Charges Against Benjamin Brown, Coal Meter
5 September 1821 To Benjamin Brown, Sworn Coal Meter
Complaint having been made against you by Mr Robert Rayner, Coal Merchant of Ryde of very gross misconduct in the dealing of some coals from the Desire Collier whose Cargo you were appointed by our Warrant dated 31 August 1821 to meter and discharge.
We hereby charge you with the following Offences:
First – That you were so drunk early in the Morning of the 3rd inst. as to be incapable of your duty.
Secondly – That in meting 2 District Chaldrons that Morning from the Desire Collier you only delivered to the Merchant 25 Bushels as one chaldron and 30 Bushels as another altho you scored both in your books as 36 Bushels each.
To which several Charges you are to make a plain and Distinct in writing on or before Saturday 8 September next taking care to avoid all scurrilous and abusive language.
Desire Collier – Masters Affidavit of the Meters Intoxication
I, Stephen Rowntree, Master of the Desire Collier Brig of Sunderland do make oath that the Sworn Coal Meter, Benj. Brown who had come on board the brig on Monday Morning 3 Sept. 1821 at Ryde was in a complete state of intoxication and incapable of doing his duty and that the said Brown notwithstanding proceeded in discharging the coals for about 3 hours meting in the said space about 16 Chaldrons instead of 30 as might have been done had he been in a sober state - when Mr Rayner, the Merchant sent on board to discontinue the discharge alleging that Mr Brown had made very short delivery which was accordingly done. We gave nothing to the said Meter Brown except a moderate glass of grog at about 8 o’clock in the morning when he had been at work 2 hours
Sworn at the Custom House, Cowes 6 September 1821 before John Ward, Collector.
Signed Mr Stephen Rowntree.
Captain Rowntree having cleared his Vessel for Sunderland and meaning immediately to proceed on his Voyage home, it was thought right to receive the Masters Affidavit previous to proceeding in the examination of witnesses in support of the charge if necessary.
Complaint from the Merchant
Ryde, 3 Sept. 1821
This is to certify that Benj. Brown, Meter of the Desire was in liquor and not fit for Duty and I was obliged to stop the ship with 2 loads of coal on stood on shore in two Chaldrons, 1 was 25 Bushels and the other 30 Bushels which were 17 Bushels short of measure.
Witnessed in his hand, Robert Rayner, Merchant
Ryde, Port of Cowes, 3 September 1821
One application being made to me to visit the Desire Collier delivering here on the account of Brown the Meter who was reported to me to be not to be able to do his Duty not being sober and by the desire of the Merchant and Captain the ship is stopped and I am bound in duty to say he is at present unfit to keep on. [Note: The author of this is not given, but it appears likely to be Robert Lydall, Coastwaiter at Ryde]
I acknowledge the Charge made against me in the delivery of the Collier Desire at Ryde on Monday Morning previous to my going on board I met with an acquaintance who invited me to take a glass of Beer and Spirits which I readily accepted and having been in a very weak state of health for a long time with jaundice it had such an effect on me as if I was lost and as no such charge has been made against me before I hope that you will take into consideration my Wife and large family as without the situation I now hold I would not be able to support them and I Pledge myself never to be guilty of the like offence.
I am, Gentlemen, your humble Servant,
Report to Board
10 September 1821 Benjamin Brown one of the Sworn Meters having been found very much intoxicated on the Morning of the 3rd Instant so as to be incapable of discharging the Desire’s Cargo of Coals to which we had appointed him. We felt it incumbent on us to give him the within Charge and he having pleaded Guilty thereto his case is submitted for your Honors Information and Judgement. He was admitted a Sworn Meter the 28 March 1805 and has never before been charged.
Reply from Board
Custom House, London
15 September 1821
Having read your report of 10th inst. on the charge given by you to Benjamin Brown, Coal Meter at your Port, viz. With being on the 3rd inst. much intoxicated whilst in execution of his Duty and having read his Answer thereto and the Evidence of the Persons examined on this occasion; we have found Brown guilty of the Charge and direct that he be severely reprimanded and enjoined to sobriety in future and also to the attentive discharge of his Duty.
(Signed by four Board members)
To Benjamin Brown, Coal Meter
Complaint having been preferred against you by Mr John Eames, Coal Merchant, for misconduct on board the Halcyon Collier at his wharf at East Cowes.
You are hereby charged with being intoxicated with liquor on Monday Afternoon 25 May last while the Cargo was delivered consequently in such a state as to be incapable of Meting Coals with due Justice to the Revenue and to the Parties interested in the sale and purchase thereof – To which matters you are hereby required to make a plain and distinct answer in writing on or before Tuesday 31 May next taking care to avoid all scurrilous and abusive expressions.
Dated at Customs Cowes 28 May 1825
J Ward, Collector I Chapman, Comptroller
In compliance with your Commands, I beg to refer you to the Certificate of the Master of the Halcyon also to Mr Eames letter which I hope will convince you that I was capable of performing my Duty on Wednesday last.
I beg to state, that owing to a severe Bronchial attack which I have laboured under for several days, I was obliged to take a small quantity of Brandy and Water after Dinner, which from my weak state slightly affected me but not so as to prevent my doing my Duty as it will appear that I have meted 33¾ Chaldrons of Coals between 8 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.
Trusted to your merciful consideration and with an assurance of the strictest attention to my duty and sobriety in future.
I am, Gentlemen, B Brown
Letter from Vessel Master
I hereby certify that during the time Benjamin Brown was discharging the Brig Halcyon of Sunderland under my Command, I believe he measured coal with Justice to all Parties concerned.
Edward Robinson, Cowes, May 28, 1825
Letter from Complainant
3 June 1825
I object to being examined on or of making a Charge against B Brown as I have no complaint to make about his conduct on board the Halcyon. My reason for stopping the work on Wednesday Afternoon last was certainly under the impression that he had taken too much liquor but not for his making too much measure. He had then delivered a quantity equal to a fair days work and I since find that he was labouring under a severe Bowel complaint. It is and has been the last 20 years my opinion that he is one of the most honest Meters in this Port and I shall be perfectly satisfied with his measuring any cargoes of coals I may purchase in future.
Examination of Mr Stephen, Tide Surveyor, on Oath
Sworn before us, 2 June 1825, J W, Collector, I C, Comptroller
R Stephens, Tidesurveyor, Surveyor of Coal Meters.
Examination of Mr Thomas Thorold, Landing Surveyor, on Oath
Sworn 2 June 1825, J W, Collector, I C, Comptroller
Thomas Thorold, Examiner of Coal Meter Accounts
Report to the Board (from Letters Book)
3 June 1825 Mr John Eames, Coal Merchant of this Port having on Wednesday 25 ult. made a verbal complaint to the Collector against B Brown the Sworn Meter appointed to discharge the cargo of the Halcyon for being in a state of intoxication and incapable of performing his duty. We felt it incumbent on us to charge Brown with the said offence and herein transmit to your Honors the papers and evidence relating thereto. That the Meter was intoxicated when the merchant objected to his working later in the afternoon there can be no doubt, at the same time he is right we should state to your Honors that it does appear that Brown was weak from illness on the day in question and that his book was fairly kept. Brown was admitted a Sworn Meter 26 March 1808 and was charged once before on 10 September 1821 for similar misconduct when your Honors found him guilty and we were directed to severely reprimand him and to enjoin him to sobriety, and which we did not fail to do.
Reply by Board
Custom House, London, 9 June 1825
Having read your letter of the 4 inst. together with the papers therein referred to on the following Charge given by you on a complaint by Mr. John Eames to B Brown, a Coal Meter at your Port viz. With being intoxicated with Liquor on Wednesday afternoon the 25 May last while the Cargo of the Halcyon was discharging and consequently in such a state as to be incapable of meting Coals.
We deem Brown guilty of the Charge and direct that he be suspended from duty of one Month.
Signed by 4 Board Members
Custom House, Cowes, 2 July 1827
To Benjamin Brown, Coal Meter
The Coast Waiter at Ryde having represented to us that on a complaint of Mr Rayner, Coal Merchant, of your being so Drunk on 29th ult. as to be totally unfit to discharge your Duty, by which it was necessary to appoint another Meter to the ship. You are hereby on the Honorable Boards Order charged with being guilty of the offence, to which Charge you are to make a distinct answer in writing before 5th inst. taking care to avoid all scurrilous and abusive expressions.
J W, Coll., I C, Comp.
E Cowes, 3rd July 1827
In reply to the Charge made against me in consequent of Mr Rayners Complaint of 29th ult. whilst discharging a cargo of coal at Ryde – I admit the Charge but humbly trust you will be pleased to recommend to the mercy of the Honorable Commissioners – having suffered considerably in my head and eyesight for the last three years – that the least quantity of Spirit will take effect on my head which will render me incapable of Duty
Examination of Mr Lydall, Coast Waiter, on Oath
Examination of Mr Thos. Rayner, Coal Merchant of Ryde, on Oath
Benjamin Groves, on oath
Benjamin Brown being asked what he had to say to the above which was read and explained to him – said he had nothing to remark further than what he had stated in his reply to the charge preferred against him.
Mr Lydall begs to remark that John Ralph began to work the Coals instead of B Brown – the Master of the ‘Mediator’ watching the method of Ralph’s meting appeared very dissatisfied as if Ralph had been inclined to give more than he ought and visibly interfered in the meting and this lead Mr Lydall to conclude that it was only because John Ralph was doing his Duty strictly. Mr Lydall was aware of the interference and prevented the Master from further annoying the Meter. Mr Lydall believes the Master took advantage of Brown and plied him with drink for his own purposes.
Mr Rayner begs to say that in consequence of the meting and unfair dealings he has lost considerably in this concern, but is ready to overlook and forgive.
Report to Board
6 July 1827 Herewith we forward for your Honors consideration our charge against Benjamin Brown, Established Coal Meter at this Port, also his answer in which you will see that he admits to having been drunk on Duty. We have to report agreeable to your commands of 4th March 1814 that Benjamin Brown was appointed 26th May 1805 – He is now 60 years of age. We have also to state – in pursuance of your order of 27th March 1814 that the said Benjamin Brown has been charged 3 times for similar offences.
We have further to state that in consequence of Mr Rayner, the Coal Merchant, having declared in this Office he could prove Brown guilty of metering short – we thought it fit to request his attendance to give answers to such questions as may be necessary on the matter – one Benjamin Groves together with Mr Lydall, the Coast Waiter at Ryde, also desired to attend. Their several examinations under oath are also transmitted for your Honors consideration.
Reply from Board
12 July 1827 No. 252 – B Brown was dismissed.
1 July 2010