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Napoleonic Wars, Baltimore, insurance, covenant, foreign admiralty courts, blockade


Maryland Insurance Company v. Woods, 10 U.S. 29 (1810). In 1803, Britain utilized France’s interference in the Civil Swiss Strife as a pretext to continue its occupancy of Malta, effectively ending the short-lived Treaty of Amiens. As the most impressive Naval Power in the world, Britain proceeded to blockade French, Spanish, and Dutch ports. In 1805, Williams Woods purchased two insurance policies from The Maryland Insurance Company, a successful and lucrative Baltimore marine insurance institution. The two policies covered the ship, The William and Mary, and its cargo. The policy assured the journey from Baltimore to Laguira, with “liberty at one other neighboring port.” After the William and Mary was captured as a prize by the British Ship of War, Fortune, and condemned in a Jamaican admiralty court, William Woods brought suit in the Circuit Court for the District of Maryland. The ensuing case spanned eight years and appeared before the Supreme Court in 1810 and 1813. This Supreme Court maritime case addressed issues regarding insurance policies such as deviations from the delineated journey, underwriter liability, and deference to admiralty judgments perpetrated by other nations.


Admiralty | Law | Legal History