corpunWorld Corporal Punishment Research :  Regulations, etc. : UK Navy Court Martial 1861

United Kingdom - Royal Navy

Extract from evidence to Court Martial re excessive punishment of boys

Admiralty Papers - Public Record Office - ADM Courts Martial 1861

[Commander Nicolas of HMS Trident was court-martialled for the punishments he ordered to 16-year-old Horace Hudson and 15-year-old Philip Crannis over three days in November 1861. The following questions and replies were recorded at the Court Martial.]

Boy Philip Crannis

With what instrument did you receive your punishment and how?

With a cane, by the Corporal across the bottom.

Why were you punished?

For breaking of leave....

Were you punished again on Tuesday?


Was the Captain present on all three occasions?

Yes, during the whole of the punishments.

Were you tied up when you were undergoing punishment?

No. We were held by a Corporal and the other boy.

Were your clothes taken down?

Our serge and our flannel were taken out of our trousers, that was all.

Had you on blue or white trousers?


What was the size of the cane?

An ordinary size cane.

Did you go to the Doctor on Saturday?

No, not till Tuesday afternoon.

Boy Horace Hudson

By whom were you flogged and what with?

Corporal Buckley. A cane.

How did he strike you?

Across the backside.

Had you your clothes on?


Were you tied up or held?

Held by Corporal Johns and Boy Crannis...

Did you go to the Doctor at all after these punishments?


Did you make any complaint to anyone?


Had you your frock on during the punishments?

On, but out of my trousers...

Lt. Edward Hartwell

On Tuesday the 12th, Boy Crannis being then in the act of sweeping the deck was ordered by Commander Nicholas to send the Corporal of Marines on deck and tell him to bring his cane. The boy begged hard that the punishment might be delayed as he said from the effects of the previous punishment he was extremely sore and could hardly sit down. He was then punished in the same manner.

How many cuts do you think they had on Monday 11th?

From sixty to seventy each.

How many had Boy Crannis on Tuesday?

One hundred and fifteen.

Did you count them?

I counted eighty.

Were they severely dealt?

Very severely.

Do you consider the punishment to have been cruel?

Yes. I was so incensed that I could have contained myself no longer had I remained on deck.

Did you see the boy's bottom?


Do you consider that the punishment to either of the boys was more severe than four dozen over the naked bottom in the usual way?

A great deal more so.

Lt. James Denniston

Do you know why Boy Crannis was not punished immediately after Boy Hudson?

That the Corporal might rest.

Surgeon Charles Chambers

Were you present during either of the punishments inflicted on the Boys Crannis and Hudson?

I was present accidentally on one occasion.

Did the Boy Crannis go into the Sick List on 12th November?


What for?

For severe contusions on both buttocks, particularly the right.

From the appearance of the injuries do you think the flogging must have been severe?


Do you think the punishment was more severe than if the boy had got four dozen in the regular way?


Did Boy Crannis complain to you of having been insensible after his punishment?


Cpl. William Buckley

Did you inflict the punishments of Boy Crannis and Hudson on the 9th November?


What did you flog them with?

A cane....

Did you hit them hard?


As hard as you could?


Do you usually punish the boys when they are caned?


Who does usually cane the boys?

Ships Corporal Johns.

What size cane was it you punished the boys with?

An ordinary size cane.

About how many cuts on Crannis on Monday?

About a hundred perhaps.

Did he appear to suffer much?

On the last occasion he appeared to suffer a little.

Did he cry out?


How soon after you began did he cry out?

I had punished him some time before he began to cry out.

Have you ever punished the boys before?

Yes, before the Ships’ Corporal joined the ship.

When Crannis was punished on Tuesday did he show any symptoms of becoming insensible at any time?

Not until the punishment was over.

Did he then?


Ships’ Corporal John Johns

Were you present on Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th when punishments were inflicted on them?


Describe how it was inflicted.

They were held over the bitts by one hand by the other boy and I held the other hand. The blue serge was taken out of their trousers and it was inflicted over the blue trousers in the standing and bent position.

How many cuts were given to Crannis on Tuesday?

One hundred and sixteen cuts. I counted them.

Were they severely inflicted?


Did Crannis show any symptoms of becoming insensible while being punished on Tuesday?

On Tuesday the last dozen he had he appeared to lose all command of himself, taking it without screaming as he did before.

Up to the time Boy Crannis became partly insensible during his punishment on Tuesday had he been crying out?


[Commander Nicholas admitted that he had committed a grave and serious error of judgement and he was sentenced to be discharged with disgrace.]

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