Charges against William Meades, Tidewaiter

Charge 1

Custom House, Cowes   2nd May 1827

The Tide Surveyor at this Port having represented to us that on visiting the Danish Brig “Fortune” in the morning of the 24 April ult. he found you on board said vessel being on Duty, in a state of Intoxication, which rendered it necessary to suspend you from your Duties.

You are hereby under the Boards Order charged with being guilty of the Offence and which charge you are directed to make a distinct Answer in writing, on of before the 5 day of May, taking care to avoid all scurrilous or abusive expressions.

T Hastings, Collector   I Chapman, Comptroller



To the Honorable Commissioners of His Majesty’s Customs.

Honorable Gentlemen

With great Humility & Regret I beg to address your Honorable Board respecting the charge I am guilty of – in the first place Honorable Sirs I humbly own that I was in the State as represented by the Tide Surveyor – which I am very sorry for, as it is well known to my Superior Officers at the Port, that I m not addicted to that promiscuous Vice. – I beg to state to your Honorable Board that I was Boarded on the Danish Brig “Fortune” on the 19 April, on board which vessel I had very bad accommodation for sleeping – so much so – that when it not my particular Watch, I was forced to walk the deck to keep warm, and feeling myself very much fatigued on the morning of the 24 April I drank some Liquor, which not being in the habit of doing it had the greater effect on, and was in the state as before mentioned. I humbly hope your Honorable Board will show me all the leniency the case will admit of and never Honorable Gentlemen shall the like happen again.

William Meades

Report from Collector and Comptroller

Custom House, 7 May 1827

Herewith we forward for your consideration and further Directions our charge against William Meades, Tide Waiter of this Port, made by your Order of the 1st inst. with his answer in which he acknowledges having been guilty of the offence imputed to him.

We have to report agreeable to your Order of 4 March 1814 that W Meades was Appointed 31 July 1811 / He is now 59 years of age / We have also to report agreeable to your Order of 27 May 1814 that said W Meader has never before been charged for neglect of breach of Duty.

T Hastings, Collector   I Chapman, Comptroller


Decision of the Board

He was ordered to be Reprimanded.

Charge 2

To William Meades, Tide Waiter.

It having been represented to us on a Complaint of the Tide Surveyor to the following viz. that on the Night of the 22 Instant at about 12 o’clock when making his Nightly Visitation on board the Maria English Schooner (discharging a Cargo of Sugar in a leaky & damaged state on her voyage to Bremen) he discovered that you had quitted the vessel without leave in a Drunken state & was found in bed in your own House.

You are hereby on the Honorable Boards Order of the 25 inst. charged with being guilty of the Offence, and to which charge you are directed to make to make a distinct Answer in writing on or before the 30th inst. taking care to avoid all scurrilous and abusive expressions.

27 August 1827                       Thomas Hastings, Collector



To the Honorable Commissioners of His Majesty’s Customs.


With shame & sorrow I am obliged to admit the truth of one part of the Complaint alleged against me by the Tide Surveyor of this Port, namely that of quitting without leave the English Schooner “Maria” on the night of the 22nd Instant, but Gentlemen in explanation to the other part of the Charge, I beg to assure you that being unwell during the Evening in question the mate of the vessel gave me Rum and Water to drink which affected me greatly and rendered me so forgetful of my situation that I went ashore, landing a short distance from my House, to be enabled Immediately to return on Board but on reaching the house my Family persuaded me to lie down in bed, which I accordingly did and having about 4 o’clock sufficiently recovered myself, I thereupon went back on my Duty.

Under these Circumstances, being perfectly sensible of my misconduct in having so quitted the Ship, I have no other alternative left me, than that of throwing myself upon the compassionate Consideration of the Board whose honorable Commissioners will I hope take into their remembrance the length of my service / 39 years / and for this time condescend to overlook my offence, and put my future conduct one more upon Trial, and to testify how far I wish their forgivefulness. My Family join in this appeal to your Honors, and trust that it may not be made in vain. I submit myself Gentlemen with all humility and respect.

30 August 1827                       William Meades


Report by Collector and Comptroller

Herewith we consider for your Consideration the Charge against William Meades established Tide Waiter of this Port preferred in pursuance to your Order of 25 Inst. To the Charge we attach the answer of said William Meades who admits Guilt and throws himself on the Mercy of your Honorable Board. We have to report that William Meades was appointed 31 July 1811 He has before charged for Drunkeness whilst on Duty on 2nd May last for which Offence he was Reprimanded & suspended from 23 April to 11 May last.

31 August 1827          


Result unknown (but probably reprimanded with warning as to future conduct.)


Charge 3

William Meades, Tidewaiter, Custom House, East Cowes

It having been represented to us by the Tide Surveyor that in the afternoon of the 15 instant / whilst boarded on the William Thomas Bruce Master from Newcastle to Rio de Janeiro / you were found in a state of intoxication.

You are hereby per Honorable Boards Order of 18 instant charged with being guilty of the offence and to which charge you are directed to make a distinct Answer in writing on or before 25 instant taking care to avoid all scurrilous and abusive expressions

21 February 1831     T Hastings, Collector     R Estwick, Comptroller

Custom House, Cowes



In reply to your letter of 21st inst. wherein I stand charged of being found drunk on 15th on board the “William” – I acknowledge that I had taken a glass of Rum & Water after Dinner which so affected me as to give just cause for the complaint against my by the Tide Surveyor & I beg to state that from the Nervous Debility I have laboured under for some time past, – a small Quantity of Spirits or Beer at particular times overcomes me. – Under these Circumstances, I humbly beg your kind Consideration –that after upwards of 40 years Service I have become thus debilitated & incapable by Labour. – In confirmation of which fact, I beg to refer you to Mr C Day, Surgeon whose Assistance I have been frequently obliged to call in. – I now throw myself on the well known & merciful Consideration of the Honorable Board for Support under my present Suffering & Debilitating state of Health.

February 28th 1831.     Signed W Meades.


Collector and Comptrollers Report

In obedience to your Order of the 18th Inst. we charged William Meades Tide Waiter with the misconduct imputed to him as represented to your Honorable Board. His answer we herewith enclose. He admits the justness of the Charge, but attributes the fact of his being drunk on the day mentioned to the misfortune of ill health which occasioned the small amount of Rum & Water taken after his dinner to affect him in the strong and unexplained manner which it did. We beg very respectfully to offer our Opinion on this matter & to say that from the Investigation which we have made – we are very much inclined to think that the debility of which said William Meades complained is quite as great as pretended and perhaps bordering on an Aberration of Intellect and that he might very easily have been overcome by a small quantity of liquor. He appears to be very unfit for any further employ as a Tide Waiter and should your Honorable Board be pleased to visit the case with leniency in consideration of the above & also from the within Petition or Representation from the Man’s family together with a Medical Certificate from Mr Day – perhaps the Honorable Board may be pleased to accept our recommendation for W Meades being placed on a small compensation allowance as unfit for further Service.


Decision of the Board

Custom House, London.          12 March 1831


Having read your Letter of the 28th Ult. transmitting the several Papers on the following charge against William Meades – a Tidewaiter at your Port viz:

Having been found in a state of Intoxication on the afternoon of the 15th Ult. whilst boarded on the vessel “William” which put into your Port on her Voyage from Newcastle to Rio de Janeiro.

We deem Meades guilty but under the circumstances, and as it appears upon conferring with the Surveyor General who last inspected your Port, that the accused has been more attentive to his Duty of late, We are inclined not to proceed further in this instance than to direct that he be deducted of one Months Pay in the expectation such leniency will have the effect of inducing the accused to be very circumspect in his conduct in future.

Signed by three Commissioners.


The fact that William Meades was found guilty of intoxication three times but not dismissed was unusual.


Subsequent activity

Meades was not again charged and was Superannuated on 5 December 1836.


1 July 2010