Monday, January 9, 2012

Two Tins of Turnips, A Turtle....and A Cabin Boy......

In 1883, John Henry Want, an Australian lawyer, purchased an English yacht named the Mignonette.  The only practical way of transporting the vessel from England to Australia was by sailing her there.  However, she was a small vessel, and it took some time before Barrister Want could find a suitable crew capable of making, and willing to make, the 15,000-mile voyage.  She did finally set sail for Sydney from Southampton on May 19, 1884 with a crew of 4:  The captain, Tom Dudley; the mate, Edwin Stephens; a crewman, Edmund Brooks; and a cabin or ship's boy, Richard Parker (no relation that I know of to our dear Linda Parker).  Parker was only 17 years old and not an experienced seaman.

The voyage went rather uneventfully for a month and a half, but on July 5, 1884, things changed.  Though the weather was not extreme, and the vessel was not in any difficulty, the captain gave the order to "heave to" so the crew could enjoy a good nights rest.  As Parker went below to fix tea, a wave struck the Mignonette and crashed through the lee bulwark.  Realizing the yacht was doomed, the captain ordered the single 13-foot lifeboat to be lowered.  

The Mignonette sank within 5 minutes of being struck.  The crew escaped with a few navigational instruments and two tins of turnips.  The lifeboat was of flimsy construction, with boards a mere 1/4" thick.  The very first night, the crew had to fight off a shark with their oars.  Historical accounts indicate that they were about 700 - 1,000 miles from the nearest land.  The captain saved the first tin of turnips until July 7th, at which time its 5 pieces were shared among the 4 men.  Two days later, Brooks spotted a turtle, which Stephens dragged on board.  The men devoured the turtle, bones and all, but would not drink its blood since the blood had been contaminated with seawater.  The turtle, together with the second tin of turnips, lasted the men until July 17th.  However, they were unable to catch any rainwater and finally began drinking their own urine.  Young Mr. Parker, however, could not resist the temptation of seawater and became quite ill.  By July 20th, he lay helpless at the bottom of the lifeboat, drifting in and out of consciousness.

On the 18th day adrift - after 7 days without food, and five without water - the captain proposed that lots should be drawn so that one of them could be sacrificed to feed the others.  Brooks rejected the proposal, and Mr. Parker was not consulted.  That night, the captain again raised the matter with Stephens and pointed out that young Parker was probably dying, and that he (Dudley) and Stephens had wives and families.  They let the matter alone until morning.  But morning came, with no prospect of rescue in sight.  Dudley and Stephens silently signaled to each other that Parker would be killed.  (Killing Parker before his "natural death" would make his blood more suitable for drinking.)  Dudley said a prayer and, with Stephens standing by to hold the youth's legs should he struggle, Dudley pushed his penknife into Parker's jugular vein, killing him.

All three of the remaining crew - Dudley, Stephens, and Brooks - fed on Parker's body and drank his blood in the days to come.  The crew finally did manage to catch some rainwater off their parkas.  Four days after the killing, the three survivors were spotted by a German vessel, picked up by it, and ultimately returned to England.

All three men were eventually arrested and charged with murder.  The charges against Mr. Brooks, however, were ultimately dismissed, and he was called as a witness against the other two.

Now what say ye....are these two men guilty or not guilty of murder????  As ye ponder, I will tell ye that it can be assumed that, had the men not fed on the body, they probably would not have survived to have been picked up and rescued, but would have, within the 4 days, died of starvation.  Also, it may be assumed that the boy was likely to have died before them.....


I'm deep in it and, as you can see, my mind wanders terribly....but this is, in fact, a real case that will be discussed in this week's class....Thought you might like to know what I've been up to.....   (Yes, I'm teaching business law....but we have to keep things interesting, eh?)


 I miss ye you all horribly.....I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive my scarcity and silence.....


Sheila said...

Ye,(you) had me going back to the top to make sure of what blog I was reading! LOL, but I did find it interesting none the less.
to be continued?

Rugs and Pugs said...

Fascinating case!
We miss ye, er I mean you, too!
Pug hugs :)

Pam at Antique or Not said...

My take on the case: According to our law, yes they were guilty of murder. Even though there were extenuating circumstances (i.e. their own survival), they weren't taking Parker's life in self-defense, which would ameliorate their guilt.

Some might argue that saving their own skins was self-defense, in a way, but I think that poor Parker might disagree. ;o)

Interesting case!


Linda ★ Parker's Paradise said...

First, I've missed you and this was a rousing way to re-enter. Love the story and love the inner struggles. Glad I didn't have to make any of those decisions! Yikes!
Second, I love the Farmer's Daughter! How sweet is that place!?!
Hope all is going well with school. I can see that it is interesting.....
★ Linda ★

Deneen@dreaming-n-color said...

sounds interesting! Lucky you to be learning!Good Luck! Miss you!

Anonymous said...

wow, thats some deep @#$%, (pardon my french)
a little cranky crow is better than no cranky crow, take care,

A Primitive Homestead said...

I am sure you will have many opinions in your class on this case. I had hoped you would share a bit of your teaching. I never went beyond high school. This was fun to be a part of your class. Blessings!

Nancy said...

I hear ye an miss ye.
Interesting case Holmes.
Gruesome yet interesting none thee less. If your ears ring, it's your cyber friends thinking of you ;-)
Hugs and may ye be fruitful in your teaching endeavor. Awe heck we are jist so proud of you Missy!! Hugs

Ronda Tedder said...

Here ye, my fellow blogger, get here when you can. Be sure and report the verdict on this interesting case.....sounds like you are enjoying!

Miss you,

Pamela@ Our Pioneer Homestead said...

HI!Hope all is well with You~

outjunking said...

Ok I just watch the movie The Donner Party believe it or not. I would like to think I am a survivor but to eat your co work. I guess they were following captains orders.
Oh you are always so fun... miss ya!
have a great week,

oldgreymare said...

Fascinating to ponder but since I am sleepy, I will save the pondering for the morning. Good to see you, I am a mite absent myself these days. :D

My Primitive Creations by Tonya said...

Well Hello Teacher.. I would have enjoyed being in your class room..I love stories like that..I find them extremely interesting..
I do miss you tho.. but it sounds like you are making your class room enjoyable..

Thanks for sharing!!


Janet-Olde Crow Primitives said...

Hi Robin. Sounds like you are enjoying your new job. It sounds so interesting.
Wish I was in that class, I always wanted to be a Lawyer, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.
Have a great week.

Mugwump Woolies said...

Hi Robin, This tale is one that happened more than once at sea. Anyone interested in similar sea tales should read the fabulous book "In the Heart of the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is the true story of the sinking of whaleship Essex" and the crew who survived to tell the story of their ordeal....a terrific read!

Farmhouse prims said...

What an interesting case, it sounds like you have an awesome job! Miss you, but I know what it is like to be busy. Hugs, Lecia

Ann said...

I've been thinking about you, as the college kids leave town and head back to start a new semester. Thinking you'll be right there with them. I personally loved my business law class - there were always interesting discussions - way better than in organic chemistry class! Stop in when you can. ~Ann

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have some interesting classes to teach. It sure gives the mind something to think about. I will check back on the verdict. Please let us know. I sure do miss you, but understand that teaching has kept you busy.
Country at heart

Jeanne said...

First, gross! (I would have died before I feed off of someone) LOL. I work for 3 attorneys and we NEVER discuss stuff like this....wish I worked for you :-)

Tolentreasures said...

Ok, that made me more tense than I need to be in the morning! Interesting post! Glad that I make t-shirts for a living, don't think I could handle the stress!
What do you do to UNwind?


Christine said...

Hi Robyn good to know you're still alive and kicking - unlike poor Parker! I'd describe that as a real 'onion peel' case as there are so many layers to examine!
Hope you are settling in well!
Best wishes

Shirlee said...

You are going to hold your class in the palm of your hand! Blessings, Shirlee

Kim said...

Oh, I love those kinds of questions. Your class sounds like so much fun!
Years ago I had a horrible evil neighbor at the cottage. I used to ask myself if I heard him yelling for help on the other side of the fence "would I go over or just turn up the TV"?

Judy @ A Meek Perspective said...

Oh my.... I would love to read a follow up blog on how your class hashed out the case. On an 8th grade field trip to Williamsburg, VA with my son's class, they attended and decided a trial about a witch. It also had a very dividing decision. Very interesting read.

Judy :)

Karen/My Colonial Home said...

ROBIN...THIS WAS ONE GREAT POST...I loooved it. Very interesting and now it will be on the shoulders of the students to decide...GREAT SUBJECT MATTER.
I hope you let us know how this all turns out with the class.
Thanks missy!!!!!

Cottonwood Lane Primitives said...

Hi Robin: Leave it to you to make business law interesting! I'd think you'd have a great discussion on this. I used to work for attorneys and one of them told me "when you assume.." so I'd vote for the guilty verdict. ~Roberta

Angela said...

Woozers Robin, This is really something for my little brain to ponder during the day. Rather interesting. I am sure you will hold the attention of your class with this one. Hoping you will so enjoy teaching this class, but you are missed here my friend. Have a wonderful week

Deppen homestead 1862 said...

Very intriguing~you had me into it~ Girl you are going to be a great teacher!!
miss you~ have fun !!!

Carolynn Cecilia said...

Fascinating indeed! What a predicament to find yourself in. I personally would not kill and eat another human and not just because I'm a vegan {hehe}, but because it does not feel the right thing to do. Regardless of the dire circumstances.

oldecrow said...

Love this stuff! Wish I could be in your class!Hummmm, can you do online classes?
Olde crow Mercantile

deb said...

wow....awesome stuff...BUT I have thought about this, and I think I would probably have starved before I could ever eat anyone....or a raw turtle, but then you never know do you???
keep em coming!!!

Robin said...

Hey Robin, I would love to be in the class!! I bet you will have a great debate going for probably a couple days!! Miss you!

Carmen and the Primcats said...

Oh how I enjoy a good story... And that was a good one.

You are certainly keeping it interesting!

We miss you too!

Carmen and the Primcats

Sassafras and Winterberry said...

Ay, matey...what a goodly yarn! 'Course I'm just coming off a colonoscopy and still a bit the eating of the poor lad is coming back at me a bit! LOL
I'd borrow this lesson plan, but 3rd graders aren't quite this bloodthirsty my fifth graders would have loved it! (But I would have gotten a lot of calls!~grin~) Your class will be enthralled!
Always good to hear from you friend!
Hugs and Miss You!

Linda said...

What an interesting glad I wasn't on the jury! I sure miss you!! have a great day!!

frontporchprims said...

They might plead insanity from thier condition..... some will do the craziest things to be able to get back to thier families. This might make a movie. Nice to hear from you:) -Steph-

Misi said...

Very interesting to read....Please do share what your class has to offer on this case.
Missing you Robin!

Green Creek Primitives said...

Now that was an interesting story, been missing your post, so glad to hear from you. Vicky

Kendra said...

Wow! I shared that with the boys (J wants to be a lawyer) to see what they thought. Anyway, alot of fun for a family discussion. Thanks for sharing!

We miss you but we understand...looking forward to Spring break though!


Vicki said...

Oh my, you will be arguing this one all day tomorrow! We do miss you!

Cindy said...

Very Interesting...I will ponder this over. I can see both sides. It would be a hard decision to make but they had to do what was necessary.
Glad to see you!

Prims By The Water said...

Missed you ole Cranky Crow. Hope you tell us the rest of the story. Take care, Janice

floweringmama said...

I couldn't stop reading! I miss hearing from you but know you are insanely busy! Don't leave us all hanging with how the story ends.

A Primitive Place & Country Journal Magazine said...

Ugh! LOL I didn't want to read any more but just had to find out what happened next! Would love to be a fly on the wall in class to hear the discussions!

It hanks for such a fascinating post!! hugs

Linda - BehindMyRedDoor

~willa~ said...

This Juror would vote guilty. It was stated that poor Parker was not informed of this decision by the rest of the crew. Plus the fact that he was held down against his will points to his will to survive and his unwillingness to be the sacrificial meal.

Robin we understand your busy life right now. Hang in there and visit when you can.

Marla said...

What a fascinating read! Please keep these stories coming as you can find the time. I love your blog, just never commmented before. Would have loved to have you as a professor. Maybe if my son had had you as his professor, he would have went into law.