San Francisco News and Stories: 1800s
Alta California, July 30, 1853
HOMICIDE AT SEA.--The cook of the ship Santiago was shot on the 7th of June, off Cape Horn, by the steward. The Santiago, Chadwick master, arrived yesterday, and we learn from one of the officers of the vessel that the following were the circumstances of the difficulty:
About noon a dispute arose about a small looking glass, between William H. Williams, the cook -- a negro about twenty years of ago -- and the steward, Obadiah Paylin -- a mulatto about twenty-four years old. A few minutes afterwards the first mate, Mr. Drinkwater, saw the cook dragging the steward aft. The mate told the cook to let the steward go and to speak to the captain if anything was wrong. The cook let him go and went back to the galley. The steward then asked permission of the mate to go forward to put on another shirt, the one he had on being slightly torn. The mate gave him permission and he went forward. The mate then went back and spoke to the captain about the affair, which was thought to be of little importance.
About fifteen minutes after the mate went forward and saw the cook and steward standing on the starboard side of the ship, about five feet apart, and the latter was just raising a pistol in his right hand. The mate immediately sprang to get between them, and just as he reached the steward, the latter fired. The ball stuck the cook immediately before the right shoulder and lodged in the chest. Williams died thirty-six hours after.
The steward was placed in irons and has been delivered over to the authorities here. There had been some small difficulties between the parties before, but the cook is represented to have been a peaceable person.
Such are the circumstances as related, but it would be doing injustice to the prisoner, whose life is at stake, to take for granted that he has committed murder. The facts can only be properly known after a judicial investigation, and to decide on the guilt of the prisoner is the province of a jury only.
Wreck of the Medusa: Mutiny, Murder, and Survival on the High Seas
In 1816, a fleet of ships left France to accept the British hand-over of the port of Saint-Louis in Senegal. Among them was the frigate Medusa. A month after it set sail, she shank miles off of Africa s west coast, leaving the passengers to flee on lifeboats and a raft cobbled together from parts of the sinking ship. After a failed attempt by those in the lifeboats to tow the raft, it and the more than 150 people aboard were abandoned. This is the horrific tale, filled with suicide, murder, and cannibalism, of those left behind.
Piracy, Mutiny and Murder on the High Seas
Set in the mid-1800s, this historical novel is a twisted tale of mutiny and murder based on the true story of the gruesome massacre of two ship captains and four sailors.
The author, William Crooker, a graduate of Dalhousie University, was a Land Surveyor and Professional Engineer from Halifax. He is the author of a number of books including Oak Island Gold, The Oak Island Quest, Tracking Treasure, and Pirates of the North Atlantic. He passed away in 2005.