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sea Hospital, indeed, was the common depository of all unclaimed shares of British military officers; but this gentleman, sir Robert Hall, was clearly not a "British military officer;" he was a British "naval" officer, and a "Sicilian military" officer. Though it had remained in the hospital for several years, this prize share was to be considered as not having been paid in, in the regular way that British property of such a description would have been, in the usual course; namely, under the intention, that, being unclaimed, it would, after a certain lapse of time, become vested in the hospital. For as Sicilian property, though unclaimed, it would not have become so vested; nor could any provision to the contrary, bearing on foreign prize shares, be made, without being in some degree discoloured by injustice. It appeared, that in the Sicilian prize list, made out with perfect accuracy, sir Robert Hall was described as a Sicilian brigadier general, and a large sum was assigned to him! in that character by the agents for the distribution. Unfortunately, it happened that in the British naval prize list, he was likewise entered, and described as a naval officer. Now the usual course observed, in respect of English prize or booty, with regard to prize, to " conjoint expeditions" of the British and foreign forces, was this: that an English officer holding rank also in the foreign service was not entided to share in both capacities, but in the higher and more profitable of them. The prize due to the other office, which the individual should appear to have evacuated, and not to have fulfilled, but the duties of which he had left to be performed by other officers
of the same class, that other share was held to be divisible as among those other officers. By the English course of prize property, therefore, an officer thus situated had a right to take the higher proportion of the two proportions which the commission might afford, but to that superior share he must confine himself. By a common error, however, in this case—an error common to all the parties—this rule was not observed. In that error it appeared that latterly sir Robert Hall himself had become involved; for he himself appeared as a British naval officer, and took the booty erroneously assigned to him in that character. He never came forward as a Sicilian military officer, which he was most undoubtedly entitled to do. At least, it did not seem that any application was ever made by him in that capacity, and he actually received as a British naval officer. That share he decidedly received in error; but with perfect integrity on his part, since he never claimed the higher share which was due to him. Whether he did not consider himself entitled as a Sicilian brigadier-general, or acted under that common delusion which had operated, apparently, on all parties in this matter, he had never asked for his military proportion; and by that means had come off minus about 5001. (the difference between the share he did take, and that which he should have taken). His share as a British naval officer was something more than 700/. The share he ought to have drawn as a Sicilian major-general, and that which was now in question, was 1291/. so that, in truth, he had acted upon an erroneous notion; a notion in which all parties seemed to have been involved, and of which
the fallaciousness added much to the obscurity that brooded over the whole of the case. But, in this, sir Robert Hall had acted in honest error; not meaning to take more, but willing to take much less, than what properly belonged to him, in virtue of that station to which he had been called by the principal authorities in the Sicilian service. These facts had opposed great difficulties to the possibility of the Court finding its way to the justice of this case. If they had not occurred, the course of that justice would have been very obvious and easy. It would have consisted in the Court's ordering the payment over to sir Robert Hall, of the sum now demanded by the Sicilian ambassador, 1,291/.; and in directing sir Robert to repay on account of the officers who had served in this affair as post-captain in the British navy, the sum which he had wrongfully taken, as a postcaptain himself; a course of proceeding with which, had he been living, he would have testified a ready compliance. Whether the officers, to whom such post-captain's share would then have reverted, and who discharged those duties which he must have so evacuated on the occasion—whether they were now living or dead, did not appear, and it was not perhaps very material for the Court to be apprized, seeing that the Court could hardly set the matter right, were they even to appear. For it could not order a fresh distribution of such share at this time of day, seeing that that account was closed.
The only question now was, how far this apportionment of naval prize, which had most incorrectly taken place as to sir Robert Hall, should ilcstEoy his claim to the
larger sum due to him as a Sicilian military officer, on account of the capture of Genoa? And here the Court must admit, that if it should turn out that this latter was a good claim, the Court was bound by the order in council, and the acts of parliament which had been referred to in argument, to order the money to be paid over to the Sicilian ambassador. As to the claim which had been interposed on the part of the British representatives of sir Robert Hall, it was very difficult for his lordship to meet it, under the present state of the case, with all that attention which was undoubtedly due to those by whom it had been so advanced. For, if this were Sicilian property, it was to be paid over to the Sicilian plenipotentiary ; and the Court was disposed to think with counsel, that by his excellency it was to be remitted to Sicily, there to be dealt with according to the rules of her service, and the general prize regulations of that country. Now what those regulations were with respect to prize property which had been unclaimed during the life-time of the party entitled, the Court could not state. Probably such property escheated to the Crown; or being so unclaimed during the life-time of such party, was forfeited to the uses of some naval establishment in Sicily, or some charitable institution in that country, of a nature similar to that of some charities in this kingdom. The Court had, perhaps, the less reason to deplore its own ignorance on this point; seeing that the Court, at all events, had it not in its power to apply the money claimed, to the relief in any way of the parties representing sir Robert Hall here, on the principle of British representation. It was specifically directed by the acts
of parliament, that monies of this kind, thus circumstanced, should be paid over to the minister plenipotentiary of the ling of the Two Sicilies; and the lapse of time which had intervened in this instance, made no sort of difference as to the efficiency of that order. Neither those acts, nor the order in council, comprised any limitation as to time, and their application was just the same as if the case were of the freshest occurrence. It was the duty of the Court to carry their enactments into execution as imperatively Jand peremptorily at this day and hour, as it would have been at the earliest opportunity which could have presented itself for acting on such statutes. The jurisdiction that they created for this Court began and closed with the attainment of a particular object, which was as binding now as it could have been at any former period. If lapse of time, then, would not affect the application of these acts, what was to be said as to sir Robert Hall's having received a prize share as a naval officer? , Why, the Court was bound to consider that the payment which had been so made to him, was made altogether in error. He was, in fact, to take as a Sicilian military officer; and that share was subject to be conveyed to Sicily for distribution, or to be dealt with there according to the will of that sovereign, or the institutions of that country. As to the authority to be respected, at this distance of time, was the Court to prefer a paper (the Sicilian list) which, though neglected during a long lapse of time was not reprehensible on any other account, and which was perfectly accurate and correct as it now stood, or a paper (the British list) which was obviously incorrect, even independently of the proper principle adverted to by the Court, on which sir Robert Hall's greater claim on account of these transactions was founded? His lordship proceeded to shew that he must look upon the former as that which he ought to keep in view; that the acts of parliament, and the order in council, were both clear in their directions, and peremptory as to their enactments; and that his jurisdiction in this matter commenced and ended with them. Finally, he ordered the whole sum of l,29i;. to be paid out of the treasury of Chelsea hospital, to the Sicilian ambassador, according to the injunctions of the statute; and adverting to some charges insinuated in the proceedings against the conduct of the officers of the hospital, as if the original applications of his excellency had been treated with inattention and disrespect, the Court said, it must infer from the entire silence of Counsel on the subject, that such charges had been entirely abandoned: and it in truth saw no reason to think, that the officers in question had done any thing but their duty, or testified the slightest disregard or inattention in the business, to the interests of any of the parties concerned. He recommended the representatives of sir Robert Hall, to apply to the sovereign of Sicily through his minister here, who received these monies, in order to get so much of it as the inclination or liberality of the royal mind of his master might be disposed to allow them. The Court could only lament, that it had no power to do more in regard to them, than to suggest this advice.
Prekogative Court, April 12. Dew v. Clark and Clark.
Sir John Nicoll gave judgment in this extraordinary case to day. The deceased in the cause was the late Mr. Ely Stott, of Hart-street, Bloomsbury, a surgeon and electrician of some eminence, who died in the month of November, 1821, aged 72, leaving behind him an only child, by a former wife, Mrs. Charlotte Mary Dew—his widow, Mrs. Mary Stott—and real and personal property to the value of 40,000/. and upwards. By his will, dated 26th May, 1818, after leaving about 400/. a-year to his wife, during her widowhood, a few legacies to his friends, and altogether 100/. per annum only to his daughter, he bequeathed theresidue of his estate to Thomas and Valentine Clark, his two nephews. This will was opposed on behalf of Mrs. Dew, the daughter, on the ground of the deceased's delusion and unsoundness of mind in respect to her, and of general unsoundness of mind on that topic, and all others connected with it. Although the evidence adduced in support of the will, as well as the averments of the allegations given in, on the part of the nephews, went to make out a case amounting only to what was termed extreme eccentricity of conduct; it resulted from the testimony given on both sides, and indeed from the admissions of the counsel of the Messrs. Clark, that the conduct of the deceased towards his daughter had been, as it was charged to have been, severe and even brutal; but it was contended, at the same time, that these admissions could not affect the general question of the sanity of deceased's mind. On the part of
Mrs. Dew, various acts of the most violent and disgusting brutality were pleaded to have been repeatedly committed by the deceased in his conduct towards her. He had conceived, it was said, from her earliest infancy, an unconquerable aversion for her; he described her, in the singular jargon in which he habitually expressed himself on such subjects, as a child of Satan, and given over, from her birth, to eternal reprobation. He accused her of crimes—and these accusations he was constantly making, even to his own patients—the commission of which, " was absolutely impossible at her tender age," in the language of some of the witnesses—the lord bishop of Durham, for example. He required of her a daily written statement and confession of the most secret thoughts of her heart; and with a capriciousnessof feeling only to be equalled by the barbarity of the treatment to which he subjected her; he would, to-day, shed tears at the mention of her name, describing himself as the most afflicted and unfortunate of parents, and tomorrow, strip and flog her with the most savage fury: in a letter to one of his friends, he would eulogize her talents and great capabilities; in another communication he would impute to her extreme excesses of vice. His unfortunate daughter was accused, by him, of such offences while she was at school; but the witnesses vouch«d to this part of the case, did not attempt to prove any thing beyond some trivial indiscretion of speech; and, even that having happened four-and-twenty years ago, they could not of course depose to it, with any degree of certainty. It appeared that] the school-mistress found the interference of the deceased, and his perpetual dissensions about the "reprobate state" of his daughter extremely inconvenient and troublesome; and gladly availed herself of an opportunity of getting rid, with poor Miss Stott, of the importunities and visionary lamentationsof herfather. The singular eccentricities of the deceased, the strange intermixture of religious fervor and downright blasphemy in his conversation, his severity to his servants, his uncontrollable hatred to draymen, drovers, and butcher-boys, his diurnal contests with offenders in these classes, his whimsical notions of the miraculous virtue of electricity, by which he at one time proposed to discharge all the functions of an accoucheur! his inordinate opinion of himself, amounting to a belief of his own infallibility—and the perseveringhatred with which through life he pursued his daughter, were detailed at great length in the evidence. Mr. Stott was originally a footman; and appears to have been a manof great natural endowments, and to have proceeded, with singular energy, in the acquisition of his practice and his fortune.
The learned judge stated the question to relate to the validity of the will. Mr. Stott had several nephews and nieces, who, as such, would of course not be entitled in distribution. The property of deceased at his death amounted in value to nearly 40,000/. In the month of February, 1821, his wife applied for a commission of lunacy against him; the inquisition was executed accordingly, and the deceased was found to have been of unsound mind from the preceding 1stof January. The will propounded in this cause was dated May, 1818; and had been executed, therefore,
not within the period comprehended in the finding of the jury, under such inquisition, but at a date about three years prior to that period. By the will, he left to his wife all his household furniture, and other things of that description; to his nephew, Thomas Clark, a legacy of 100/.; to his other nephew, Valentine Clark, 150/.; and various other legacies (including some small annuities) of no very great amount, to different individuals; especially to a Miss Hey, in acknowledgment of the endeavours she had exerted in common with himself "for reclaiming his daughter, after the latter had thrice revolted from him, and flung herself from his care and protection." There was a legacy in pretty nearly similar terms to his friend, Mr. Daniel Gough; but the amount was left in blank. To his daughter and only child he bequeathed, altogether, about 100/. per annum only; to his wife, Mary Stott, 400/. a-year during the term of her natural life or widowhood; to his three executors 50/. each; and the whole residue of his real and personal estate, in the event of his, the testator's having no other children at the time of his death, to his nephews, Thomas and Valentine Clark, the parties in this cause. His wife he joined in the executorship of this will with the three executors before alluded to. Such was the substance of the will; and undoubtedly it was a testament very much to the prejudice of the daughter (the other party in the cause) who was his only child, and was yet assigned so small a portion out of this very large property. It was a will, however, very formally drawn up, and attested by three respectable wit»