On a Voyage from Aberdovey Wales for Limerick with a cargo of slate.
The Schooner ran aground and her hull was breached on lea rock at Dursey Island while trying to Navigate between Dursey and the Calf Rock.
The crew anchored and abandoned the vessel in the small boat , The John Stonard sank on the same day.
Report of a legal action following the loss of the Schooner John Stonard
NISI PRIUS COURT
BEFORE MR. JUSTICE CHARLES AND A SPECIAL JURY.
DISAGREMENT OF A JURY.
SPAIGHT AND SONS V. POSTLETHWAITE AND OTHERS.- This was an action to recover the value of a cargo of slates shipped on board the defendants Schooner and which it was alleged had been lost owing to the negligence of the captain. The defendants pleaded that the goods were lost by perils of the sea. Mr. Walton, Q.C., and Mr. Bateson were for the plaintiffs, and Mr. Bigham, Q.C., and Mr. Maurice Hill for the defendants.
The plaintiffs are slate merchants at Limerick and on October 19 last one of the defendants James Morgan the captain and principal owner of the John Stonard a Schooner of 78 tons signed bills of lading to carry a cargo of slates value £375 from Aberdovey to Limerick.
The vessel left Aberdovey on Oct. 30 and on Nov.6 she was off Crow Head a point between the Kenmare River and Bantry Bay. Beyond this point there are a number of rocks and the captain instead of going out round Bear Island and further from the shore attempted to pass between Dursy Head and the Calf Rock a channel about three-quarters of a mile wide and struck on the Lee Rock. The vessel foundered with her cargo.
The plaintiffs alleged that the master had negligently navigated the vessel because its being night time and he having no local knowledge he ought not to have attempted to sail through the dangerous channel further the Lee Rock was not marked in his chart but was marked in the Admiralty chart and he ought to have had one of the latter.
The defence was that the night being clear and with a leading wind there was no danger in navigating the channel such as to make the captain's act a legligent one. If he had gone outside Bear Island his vessel might have been driven out to sea. As to not carrying an Admiralty chart the reply was that it was quite a customary thing for Schooners like the John Stonard to carry only the blue-backed charts.
On either side a large number of witnesses gave evidence. After his lordship had summed up the jury asked whether an error of judgement would mean negligence. His Lordship said the fact of an error of judgement being committed was consistent with absence of negligence on the other hand if the evidence showed there was a grave error in judgement the jury must ask themselves whether a man who made a blunder of that kind had in fact been negligent.
After the jury had been absent an hour and a half they sent to say they could not agree. His lordship said that perhaps the parties could assist by accepting the verdict of the majority. Mr. Walton consented but Mr. Bigham dissented and the jury remained locked up for three-quarters of an hour longer. They were then sent for and informed his lordship that there was not the slightest chance of agreeing. One juryman said there had been a great discussion as to whether the chart used by the master was a recognised one. His Lordship said he could not assist them any further. The chart was only one of the circumstances in the case.
The Foreman said there was no chance of a verdict being arrived at, and his lordship accordingly discharged the jury.