Massacre on the BERENICE 1854

Southport Visiter

Jan 25th 1855

Horrible massacre and burning of a British ship

Information has been received of a tragic occurrence on board the British ship BERENICE, Master Capt CUNDY, with his wife, chief mate and others, having been massacred by the crew, who afterwards set fire to the ship and destroyed her to prevent detection.

The BERENICE sailed from Shanghai on the 15th July 1852 with a cargo of tea for Sydney. Her crew shipped at Singapore, mostly of men from different parts of Netherland, India.

During the voyage two sailors spoke of believing there was a large amount of gold on board and a plan was concocted to take possession of it, [then near Anger] and assassinate the Europeans on board. The ringleaders as far as could be proved, were the Serang, or Boatswain’s mate known as “Alie” and seven others.

Mr ROBERTS, the mate, was enticed to the forepart of the ship, where he was instantly murdered by Alie, Capt CUNDY who ran to his assistance met with a similar fate, as did three seamen. Mrs CUNDY was taken from between decks, where she had flown for refuge, and thrown overboard.

A French passenger who had joined the ship at Shanghai and three Bengalees and Amboyna men where not found, they must have thrown themselves into the sea or been thrown overboard.

The tragic scene completed the murdered were thrown overboard, all traces of blood were washed away and they commenced to search for the gold supposed on board. All the money that was on board , however, consisted of about 100 florins and 40 Spanish dollars.

The plunder was equally divided by Alie and it was agreed to sail to Tauban, then abandon the ship and set fire to it. The ship gaining Tagal was set on fire and Alie and his party took to the boats. Several were left behind and burned on the vessel.

Finding their mistake on gaining the Heights of Tagal, they were compelled to get rid of most of their plunder by throwing it overboard.

They, however, by their plausible story, deceived the authorities of the place, who gave them every feeling of compassion and supplied them with means.

Afterwards the discovery of the wreck of the burnt ship and the bodies of some of the crew, excited suspicion , and after investigations by the magisterial officers the whole diabolical affair was elicited by some of the suspected confessing to the charges brought against them.

The ringleaders, nine in number, where brought to trial in September last and found guilty, 5 were sentenced to 20yrs banishment and the others executed on the 13th October last in the public square at Tagal.

Things which helped to convict the prisoners were a gold watch and chain, ornaments and clothing belonging to the late Captain and his wife.

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