When Scottish sailor Andrew Rose, 25, joined the Martha and Jane in Barbados, he could hardly have expected that he would serve under a captain who would make the Bounty’s Bligh seem like a monk.

From day one Captain Henry Rogers, 37 and also a Scot, had it in for Rose. The sailor was so severely beaten that the rest of the crew advised him to jump ship. He did so, but was caught, brought back on board and clapped in irons. The ship sailed for England on May 11th, 1857, and for the next three weeks, until he died, Rose was kept in irons except to be taken out and flogged and tortured.

Captain Rogers forced iron bolts into the sailor’s mouth, set his dog on him, whipped him until the blood ran down his back, made him perform demeaning tasks while naked, and forced him to eat his own excrement.

On other occasions Rose was put in a cask with very little air and left for 12 hours in blazing sunshine, all the time begging for mercy. The wounds from his whiplashes and dog bites began to crawl with maggots, and he became deranged. He was then subjected to a mock hanging, and the next day he died. The captain had his body thrown overboard.

Four days later the Martha and Jane docked at Liverpool and the crew went straight to the police. Captain Rogers was arrested, along with his first and second mates, and all three were charged with murder. There was a groundswell of public feeling against them throughout Liverpool, resulting in a clamour for all three to be hanged.

If that happened, the authorities decided, discipline on British merchant ships would be at risk. Although all three were sentenced to death, only Captain Rogers went to the gallows, on Saturday, September 12th, 1857, outside Kirkdale Prison. His two senior officers had their sentences commuted and were transported to Australia.

As for Andrew Rose, his memory survives to this day in an eponymous sea ballad about the murder.