The Julia Blake
107 U.S. 418 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Julia Blake, 107 U.S. 418 (1883)

The Julia Blake, 107 U.S. 418 (1883)

Decided April 30, 1883

107 U.S. 418




1. The master of a vessel can neither sell nor hypothecate the cargo, except in case of urgent necessity, and he can only lawfully do what is directly or indirectly for its benefit, considering the situation in which it has been placed by the accidents of the voyage.

2. The necessity under which he acts is a question of fact, to be determined in each case by its circumstances, and upon his hypothecation of the cargo under his implied authority, the lenders are chargeable with notice of the facts on which he appears to rely as his justification, and they must make inquiries and judge for themselves and at their own risk whether the owner, if present, would do or ought to do what, in his absence, the master is undertaking to do for him. Before there can be a recovery against the owner, it must be shown that the circumstances were such as to make it apparently proper for the master to do what he has done. To this extent, the burden of proof is clearly on the lenders.

3. Where it appears that from the port where the vessel entered in distress the cargo could be forwarded by another vessel, and that it was for the interest of the shipper that it should be so forwarded instead of being hypothecated to pay for the repairs of the vessel, and that they could not have been effected without an expense to him of very much more than it would cost to reclaim his property, pay all lawful charges on it, and forward it by another vessel, held that the master had no authority to pledge the cargo without the consent of the shipper or the consignee.

4. Although the bottomry bond cannot be enforced against the cargo, the latter will not be held in that suit for any charges which the vessel may have thereon where a claim for them is not made in the libel.

The case is fully stated in the opinion of the Court.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a suit instituted by the Bank of St. Thomas, as the holder of a bottomry bond, against the British brigantine Julia Blake, her cargo and freight. The decree of the district court condemned the vessel and freight, but acquitted the cargo and its claimants. No appeal was taken on behalf of the vessel and freight, but the libellant carried the case to the circuit court for a review of the decree as to the cargo. The

Page 107 U. S. 419

bond was for $11,600, with fourteen percent marine premium, and the net proceeds of the vessel and freight were about $3,500. On the hearing in the circuit court, the libel was again dismissed as to the cargo, and from a decree to that effect this appeal was taken. The facts found by the circuit court, on which in our opinion the rights of the parties depend, may be stated as follows:

The Julia Blake, a British vessel owned by Peter Blake of Nova Scotia, left Rio de Janeiro on or about the 31st of March, 1876, for New York, having on board a cargo consisting of 582 logs of rosewood. The bills of lading were three in number, and were drawn to the order of James Philip Mee of Rio de Janeiro, the shipper, for two hundred and fifty-three, one hundred and thirty-nine, and one hundred and ninety logs respectively. About two hundred of the logs belonged to Mee, but the claimants had made advances on them to him. All the rest belonged to the claimants. The charter party was dated March 16, 1876, and named Mee as the charterer. The stipulated freight was

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