No. 152.
Mr. West to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the attention of Earl Granville has been called to the following circumstances, whereby the expenses of the burial of a seaman who had been discharged from the United States Navy, and who died in a destitute state in the general hospital at Yokohama, on the 23d May last, were defrayed out of the British consular chest. It would appear that Her Majesty’s consul having found among the papers belonging to the deceased a continuous-service certificate issued under the United States Navy regulations, he suggested to the hospital authorities that they should apply to the [Page 234] United States consul-general as to whether the holding of such a certificate did not fix the holder with American citizenship. To this application General Van Buren replied in the negative, adding that he had no authority to relieve United States men-of-war’s men when discharged, even in cases where their United States citizenship was beyond doubt.

The question was then referred to the United States naval authorities, their reply being that once a continuous-service certificate lapses the holder loses all claim to assistance. Her Majesty’s consul, in reporting this case, points out that the claim for the payment of burial fees may have been more fairly made on the British than on the United States authorities, inasmuch as the deceased was a native of Ireland; but in view of the numerous instances of seamen of British nationality serving on board United States ships of war, some of whom have retained their nationality while others may have accepted United States citizenship, Her Majesty’s Government would be glad to learn how the United States regard the question, and Earl Granville has consequently instructed me to invite the expression of their opinion on the subject.

I have, &c.,