ACQUITTAL Presentation Goblet, 1838

Presentation silver goblet London 1844 Brig Colina
Presentation silver goblet London 1844 Brig Colina Brig Colina Ipswich William Read Captain Simpson DSCN0334 DSCN0336 DSCN0338 DSCN0342 DSCN0345


Presentation Goblet - Campana Shape with Floral Decoration; Gilt Interior - London 1838 by John Wellby - 22cm high; 14cm diameter rim; 504g - RH/1480

This top quality, large presentation wine goblet has a particularly interesting shipping related engraved inscription and provides a unique social commentary for the period.

Being in excellent all round condition, this superb quality, early Victorian goblet has an attractive campana-shaped form and is chased with flowers around the base of the cup and the pedestal foot. The interior retains its original gilding and a further sign of the high quality is the good, hefty weight. Given as a thank you gift - and what a gift!

The inscription reads:

"Presented to E Lawrence Esquire by Mr William Read, as a testimony of gratitude and esteem for his very able and judicious management in defending a malicious and unfounded charge of inciting Captain Simpson to cast away the Brig Colina of Ipswich, tried before Mr Justice Maule at the Central Criminal Court on the 17th & 18th of April 1844, when the jury returned an immediate verdict of ACQUITTAL."

In brief, the engraving refers to the Brig Colina of Ipswich which was sunk by his own admission in June 1841 by Captain Simpson. The goblet being presented by the ship's owner William Read to his solicitor E Lawrence on his acquittal of instigating the offence.

At the start of the trial in April 1844, William Read was placed at the bar charged by the indictment, "That he on the --- did incite and procure one William Simpson, feloniously and maliciously to cast away and destroy a certain vessel called the Colina, on the high sea, within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England, and also of the Central Criminal Court, with intent to prejudice divers persons as part owners of or underwriters to the said vessel" There were several other counts in the indictment in one of which the master of the vessel (Simpson) was named as the principal in the felony. The prisoner pleaded “Not guilty".

The Brig Colina was bought by the shipping firm of Read & Page for £900 as part exchange for a new vessel that they had built. They unsuccessfully attempted to sell the vessel at auction in July 1840 and so instead insured it in July 1840 for twelve months to the sum of £1250. In July 1841, an application was made on the insurance for a total loss following the sinking of the ship and Read & Page were paid £1248. The Colina had been purposefully drilled to take on water and later sunk with all hands safely aboard a newly acquired life boat and rescued by a nearby ship. Captain William Simpson had previously pleaded guilty to having sunk the Colina. The purpose of the trial was to determine whether the boat was intentionally sunk to claim on the insurance on the command of William Read joint owner of the vessel.

In summing up the case, the judge stated that the point on which the greatest stress was laid on both sides was the question as to whether or not the ship was insured for more than its value. From the statements of the witnesses and the papers produced, this did not appear to have been the case, as the ship, with her cargo, stores, and other property on board, was, in fact, worth fully, if not more than sufficient, to cover the amount for which she was insured. The witnesses also for the prosecution were rather of a suspicious character, and it certainly appeared that their evidence should be viewed with suspicion. The learned judge also remarked on other portions of the evidence as bearing favourably for the prisoner.

As suggested by the inscription on the goblet, the outcome of the trial was that a "not guilty" verdict was immediately returned for William Read.

William Simpson, who pleaded guilty to having sunk the Colina, was then placed at the bar and given the sentence of transportation beyond the seas for the term of his natural life.

The trial was reported in The Times on April 18th and April 19th 1844 - we have copies of the two lengthy accounts in each edition that covered the case and these will accompany the goblet when sold.

A transcription of this original account can be found at this link: