§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If any claim has been made upon the Government of the United States of America for compensation to the owners of the schooner Will o' the Wisp, seized in Mexican waters at Matamoras, by the United States cruiser Montgomery, on the 3rd day of June, 1862, and afterwards released by decision of the Prize Court at Key West, on the 19th day of July following?
§ MR. LAYARD
—In answer to the Question of my hon. Friend, I beg to point out to him that the Question involves a statement which after all has not been proved, and is liable to great doubt; that is, that the vessel was seized in Mexican waters. The case came before the Prize Court at Key West, and the court decided that the vessel should be released; but they also decided that there were sufficient grounds of suspicion to warrant the seizure, and they consequently refused to give damages or costs. Her Majesty's Govern- 324 ment then ordered representations to be made to the United States Government to the effect, that if damages were not given, at least costs should be awarded to the owners of the vessel. The United States Government replied—and he was informed that they were right—that until the owners had exhausted all legal means to obtain costs, the British Government could not fairly make any demand on the United States Government. The usual course is to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, and that appeal has not yet been made by the owners; who, however, I presume, will make such appeal. When that appeal is decided, it will remain for Her Majesty's Government to say what course shall be taken.
§ MR. LAYARD
The hon. Member is, I think, mistaken. The vessel was seized because she was suspected of conveying munitions of war; and the Court decided that the gunpowder on board did not, under the circumstances, come under that character.