The Emily Souder
APPEALS from the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York.
The firm of Packenham Beatty & Co., and also a certain Pritchard, filed separate libels in the District Court of the district just mentioned, against the steamer Emily Souder, an American vessel, owned in New York. The case was thus:
The steamer while on a voyage to that port from Rio Janeiro in June, 1865, lost her screw, and was compelled to put into the port of Maranham, on the coast of Brazil, for repairs. Her captain was without funds, sufficient to meet the expenses for these repairs, and other expenses incurred and to be incurred to enable the vessel to proceed on her voyage. The funds in his possession did not amount to $600, and both he and the owners of the vessel were unknown in the port of Maranham, and without credit. He accordingly applied to the consul of the United States there to find him a consignee, who would advance the necessary funds and attend to the business of the vessel. The consul applied in company with the captain to several persons without success, but finally an arrangement was made which was satisfactory, with the firm of Packenham Beatty & Co., merchants at that port; they to receive five per cent. commission on the amount advanced, and five per cent. commission for attending to the business of the vessel.
The steamer was repaired, and supplies furnished to enable the vessel to proceed on her voyage, and the funds for these items, and also to pay the charges for towing the vessel when disabled into port by another steamer which had been signalled for, and for pilotage, and for the dues at the custom-house, fees of the consul, and charges for medical attendance upon the sailors in port, were furnished by the libellants. The different items were all submitted to the captain, and were approved by him before they were paid.
Pritchard, one of the libellants, was applied to by the captain to advance the funds before the arrangement was made with Packenham Beatty & Co., the other libellants. He then said that he would see what he could do. Afterwards he consented to advance a portion of the funds. Accordingly two drafts were drawn by the captain on the owners of the vessel in New York, for the amounts advanced, and one of them was given to Pritchard, and the other to Packenham Beatty & Co. The drafts were payable thirty days after sight in gold; the currency in which the advances were made. The drafts were presented and accepted, but on their maturity were protested for non-payment. The holders thereupon filed libels against the vessel, producing the drafts in court on the trial, and surrendering them for cancellation. Beatty, of the firm of Packenham Beatty & Co., and Pritchard, both testified that the advances in Maranham were made on the credit of the vessel, and would not have been made on any other condition; but that the drafts were taken only as conditional payment, and not in satisfaction of the sums advanced. The testimony of the captain was somewhat in conflict with this, he stating that the advances were made on the credit of the owners of the vessel and upon drafts on them, nothing being said at the time about bottomry of the vessel or raising money on her credit.
The vessel was at the time the advances were made under mortgage to the former owners for the purchase-money. They were obliged to take back the vessel before the libels were filed, and they were the claimants here.
The District Court rendered a decree in favor of the libellants in both cases, for the amounts advanced by them respectively, with interest, and directed that the amounts should be paid in gold coin of the United States. The Circuit Court affirmed the decrees and the claimants appealed to this court.
Mr. Charles Donohue, for the appellants; Mr. C. Van Santvoord, contra.
Mr. Justice FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.