BLACKBIRDING. - Inquiry into the 'Jason' Case. [with] Inquiry ... (Further papers and correspondence relating to). [with] John William Coath, Late Master of the Schooner 'Jason.' (Despatches respecting).
Brisbane, Govt Printer 1871; 1873; 1874. Three papers foolscap stitched as issued; 11pp; 13pp; 5pp. ¶ An extraordinary story as well as a turning point in the law relating to the labour trade. Captain Coath of the Jason had been accused of abduction by a missionary but probably nothing would have come of this if he hadn't locked up the government agent, John Meiklejohn, who was completely deranged by the time he was released. Coath was charged with kidnapping nine islanders and the case tested whether common law protected those who were not British or on British territory. Defence attorney Charles Lilley (who later as Chief Justice sentenced crew members of the 'Hopeful' to death) argued that landing naturally unfree natives on British soil as free men was an act of liberation rather than kidnapping but Coath was convicted. The Kidnapping Act was passed soon after. Coath, however, was pardoned in 1873 after protest; a new inquiry and a fair amount of new evidence was introduced. Coath apparently died soon after from a poisoned arrow wound. As for Meiklejohn, Coath and his crew swore that Meiklejohn was locked up because he went nuts and he did have a history of instability. He could not and would not give any coherent testimony and soon after burnt down his house to punish his children and was bundled off to the lunatic asylum in Sydney.AUD 275.00 [Appr.: EURO 195.25 US$ 210.7 | £UK 168.5 | JP¥ 23433] Book number 8503
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