Date of Build/Launch: February 1860
RIFLEMAN left London 28th December 1872.
In March 1873, en route to Sydney, Australia, Captain Longmuir, a native of Stonehaven was beaten to death while he slept by the steward, a German named Wilhelm Kraus, aka William Cross. The first mate, George Morgan, another Stonehaven man, was lured into the Captain’s cabin by the killer and attacked, but managed to overpower the steward and grappled him to the ground as he produced a pistol and tried to shoot him. The killer was kept tied up in the wheelhouse as Morgan proceeded to master the ship successfully to Sydney. The captain’s body was kept in a barrel of spirits and buried at Sydney. Kraus was tried and convicted and hung the same year. It seems he had also tried to poison the entire crew and there was speculation that he had intended to take over the ship. He pleaded insanity at the trial and claimed not to remember the incident; however, he was found guilty and hanged.
George Morgan, who had so successfully taken control of the ship, went on to marry Ann Duthie, the sister of ship’s owner, William Duthie. Captain Longmuir had been due to take charge of the new Duthie ship, also named Ann Duthie, on his return to Britain, however, this then went to George Morgan.
Aberdeen Register of Ships (Aberdeen City Archives):
Registered Aberdeen 30/04/1860
1deck and top gallant forecastle. 3 masts. Shield figurehead.
Original Owners: William Duthie Jr., Shipbuilder (22 shares); John Duthie Snr, Shipbuilder (4); Alexander Duthie, Master Mariner (4); James Duthie, Shipmaster (4); George Thompson, Shipowner (4); James Monro, Shipowner (4); David Monro, Shipowner (4); James Leask, Advocate (4); Robert Mitchell, Shipowner (2); Alexander Eddie, Baker (2) [All Aberdeen]; John Brodie, Shipowner (8); Richard Searle (2) [Both City of London].
14/06/1860: James Leask 4 shares - David Wyllie, Aberdeen, Cashier of Union Bank of Scotland for £700 mortgage.
26/02/1861: George Thomson 2 shares - George Milne, Banker, Aberdeen.
19/10/1861: James Leask 4 shares - John Duthie Jr, Shipbuilder.
03/11/1861: William Duthie Jr, 4 shares - John Cargill, Shipowner, Aberdeen.
13/06/1862: Robert Mitchell's Executors 2 shares - Thomas Ritchie, Shipowner, Aberdeen.
24/01/1863: David Wyllie, 4 shares - James Sutherland, Shipowner, Aberdeen.
09/02/1863: William Duthie Jr. 2 shares - Mary Mitchell, Spinster, Aberdeen.
17/03/1863: Mary Mitchell 1 share - Alexander Hector, Salmon Fisher, Montrose.
11/12/1863: George Thompson 2 shares - George Milne.
06/01/1864: George Milne 2 shares - Rev. Thomas Henry Dawson, Monymusk.
23/06/1864: William Duthie Sr. 8 shares - John Brodie.
1861: Master J. Duthie
1862: Destined voyage London-Australia
1865: Master T. Bruce
1867-8: Master T. Norrie
1870-1, 1872-3, 1874-5: Master J. Longmuir; Destined voyage Aberdeen-Australia
1874-5: Owner A. McLean; Port belonging to Sydney; Master J. Longmuir
1876-7, 1877-8, 1878-9: Master J. Bishop
1879-80: Owner A. McLean; Condemned 1880 (last survey London January 1871).
1880-1: No reference.
Aberdeen Journal, 17/04/1861:
Deaths - at Weymouth 24 March Alexander Alexander, Chief Officer of ship RIFLEMAN of Aberdeen, aged 45.
Glasgow Herald, 11/04/1871:
RIFLEMAN, ship, from London for Adelaide, Feb. 27 Lat. 7N, Long. 27W [mid Atlantic between Brazil and W. Africa].
Glasgow Herald, 05/04/1873:
RIFLEMAN, ship, from London for Sydney, Feb. 24 Lat 4N, Long. 21W [off West Africa].
Australian Newspapers Online:
Melbourne Argus, 06/06/1873:
At Central Criminal Court, Sydney, William Cross (otherwise Wilhelm Krauss) found guilty of murder of Capt. James Longmuir on board British ship Rifleman whilst ship was a few hundred miles off the South American coast on 16 March. Plea of insanity rejected and Cross sentenced to death.
Judge said "you availed yourself of your position of Steward of the ship to mingle narcotic poison in the cabin food and grog served out that night to the crew. Capt. Longmuir appears never to have stirred in his bed nor resisted either the savage blow by which you fractured his skull or the fatal cord with which you strangled his dying breath. The seven other cords found on the same night ready to your hand in your own pantry, the revolvers and dagger found upon you, the long iron bolt with which you attacked the Chief Officer and the General stupefaction of the ship's crew who had drunk the grog all prove beyond the slightest that yours was a cunningly devised plan to obtain possession of the ship. No evidence to implicate a single individual on board that ship".
Aberdeen Journal, 09/07/1873:
Well attended meeting of shipmasters and others connected with the trade of the port of Sydney was held aboard the ship ANN DUTHIE. Mr Williams stated meeting had been called to convey the family of the late Captain Longmuir sympathy in their great bereavement [poisoned by ship's steward]. Chairman spoke at some length on high character of deceased and hoped those who knew him would lighten the heavy blow fallen on widow and orphan children. Captain Moodie proposed and Captain Benzie (ANN DUTHIE) seconded resolution that subscription be raised - £300 already received.
Aberdeen Journal, 10/09/1873:
No clue as to motive for killing of Captain and attempted murder of rest of crew. Theory has been advanced that Krauss [the murderer] had some hope of obtaining sole possession of the vessel, running in upon the coast of Brazil, in order to secure everything valuable in the ship and then abandoning her.
For further information on the RIFLEMAN and Captain Longmuir, please see the journal of the Aberdeen & NE Scotland Family History Society, issue February 2010.
|length 176' x breadth 30.7' x depth 19.5'
gross tonnage 724 tons