HL Deb 19 June 1862 vol 167 cc724-5

, on behalf of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst), whose health, as their Lordships would be glad to hear, had greatly improved of late, moved for the correspondence which had taken place respecting the capture of the Emily St. Pierre by the Americans, and her recapture from the prize crew. He understood that there had been some correspondence upon this subject, and he wished to know from the noble Earl whether there would be any objection to produce it?


I have no objection to lay the papers before the House, as the Correspondence is now closed, and Lord Lyons, in his last letter, promised to send it home immediately. The opinion of the Law Officers was taken upon this question, and they stated that there was no power in this country to surrender the vessel, or to give it up to the United States Government. It was said by them, and was at that time supposed to be the case, that there was no precedent on the case; but I have been informed this morning that there is a precedent, singularly enough, when the British Government demanded from the American Government the surrender of a vessel which had been recaptured by the crew after being seized as a prize. Mr. Adams, the grandfather of the present American Minister in this country—and he must say that the diplomatic agent who bore his name was a most worthy descendant of that distinguished statesman — was then President of the United States, and he replied that there was no precedent for such a demand. The result was the British Government failed to obtain the redress they sought from the American Government.