallpox before the vessel
left for sea, which she did on the 18th.  The fact of the boy
being ill of small-pox  was known all on board.  The
passengers applied to the captain and to Mr. Quin's clerk to
have the boy sent ashore, but he refused to do so.  The ship
got no further than off Waterford.  Only one of the crew,
the second mate, could speak English.  The vessel was one
sink of filth and dirt, and there were no ventilators.  The
supply of water was short.  I only got three pints a day for
the most part.  We complained of this, but there was no
attention paid to us, and if we complained to-day we were
just as badly off to-morrow.  The captain never came down to
the hold during the time he was on board.  We got rice twice.
We got two pounds each time, which is only half allowance.
The sugar was also short.  We only got half the sugar we
ought to get.  I do not know if the captain is a good
navigator, but I understand he did not know where he was when
we got to Waterford.  The mate told us that the cause of our
being turned back was shortness of water and provisions.  The
ship did not lose any spars but one, and it was supplied.
There was some blustery weather in the channel, but other
vessels went on.  There were three people died out of the
vessel - one man and three children.  The man died of fever.
I do not know what the children died of.  When we got back
here, which was on the 27th January, there were about 50 of
us who left the vessel.  I applied to get back my
passage-money, but the clerk, Mr. Smith, said he had nothing
further to do with the matter.  I then spoke to Mr. Joynt
about it.  Mr. Joynt said for me to go down to the vessel and
stop in her until I would take the fever or small-pox, and
then I would get my money back.  I did not take ill myself.
I do not know what has become of the vessel. I saw her on
Thursday week.  I was told that the voyage would take four to
six weeks according to the weather.
   Cross-examined by Mr. SEEDS. - Dr. Moore did not take more
than an hour or two in examining the passengers. He kept
three or four sailors pushing them up to him.  Their names
wee called; but I cannot say whether it was Mr. Joynt called
them or not. Whoever called them did it very fast.  He did
not occupy a moment with each passenger.  I left the vessel
on the 5th of this month.  The passengers' cook left along
with me.  I did not go to Lieut. Starke, but another person
went, and he referred to Mr. Joynt.  Mr. Joynt said he could
do nothing for me unless I went on board and got fever or
small-pox  and then he could get me my money.  It did not look
as if there were sufficient provisions and water on board
when we did not get the right quantity.
  Dr. Moore, at this stage of the proceedings, came into
court, and, although out of the regular course, was allowed
to be examined for the defence by Mr. SEEDS.  He stated - I
examined the passengers.  I examined them twice, on different
days.  When the vessel was first cleared out they were in
good health.  On the second examination, down in the Lough,
there was small-pox on board; but I had the parties all
removed.  It was the longest examination I think I ever
had in a ship.  I was five hours on board examining the
arrangements and the passengers.  I think the vessel was
quite fitted for every purpose of passenger traffic.  On the
first occasion I examined her she was a healthy and clean
vessel.
  Cross-examined by Mr. REA - I examined the ship on the 7th
January.  I was more than five hours on board.  The
examination of the passengers occupied more than two hours.  I
think I made a proper medical inspection.  I examined the
crew also; but I was not bound to do so.  I looked at the
passengers.  I could detect small-pox  in incipient stages by
looking at a person.  The passengers were in perfect health
when I left, and I gave a certificate accordingly.  After
the ship returned, I went on board and examined her.  I found
several persons ill of infectious disease.  There were six
persons, four adults and two children, suffering from
small-pox, and I then got them taken out of the vessel.
  To the COURT - The vessel was supplied with every-thing
required by law.  She appeared to me to be a respectable
emigrant ship, and was sufficiently ventilated.  There were
snow and sleet showers repeatedly during the inspection.  The
day was inclement and boisterous.
  Mr. REA - There was disease on board before the vessel left
the Lough, and after it was duly reported no notice was taken
of its existence.
  William Knox examined - I was passengers' cook on board
this vessel.  We only received a short quantity of water.  I
believe the ship was put back on account of the shortness of
provisions and water.  It was fine weather when the captain
put back.  The ship lost a top gallant yard, but that was
replaced again.  We were short of rice also.  The disease
broke out three days after the inspection.  Several persons
said it would not be a bad job to remove the person who was
ill, but no person came down to take him away.  At Point
Lynas, off the coast of Wales, two passengers took ill and
died.  Between Point Lynas and Waterford, seven persons took
ill.  A third passenger subsequently died.  I do not think the
captain was qualified to navigate the vessel to New York.  He
could not read his English charts; and he asked me to assist
him, but I could not understand him.  The second mate could
not read the English charts.
  Cross-examined by Mr. SEEDS - It was not a part of my duty
to keep the ship clean.  I got 1 from Mr. Quin for being
cook.
  James Morrisom, examined by Mr. REA - I belong to Scotland,
but was living in Belfast at the time I took my passage.  I
only got three pints of water each day.  I only got rice
twice.  I heard the man was ill of small-pox, but I did not
go to see him.  This witness confirmed Adamson's evidence as
to what Mr. Joynt said, and continued - I saw Mr. Smith, the
clerk, down before the ship left the Lough.  She was not in a
cleanly state before she left the Lough.  There was a very
bad smell about her.  Three deaths took place in the Lough,
one of them my own child.  It was put in a coffin and thrown
overboard.  We were in Belfast Lough, off Carrickfergus, at
the time.  It was a little stormy then.  I asked to get
ashore to bury it, but would not be allowed.  This was before
we left the Lough the first time, about three days.
  Mr. REA - This was one of the healthy persons that were
examined by the doctor, and eventually thrown overboard.
They would do nothing until the cook made a coffin himself
for the body, and then attached something to make it sink.
  Wm.  Knox re-examined - One of the children was put
in a bag and thrown overboard.
  To the COURT - I returned into the Lough on the 27th
January, and continued with the vessel until the 5th of this
month.
  Mr. Joynt, examined for the defence, stated - I examined the
vessel before going to sea.  I sent a sufficient quantity of
provisions and water on board agreeably to the Act.  After
the vessel came back, I took an inventory of the provisions.
I found on board 93 cwt. of bread, meal, and rice.  The
entire quantity of water, with the exception of 600 gallons,
was still on board.  I took the ship's papers from the
captain, and I wrote to Lieutenant Starke about them, and he
told me to keep them.
  To the COURT - If the vessel had proceeded on her voyage
there would have been plenty of provisions.
  To Mr. SEEDS - I completed the cargo of provisions twice.
When I heard of the disease being on board, I brought Doctor
Moore down to the vessel; and we had the sick persons
removed.  There is no doubt that Mr. Quin complied with the
Act of Parliament.
  To the COURT - I believe the passengers had more air on
board than what they required.  I think the captain is
competent to navigate the vessel to New York.
  Mr. CLARKE - Sure you cannot think that a man who is unable
to read an English chart, and who asked the cook to do it for
him, could navigate a vessel?
  Mr. Joynt- I know that he came here from Odessa.
  Mr. REA - That may be; but passengers ought to be taken more
care of than Indian corn.
  Mr. Joynt - I wish to explain respecting one portion of the
evidence that has been given.  When I was asked with respect
to the return of the passage-money, I did not tell those who
applied to me to go back to the vessel until they would get
small-pox or fever.  I said, "I am very sorry I have no
redress for you; I can do nothing to get you a return of your
money unless you should be ill of fever or small-pox  in the
vessel."
  To Mr. SEEDS - The Milla has since sailed.  She is a
sea-worthy vessel.  The captain stated that in consequence of
being a long time in the channel, and of losing his top-gallant
yard, he thought it advisable to turn back.
  The witness was cross-examined by Mr. REA - He stated that
he would be very sorry to employ an Austrian or a French
captain and crew to navigate a vessel of his, if he had one;
and he would be equally sorry to let the passengers go in an
Austrian or French ship to America, if he could avoid it.
  Mr. TRACY - In that respect, Mr. Joynt, the court is with
you.
  Mr. Rea rose to reply to evidence, but Mr. Seeds objected and
the bench ruled in favour of the objection.
  Mr. TRACY, in delivering judgement, said he thought the case
before him a very hard one, indeed.  It was deplorable that
the lives and the souls of so many of their fellow creatures
should be confided to the care of persons who did not
understand the language of those who were placed in their
charge; and it was, no doubt, a serious thing that no medical
man was put on board the vessel for the voyage.  The
passengers were entirely in the  hands of foreigners, who
knew nothing of the English language - the crew, in this
respect, being equally ignorant with the captain.  He thought
that was a great mistake; but the law did not make it a
crime.  The bench thought it a very bad practice, which could
not be too much condemned, to put 140 souls on board a vessel
without a creature to do anything for them that might be
required; and the melancholy effects of it were evident in
the present case.  They could not overlook the fact that the
captain and crew of the vessel had acted with inhumanity when
they threw overboard the bodies of the dead children, though
they within a mile of the shore and within sight of a
Christian burial-place.  Such would not have been done by
British seamen.  The bench, however, did not see that the law
rendered that open to the infliction of a penalty.  The
evidence of Mr. Joynt clearly exonerated him from all blame.
He did all that was in his power to do under the
circumstances.  When detained by adverse winds, he visited
the vessel, and had her supplied with everything she then
required; and, when she returned to this port, he, in company
with Dr. Moore, paid every attention to the  passengers.
Under the whole of the circumstances, the bench thought that
the Act of Parliament had not been infringed, and they must,
consequently, dismiss the case.

The Belfast Mercury
Tuesday , February 17 , 1852

IMPORTANT EMIGRATION CASE.- FOREIGN PASSENGER
VESSEL.
- We publish an account of a case of much
interest and hardship, which came before the Belfast
Bench of Magistrates, on Saturday last.  Two of our
contemporaries have eagerly seized upon it for the purpose
of getting up arguments against the repeal of the
Navigation Laws, but as we do not think the occassion
a very suitable one for that purpose, we shall content
ourselves with briefly stating the heads of the
case :- An Austrian vessel, named the Milla, which had
safely carried a complement of passengers from this
port to New York, in the beginning of last summer, arrived
here with a cargo of grain, in the end of the year,
and prepared to repeat her voyage to America, again
carrying passengers. As it happened, the captain and his
crew could speak no English, with the exception of
the second mate, who could pronounce a very few
words. The berths having been engaged and the ship
being ready for sea, Mr. Joynt, Inspector in the room
if Lieut. Starke, accompanied by Dr. Moore, proceeded to
inspect the vessel.  It appears from the evidence, that the
inspection was performed deliberately and carefully, and
that in point of fact more than the ordinary length of
time was devoted to that duty, probably from anxiety
on account of the absence of the regular inspector and
the difficulty in being able to hold intercourse with the
Captain.  Their clearance was perfected, but, unfortunately,
owing to adverse winds, she was detained in the
Lough eight or ten days.  During that time, unhappily,
some infectious disease broke out, and was not
reported to the customs by the Captain, whose duty
it was to do so.  The ship went to sea, in this state,
where few difficulties awaited her.  The weather, at
that time, was most unfavourable; and, after having
been knocked about in the Channel,  and got as far as
Waterford, she returned to Belfast Lough, after an
absence of ten days. By this time, from filth and
small-pox, she was in a most wretched condition.
Having been reported sick, she was visited by Mr. Joynt
and Dr. Moore, when all the persons affected with
disease were removed from her and brought on
shore.  The ship's papers were now detained and
the Captain brought up to the Customs, and no
change being peferred against him, he was allowed to
proceed to sea, Mr.Quin, the charterer, having in the
meantime made good all deficiencies in the stores caused by
the delay.  A number of the passengers who had come on
shore declined to rejoin the vessel, and now claimed
the return of their passage - money by him.  This was the
ground of application on Saturday last; and, as will
be seen, the Magistrates declared the claim was not
sustainable in law.  It would appear, then, that all
the requisite precautions had been taken under the
Emigration Act, but that a series of very unforeseen adverse
circumstanses gathered around the unfortunate vessel,
sufficient to entail miseries of a severe kind.  These were
greatly aggravated by the fact, already mentioned, that
between the Captain and his crew on the one hand, and
the unfortunate passengers on the other, no ordinary
intercourse could take place.  This must have vastly
contributed to the want of order and cleanliness in
their 'twixt-decks; and hence, in all probability the
commencement, and certainly the increase of their
disease.  We understand that, when this vessel was
formerly proposed to be chartered, Lieutenant Starke,
our local emigration officer, represented to the
Government the propriety and importance of
requiring that an interpreter should accompany the
vessel, and that the Captain and mates should have
passed such examinations as are imperative upon
our officers similarly engaged in the conveyance of
passengers. In reply we believe he was informed,
that the Government had no power to make the
order required.  It is to be lamented that this power
does not exist, and we cannot doubt that the
present case will draw the serious attention of
Government to the matter.  It is not to be borne
and we are sure it will not, that a large body of
people shall be exposed to this uncertainty,
in convenience, and suffering, if such can be
prevented. It is possible, that in the state of the
weather, at that time, when we believe some of
the first English ships were obliged to run for
shelter in our Southern ports, a British captain and
crew might not have been able to do much
better; but the least to be done is, to provide such
means and precautions as may be in our power,
and; if we fail, to make it apparent that nothing
has been left undone for the comfort and safety
of our emigrating masses who are trusting and
confiding all to our superintendence, in their noble
efforts for improvement and independence.


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