The Casting Away of the Adventure
On a calm Sunday morning in August 1802 the square-sterned brigantine Adventure was scuttled off Brighton in a ham-fisted attempt at an insurance fraud. However, the vessel was successfully recovered and the fraud exposed. The conspirators were brought before the High Court of Admiralty and this is the story of the conspiracy, and the fate of those involved. It illustrates the limits of this court’s jurisdiction in relation to its ability to hear the cases against conspirators whose parts were not carried out on the high seas, leading to the execution of the master and the pardon of the merchants who instigated the crime. The ship’s master, William Codlin, was to hang for the offence, but the owners who had conspired with him went free thanks to their counsel, the renowned Erskine, and the argument that as they had not been on board they had committed no offence within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court.