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 Court Martial 
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From The Times, September 15th, 1812:

".... A Court-martial was held a few days since on board the Cressy, in the Baltic, on Mr Whitehouse, purser of his Majesty's ship Woodlark, for striking his superior Officer; which was proved, and he was sentenced to be hung ......"


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Tue Jun 17, 2008 1:28 pm
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from The Times of January 13, 1804


" ..... SHEERNESS, Jan.10th - a Court Martial was held on board his Majesty's bomb-vessel Fury in this harbour... Jacob Johnson, a seaman, belonging to his Majesty's sloop Lark, on suspicion of being guilty of a species of the most wanton and deliberate treachery, in that of cutting a ship's riding cable in a gale of wind, which was accomplished on board of his Majesty's sloop Lark, whilst lying in Lowestoffe Road, on the evening of the 10th December last, and for recommending the cable to be nicked. The Court was of opinion that there was strong presumptive proof of the prisoner having cut the cable, but that the charge of nicking the cable was full proved; and the Court adjudged the prisoner to receive 300 lashes on his bare back, and to be put in solitary confinement of one year, in any of his Majesty's gaols the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty should direct ..."



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Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:12 pm
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from The Times of October 31, 1803:

" ..... A person of the name of Bailey has been lately tried by a Court Martial at Sheerness, on board of His Majesty's ship Winchelsea, charged with cutting and destroying the sails and rigging belong to one of his Majesty's ships of war, whilst at sea. He was sentenced to receive 200 lashes ..."



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From The Times, March 20, 1797

".... Capt. Velters Cornwall Berkeley, of the Emerald frigate, is to have a Court Martial held on his conduct, for not taking possession of the Santissima Trinidada, the Spanish Admiral's flag ship. It will be recollected, that after the late action, Sir John Jervis dispatched three frigates in quest of the above ship, which they fell in with. Having hoisted the white flag, as a signal that she had struck, and finding it not answered, the Spanish Admiral the hoisted the British Jack over the Spanish colours, but Capt. Berkeley, who was Commodore, did not take possession, though pressed by his officers to do so supposing these signals were a trap to deceive him. On his arrival at Lisbon, this matter was represented to Sir John Jervis, who ordered Capt. B. under arrest. ....



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Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:52 am
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From The Times, January 21, 1789:

".... Portsmouth, Jan. 18. Yesterday afternoon ended the Court-Martial on Lieutenant Thacary, of the Thorn sloop, for abuse to his Captain, which began on Thursday, when the charge being clearly proved, he was broke, and recommended to serve on board any of his Majesty's ships the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty may think proper, as a Midshipman.

The particulars of this trial, which terminated with the dismission and disgrace of Mr. Thacary, a young gentleman of fortune, would prove very uninteresting to the public, the offensive words having been over a bottle, when all parties were heated with liquor, and reason consequently dethroned. ...."




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Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:44 pm
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Mil Goose wrote:
From The Times of June 18, 1791:

"....Portsmouth...June 16....The First Lieutenant of the Winchelsea frigate has demanded a Court-Martial on all his Mess-mates in the Gun Room, for contemptuous behaviour; and the request is granted by the Lords of the Admiralty. It seems these gentlemen not only sent their superior officer to Coventry, but actually voted him out of the mess....."




Further information from The Times, June 22, 1791:

" ... The Officers of the gun-room of the Winchelsea frigate, were tried on a charge brought by Lieut. Market, of contempt, by dismissing him the mess, &c. The prosecutor was some hours in giving an ccount of the matter, when the Officers were called on for their defence, which they thought proper to rest on the evidence for the prosecution; and the Court, without the smallest hesitation, unanimously acquitted them. No part of the charges were proved, and the evidence of the different witnesses was very much in favour of the accused - Sir Hyde Parker, Captain of the fleet, contrary to the etiquette established by Lord Howe, could not sit as a Rear-Admiral....."


.




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The Times, August 26th, 1797:

" ... Naval Court Martial - Seven of the Mutineers belonging to the Standard received sentence of death last week. The prosecution of the remaining six closed on Wednesday, and yesterday they entered on their defence. One of the condemned men behaved in the most hardened and insolent manner during his trial, and on hearing the awful sentence pronounced, he fell on his knees, and prayed God 'that his blood might fall on the heads of his prosecutors, and the witnesses, who had appeared against him, and that the cries of his wife and children might never be out of their ears' ....."


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The Times, September 28, 1803:

" ... on 14th February, a Court Martial was assembled on board his Majesty's ship, Trident, in Bombay harbour for the trial of Mr John McGhee, surgeon of his Majesty's ship Fox, on a charge of ungentlemanlike behaviour, abusive language, and for strking Mr Blake, the Master --- Sentence, dismissed his Majesty's service, rendered incapable of ever again serving, with imprisonment for six months in the Marshalsea. ...."



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The Times, August 7th, 1805:

" ... Mr John Lewis, acting Second Master and Pilot, of his Majesty's gun brig Staunch, was tried for drunkenness and neglect of duty, in having suffered and assisted Mr John Wood, Sub-Lieutenant of the brig, to desert whilst a prisoner at large, was sentenced to be dismissed from his office and Second Master and Pilot, to be rendered incapable of ever being employed as an officer again, and to be imprisoned in the Marshalsea for six months ...."


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Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:34 am
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Wood must have been one of the first Sub-Lieutenants by post; the rank was not created until many years later.

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The Times, August 7th, 1805:

" ... Lieutenant James Cooke, of the Dolphin store-ship, was tried for disobedence of orders, absenting himself from his duty, and endeavouring to create disturbances in the ship, and prejudicing the mind of the officers and men against the commanding officer. Two of the charges were proved, and he was adjudged to be dismissed from the Dolphin. ...."



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The Times, June 25th, 1804:

" ... The Hon. Lieut. Jones, belonging to the Naiad frigate, who was tried by a Court Martial at Plymouth, for striking the first Lieutenant of that ship, and was sentenced to be shot, has received his Majesty's most gracious pardon. ..."


Did this happen often? (a pardon, that is); does anyone know?

I note Jones was nobility; some "interest" helping there, do you suppose?


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Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:25 am
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Wasn't the function of a court marshall two-fold - both to assess guilt and to establish innocence? I believe that it was standard practice for captains who lost their ships to be court marshalled. Most were cleared and continued in their careers.

Google Books has online the MINUTES of a COURT MARTIAL, HOLDEN ON BOARD HIS MAJESTY'S SHIP Prince of Wales in PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR, On MONDAY, The 23rd Day Of December, 1805 in which Sir Robert Calder, Vice Admiral of the Blue requested a court marshall to clear his name of the charge that he failled to engage the enemy on July 23rd of that year at the battle of Cape Finisterre. Ironically the battle was a serious defeat for the French, even if the British public did not see it that way at the time. Because Calder came back to Britain to defend himself, he missed the battle of Trafalgar.

The Admiral may or may not have had any real choice in requesting the court marshall, but the outcome was mixed. He was found not to have displayed "Cowardice or Disaffection" but to be guilty of a serious "Error in Judgment" for which he was severely reprimanded. Calder never served at sea again.

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Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:37 pm
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RickSp wrote:
Wasn't the function of a court marshall two-fold - both to assess guilt and to establish innocence? I believe that it was standard practice for captains who lost their ships to be court marshalled. Most were cleared and continued in their careers..............





Hi Rick!

Yes, the TDA has many such reports. when it appeared to be a formal enquiry, and, as you say, most were acquitted.


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The Times, September 3rd, 1804:

" ... Lieutenant Maffin, commander of the Ant schooner, has been dismissed the service, for having a quantity of contraband spirits on board. ....."


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