William Cadmer allegedly commits mutiny and assault on the Lizzie Jarvis in Port Townsend on December 11, 1856.

  • By Evan Horner and Titus Rhode, Sehome High School
  • Posted 8/01/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8212
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On December 11, 1856, William Cadmer allegedly commits mutiny and assault on the Lizzie Jarvis, a cargo ship, in Port Townsend. The vessel was christened in New Granada (northern Latin America) and docked in Port Townsend on November 14, 1856. After a month in harbor, Captain Thomas J. Knife requests Justice L. B. Wilson of Jefferson County to arrest Cadmer on charges of mutiny and assault with a deadly weapon. According to Knife, Cadmer struck a fellow crewmember over the head with a handspike with intent to kill. The accused is tried on charges of mutiny and assault with a deadly weapon.

The Trial

Port Townsend was a rowdy town in 1856. A U.S. Customs port of entry since 1854 and site of a Marine Hospital, hundreds of sailors, ships, and merchandise came through there in their way into and out of the Puget Sound. Boarding houses, as well as dozens of saloons and brothels, supported maritime life. The Lizzie Jarvis was one such ship coming to port. She traveled regularly between the Western American coast and Hong Kong.

On December 13, 1856, two days following Cadmer’s offense, L. B. Wilson set a warrant out for his arrest and sent it to the sheriff of Jefferson County. William Cadmer was promptly collected and brought before L. B. Wilson. He was then put in jail until his trial, set on January 20. His crime was serious. A handspike, used as a lever in winches for raising and lowering sails, was heavy as a crowbar and could kill.  

What became of William Cadmer was not detailed in the original court case, and we do not know what happened to him. We do know that the Lizzie Jarvis set sail for Hong Kong on January 31, 1857.

Cadmer Court Case Records 

Even though the court case never specified what became of William Cadmer, it did show these various fees showing the cost of bringing him to court. 

  • Sending Warrant  $1.00
  • Committing to Prison $1.00
  • Mileage $6.00
  • Boarding Fee $4.00
  • Leo and Clay Prison $7.50
  • Paid boarding (for self)  $7.50
  • Passage home $10.00

In the year 2006, the costs would look more like this: 

  • Sending Warrant  $20.88
  • Committing to Prison  $20.88
  • Mileage $125.27
  • Boarding Fee $83.51
  • Leo and Clay Prison $156.59
  • Paid boarding (for self) $156.59
  • Passage home $208.79

Sources: Territory of Washington v. William Cadmer, 1856, Criminal (Civil Admiralty) Case No. 62 Filed February 7, 1857,  Series NW 316-3-2 Jefferson County Territorial Court Case Files, Northwest Regional Branch, Washington State Archives.

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