The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Jan. 13, 1882

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Kingston Sailors' Union.

Last evening there was a meeting of the Kingston Branch of the Sailors' Union, at which the financial affairs of the Association were audited and discussed. The statement submitted, duly endorsed as correct, was as follows:


By President's salary $592.50

" Assess. to Gen. Fund 250.35

" Printing 142.33

" Scotchmen's account 114.00

" Rent for Hall 90.00

" Wood for Hall 39.85

" Funeral expenses 35.00

" Livery hire 26.75

" Sundries 25.83

" Cash on hand 100.00



To Dues and Fees $1,017.62

" Branch assessment 38.83

" Cash for Books 6.42

" Ball for 1880 35.00

" Fines collected 18.00

" Per Capita tax and assessment 274.14

" Small account 5.00

" Ball receipts for 1881 21.60


p.3 Kingston Exports - During the fiscal year ending June 30, 188, the following live stock were exported to the United States from this port: Cattle, 352; sheep, 10,686; swine, 41; horses, 585.

Company To Be Wound Up - At the annual meeting of the Montreal & Ottawa Forwarding Company it was decided to wind up the Company, which is good for every cent of the liabilities. The following gentlemen were elected Directors: G.M. Kinghorn, John McLennan, Hugh McLennan, J.O. Gravel, and M. Laing.


Schr. Nellie Sherwood's Late Trip To Cape Vincent.

About 10:30 o'clock this morning the schr. Nellie Sherwood entered the harbor, returning from her remarkably late trip to Cape Vincent. The sailors manipulated the sheets skilfully and the vessel swung around to her moorings in good shape. Capt. Tyo, who was at the helm, was afterwards interviewed. The vessel left here yesterday at 11:30 o'clock and with a spanking breeze made for the Cape via the head of the Island. She sped before the wind at the rate of 10 miles an hour. As Cape Vincent appeared in view it could be seen that there was a commotion among some of the villagers over the late arrival of a sailing craft, and as the Nellie ran alongside the elevator the chief man approached and expressed his pleasure at seeing the Captain again. The vessel was unloaded in three hours, and after remaining at the Cape until 4 o'clock this morning headed for Kingston. She ran up as far as Bear Point when it was found impossible to round Nine Mile Point owing to the gale blowing from the South West. The schooner's centre board was also frozen and this operated against her performance. The craft then turned and ran to the foot of the Island, arriving here at the time mentioned. The sails and gearing froze a little during the trip, but were almost as easily handled as in summer.

"Will you lay up now?" we asked.

"I don't think so." said the tar. "The Nellie is good for four or five more trips if the weather will permit. We must have good freights though."

Capt. Tyo says he made a trip on the schooner Irene, ten years ago, from Cape Vincent to Kingston in the last week in December. This was the latest he was ever out. The schooner at that time had a freight of $2 per M. on lumber from Brockville to Cape Vincent. The Nellie had a 3 cent freight, and made a larger sum for her owners than they probably secured at any time previously. The expenses over and back would not be more than $25. No cook ventured with the vessel on her trip.



The Legal Aspect of Shortage and Overplus.

From the number of sailormen who attended the Hamilton Assizes on Wednesday afternoon it was plain that a case of interest to marine men was in progress. There were men there who had sailed the lakes for many years, and who did not lose their bearings in a witness box even when badgered by a lawyer. Sharp answers in cross examination were frequent, such as when Mr. Bruce, who appeared for the defence, asked Capt. Green if when a shortage occurred it was possible that the grain could drop out of the vessel on the trip down. "If it did," said the captain, "we would have dropped out too." The case under trial was one of very great interest to vessel owners and shippers of grain, and to all in any way concerned in the carrying trade. It was the suit of John W. Murton, of this city, owner of the schooner Ella Murton, against the Kingston & Montreal Forwarding Company to recover the value of 494 bushels of wheat which was an overplus on a cargo delivered at Kingston by the Murton. In September the Murton loaded wheat at the elevators of the Great Western and Northwestern Railways for the Molson's Bank at Montreal. The wheat was delivered at Kingston to the Forwarding Company, and on weighing it out it was discovered that the cargo overran 494 bushels, that is, the schooner unloaded 494 bushels more than her bills of lading showed her to have on board. Now, following the usual custom, this should have belonged to the owner of the vessel. The bills of lading were produced in court. They contained a clause to the effect that if there were any shortage the vessel should make it good, and if any overplus the vessel should receive its value. These are the usual bills of lading, and that custom was always held up to this time, but the decision of Judge Armour in this case will undoubtedly do

Away With These "Cut-Throat" Bills,

as they are called. In this case the Forwarding Company refused to pay for the over-run (though offered the freight on the quantity), on the ground that there must have been a mistake somewhere. The grain was sent to Montreal, sold, and the proceeds, $683.26, returned to the Northwestern Railway Co., at whose elevator the greater part of the cargo was loaded.

Mr. John Harvey, of the Merchants' Lake and River Steamship Line, Capt. Fairgrieve, of the New England Transportation Co., Mr. C.R. Smith and Mr. P.R. Morgan, grain shippers, testified to the custom already stated as a general one, and which they had always been bound by. They had paid for shortages and received pay for overplus. Often the vessel retained the overplus in her hold, but generally it was weighed out and paid for.

Mr. Bruce put this question to Capt. Fairgrieve: "If you were shipping grain and put 15,000 bushels into a vessel by mistake and signed bills of lading only for 10,000, would you be satisfied to lose that to the ship-owner?"

The answer was: "Well, yes if I would if I were so foolish as to make such a mistake."

Mr. Smith explained that the object of "cut-throat" bills was to protect the owner of grain in shipment. It belonged neither to the railway nor to the vessel, but these bills by their two-edged action cause both vessel and elevator to take the greatest interest in seeing that the grain is correctly weighed at each transhipment. A man shipping his own grain would not sign such bills.

The Kingston Agent's Evidence.

James Stewart, agent at Kingston of the Kingston & Montreal Forwarding Company, testified to the facts of the disposal of the grain, as already stated. Vessels unloading at their elevator had run short as much as 100 bushels. Small amounts of overplus and shortage were generally settled for immediately, but in case of a large amount the owner or shipper was telegraphed to, in expectation that there was a mistake somewhere. A vessel at Kingston had run short 680 bushels under similar bills of lading. It was found to be a mistake and the vessel was not charged with it.

Captain Armstrong, of the Murton; Green, of the new steamer, James Malcomson; Burrows, of the Dromedary; Kiah, of the St. Magnus; Woods, of the Lake Michigan; Davis, of the E.H. Rutherford; Thos. Zealand; Sweet, formerly of the Gulnair; and Mr. R.O. McKay, shipowner, also gave evidence to the effect that to pay for shortage and to be paid for overplus was the custom of the trade. Capt. Kiah was once short 345 bushels of corn, and had to pay for it. Capt. Woods had been paid for 134 bushels of barley on an overrun of a cargo shipped from Williamson's warehouses in this city. Some of these witnesses had been sailing on the lakes for forty years, and all agreed that at the end of each season the shortages always amounted to more than the overruns; in fact, the vessel always got the worst of it.

Evidence For The Defence.

The defence called Charles Smith, weigher at the North-western elevator - a grain weigher of thirteen years' experience. He deposed that in loading the Murton for the trip on which this case was founded he had made a mistake. The vessel was loaded in drafts of 500 bushels, but he forgot to tally one of these drafts in his book, and thus the vessel got 500 bushels more than she should have received. He had gone to call to the engineer to stop the elevator, and thus made the mistake which he did not discover till the telegram was received from Kingston. He had on December 23rd gone over his books and weighed all that was in the elevator at that time; the result was that if the 500 bushels were counted in, both tallied to within twenty-one bushels. A clerk and Mr. M.C. Dickson, Assistant General Freight and Passenger Agent, gave corroborative testimony and Mr. Dickson added that the bills of lading were used by a mistake caused by the company having two forms of the same number. "Cut-throat" bills had not been used since.

The Judge used the severest language in condemning the practice which it was shown by the evidence was a usual one. The practice of the Forwarding Companies in appropriating other people's property was simply larceny. The law did not recognize any custom which took one man's property and gave it to another without the owner's consent. Shortages must be made up by the elevators, for more cannot be taken out of the vessel than was put into her. He could not understand that a vessel owner should be obliged to pay for grain that was never in his vessel. A vessel man could not be held responsible for what he had signed for in a bill of lading if it could be shown he never received it. The owner of the Murton never pretended to own the grain, and he cannot become its owner by any such illegal custom.

In legal phraseology the case was disposed of as follows: Non-suit entered, with leave to plaintiff to move to enter a verdict for $683.26, if the Court of Common Pleas shall be of opinion that upon the evidence the plaintiff is entitled to recover. Mr. P. MacKelcan, Q.C., appeared for the plaintiff. [Hamilton Times]

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Date of Original:
Jan. 13, 1882
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Jan. 13, 1882