An American seaman who stabbed a Dutchman to death following a row over his nationality was given an extremely lenient sentence in light of the provocation he had received.
On the night of 31st March 1858 a number of foreign sailors were enjoying a singsong at a beerhouse in Blundell Street called the Royal Casino, where locals weren't allowed to enter. One of them was Michael Warey, a nineteen year old American who boasted that he was a 'true born Yankee.' This claim was ridiculed by Dutch shoemaker William Schoningen, who replied that he was more American himself.
A scuffle took place between the two men during which Warey took out a penknife and stabbed Schoningen in the chest. He then fled the scene, lashing out with the knife at anybody who tried to stop him but he was apprehended by a police officer on Park Lane and taken into custody. A bloodied knife was found nearby.
Meanwhile at the Royal Casino a doctor was frantically trying to save the life of Schoningen, but he expired there. A German called Joachim Krigan was badly wounded in the arms, leg and neck and was rushed to the Royal Southern Hospital.
The following morning Warey appeared before the magistrate Mr Mansfield and was committed for trial on a charge of wilful murder. Schoningen was described by friends as a 'very quiet and inoffensive man' and although a teetotaller, he would often frequent such places to try and find customers.
Warey had to wait until the assizes were in Liverpool in August for his trial. The barmaid told how just before he took the knife out his pocket he had received a violent blow, meaning that when Baron Pollock summed up, he said the crime was not murder. After the jury found Warey guilty of manslaughter he was sentenced to just six months imprisonment.