HC Deb 16 July 1866 vol 184 cc823-4

said, that perhaps he might be allowed to make an explanation with respect to a Question which was put early in the Session to his noble Friend (Lord Clarence Paget), then the Secretary to the Admiralty, in reference to a statement that appeared in the public press, signed by a gentleman named Chamerovzow, and containing a charge against some sailors of one of Her Majesty's ships. The statement was that— Twelve of the crew of the Wolverene are accused by an eye-witness of having perpetrated during two days upon the person of a Mrs. Henderson, a Methodist class-leader, a series of the foulest outrages; but the witness's tongue was sealed. His noble Friend, when the Question was put to him by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) whether that statement was correct, was unable to give any answer except to express his belief that it was utterly unfounded. Since that time the late Board of Admiralty had received two communications on the subject, one from Sir Henry Storks, Governor of Jamaica, and one from Admiral Sir James Hope, and the House would not be surprised to learn that there was not the slightest foundation for the charge which had been made by Mr. Chamerovzow in the columns of The Morning Star. With the permission of the House he would read a few extracts which would show how completely the charge had been disproved. Sir Henry Storks says he transmits— An extract from a letter written by Dr. Gerard, a medical man who lives in the neighbourhood of Morant Bay, addressed to the hon. P. Espeut, the Custos of St. Thomas-in-the-East, who placed it in my hands. You will perceive that the outrages referred to in the Anti-Slavery Reporter did not take place, and from inquiries I have instituted I believe the story to be without foundation. 'Justice Marshallach and myself went down to her yard the day we heard of the sailors having been there, and we discovered on the spot, by her neighbours and friends in the yard, that she herself had invited a sailor into her house, fed him, told him she had been looking out for him, called him her husband, &c.' The inquiry which was made on board the Wolverene completely corroborated the statement which he had read to the House. It appeared that the discipline of the sailors of Her Majesty's navy in the island of Jamaica was such as that it was morally impossible that the alleged outrage could have taken place, and Captain Cochran, the commander of the Wolverene, in writing on the subject, used the following words:— I consider it only my duty to represent that the officers and men of the Wolverene have expressed great indignation, in which I confess I participate, that a charge of such a scandalous nature, which all declare to be utterly false, should have been published to the world without one atom of evidence to support it—a charge which, although totally unfounded, yet, promulgated as it has been, must necessarily entail disgrace on this ship and reflect shame on the whole British navy. The charge having been publicly made, he (Mr. Baring) thought the House would be glad to have received so complete a refutation of it.

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