An incident recorded in the ship's log of the Warren Hastings by Captain Rawes on the voyage to China, 6th of July 1823. Out of the six voyages that Captain Rawes made to the Far East, this is the only incident of its kind to have taken place. Captain Rawes' punishment of some of the individuals appears harsh, but not for the time. There are many recorded instances of up to 100 lashes for malefactors in Van Diemen’s Land for comparatively trivial offences. The crew was made up of all sorts of rough characters, most of whom were unknown to the men doing the recruiting. This is also the only voyage that Captain Rawes commanded without stopping on the way. This would have been an added strain to the cramped living and working conditions on ship with its complement of over 140 souls. The living conditions on Royal Navy ships of the time was a good deal harsher not to mention the generally severe punishment for misdemeanors.

"At 3pm Mr Eyles 1st Officer informed me the greater part of the Starboard Watch had refused to come on deck when the hands were turned out but with the assistance of Mr Edwards 2nd Officer he had sent them up. I went on deck & questioned the men individually what reason they had for acting in this way & pointed out to them the great impropriety of their conduct. They answered that they wanted fair play, that the Starboard Watch had been favoured, they thought the Watch sufficient for the duty, & that they would not be imposed upon. I again endeavoured to convince them that no favour would have been shown to either Watch or any man. Some returned to their duty but the men named hereafter said they would stand by one another & share the same fate. Three men I ordered in Irons, when Mr Hamilton, Quarter Master & George Gifford, Seaman who had promised to return quietly to their duty & had expressed themselves sorry for having refused to come on deck came up to me & told me they would share the same fate as their Ship Mates, do as they did & stand by them.

Finding it absolutely necessary to put a check to such a decided spirit of disobedience & (almost) mutiny I turned the hands out again & sent everybody aft to the Quarter Deck & preparations made for punishment - and John Browne was tied up for that purpose. When G.B. Clifford, John Campbell & Samuel Kirby (all of the Starboard Watch stood out from the rest of the Ships Company & vindicated the conduct of the prisoners & questioned the propriety of punishment as they did not know what it was for. I told them it was for refusing to do their duty & then asked the whole Ships Company if they had any complaint whatsoever to make or if they had ever been ill-treated, if so & they would quietly make known their grievances on the Quarter Deck (as they had before been told) they would have them remedied - the people had no complaint to make. I then desired the Boatswain to proceed with the punishment, when Samuel Kirby rushed forward opened his knife & declared he would risk his life in trying to cut the prisoner down. I purposely let him pass me to do so & had him secured – George Gifford & J. Campbell also rushed forward with the same intent but upon my presenting my pistol & threatening the first man that moved they stood quiet. John Browne was then punished with forty one lashes & was cut down upon expressing his contrition for his offence. I then ordered Samuel Kirby to be seized up; during his punishment James Allbar (Ordinary Seaman) got into the main rigging with his knife in his hand and attempted to cut the prisoner down; he was also secured & handcuffed. Mr Hamilton having previously during the voyage conducted himself well & upon proof that he was misled by William Browne in coming aft again & expressing himself sensible of his error was released. Getting dark I now dismissed the men. During the night the men in Irons were in a violent & refractory state.

In the morning at 10am – Turned the hands out & when assembled on the Quarter Deck a desire to know the ringleaders of the disobedience of the preceding day & asked if any of the men would point them out as it was only the misleaders of the Crew I wished to punish if discovered & proved to be such. Mr Small the Boatswain, Stephen Roberts & George Welch (Quarter Masters) then came forward & pointed out William Davis, William Hamilton & George Gifford as being the principals in persuading the rest of the men not to go on deck. John Miller (Gunners Mate) also deposed that William Davis had for a long time past been endeavouring to persuade the people to prevent punishment for any offence they might commit, & told them they had only to stand by one another to prevent it, & if they were of his opinion no other man should be punished.

From the evidence of the above witnesses there could be no doubt who were the instigators of the disturbance of yesterday & feeling the necessity of putting a decided check to such proceedings for the future I punished Mr Hamilton with thirty one lashes – George Gifford with thirty six – John Cockerill with twenty four & Mr Davis with forty eight. Mr Hamilton when punished acknowledged he was misled by Gifford, who the evening before (although in the Starboard Watch) called down the hatchway for the Larboard Watch [port side] to stay below & not move. Reduced Edward Coale from the situation of Quarter Master to ordinary seaman & William Davis, continuing still turbulent & having from all the evidence been the principal instigator in misleading the Crew, confined him in Irons. Released the rest of the prisoners upon their expressing contrition for their fault & promise of future good conduct."

Names of the Men who refused to go on deck;
Edward Coale, Quarter Master
John Jones, 1st Boatswain’s Mate
William Hamilton, Quarter Master
William Davis, Seaman
William Scott, ditto
John Browne, ditto
Thomas Callaghan, ditto
John Cockerill, ditto
Charles Hinton, ditto
George Strange, ditto
George Henderson, ditto
William Bowker, ditto
Joseph Lobb, ditto
James Allbar, ditto
David Laing, ditto

Names of Men confined in Irons.
Edward Coale, 2nd Master
William Jefferies, ditto
John Jones, Boatswain’s Mate
William Davis, Seaman
William Scott, ditto
John Cockerill, ditto
Charles Hinton, ditto

Transcribed from the original by Bryant Bayliffe, 2014