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Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1770, Sunday, February 28, 1830


This was an action brought to recover 50l. being the value of a parcel sent by the defendant's coach, which never reached its destination.

It appeared that the plaintiff was a manufacturer residing at Coventry. Some time since a Mr. Giles packed up a parcel, into which he put several patterns of ribbons, with 20l., 10l., and 5l. Bank of England notes, and some silver. The parcel was taken to the defendants' office, the Cross Keys, in Cheapside, and was directed to be sent to the plaintiff's, at Coventry, by the Emerald Birmingham coach. The carriage was paid, and the book-keeper told to take care of it. The parcel never reached its destination, and although the plaintiff made frequent inquiries about it, be was never able to obtain any intelligence with respect to it.

These facts were proved in evidence.

Mr. Sergeant Spankie contended that the defendants, were not liable for the claim set up by the plaintiff, on the ground that a notice was posted up in the office of the defendants, to the effect that they would not be answerable for any parcel above the value of 5l., unless paid for and entered accordingly; and also that, under no circumstance, would they be accountable for parcels containing bank notes, jewels, glass, or china. In the present case, the plaintiff thought he could evade the necessary charge for his parcel by placing patterns in it, which was sent by the coach at a less expense than was usually paid for parcels of a similar size, and therefore no more than ordinary care was taken of it. It was put amongst the other free parcels in the coach, and left to share the same fate; no special directions had been given to the book-keeper at the office, respecting the parcel, except a mere caution to take care of it. It was also marked "free" when presented at the coach-office.

Evidence was given to show that the parcel was marked "free," and that no particular caution was given with respect to it.

One of the witnesses for the plaintiff was recalled, and he positively denied that the word "free" was written upon the parcel.

The Lord Chief Justice then summed up, and left it chiefly for the Jury to say, whether the parcel was left as a free or as an ordinary parcel. If they were of the former opinion they would find for the defendants; if they were of the latter they would find accordingly.

The Jury returned a verdict for the defendants.

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