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Matthew (1860-01-06)


“The Oil-Money Cases”. Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser, Friday 6 January 1860, p.3 col.2-5 (pdf image)

(Letter not dated, published Jan 6 1860)
Matthew argues for fair renumeration for the crews of whaling ships., and in particular argues the case for a equitable distribution of “oil-money” to the crew of “the lost Greenlandman”. This letter is signed simply “Patrick Matthew”, but it is likely to be our Matthew based on (1) his lifelong desire to campaign for fairness; (2) the letter is in his local newspaper; and (3) he also refers to whalers and their co-operative pay system in his talk to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1867.



SIR,— In regard to the debated point respecting the sailors’ claim for oil money in the case of the lost Greenlandman, the following simple statement is, I think, correct in facts, equity, and the right application of law:—

1st. That the oil-money is given especially to stimulate the capture of the whales, and distinct from the wages.

2d. That in this case the sailors had done their duty in collecting a valuable cargo, enabling the owners insure the same to the specified full amount.

3d. That the loss of the vessel was in no way owing to any negligence or want of seamanship of the crew, but to one of those unavoidable accidents peculiar to, and so frequent in, the Greenland seas.

4th. That the act of insurance by the owners was a legal recognition of their acceptance of the cargo on board, and carries on the face of it a liability on their part to pay the oil-money, while it affords a full means.

Any other decision would be contra bonos morres, more especially in a case between master and servant, and in utility would act detrimentally upon the animus and efficiency of the Greenland service generally.


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