Lapas attēli

Wilson v. Izard.

stating who was the then commander in chief over the city and harbour. It never could have been supposed that it imposed any obligation on the government to continue General Armstrong in this command; or that, in case of his death or employment elsewhere, they were exonerated from any further service, and that all subsequent detention would be unlawful.

But if this be no satisfactory answer, one completely so will be furnished by the oath which these men have taken, which must have been subsequent to their enrolment, and to the President's acceptance. By that oath they oblige themselves to obey the orders of whatever officers are appointed over them.” If they had any claim before to an exclusive service under General Armstrong, by this oath they surrendered that privilege, and became bound to continue in service, under such other officer or officers as might be appointed to command them.

It is the opinion of the Court that the parties be remanded.
W. SAMPSON and J. ANTHON for the plaintiffs.
N. SANFORD, D. A. for the defendants.




Hon. BROCKHOLST LIVINGSTON, Associate Justice of the Su

preme Court.
Hon. WILLIAM P. VAN NESS, District Judge.


The master of a ship has no lien on the vessel, for his wages or perquisites,

which cau be enforced in a Court of Admiralty. And this difference between the remedies of the master and of the mariners for

wages, has not arisen from any application of the common law doctrine of liens to the case of the master, nor from encroachments of the Common Law Courts, but because the master contracts upon the credit of the owners and not of the ship; and such a lien would be atteoded with great inconvenience if the master could enforce it abroad for wages due bim, and thus compel a

sacrifice of the ship. Whether a master can proceed in personam in Admiralty for his wages ? Quere. Whether disbursements made by the master for the ship would create a lien en

forcible in Admiralty ? Quere.

This was an appeal from the District Court of the Southern District of New-York.

John Carlton the respondent filed his libel against the ship Grand Turk, alleging that in December, 1815, he was employed by William and James Dunlap, the appellants, who were her owners, to go a voyage in her as master, from New-York to Belfast and back. That in the course of the voyage he had espended various sums of money for repairs, ordinary charges,

Ship Grand Turk.

and the

wages of the crew; and had received various sums on account. That he claimed a right to apply whatever money he had received, in payment of his own wages and perquisites, before any of it should be applied to extinguish the disbursements made by him on the voyage; and that the appellants were insolvent. By the account annexed to the libel, it appeared that the respondent had received money enough to pay him for all disbursements he had made, and that the balance due him was not so large as his claim for wages and perquisites.

The appellants put in a claim admitting most of the facts stated in the libel, but denying the respondent's right to appropriate the monies, received by him, to pay his wages, &c. because he had received them expressly on account of the ship's disbursements, and had so accounted for them with the appellants; and insisting that they should be first applied to extinguish the charges for disbursements. The claimants also insisted that the respondent had no lien on the vessel for his balance of account, the master's wages and perquisites being a mere personal charge against the owners; and on this ground excepted to the jurisdiction of the Court.

The Court below decreed a condemnation.

W. Slosson for the appellants.
R. SEDGWICK for the respondent.

LIVINGSTON, J. This is a libel by the master against the ship Grand Turk, for disbursements made by him while abroad, for wages paid by him to some of the mariners after her return home, and also for wages due to himself.

The District Court condemned the vessel, pursuant to the prayer of the libel, and ordered all these demands to be paid out of the proceeds. From this sentence an appeal has been taken to this Court.

Ship Grand Turk.

It is denied by the appellant, and of that opinion is the Court, that any thing was due to the master for disbursements at the time of filing his libel. He had received from the consignee in Belfast, enough to reimburse him for all these advances, and as the money was paid for the express purpose of such reimbursement, and so credited by the master at the time, as appears by his own account and receipt, he cannot now be permitted to say that it was a payment on account of his own wages, and thus revive a credit against the owners for these advances : on this point the evidence is conclusive. Nor is it less so that the sums paid by the libellant to two of the mariners, who sued him, and which constitutes another item of his demand, were also repaid by the owners previous to the commencement of this suit.

The Court is, therefore, relieved from the necessity of examining whether a vessel canin any case be libelled by the master for disbursements made by him while abroad; or for wages which he may have advanced the seamen. The naked question presented for its consideration, is whether a vessel can be proceeded against in the Admiralty, for wages due to the master himself.

It is not denied that in England this cannot be done; and that such has generally been regarded as the law of this country--but it is supposed, that it has been thus settled by some mistake, in testing a master's right to proceed against his vessel, by the rules which apply to him at common law, of which a party is deprived, as soon as he parts with the possession of the property-or by a series of improper encroachments by Courts of common law, under a statute of Richard the Second, on the jurisdiction of the Courts of Admiralty. If this were really the origin of the rule, and the Court were satisfied that it had proceeded from an incorrect course of reasoning, as applied to the case of liens, or from an unwarrantable issuing of prohibitions by common law courts, would it not be better

Ship Grand Turk.

for the legislature to apply a remedy to the evil, if it be one, than that a single Judge should expunge from the commercial code of the United States, a principle which has been sanctioned by the practice of ages in Great Britain, and which has been regarded as the law of this country, from its earliest settlement down to the present day? But it is not true that the Courts of common law have proceeded on the sole ground, that because there was no possession in the master, there could be no lien-or seamen would not have been allowed to libel, which they rarely do until they have left the vessel. Nor could this reasoning have always applied to the master, who, to avoid this technical difficulty, might have filed his libel while in actual possession of the vessel. The denial to a master of a remedy, which is every day resorted to by the sailors, must then be founded in some other reasons, and accordingly we find others assigned. Onc, is the inconvenience and expense to which owners would be subject, if on every dispute with the master, he could take their vessel out of their hands by process in the Admiralty, and the power which would then be conferred on him of compelling them to submit to improper charges. The lien which he has on the freight which he is to receive, is given as another reason why he should be debarred of a remedy against the vessel herself ; and as he is also supposed to contract personally with the owners, so it has been thought proper not to permit him to look elsewhere for satisfaction. Thus we see, that it is not merely because the contract of the master is made on land, or because some mistake has been made in applying to him the strict doctrine of liens as understood at common law, that he is not allowed to proceed against his own vessel, but for other reasons, which by many will probably be considered as founded in good sense, and fully to justify the conclusions which have been drawn from them. Sir William Scott, in the case of the

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