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SS Atlantic wreck 1873 Photo credit Maritime Museum of the Atlantic MP18.126.5a

Page transcribed and compiled by Teena from the noted resources.

Ships mentioned on this page; Exmouth, Anna Jane, Queen Victoria, Tayleur, Pomona, Birkenhead, Londonderry, Lady Sherbrooke, Phoebe, Chipewa, Arabian, Cambria.

~ The “Exmouth” wrecked 28th April 1847, lives lost 251.
~ The “Anna Jane” wrecked 29th September 1853, lives lost 393.

Yet think this furious unremitting gale
Deprives the ship of every ruling sail;
And if before it she directly flies,
New ills enclose us and new dangers rise.

The western coast of Scotland, like the western coast of Ireland, is jagged with rocks and bestudded with islands. The hoarse Atlantic ocean has beaten upon it during all time and the cliffs and headlands and rocky groups, evince the sturdy fashion in which the land has stood out against the inroads of the sea, fighting, so to speak, every inch of ground with the invader. Tourists love the western coast of Scotland for its picturesqueness and its solitary wildness. If you are an admirer of fine coast scenery, I can wish you no greater treat than to sail amongst the charming islands, that are strewed up and down this shore and to run along sufficiently near the mainland to catch a glimpse of the purple mountains of the Highlands. Considering the dangerous character of this coast, comparatively few wrecks occur; the dangers being well known are avoided with more than usual care and moreover they do not lie much in the track of seagoing vessels.

Two memorable shipwrecks have, however, taken place on the Hebrides or Western Islands.

In 1847, the poor people of Ireland were eagerly entering into that great emigration movement which has never ceased up to the present moment and in connection with which so many disastrous shipwrecks have occurred. They bade farewell to the green Erin they loved and turned their faces to the western continent as the Israelites, departing from Egypt, turned their longing eyes to the land of Canaan.

It was Sunday morning April the 25th in the year 1847. At Londonderry, ‘the famous Derry of ‘prentice boy history’ – there lay a brig of 320 tons. In that olden time, of which I spoke some time since, they knew more of brigs than we do. Brigs are somehow going out of fashion but a sailor will tell you that handier craft never go to sea; they are splendid seagoing ships and so obedient that they will, as sailors are fond of saying, “turn in their own length”.

The ‘Exmouth’ was a full grown specimen of her class. Upon her decks on this spring afternoon 240 emigrants were waiting the moment when the brig would be cast loose to convey them to Canada. There was a crew of eleven men only; there were the 240 emigrants; there were three young ladies on their way to join friends in New Brunswick. The emigrants were of a better class than you generally understand by the term. Small farmers who had struggled on their bit of land to obtain a competence and tradesmen anxious to do something more than live a hand to mouth existence, had been told that the good time coming would come quickest in the land across the Atlantic. Good news had been wafted over from friends and relations who had gone before. You can imagine, therefore, how high beat the hearts of these Irish men, women and children, as amidst the sorrow of the ‘good-bye’ which was at last spoken, they thought of the sunny future.

The Sunday sun had not risen, when up went the sails and the “Exmouth” starting on her voyage, slowly increased the distance between the emigrants and their fatherland. A light south-west breeze bellied out the canvas and in the afternoon, as the sun was sinking in the direction which the brig was to take, the hills of Old Ireland appeared like a light cloud in the distance and were quite lost sight of before dark. The wind had been gradually freshening and shifting from the west to the north. It grew at length into a furious gale and on Sunday night the poor emigrants, instead of their quiet cottages on shore, fragrant with peat smoke, found themselves confined between decks, terror-stricken at the creaking of the ship and the violence of the squalls which made the brig shiver again.

On Monday the gale became stronger and the waves, after four-and-twenty hours of tempest, ran frightfully high. The “Exmouth” continually shipped heavy seas; and as each torrent thundered upon the decks, the emigrants in their despair thought their last hour had arrived. In the forenoon the long boat was unshipped and washed away; another sea stove in the bulwarks; and lastly the lifeboat was carried away. Through the whole of Monday night the gale kept up its violence and when Tuesday morning dawned it seemed as far as ever from ceasing. The sails were torn to pieces and blown from the ropes. The master of the brig, Captain BOOTH , was on Tuesday night, apprised of a light, of which one of the sailors caught a momentary glimpse when the brig rose to the top of a crest. Unfortunately, for himself and the lives entrusted to his care, he considered it proceeded from an island on the north-west coast of Ireland. Approaching the light, he himself, became convinced of his error. Instead of the ample sea-room he believed he had, there lay, hard by the rocks of Islay. He was wrong in his reckoning and fully alive to the perilous position in which his ship was placed, spared no effort to keep clear of the iron-bound shore. The men flew to the ropes and set fresh sail, with a view to hauling the brig off.

The captain, stationing himself in the maintop, looked anxiously at the land which threatened him; from this post he issued his orders to the crew. Their exertions were, however, too late to be of any use. The brig drifted surely towards land; the broken water soon seethed around her; and about half an hour after midnight of Tuesday, with some of her smaller sails standing, she dashed upon the rocks. Rebounding she returned with her full broadside exposed upon them. Once, twice and thrice, she again struck. In the last shock the mainmast went by the board and was carried into a deep chasm of the rocks.

While the brig struck, the whole of the seamen rushed into the maintop, where the captain had, for an hour and a half been watching and his grief was now heightened as he noticed that his son, a lad of fifteen years of age, was not amongst them. The boy had been left in his cot. Five of the crew thought they might stand a better chance of reaching land by exchanging the main for the fore-top and they put their idea into immediate action. When, therefore, the mainmast fell into the chasm, there went with it the captain and three seamen. These men, first, COUTHARD, second, LIGHTFORD and third, STEVENS, clung to the spar and scrambling up the topmast rigging, secured foothold on the crags.

The captain and others would have followed had not a returning wave broken upon them, washing them and the ship further into the sea. The mast might otherwise have been made a bridge of safety for the passengers. So vanished the last possibility of escape for the hapless beings who, in the howling of the storm, perished during that night. No one saw the brig break up; darkness enveloped the work of destruction which the rocks and waves were effectually carrying on. The three seamen who had escaped were the only survivors. They remained shivering in the crevice of the rock till daylight. Not a trace of the “Exmouth” was then visible; the emigrants, one and all, had perished.

At daybreak the three shipwrecked mariners clambered to the summit of the rocks and with heavy steps sought a farm-house, to tell how of 254 living beings they alone were left to tell the tale of their loss. I need not add that by the homely, kindly Scotch folks these men were loaded with kindness. A score of bodies were afterwards washed ashore, battered by the rocks almost beyond recognition; these were the remains of some emigrants, who had probably hurried up at the striking of the brig, leaving their companions below. A few bodies were brought in occasionally by the surf, but the sea was too high to admit of their recovery and they were carried out to be buried in the ocean depths.

On Barra Island, further north in the same group of Western Islands, the “Anna Jane” of Liverpool, an emigrant ship with 450 passengers, was wrecked on the 29th of September 1853. Like the “Exmouth”, the “Anna Jane” was bound for Quebec and Montreal and her passengers consisted mostly of Irish families. Encountering heavy weather, it is supposed she was disabled after making some progress across the Atlantic and becoming unmanageable, was driven back and dashed upon the cruel coast of the Hebrides. Barra is a little island only six miles long and two and a half broad. On its head stands the highest lighthouse in the United Kingdom; and there is no part of our coast from which a vessel is less likely to be rescued should she once get entangled in the dangerous shoals which abound on every hand.

The ship had sailed on the 9th of September, but was obliged to return to port to repair some casualty and it was only thirty six hours after this second attempt that she was again dis-masted and driven back. The crew numbered forty five men, inclusive of captain and officers. It was a somewhat mixed crew for an English emigrant ship, but not an uncommon one for a vessel trading between the British Isles and Canada, part of them being English, part French and part Canadians. Of the passengers 100 belonged to Glasgow and the west of Scotland; they were carpenters and other artizans about to proceed under engagement to work at some public undertaking in Canada. There were also twelve Canadian passengers, Mrs MASON, the wife of the captain and a number of French and Canadian ladies and gentlemen. On the 24th, in her disabled condition, the crew of the “Anna Jane” succeeded in getting up a spare main yard; but there being no spars on board properly to replace those which had been lost, it was deemed absolutely necessary to turn the ship’s head for the third time and bear up for the nearest port in England, or Ireland.

For three days the “Anna Jane” ran before the wind and all seemed to go as well as the circumstances would permit. Passengers and crew somewhat recovered their elasticity of spirits in the prospect that they would soon be in a haven of safety. About two o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday they sighted land on the lee bow and this was ascertained to be Barra Head, the southernmost of the Hebrides group. A gale now came on furiously and the ship was laid close to the wind in the hope of weathering the head from which the tall lighthouse rises to the height of 680 feet. By dint of great efforts she was kept clear of the reef of rocks jutting out into the sea and upon which the waves were beating with great force.

Having rounded the reef she got into a large indentation or bay with a sandy beach. According to one class of the survivors she was there run ashore to escape a formidable reef forming the opposite entrance to the bay; according to the opinion of others she was forced there against the wish of the captain by the fury of the gale. What the cause really was is not certain, but the effect was unmistakable; within twenty minutes of clearing the reef, it being between twelve and one on the morning of the 29th, the ship took the ground with a fearful concussion. All the officers and crew were on deck at this fearful conjuncture and there were also there, a large number of the male passengers. These held on by the ropes and rigging, with feelings of despair contemplating the nature of their fate in the dull outline of the land and the roaring of the surf on the beach. The great majority of the passengers, including the women and children, were below in their berths; but the striking of the ship gave them a fearful awakening. Many rushed on deck in a state of nudity, wives clung to their husbands, children to both, some were mute from terror, others uttered appalling screams, eagerly shouting “Is there no hope”?

Whilst the passengers were clustering around the boats and within a few minutes after the ship had grounded, the “Anna Jane” was struck by an overpowering sea, which swept into the watery waste, without a moment’s warning, human beings amounting, it is estimated, to 100 souls. The same sea carried away the boats and the bulwarks and everything moveable fore and aft. There yet remained numbers of the crew and passengers, who had secured themselves by ropes while this terrible scene was going on upon deck; women and children, as well as many men, kept below either paralyzed by terror, or afraid that they would be washed away if they ventured upon deck. Unfortunately the ship’s hold was laden with a cargo of railway iron, which, when she began to thump upon the rocks, added to the destruction by rapidly and effectively beating in the bottom.

While this was happening, another dreadful sea broke on board, crushing in the deck between the main and mizen masts and hurling the huge pieces of debris down upon the berths below, where wailing children and terror-stricken women were congregated. It was afterwards apparent, from the mutilated and gashed bodies cast on shore, that these poor creatures were beaten to death rather than drowned. At the same time the main and mizen masts went by the board. The seamen and passengers who had survived this succession of disasters took refuge on the poop and held their position there, although every succeeding assault of the sea thinned their numbers.

Within an hour after the “Anna Jane” had struck even the stumps of the masts went over and the ship herself broke into three pieces. On the top-gallant fore-castle seven men had secured themselves and these, together with the men on the poop, clung to the wreck as in fragments it drifted shore-wards. When mustered, the survivors were found to number 102, including one child, twelve women, twenty eight sailors and the captain, thus making the total loss 393. The survivors repaired to a farm and a cluster of houses not far from the beach. Luckily, small though the island was, there was no scarcity of provisions, for as some barrels of beef and pork had been washed ashore and the Barra people kindly supplied vegetables, the shipwrecked persons were enabled in a manner to spread their table in the wilderness.

The burial of the dead was a painful conclusion to this melancholy catastrophe. The only churchyard where Christian sepulture could be afforded was ten miles distant. There were no carpenters to make coffins and had there been any, there was no timber that would have sufficed to enclose the number of bodies that awaited interment. It was not a time to hesitate and deep capacious pits were dug by the survivors close to the lonely shore and therein the poor creatures were deposited, in the disfigured and ragged state in which they had been cast from the wreck. Two hundred and sixty bodies were interred within three days. Many even then remained unburied and additional corpses were thrown up by every tide. There were two exceptions to this rude kind of burial, viz; Mr BELL, the first mate, and a Canadian priest, for whose remains coffins were made, from pieces of the wreck.

Wreck of the “Birkenhead” – Cape of Good Hope Feb 26th 1852, lives lost 438.

Soft sigh the winds of heaven o’er their grave
While the billow mournful rolls
And the mermaid’s song condoles
Singing glory to the souls
Of the brave

Like a familiar text-book used as an unfailing standard and quoted from generation to generation, the devotion to duty, under the most terrible circumstances, displayed by the undaunted heroes who went down with the Birkenhead, will ever be held up as an example to be followed in all ages. We owe our national greatness to the glorious fact that there have been many other instances where similar virtues have been exhibited by our soldiers and sailors, as more than one of these narratives show; never, however, was there an incident which to so conspicuous an extent proved the sterling stuff which enabled a body of men to remain calmly at the post of duty, while death claimed them as its own.

It was during the Caffre war. The evening was clear, the land was but a league distant, the sea was smooth, and the “Birkenhead” was steaming at the rate of eight miles an hour. She was a fine vessel, had sailed from Cork with a number of soldiers and their wives and children. had landed some troops at Cape Town. and was now. on the 25th of February 1852. on her passage from St Simon’s Bay, to Algoa Bay, intending there to land some detachments of the 12th. 74th. and 91st regiments, and proceed thereafter to Buffalo River, with other reinforcements. The troops on board numbered over 500, the wives, and children, of several of the officers and men, were on board. The ship’s company consisted of 132 men. With the exception of the watch and a few military men, this large number of human beings were sleeping below in calm security.

Amongst those on deck at half past ten o’clock in the evening was Captain WRIGHT of the 91st regiment, and he and the officer of the watch, had a brief conversation respecting a light which attracted their attention on the port side. There was a slight difference of opinion as to the particular beacon it was, but they were agreed that it was a lighthouse. Just before two o’clock on the morning of the 26th, while the leads-man on the paddle box was preparing to heave the lead as he had been previously doing, the ship without warning struck with terrific force on a reef of sunken rocks. A jagged mass penetrated through the bottom abaft the foremast, letting in a rush of water that must have instantaneously drowned a hundred men in their hammocks on the lower deck.

The rest of the troops and the officers thus startled from their sleep flocked in a mass upon the deck. The captain of the ship, Mr SALMOND, a master in the navy was amongst the foremost arrivals. He ordered the engines to be stopped, the small bower anchor to be let go, and the quarter and paddle box boats to be lowered, ready for emergencies. Colonel SETON simultaneously called his brother officers around him and calmly requested them to preserve perfect order, and enforce silence amongst the men. Captain WRIGHT was desired to assist the commander in whatever orders he deemed it necessary to issue. There was no confusion or panic. The men from the first acted as quietly and precisely as if they had been on parade.

As the soldiers appeared on deck they were mustered silently. Discipline was stronger than fear, if fear then were any. Sixty men told off in three reliefs were put to the chain pumps on the lower after-deck; sixty were stationed at the tackles of the paddle box boats; all who were not required for active duty were drawn up on the poop to ease the fore part of the ship, which was now rolling heavily. Cornet BOND of the 12th Lancers, receiving orders from the commander, got up the troop horses, and had them pitched out of the first gangway, some of the poor beasts swimming towards land, which in the bright starlight night could be seen two miles off.

The cutter was ordered to be made ready for the women and children, standing awe struck and speechless, under the awning of the poop. The horses having been dispatched, the women and children were all safely lowered, and Mr RICHARDS, the master’s assistant, acting under orders stood off with his boat about a hundred and fifty yards from the ship, which the engines had been working astern. The women and children had just got clear of the vessel, when she struck again under the engine room, causing another yawning chasm through which the water poured in new volumes. The entire bow broke off at the foremast, the bowsprit shot up into the air towards the fore-top-mast, and the funnel going over the side, carried with it the starboard paddle box and boat.

All this happened within fifteen minutes of the striking of the ship and it was evident that there would be little left of her when a few more minutes had elapsed. The second paddle box boat had been unfortunately capsized while being lowered, and although there was a large boat in the centre of the ship, she could not be got at after the breaking off of the fore part. The water rushing in through the breaches in the bottom extinguished the engine fires, driving the engineers and their men to the upper deck. Hope of keeping the ship above water had long since fled. Yet the brave fellows in the sets in which they had been originally told off never faltered in their duty. Though they knew their labour was in vain, they kept the pumps going, and the officers, as if unconscious of danger or anything unusual, issued their commands with due regard to military phraseology and tone. Numbers of men must have been drowned at the pumps, others remaining as they were bidden at the tackle were crushed by the falling of the funnel and mast.

Five minutes after the funnel went over the side, the men were all crowding on the poop. At this time there were three boats in the water, including the cutter, in which the women and children were placed. The commander of the ship, fully aware that the last moment was at hand, shouted to all who could swim to jump overboard and make for the boats. Colonel SETON, Captain WRIGHT and Lieutenant GIRADOT of the 43rd regiment, saw at once that such a course would lead to the swamping of the boats, and they therefore ventured, in opposition to Captain SALMOND , to entreat the men to remain where they were rather than render it impossible to save the women and children. A few, not more perhaps than half a dozen, had taken the captain at his word and leaped for their lives. The bulk of the soldiers remained with the officers upon the poop, drawn up like statues waiting for the waters to go over their heads, indulging in no lamentations, but, buoyed up by a sense of duty manfully staring death in the face, without being dismayed. The world’s history presents no page on which a more glorious picture of dauntless heroism is to be found.

The stern portion which had been tilted high into the air when the bow went under, gave a lurch and plunged into the depths. Twenty minutes after the “Birkenhead” struck, the men who crowded it, were precipitated into the water to battle as they might with it, and save themselves in the best manner they could upon the fragments of wreck which strewed its surface. The captain remained standing on the deck while it sank under him, and the last words he was heard to speak, were to order a boat to save Mr BRODIE, whom he had seen struggling amongst the wreck. Soon after this, when the vessel had literally sunk beneath his feet, he was observed swimming towards a mass of woodwork that remained above water, then a heavy piece of wood struck him, and he was immediately drowned. And Colonel SETON, the gallant commander of the troops, in death was not divided from those of his men who went down with the “Birkenhead”.

Captain WRIGHT, with five others, grasped a large piece of drift-wood with which they came in contact when the ship sank. The sea was covered with such floating pieces and with men struggling in the water. Captain WRIGHT said that at least 200 men at first were keeping themselves above water by holding on to sections of the wreck. The upper portion of the mainmast, which with the rigging stood out of the water, sustained a large number. A considerable area of the deck floating bodily, made in the smooth sea a good raft for the few who could find a place upon it. Men were sinking in all directions. Three boats were drifting towards land keel upwards.

The young lancer, Cornet BOND , having taken the precaution of putting on one of MacKINTOSH’S life preservers, inflated it while in the water and was saved. He saw that the sea was covered with struggling forms, while the cries, piercing shrieks, and shouts for the boats were awful. He swam astern in the hope of being picked up by one of the three boats that had been lowered successfully. He hailed one sixty yards off, but could not reach it, as it pulled away, being, as were the other two, already dangerously overcrowded. Two men swimming near him, Mr BOND saw disappear with a shriek, they were not the only human beings that day who became food for the ravenous sharks that infest those seas.

The cornet, perceiving no means of safety, turned his head towards the shore and swam the whole distance, a couple of miles. Within a few paces of land he became entangled in a dense jungle of seaweed, through which in his exhausted state he pulled himself with difficulty. His perseverance triumphed at last and he gained the shore. While walking up a sort of beaten track from the beach, in the hope of meeting with some human habitation, he saw his own horse standing knee deep in the water, apparently much amazed and puzzled at the treatment to which it had been subjected.

It was now daylight, Cornet BOND having got his horse on shore, returned to the spot where he had landed to assist nine of his comrades who were endeavouring to approach on a raft. He clambered along the rocky beach until he could direct them to a proper place at which to land, and after much difficulty they scrambled on shore. Three men naked, like so many others who had hurried from their berths without time to dress, were observed tossed about in the surf on a small spar. Those just saved stood at the water’s edge praying for an opportunity of lending them a helping hand. The three men were helpless to direct the spar, it required all their energies to maintain a grasp on it. The waves would bring them close to the land, but, receding, would carry them bloody and bruised back again into the boiling surf. At length they were shot violently up, were seized by ready hands, and dragged breathless and spent, high and dry upon the shore.

There were many other preservations quite as wonderful as that of Cornet BOND. Captain WRIGHT, was with his five companions on the drift-wood, carried in the direction of Point Danger. He too, found the seaweed and the breakers combined a very serious impediment to landing, and to relieve the bit of timber which had brought them thus far he parted from his five companions and swam ashore. Others imitated his courage. Those who landed were mostly naked, and all without shoes. This made their progress into the interior through covers of thick thorny bushes extremely painful and slow.

A large party went with Captain WRIGHT up the country, until they came to a wagon out-spanned after the manner of South African colonists. The team driver directed them to a fisherman’s hut, whither they wended their way, arriving about sunset. Nothing to eat was procurable in this out of the way place. Captain WRIGHT dragged himself, therefore, to a farmhouse eight or nine miles off and sent back provisions to the companions he had left hungry and cold at the fishing cove. The next day, the survivors who had by one miraculous means or another reached land, having increased to sixty eight men, of whom eighteen were sailors, were marched to Captain SMALL’S farm, about thirteen miles up the country.

But we must now return. for a moment. to the scene of the wreck. Before the “Birkenhead” went down, you will remember, the women and children were lowered into the cutter, under the command of Mr RICHARDS, with instructions to remain a certain distance from the ship. When she sank, he pulled towards the spot. Assailed on every hand by entreaties to take up half drowned wretches in the water, and in continual danger of being swamped by the efforts of strong men to climb into the boat, he was reluctantly compelled to keep clear of the part where the fragments of wreck were thickest. It went to his heart to be compelled to reply, even to an officer like Mr RENWICK, the chief assistant engineer whom he well knew, that the boat was already nearly sinking.

The boat was then headed for the shore, Mr RICHARDS’ object being to land the women and children with all despatch and return to the wreck. The furious surf threatened to swamp the heavily laden cutter, it foamed around her until the white froth bubbled over the gunwales. Finding that it would be madness to risk a further attempt, Mr RICHARDS at once extricated himself from the breakers, and hailed to the other boats, pulling towards them to remain where they were until he had discovered a clear passage. He then moved six or seven miles along the coast, only to find an unbroken wall of raging foam between him and the shore upon which the poor women and children gazed with wistful eyes, At daylight, a schooner was described not more than five or six miles at sea and away went the cutter in pursuit. Two or three hours passed in this way, and then a breeze springing up the schooner disappeared from view. Mr RICHARDS abandoned any further efforts in that direction, and once more turned to land. With the freshening wind the sea rose, greatly to the peril of the cutter.

When she reached the scene of the deserted wreck, not a soul was left. At length the schooner was seen approaching the shore, and another desperate attempt was resolved upon. A woman’s shawl was hoisted as a signal of distress, and the cutter went out to meet the stranger. They were this time observed, the schooner hove to, and after twelve hours of cold, wet, hunger, and thirst, the sorrowful women and children, uncertain as to the fate of their friends, but fearing the worst, were taken on board the schooner, “Lioness”, of Capetown. Thirty six men, rescued from the other cutter, were already on board. enjoying the hospitality of Captain RAMSDEN and his warm hearted wife. The assistant surgeon and eight men had made their escape in one of the gigs, and landed without much difficulty at Point Danger. Mr RENWICK, who had called to Mr RICHARDS, entreating to be taken in the cutter, had been picked up by this gig.

Before giving up the search for other survivors, Mr RICHARDS, now joined by Mr RENWICK, undertook to pull along the coast in the cutter, if the “Lioness” would wait for them. Their excursion was, however, fruitless. The schooner, before sailing for Simon’s Bay, rescued one hundred and sixteen persons. Some of the forty or fifty men, who, at the sinking of the Birkenhead found refuge on the main topsail yard did not survive the night. They dropped off at intervals from fatigue, and sank. No assistance appearing at daybreak, others leaped into the sea and swam for pieces of wreck, which they observed generally drifted towards land. More than half were successful in their daring venture, the others succumbed to physical exhaustion, or were snapped at, and dragged down, by the ferocious sharks.

The Birkenhead’s purser was able to retain his hold on the yard to the last. He and his companions caught sight of the schooner, whose presence in the offing had also attracted the people in the cutter, and whose temporary disappearance had filled them also with dismay. From his precarious perch amongst the rigging, the purser noticed the gunwale of one of the unused boats peeping above water. He drew his companions attention to the discovery, in it there were hopes of speedy release from prolonged captivity. The submerged boat moved slowly but her direction was unmistakably towards them. A few yards more and the nearest gunwale might have been seized. It was not to be, she drifted tantalizingly near, but for any practical purpose, it was as if she had been miles away. The schooner, with the two cutters in tow, came at last, and the thirty seven men who had survived the privations of the night, soon rejoined their old acquaintances on board the “Lioness”.

The party at Captain SMALL’S farm being comfortably housed, Captain WRIGHT, in spite of his previous exertions, returned to the coast and for three days clambered up and down the rocks for some twenty miles to make sure that there was no helpless creature cast up requiring assistance. A whale boat’s crew that had been sealing about Dyer’s Island joined him in his search, pulling along the verge of the close packed seaweed, while he moved in a parallel line on shore. Two men were rescued in the last stages of exhaustion clinging to pieces of timber in the tangled weed on shore. Captain WRIGHT found two others in the clefts of the rocks, and in a day or two, they quite recovered. Several officers dispersed along the coast with search parties and found bodies to bury but no lives to save. Five horses had swum ashore and were afterwards caught. Of the two paddle box boats driven on shore one came in keel uppermost, the quartermaster and six men had escaped in the other, which stove in and drifted about full of water. The quartermaster survived, the rest died from exhaustion and cold.

One result of the news of the wreck at Capetown was the departure of the “Rhadamanthus” steamer to the spot. Captain WRIGHT and all the men who had been at Captain SMALL’S farm, embarked in boats, and were taken by the “Rhadamanthus” to Simon’s Bay, where they arrived on Monday afternoon, the 1st of March. The careful search instituted enabled the officers who had conducted it to assert with confidence that when the “Rhadamanthus” left there was not a living soul on the coast of those who had been on board the “Birkenhead.”

An experienced army officer like Captain WRIGHT, wedded to discipline and acquainted with its severest forms, was able to say that the order and regularity prevailing on board, from the time the ship struck, till she totally disappeared, far exceeded anything he imagined could be effected by discipline. It was, the more to be wondered at seeing that most of the troops had been but a short time in the service. And Captain WRIGHT adds that everyone did as he was directed, and that there was not a murmur or a cry amongst the men, until the vessel made her final plunge. No individual officer could be distinguished above another. “All received their orders and had them carried out as if the men were embarking, instead of going to the bottom, there was only this difference that I never saw any embarkation conducted with so little noise and confusion”

The boats of the Birkenhead were of little use, the long boat alone, if it could have been got at, might have carried fourscore men at a time and by rapid trips to, and from the shore, might have much lessened the dreadful sacrifice of life. Six hundred and thirty souls were on board the Birkenhead when she sailed for Algoa Bay and the lives saved were one hundred and ninety two, four hundred and thirty eight were lost.

A court martial subsequently investigated the circumstances of the wreck. The court, after hearing evidence, arrived at the conclusion that the ship was steaming too near the land. It was admitted that the shore could not be seen in the darkness, nor the sound of the breakers heard. But the verdict added, “If such be the case the court still are not precluded from speaking with praise of the departed for the coolness which they displayed in the moment of extreme peril, and for the laudable anxiety shown for the safety of the women and children, to the exclusion of all selfish considerations.”

“Queen Victoria” 15th February 1853 lives lost 67

Till all exhausted and bereft of strength
O’erpower’d they yield to cruel fate at length,
The burying waters close around their head-
They sink for ever, numbered with the dead.

The “Queen Victoria”, a steamer plying between Dublin and Liverpool was wrecked in Dublin Bay on the 15th February 1853. She had made a favourable passage through the night. The crew and passengers amounted to about 120, many of the latter, being cattle dealers returning from the Liverpool market. They were peacefully sleeping in their berths when at two in the morning the officer in charge of the vessel began to look out for the well known lights that mark the approach to Dublin Bay. A blinding snow-storm fell just as the look out sighted what he supposed to be the Bailey light. The obvious duty of the officer under these circumstances was to slacken speed. Onward, however, the steamer plunged. The first mate had gone up to the bow and peering through the drifting snow, saw dimly looming, straight before him and at not many yards distance, the high rugged cliffs of the Island of Howth, in fine summer weather so beautiful a feature of far famed Dublin Bay, but in this stormy winter night clothed with horrors unspeakable.

The mate’s cry of astonishment and alarm was the first indication to the people on deck of the error that had been committed. “Stop her? Stop her!” rang through the ship in stentorian tones stopped undoubedly the steamer was, but by the unyielding rocks and not by the engine. The discovery had been made too late, for before the mate’s hasty orders could be carried out, the “Queen Victoria” had crashed head foremost into the rocky island. The people below were thrown from their berths, those above were hurled violently on deck. The captain hurried up with the crowd of alarmed passengers, and ordered the engines to be reversed. This was done and the ship slowly moving from the rocks, backed into deep water. All speed was put on and the steamer headed for the mouth of the river. But it was apparent that she was rapidly sinking, and the captain then decided to run her on shore a second time.

The confusion of the passengers was, to use the language of a gentleman who witnessed it, “appalling and enough to unnerve the stoutest heart”. The captain did his best to allay their fears. “Be quiet!. be quiet!”, he shouted, ” there is no danger you will all be saved, only be quiet!”. But the sinking ship spoke to them with more commanding tones than those of the captain, and they refused to be quiet, or to believe there was no danger.

Half dressed, in some cases, not dressed at all, mothers, sought their children, and husbands, and wives ran up and down looking for each other. The snow wrapped the prospect in its white mantle, the roar of the breakers was near, but above them were heard screams for help, and piteous appeals to heaven for mercy and succour, and throughout this commotion the steamer was going down by the bow, deeper and deeper.

Said a gentleman, Mr Charles RALPH, whose bravery I shall have occasion to mention in its proper place. The passengers were crowding on the deck, screaming, praying, and crying for help, there were a great number of women, some of whom had babies. The distress of the poor creatures was dreadful. I never saw anything to equal the horrors of that scene, and I trust in God, I may never be doomed to witness another like it.

Then arose the cry “For God’s sake, get out the boats” It was taken up by the passengers and became universal “aye, the boats, the boats!”

Into the starboard quarter boat, the frenzied passengers tumbled without heed as to how far she was capable of bearing the heavy weight. It turned out that the ropes were not properly secured, and consequently the boat, borne down by the sudden burden, slipped from the davits, and swamped the moment she touched the water, the people in her being, of course, drowned. The sea was rushing into the vessel in a noisy torrent. The larboard boat was next seized for launching, Mr RALPH, Mr WALSH and Mr DUFFY, three passengers, fortunately managed to assume the control, and prevent her from being overcrowded. Seventeen persons speedily filled her and she was lowered.

The water entered through an unstopped plug hole and a panic was imminent. A brave lad, whose name I regret my inability to give, for his presence of mind deserves to be recorded and remembered, while others lamented, searched for the hole and plugged it, effectually, with his fingers. Mr RALPH baled out the water with his hat, others tore away the lashings which fastened up the oars, no one possessing a knife wherewith to cut the cords. The boat pulled to a steamer, the “Roscommon”, which was near, the plucky little fellow still plugging out threatening death. Before leaving the wreck, Mr WALSH, looking up to the bulwarks, caught a glimpse of his wife holding on to some woodwork. He called upon her to leap down.

“No, no”, another gentleman in the boat shouted,”don’t jump or you will surely be drowned!. Hold on and we will return in a few minutes.

Mr WALSH urged his point no further, and the boat proceeded to the “Roscommon” pulled by Mr RALPH , and a man-of-war’s boy named KEGG. When the boat returned, only the “Queen Victoria’s” masts remained above water, and Mrs WALSH had gone down with the rest. The gentleman who dissuaded her from leaping for her life, had feared that all the people around would imitate her example, in which case the boat must have been irretrievably swamped. To the last moment the captain was seen upon deck, endeavouring to calm the agitation of the passengers and to direct their exertions into the proper channel, for the preservation of their lives. He was never seen again, the supposition being that when the ship made her final lurch, he, along with the second mate, went with her.

Mr RALPH , the intrepid KEGG and the lad whose fingers had plugged the boat, landed the fourteen rescued people about half a mile from the wreck and returned with all speed, little expecting that in their absence the end had come. Upon the upper parts of the ship’s masts there were, however, plainly visible, some twelve or fourteen persons clinging. Five were taken from the foremast into the boat and Mr RALPH was proceeding to take the men from the mainmast, when one of their number, the steward of the “Queen Victoria” exclaimed, “Don’t mind us my dear fellow, the boats of the “Roscommon” will pick us up. The boats belonging to that steamer were in fact at that moment actively employed in searching for survivors. Altogether forty five persons were picked up in this way and every attention was paid to them by the captain and crew of the Roscommon The entire number saved was fifty three. Eight persons escaped by getting upon the rocks at Howth.

One of the deck passengers was a discharged soldier named O’BRIEN, who made great efforts to save women and children. Perceiving a woman with a child in her arms, he proposed to relieve her of the burden, that she might have more freedom to save herself. Suiting the action to the word, he took the baby and hoisted it upon his shoulder. Maternal love, however, prevailed over the instinct of self preservation, which some would have us believe, is the ruling passion of human life. The poor woman paused and looked at her child, then snatched it from O’BRIEN’S arms. This incident deserved a better ending, shortly after, mother and child were swept into the sea and drowned in sight of the husband and father. O’BRIEN swam to the rocks in company with eight of the crew and as he shivered there in the cold winter morning, his chief regret was that he had not been able to have his own way with the lost child.

A Nottingham cattle-dealer, roused from sleep by the shock, witnessed the scramble for the boats but took no part in it. He was sitting, with his child on his knee, his wife being near, when the sea washed him overboard, leaving the child on deck. Being a good swimmer, he attempted to return to his wife and child, but was prevented by the waves dashing violently into his face. He swam ashore and appeared at the coroner’s inquest afterwards, to swear to the identity of his little boy, who was one of the few bodies recovered. The mother was also drowned.

The conduct of the captain and mates of the vessel was held to be highly culpable. With the full knowledge that they could not be far from the rocks, and the obscuration of the beacon by snow and storm, no soundings were made nor was the speed slackened, or any of the most ordinary precautions observed, if a look out had been stationed in the bows, he must have been napping at his post at a moment when his eyes should have been strained to the utmost. The lighthouse keeper had a share of the blame, for after lighting the lamps he appears to have gone to bed, not bestowing a thought upon the effect of the cold upon the light, or the chances of the lantern being covered up by snow. A “Fog bell on a rock-bound coast” is a necessity which has passed into a proverb, but at this time there was no such monitor on this dangerous point.

I know of few things more painful than the contemplation of a great accident in which the weak and the helpless, left to their fate, are the majority of those who perish. It may accidentally happen from a variety of circumstances, that in a shipwreck, coming suddenly upon a large number of persons who in a momentary excitement give way to panic, the strong trample down the weak, in their efforts to save themselves.

Take as an example the wreck of the emigrant ship “Tayleur” in 1854. She was a new ship that had been launched in the Mersey, in the October of the previous year and, it was remembered afterwards, that while she was upon the stocks her commander, Captain NOBLE , fell from the forecastle, a depth of twelve feet, and was stunned by the fall. She was called the Tayleur, after her builder, a gentleman of that name who was represented, with more or less accuracy, in her figure head.

The ship sailed from Liverpool on the noon of Thursday, the 19th of January, with 496 passengers, and a crew, which ran the total number of souls on board up to 528 adults. For thirty hours she was tossed about in the Irish Channel and on the morning of the 21st she was driven upon the rocks off Lambay Island, some miles to the north of Howth, and became a total wreck, less than 250 persons of her large freight of human beings escaping. Within half an hour after striking, she went down, in seven fathoms of water, a portion of her masts remaining above.

The Tayleur left Liverpool with a fine breeze from the S.E. All went happily until noon on Saturday, and then a report, somewhat alarmingly made, was spread that the ship was drifting towards the land. The passengers crowded the deck and caused such confusion that the crew were prevented from properly obeying orders. Both anchors were let go, but the heavy sea caused the cables to break, or the anchors to drag, they were powerless to stay the progress of the ship towards the rocks. After striking, she turned broadside to the shore, upon which many of the passengers jumped. The ship remained in this position only a few minutes, then she slid off, filled rapidly, and went down stern foremost. The survivors were mustered and counted, and it was found that there were about 238 saved and amongst these, there were only three women, and two children only.

Great consternation and great anger, were felt in England, at the loss of this fine emigrant ship. True, a number of other shipping disasters occurred on the Irish coast during the same storm, and the weather was thick and hazy, but there was universal amazement that a vessel so well appointed could have possibly got into such a position. It was truly pointed out that she was not lost upon a shoal of sunken rocks, treacherously concealed from the navigators, but on a long ridge of lofty cliffs with water fathoms deep at their base. It startled the public that at mid-day a large ship should run point blank against the side of a hill, which in ordinary weather might be seen at least twenty miles off. One of the survivors stated that his attention was called to the nearness of the land when the ship was only three miles off, but that she still proceeded on her course.

She was run so completely upon the land that at first a plank was actually placed from the ship’s side, to the shore, and several persons were saved by it, yet nearly 300 human beings perished, almost it may be said, within arm’s length of their surviving comrades. And not the least shocking part of the story, I again repeat, is the fact that with some two hundred women on board, only three were rescued. A first cabin passenger, Mr W JONES, who exerted himself in the most gallant manner to assist the unfortunate sufferers, gave an interesting and detailed account of the wreck.

“About twelve o’clock,” he says, “a friend came down to the cabin where I was and said, There is land close to us, and they are afraid the ship will go ashore.” I proceeded on deck when a horrible scene of confusion met my eye. Before us, at a short distance, rose the bleak and rocky island of Lambay, round the base of which the waves were dashing furiously, while the vessel, quite unmanageable in the hands of the crew, was drifting towards it with fearful rapidity. The deck was crowded with passengers, male, and female, who, perceiving their danger, were in a state of almost frantic terror.

“The captain attempted to wear the ship but she would not pay off but continued to drift towards the rocks.” He then ordered the stay sail, and, I think, the spanker to be set, which was done. The mate then directed the man at the helm to keep her full, but it was of no use. Just at this moment, I heard the chain running out with the anchor. The first mate called out “Hold on!”, but both anchors were let go, they snapped like glass.

And now began a scene of the most frightful horror, some running below to get what they could, others praying, some taking leave of their friends, wringing their hands, and beseeching them for help. The vessel, after striking, lay so close upon the rocks that several persons attempted to jump ashore. The first person who jumped on the island, struck his head against the rocks and fell back into the water with his head frightfully cut, and after struggling a short time sank. The next person who jumped from the vessel made good his footing, and was followed by several others- I believe – the Chinese and Lascars belonging to the crew. They also succeeded in making good their landing and as soon as they had done so, scampered, with all haste, up the rock never attempting to assist those on board.

Several now swung themselves on the rocks. which were but a few feet from us. I managed to swing myself on shore and retained the rope in my hand. I passed the end of it up to some of those behind, and by this means a great many were enabled to come ashore. To attempt to paint the heart-rending scene on board the ship would be impossible, wives clinging to their husbands, children to their parents, women running wildly about the deck, uttering the most heart-rending cries, many offering all they possessed to persons to get them on shore.

Among some of the earlier of the females who attempted to get on shore, were some young Irishwomen. Most of them lost their hold of the rope and fell into the sea. The doctor of the ship, a most noble fellow, struggled hard to save his wife and child, he had succeeded in getting about half-way to the shore on a rope, holding his child by its clothes in his teeth, but just then the ship lurched outwards, by which the rope was dragged from the hands of those who held on on the lower rocks, and was held only by those above, thus running him high in the air so that the brave fellow could not drop on the rock. Word was now given to lower the rope gently, but those who held it above let it go by the run, and the poor fellow, with his child, was buried in the waves; but in a short time he, again, appeared above the waters, manfully battling with the water and the portions of the wreck that now floated about him.

He at length, swam to a ladder that was hanging by a rope alongside the ship and got upon it. After he had been there a minute or two a female floated to him, he immediately took hold of her on the ladder, tenderly parted the hair from her face, and appeared to be encouraging her, but in another minute she was washed from his hold, and sank almost immediately. He then got up again into the ship and tried to get his wife ashore, but they both perished. He deserved a better fate.

The scene was now truly awful. The most desperate struggles for life were made by the wretched passengers.

The coastguard who had been apprised of the wreck now came up but all they could do was to attempt to save the two who were in the rigging. They managed to get a line to one of them by fastening two lines, at the end of each of which was a piece of wood, to a single line, and guiding it from the rock, to the spot where the poor fellow was, so that he could reach it they then dragged him ashore.

There was one fine young man left in the top, but they could not reach him and when he saw them going away his cries were heart rending. About two o’clock the next morning the coastguard managed to reach him after he had been on the top fourteen hours. You may fancy the poor fellow’s joy at his deliverance. We found we were on Lambay Island three miles from Rush, and thirteen miles from Dublin. The steward of Lord Talbot, whose property the island is, threw open the house, which they call a castle, for us, as also, did the coastguard.

Here you would see some limping with legs sprained, others without shoes, or stockings, here one with nothing but his shirt, there another with nothing but his trousers. The first day I had neither shoes, nor stockings. We were served out with oatmeal and potatoes, and a pig was killed for us. We managed to make a good meal at the house of the coast guard, at which we were stopping, and beds were made for us in all the rooms by spreading straw on the floor. We were almost starved with cold. The night was dreadful and we were, many of us, almost naked and wet through, in this state we lay all night.

The next day was worse than the day before. When we went out to the wreck we found the bodies were lying piled one over another, most of them almost naked and several persons were getting all they could from the dead bodies. It was enough to make the stoutest heart shudder. One poor female was lying on the ground totally uncovered. In this state she was left. The coastguard said the men who saved the things had a right to them. The captain said he had nothing to do with it.

About six o’clock we were told that a steamer was in sight. Through the day I offered anything if they would put me across to Rush, as I wished to telegraph home that we were safe before the news of the wreck arrived, but for some reason they appeared to wish to keep us all on the island, in this wretched state. God grant that we may never witness such a scene again. A strict inquiry was afterwards made into the cause of the wreck. According to the captain, there were three lifeboats and four long boats on board, ready to be launched and the excuse for not launching them was that when the vessel struck, no boat could live in the sea that was then rolling. While he could not affirm that he experienced any obstruction from the wind, or inefficiency in the hands, he said he found on some occasions that the rudder did not answer to the man at the wheel. His opinion was that the rudder was too small. Further, he said, the Tayleur would not payoff and as he himself superintended the building of the vessel, he was very much surprised at it. He was an experienced captain. The fact appeared to be that about half past eleven o’clock on the morning of the wreck, the wind suddenly shifted round from the S.E. to the S.W. At that moment, the ship was paying off to the shift of wind and the crew were in the act of taking in the foresail, when the captain first saw land, which, he supposed, to be much further off than it was. Strange too, that an experienced commander should not know what particular part of the coast it was. The first thing he did was to order the hands, most of whom were on deck at the time engaged at the foresail to wear the ship. She went off nearly a point in obedience to the rudder, but it was done so slowly, that the Tayleur ran ashore before she could get round her head altogether.

Another vessel, even according to the captain’s opinion, would have cleared the island easily and so, it was urged, would the Tayleur, if she had answered her helm quickly, as an ordinary vessel would have done. The crowning misfortune was the parting of the cables. At that juncture, the captain purposely kept the yards braced full so as to drive her in broadside to the rocks and give the passengers a chance of getting off. Seafaring men declared that the vessel did not answer her helm because the foremast, and probably all the masts, were too far aft. On behalf of Captain NOBLE it should be said that he had passed a very scientific examination and held something more than the ordinary certificate of qualification. The verdict of the jury, who inquired into the loss of the ship, set forth that the deplorable disaster occurred in consequence of highly culpable neglect on the part of the owners, in permitting the vessel to leave port without compasses properly adjusted, or sufficient trial, as to whether she was under control of her helm and it declared that Captain NOBLE did not take sufficient precaution, when he found the compasses in error, but acted with coolness and courage after he came in sight of land.

During a devastating gale, which occurred on the Irish coast towards the end of April 1859, several large ships were lost. The “Dusty Miller” was wrecked near Ireland’s Eye, almost on the spot where the “Queen Victoria” was lost, the only witness to her fate being the shattered timber which, next day, came ashore. The most awful catastrophe of all, surpassing even the foregoing narratives, was the striking of the “Pomona” on the coast of Wexford involving her total destruction, and the loss of 386 lives.

The “Pomona” was a large American ship owned and manned by natives of the United States. Her crew numbered thirty seven and she sailed from Liverpool on the 27th of April, with 372 passengers. The majority on board were emigrants of the Irish peasant class, but there were also many of the small farmer, and tradesmen type. They were a merry party as they left the Mersey. A fair breeze filled the “Pomona’s” sails. Some of the passengers lost no time in seeking their berths, to hide from the eyes of their fellow emigrants, the sea sickness from which they suffered, or of which they were afraid. In the saloons, however, there were jovial parties who did not intend to succumb to either sickness, or sleep. A fiddler and piper had been discovered on board and the light-hearted Irish people brought them forward to celebrate the day of sailing by song and dance. As they piped and danced the rival music of the storm was heard without. The “Pomona” heeled over to the freshening gale and flew through the waters. The dancers stole off by degrees to their berths and the songs ceased.

Little thought, these mirthful emigrants, that they were so soon to return to their native land, and in so fearful a manner. The ship went headlong to her destruction, for the captain, when nearing the Tuskar, had lost his reckoning and quite misapprehended the position of his vessel. Through this error, a little after midnight, the “Pomona” ran at full speed upon a sandbank near Blackwater. Suddenly stopped in her fleet career, the heavy seas made a clean breach over her, and descending upon the quarter, swept the deck, as the emigrants as usual hurried in crowds from below in their night clothes, or clad in the scantiest apparel. Their hearts died within them as they gazed at the crested waves rolling from seaward, and perceived the small likelihood there was of their ever reaching land alive.

The captain, fortunately, was cool and prompt, the crew were obedient and ready. A fair degree of order was established and there was some prospect of relief should the gale moderate. Water was fast filling the hold, the pumps were manned. The captain reassured the terrified people looking to him for consolation, by informing them that he should be able to land them all in the boats when the morning came. With this assurance they became as calm as the sweeping of the seas and creaking of the vessel would allow them. Anxiously the emigrants listened, now fancying the roar of the tempest was lulling, and now despairing anew, as the thud of the water on the deck and a louder shriek of the gale, proved how unreal their fancy was.

It was, therefore, a day of wretchedness that dawned upon the Pomona’s crowded decks. The gale was stronger than ever. In the course of the morning the crew attempted to get out the lifeboats, but they were dashed to pieces before they reached the water, and the men who manned them were drowned. The “Pomona” seemed well fixed in the bank and in this the passengers saw encouragement for holding out to the last, trusting that the gale would spend its force. It was nevertheless, a day of fearful suspense and in the evening a crisis came, the ship slipped off, stern foremost, into deep water and began to fill. The whale boat, hastily launched, put off with twenty three persons, of whom nineteen were ordinary sailors, the rest consisting of the third mate and three passengers. These eventually reached the shore, otherwise not a life was saved. The captain and his first and second officers made no attempt to leave their ship. The captain, hoping that the Pomona might be again driven on the bank, let go his best bower anchor. Now, however, the thing which had before, unsought, happened to them, was not, earnestly as they wished it, repeated. Forty passengers struggled manfully at the pumps, but the water gained and within an hour of her leaving the bank, she sank. No survivor remained to tell the harrowing story of the final scene. Details you must agree are not necessary. It is enough to know that the waters engulphed, at one sweep, nearly 400 men, women and children. The wreck had been perceived by the coastguard, but at that lonely part of the coast, no assistance could be rendered.

The preventive men, however, conveyed the intelligence to Wexford and a steam tug was engaged to go to the sandbank. The gale was so furious that the little craft was unable for hours to leave the harbour. She made her slow way, at last, to the wreck. The upper spar of the mizen mast, with its colours dancing wildly in the storm, was all that could be seen of the “Pomona”.

The conduct of the peasantry along the shore, but that the accusations made at the time have never been denied, would be too barbarous for credence. The bodies of the drowned were washed up in distressing numbers and it was apparent from their condition, how suddenly the danger had come upon them. Many had not taken off their clothes, others had retired for the night. The bodies were inhumanly plundered of any valuables that could be found, the very clothes were stripped off and it is asserted that some corpses were flung back into the sea, in order that the treatment to which they had been subjected, might be concealed. When the storm had passed away, divers sent by the Liverpool agents went down to save as much as possible from the wreck. In the fore part of the ship, the corpses were huddled together in heaps, showing that there and without the opportunity of gaining the deck, the majority of the 386 met their deaths.

Notable shipwrecks, retold by uncle Hardy By William Senior 1881

12 Nov. 1819 Melancholy Narrative

On the 12th of July, 1817, the brig ‘Mary Ann’, of Maryport, England, William MITCHELL master, sailed from Belfast for Quebec, with 102 passengers. They were but a few days at sea when the typhus fever appeared among the unfortunate people and though none died, every person but 5 was afflicted by it. Doctor SODEN of Bailieborough, whose lamentable fate connected with this distressing narrative, rendered every assistance to the poor sufferers that could be afforded under such circumstances, much aggravated by the want of an adequate supply of medicines. The vessel arrived in the Gut of Canso on the 15th of Sept. when it appeared there were not any provisions left equal to the further prosecution of the voyage. The wind being favourable, the passengers wished to put to sea, as their stock was hardly equal to the time it would require to get Quebec, which the Captain refused, under the pretext that he wanted a supply of water, though 15 puncheons were yet in the hold: and further pretended to want fuel, though he had then a considerable quantity of coal. As provisions were not to be had in Canso, the passengers urged the necessity of putting to sea, from a place where they were consuming the small quantity on hands, and no chance of obtaining any, even for money. These remonstrances went for nothing; he remained 5 days in this way, and again he was requested to proceed. This he explained away, by asserting his men were not equal to the working of the vessel. This excuse was set aside, as 4 experienced sailors who were passengers, offered their gratuitous assistance, as did 2 other seamen who had been then at Canso, where they had been shipwrecked. Further assistance was offered by a mate of a vessel, acquainted with the coast, who would undertake to pilot the brig into Quebec, without expecting any reward, only their passage. After a delay of 20 days, the passengers became outrageous at the visible intentions of the Captain, who connived at the plunder of their chests, and protracted the voyage. Alarmed at the spirit which his conduct produced, the Captain agreed to set sail for Quebec, and apparently intending it, weighed anchor on the 6th October.

They arrived at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, when 14 days more were spent in idle and vexatious pretences, without making an effort to ascend the river. The passengers had not now more than one pound of bread each; they begged he would make some shore where they might purchase food. At length they were so distressed, that the Captain agreed to sell them a pound of biscuit for each head, pretending he could spare no more, though it was discovered in a few days after, that he had more than 600 weight, and 2 pieces of beef; the sailors said the delays were continued for the purpose of tiring out the passengers, as he did not mean to go to Quebec having no business anywhere but in Richibicto, where he was to take in a load of timber agreeably to charter; there he arrived on the 24th October.

Twenty-five engaged in a shallop, for a place called Coucoin, a French settlement, where it was expected some proper vessel should be obtained for them to carry them to Quebec; but this idea was not realised, as on their arrival, not one could be had. Fortunately, as they thought, a vessel, the ‘Mary’, of Cumberland, N. B. Captain MACRAY put info Coucoin in distress; in this brig nineteen engaged a passage to Passmaquoddy; this was on the 9th November; on the 11th Dec. they sailed, and about 4 in the morning of the 13th, the vessel struck on the half-moon rocks, Cape Negro, Nova Scotia. Ten of the passengers perished here in less than 10 minutes, as she filled with water. Seventeen got into the boat; but it being dark, and the sea running high, the boat was not manageable, and struck rock near an uninhabited place, or rock, called Blanch Island, covered with snow. They discovered on an adjoining island, a person who appeared to be an inhabitant of the continent, who they knew afterwards, by the name Lamb THOMAS.

Mrs. SODEN and her 7 children were drowned; the eldest was a young man, a physician, aged 28 years. Mr. BALLENTINE of Ballymena, Co. Antrim. Ireland, with his two children, were also washed from the vessel.

Mr. THOMAS and his friends stripped off part of their clothes to aid the people on the rock. The poor party were carried to Mr. THOMAS’ house, where they were kindly treated, and where they remained until the 6th of May. During this time the inhabitants of Port Le Torre were plundering the wreck of such clothes and baggage belonging to the sufferers as escaped the seas. The vessel was sold by public auction, and was bought up by some inhabitants of Port Certore, on conditions that the properties of the passengers should be given up to them, including what had been stolen from the vessel, an agreement which was evaded. Search warrants were granted by Justice Cox, Colonel Sergeant, but the Constables were afraid to go on their duty until the accused were apprised of the intended visit by some other officers of justice, who were sharers in the spoils. After some weeks spent this way, they were obliged to leave all with the robbers, some of whom are of high standing in Port La Torre and Bassington.

Sir. SODEN the father of this family, never learned the fate of his wife and children, for 8 months after the sad event. Early in Aug. next, after the departure of his family, Mr. SODEN sailed for Quebec, where he arrived the 11th of Oct. expecting to see his poor family; but alas no family existed for this anxious father, and for near eight months he was alternately in hopes and despair, until a passenger from Belfast, Mr. WATERSON, acquainted him with a detail of the tragedy. (Saunders  Newsletter)

3 Sept. 1831 Another Frightful Shipwreck Loss of 241 Lives

The ship ‘Lady Sherbroke’, H. GAMBLES, master, from Londonderry to Quebec, with passengers, was totally wrecked on the 10th July, on some rocks at the entrance of the St. Lawrence, having struck in a fog at midnight on Mouse Island, near point Blanche. By this dreadful calamity not less than two hundred and forty one lives have been lost. The number of passengers embarked on board this ill-fated vessel amounted to 257 crew 16, total 273. whom only 42? were saved. The following are the names of the persons saved;

Mr. James KERR
Richard MOORE
Denis BRUNE (in another paper Dennis BREEN)
George ALJO (in another paper spelt AULDJO)
Owen DARLEY (in another paper Owen DENNY)
Margaret M’GILL (in another paper Mary Anne M’GILL)
Jane ALJO (in another paper spelt AULDJO)
Isabella NESS (or NOSS?) (in another paper Isabella HAYS)
Catherine KERR

crew saved
Henry GAMBLES, master
Richard CODNER, mate
Thomas CROSS
Hendrick DOCKE seaman
(Belfast Newsletter. Note; the ‘other paper’ is the Dublin Morning Register)

19 Sept. 1831 Loss of the Ship ‘Lady Sherbroke’

The news of the calamitous wreck of the Lady Sherbroke has occasioned indiscribable distress here, upwards of fifty of the passengers being from the town and neighbourhood of Enniskillen. There were thirty two from a townland called the Ring, of whom only four have escaped the melancholy fate of their companions. Of the family of John KERR, consisting, we fear, of fourteen in number, including his wife, he and a son and a daughter only have been saved. The lamentations in that quarter, on and since the arrival of the melancholy tidings have been truly affecting. (Dublin Morning Register)

2 Nov. 1831 The Ship ‘Lady Sherbroke’

We have seen a letter from one of the surviving sufferers to his parents who reside in the neighborhood of St. Johns town, which is as follows;

Halifax. Aug. 29, 1831
Dear Father and Mother

I take up pen to inform you of my sad misfortune since the time of my departure. I commence letting you know that we were on the water six weeks and three days from the time of my departure, during which we were very happy ..but alas I at the end of that time, we were wrecked off Mouse Island, Cape Ray where every soul was lost except 32 passengers including five of the crew. I was twelve hours on the wreck after being cast away, which was at twelve o’clock at night. I went down three times but by the assistance of God I got on the main-mast which lay in the water, where I remained during that time, until the will of providence sent a boat which took me and Thomas (a name here illegible) the only one left that you know out of the whole sufferers. We were then taken from where the fishermen live to Halifax, where we arrived in three weeks and three days, during which time the captain, who took us from that place in a schooner (his name is MUNRO) used us with all the kindness that a man could do. I was only three days to Halifax when I fell into the employment of Mr. OSTERMAN, living about two and a half miles out of (?) own, for 24£ per year. During the time that I have been with him I have every reason to say that I think he will be a good friend to me. I lost all my clothes and what money I had with me. I met with Mr J MEEHAN, from Three-mile-town, who used me very kindly, and gave me clothes to last me until May, along with money. I am sorry to say that Mr YOUNG and his family were lost. Mr. YOUNG saw all the family go to their watery grave and I was shaking hands with him bidding him a last farewell, when he went down to rise no more. After his going down, I went down, but escaped the awful fate as I have mentioned before, David CLARKE’S daughter from Killagh was lost.

John M’KEIVER (Clonmel Herald)

2 Sept. 1831 Dreadful Shipwreck Lady Sherbrooke
The ship Lady Sherbrooke, H. GAMBLES, master, from Londonderry to Quebec, with passengers, was totally wrecked on the 19th July, on some rocks at the entrance of the Gulph of St. Lawrence, having struck in a fog at midnight, on Mouse Island, near Point Blanch. By this dreadful calamity not less than 241 lives have been lost. The number of passengers embarked on board this ill-fated vessel amounted to 257, crew 16, total 273, of whom only 32 were saved! The following are the names of the persons saved;

Passengers saved
Mr. James KERR
Richard MOORE
Thomas VANCE
Patrick POWER
George ALGO

Margaret M’GILL
Isabella NOYS
Catherine KERR

Crew saved
Henry GAMBLES, master
Richard CODNER, mate
John MULLEY, seamen
Thomas CROSS, seamen
Henrick DOCKE, seamen
(Belfast Newsletter)

2 Jan. 1832 Melancholy Shipwrecks, and Loss of Lives

On Tuesday night last, during a dense fog, the brig ‘Eagle’, of this port, Robert DUNCAN, master, from Glasgow, for this city, coal laden, struck rock at the Skerries off Portrush and shortly afterwards went down; all hands, 6 in number, perished. The boats were broken to pieces and, together with the Captain’s trunk and papers, soon after came ashore. The top-masts appear at low-water. The Eagle belonged to Mr. Thomas WHITE, of the Waterside and, we are sorry to learn, was not insured. The same night, a sloop struck a rock a little to the westward of where the Eagle was wrecked and went down; 3 out of 4 hands perished. The survivor lashed himself with his handkerchief to the top mast and was taken off (when almost dead), by a boat going to the Eagle. The sloop proves to be the ‘Nancy’, of Inverness, Duncan M‘KENZIE from the Clyde, bound for Portrush. We greatly fear we shall hear of other wrecks, from the great fogs of the last 3 days, many vessels having left the Clyde for the North of Ireland. (Northern Whig)

8 Feb. 1832 Another Melancholy Shipwreck

The ‘Lady Sherbrooke’, GAMBLES, sailed from Londonderry, 4th of June, for Quebec, with 280 passengers on board and a crew of 15 persons and was totally wrecked 19th July, on Mouse Island, near Point Blanet. Only master, mate, four seamen and 26 passengers saved and were on 26th July on board the schooner Pomona, bound to Sydney, Cape Breton. (Launceston Advertiser)

7 Aug. 1841 On Rathlin Island

The ‘Phoebe’, 800 tons, of and from Liverpool and Londonderry, to take in passengers for America, was wrecked on the rocks on the eastern side of the Island, in a dense fog on the 12th. The same evening, from the same cause, the ‘Matthew Bell’, of Greenock, 500 tons, laden with cotton, from Liverpool to New Orleans, struck on the rocks near the Bull; and  on the morning of the 14th, a small schooner, coal laden, of 90 tons, was cast away on the same island. It is not expected that any of these vessels can be saved.
(Weekly Free Press, and Port Phillip Commercial Advertiser)

14 Sept. 1844 Steam boat Collision

We have learned that, at half-past one o’clock Tuesday morning, the Londonderry steamer, when abreast of ‘Innerkip’, about nine miles from Greenock, on her passage from Glasgow to Derry, came in collision with the schooner ‘Dolpadnen Castle’, Captain Richard PRITCHARD. The morning was exceedingly dark, and the schooner had no light on board. The schooner went down, but not before Captain WYSE had rescued the crew, by his promptitude in stopping the steamer, and lowering the boats. No blame can be attached to the commander of the Londonderry. The schooner’s crew consisted of five men. She was of 45 tons burden, and was laden with slates from Wales to Port Dundas, Glasgow Derry Paper.(Vindicator)

8 Dec. 1848 Awful Loss of Life

The Belfast and Derry papers bring ample details of a frightful catastrophe which took place on board the Londonderry steamer, by which 72 human beings were suffocated. The impression was at first general that the unhappy sufferers had been murdered in scuffle. The first true account of the sad tragedy reached Dublin in a slip sent from the office of the Derry Sentinel, which was as follows:

Derry, Monday, Dec. 4, 6 a.m.

For the information of our contemporaries we subjoin the particulars of this most dreadful calamity. About nine o’clock yesterday morning the inhabitants of this city were startled by the astounding intelligence that the Londonderry steamer, Captain JOHNSTON, which plies between Sligo and Liverpool, had arrived at our quay with a number of dead bodies on board. Great excitement was manifested immediately after the arrival of the vessel, and we hastened to the spot, and found that the steamer, with the captain, crew, and surviving passengers were in the hands of the authorities, aided by 50 men of the 95th depot, under Major RAIMES and the city constabulary, who prevented the egress of any parties from the vessel, Mr. Alexander LINDSAY, mayor, and several of the local magistrates, were in attendance. The scene on entering the steerage of the steamer was truly heartrending, and such as no human being could witness without feelings of the most poignant description; the terrific spectacle presented itself to our view of some 70 human beings deprived of life, and piled indiscriminately on each other. Though various absurd rumours as to the cause of this event had got into circulation, immediately on the vessel’s arriving it was apparent, from the appearance which the bodies presented, that death had been caused by suffocation. After the lapse of some lime a respectable jury was empanelled before Mr. M. LLOYD, coroner, and they proceeded to hold an inquest on the body of one of the sufferers, a girl of 8 years of age. Two witnesses were then examined, at the conclusion of whose evidence, it being 6 o’clock, the coroner adjourned the investigation to this morning at 10 o’clock. The weather came on so stormy that none but the crew could keep the deck. The passengers were ordered below, and the companion was drawn partially across; but it appears that not sufficient space was left for the purpose of ventilation, which caused the unfortunate people below to experience all the horrors of suffocation. One of them, more fortunate than the rest, succeeded in gaining the deck and alarmed the mate, when he, with some the crew, hastened to their relief, but, alas too late; upwards of 70 human beings had ceased to exist. It would be premature to go any further into this matter at present, as the inquest is still pending. The captain and crew are in custody.

The guard of the Derry mail has furnished the following particulars –

The Londonderry left Sligo on Friday evening for Liverpool, with nearly 200 passengers on board; a large number of whom were emigrants, who intended to re-ship at Liverpool for America. There was also on board a quantity of live stock. The night became so stormy that the captain considered it necessary that the passengers should go below, which they accordingly did, the hatches closed, and tarpaulin thrown over them. From the smallness of the space occupied by the unfortunate people below, and the limited supply of air, a number of them died from suffocation, and others became insane, and tore the flesh and clothes off each other. The scene, described by the survivors, was frightful in the extreme. The vessel got into Derry on Sunday morning and, on being boarded by the authorities, it was found that there were 72 of the passengers dead, some of them shockingly disfigured. The disfiguration, it was supposed, was caused by the heaving of the vessel throwing the unfortunate creatures on the top of each other. The captain and crew were taken into custody, and the surviving passengers were removed to the Corporation hall, where their immediate wants were provided for by some of the charitable inhabitants of Derry. The city was in a state of great excitement; and a large mob, congregated in the neighbourhood of where the ship lay, seemed much exasperated against the captain and crew. (Coventry Standard)

6 Dec. 1848 Dreadful Loss of Life

It devolves upon us to give the particulars of as frightful a tragedy as ever occurred on the Irish Coast, which, in its accumulations of horrors, has scarcely a parallel, even in the memorable affair the Black Hole of Calcutta. We allude to the violent death of no fewer than 72 human beings on board the ‘Londonderry’ steamer, which sailed from Sligo Friday last, bound for Liverpool; and was forced to put into the Foyle. We do not attempt to describe the consternation with which the inhabitants of this City were stricken, upon her arrival at our quays on Sunday, by rumours of what had befallen the unhappy people on board. These rumours were far from being exaggerated; for the extent of the calamity was not ascertained, and apparently not even imagined by any of either the crew, or the passengers. The particulars of the case will be found fully detailed in the report we have given of the Coroner’s Inquest, held on the body of one of the sufferers; and we cannot let the opportunity pass of remarking the extreme candour, and almost marvellous dispassionateness with which one and al! of the witnesses gave their evidence. There may have been some error in a few of the impressions made on their minds, what they saw, and heard; but as to the truth of the main facts, to which they deposed, there cannot be the least reasonable doubt.

Loss of Life Coroner’s Inquest

On Sunday forenoon the steamer ‘Londonderry’ Captain JOHNSON which had left Sligo at 8 o:clock a.m on the previous Friday, with passengers and cattle for Liverpool, arrived at our quay, when the astounding intelligence suddenly spread that an immense number of the passengers, whose corpses were on board, had perished by suffocation during the voyage. All the magistrates of the City and the surrounding country assembled at the quay, and some dead bullocks which were on deck, having been cleared away, they proceeded to inspect the different apartments of the vessel, and found that there were 102 surviving steerage passengers, whom they caused to be conducted by the military and police to the Corporation Hall. There were discovered on the quarter-deck the dead body of a child, and in the engine room the corpses of three adults. The steerage presented a most hideous spectacle of mortality, from which proceeded such a stench as to render close inspection impossible; but it was ascertained, in the course of the day, that the entire number of dead on board was seventy-two, men, women, and children. Minchin LLOYD Esq., Coroner, proceeded to hold an inquest on the body of Anne McLAUGHLIN, a child of eight years of age, one of the sufferers, and swore in the following jury;

James MURRAY Esq., J.P , foreman, Geo.TOMKINS Esq., J.P., George M’FARLAND, John SMITH Esq., Wm. O’DONNELL, James HYDE John BRYSON, Wm. M’MURRAY, David HAMILTON, Wm. THOMPSON, W. T. HAMILTON, Samuel GREER, Hugh M’MONIGLE, Joseph FERRIS, John EWING, Joseph WILLIAMS.

The inquest commenced in the office of the Scotch Steam Boat Company but, after a view of the child and its identification by its sister, the inquest was adjourned to the cabin of the Londonderry, when Mary M’LAUGHLIN was sworn, and examined by Mr. John MARTIN Crown Solicitor for the County, who happening to be in Derry, kindly undertook to conduct the examinations. Witness, whose proper name was Mary McNULTY but, for some reason she could not tell, she was directed by her mother to take the name of M‘LAUGHLIN; she, her mother and seven children, six of them girls, left Sligo on Friday last, in the Londonderry, to join witness’s father and brother in England; they belonged to Ballina, in the county Mayo; the mother and four of her children were dead in the steerage; she thought herself about twelve or fourteen years of age. After the vessel got out of the Pool, where she remained some time, it was, she thought, about four in the evening, and she went down to the steerage, where there were  a number of passengers, men, women, and children ; more came down afterwards, and the place got very warm; her mother became clamorous for water, and witness several times got water at the bottom of the companion ladder, but it was always snapped from her, she never could get any taken to her mother; in the crowd she lost her mother, but had hold of the hand of the deceased, who was lame, and tried to get it the companion-way, but was not able; the child became feverish from the excessive heat, and began to tear witness’s hair, and asked her if she meant to take her to robbers; witness saw sticks used, and men beating her mother and other women, and heard people say that there were robbers among them, and that their money would be taken from them. Her mother had upon her £32 consisting of £20 note sewed in her jacket, two sovereigns, and ten small notes, in a blue purse tied with ribbon about her neck. In endeavouring to make for the companion she lost her sister’s hand, who had become so weak and unmanageable that she could not take her farther; could not account for her getting up the ladder, she was very weak, and had not a distinct recollection of it. The Coroner now adjourned the inquest to the round of the Corporation Hall, that the public might have the fullest access to it; and the Magistrates issued a warrant for the commitment of the captain, mate, steward, and crew of the vessel, which was immediately executed.

Michael BRANAN sworn is from the County Sligo, he had his mother and three sisters with him; they went early down to the steerage, while he remained on deck, and was the last passenger there; it became very stormy and the waves broke over the deck which obliged him to go down; one of the crew called him an Irish – and made him go down; when he got there the place was very hot, and he with difficulty made his way to his mother and sisters; the place was so thronged that, while those at the sides were forced to sit down, there was no sitting room for those the centre, and they were moved to and fro with every motion of the vessel; some time after, some of the crew came to close down the hatchway, when the passengers became noisy, and insisted that the hatchway should not shut, as they could not endure the heat as it was, but their remonstrances, if heard, were not heeded; in the row that ensued the light went out; sticks were going, and he received one blow on the wrist, but thinks it was not intended for him; another blow struck the beam above his head; from the utter darkness it was impossible to see what was going on; does not believe that any robbery was going on, as he heard no one complain of it; no attempt was made upon his money or that of any other person whom he knew; his eldest sister became delirious and struck his other sister on the face, making use of expressions which convinced him she was not in her mind: she died at his side. An old pale man, who sat beside him, and had a peculiarly powerful voice which might have been heard over the vessel, cried out Captain, Captain, for God’s sake come and save us, and have mercy on us,” and he continued so to call until his voice fell away and he sank down exhausted. Witness’s legs were so wedged in with the bodies of persons lying about him that he could not extricate them, until by a roll of the vessel they were so shaken that he managed to get his legs out, and then in an inclined posture, with his nose to a dead light in the side of the vessel, he felt a little air come in the side of the light, which relieved him so much that he was able to make an effort to get to the companion, upon the locality of which he had kept his mind fixed from the first, and preserved some consciousness of it; in his attempt gain it, he fell three times over the bodies of the dead and dying; when he got to the ladder, he found it occupied three men; when he got up he found that a tarpaulin had been put over the opening, and three coils of rope round it, that it was with difficulty he got through the coils; when he got through there was a dead bullock at the opening of the door; he then got some bags of mussels which were on the deck, and from them mounted to the h- idge?, where he enquired at a sailor where the mate was; the sailor first ‘d_ _ _d’ him, and told him go back again, but afterwards directed him to the mate at the quarter deck; he with difficulty got to the mate, and so terrible was the rolling of the vessel that he had to put his arms round the chains in getting to the quarter deck; he there told the mate the state they were in below, and the mate said he did not believe him; witness then told him that, if he did not attend those people, he would have him tried for his life when he got to Liverpool; the mate then procured a light and accompanied witness to the steerage; in going down the light went out. as witness believes from the foul air; the mate lost no time in procuring another light, and got the tarpaulin and ropes removed from the hatchway; the steam which came out of the steerage was like that from boiling pot; the mate then made his way down, and when he saw the scene before him he wept, and declared that he would rather have lost twenty pounds than not been twenty miles away; witness succeeded in getting his mother and two surviving sisters up; and the mate and the sailors did all that men could do to relieve and assist all the sufferers who were still in life; they were taken to the cabin, and there treated with every kindness and attention that it was possible to bestow upon them; saw the captain at the wheel with some of the men, but nowhere else.

(other names & details of witnesses)

Dec 4th Catherine BRADY sworn sworn—Does not know the nature of an oath, but believes she will be damned if she swears falsely; she came from Tonagh in the county Sligo ; there were three cousins, boy and a girl, on board of the Londonderry, with her; her cousin, Mick M‘GOWAN, since dead, who shouted not to close the hatch;  there was quarrelling and fighting going on all night, but for what she could not tell; mentions Dick BRADDEN went up (after light was broken); after that the mate or BRENNAN brought a fresh light;observed no drunkenness or drinking; when she came to on deck, unknown how she arrived there, she had a shilling of her money missing.

Michael FEELY sworn—Belongs to Manorhamilton; has sister and a daughter who were passengers with him; thank God, they are both alive; there were only five or six of them from Leitrim ; they were from Sligo and Mayo;

Matthew MEREDITH sworn – is armourer sergeant of the 39th regiment had taken a berth; heard a sailor remark “they were only Irishmen” when he asked him if there was any danger below; half past three in the morning he thought both murder and robbery were going on.

Owen KANE sworn Comes from Mayo; he, his wife and two children were passengers in the Londonderry ; one of the children, four months old, dead; he was kicked when attempting to go up; the madman who struck with the stick was Pat HANIGAN; several attempts were made to steal his money;

Roger M‘GITTRICK sworn—Comes from the county Sligo and was board the Londonderrg saw Mick BRANAN on the deck in the morning, and was told by him that his sister was sick below; his mother was on board;

James LAVELLE of Sligo sworn—Was a passenger; was very sick, and did not go down to the steerage; saw no dead bullocks on Saturday.

Richard HUGHES mate of the Londonderry; the second mate, Ninian CRAWFORD
Patrick TIMS sworn cattle-dealer
Anne GANNON widow from Sligo
Bessy HOGAN a passenger (mentioned)

Patrick DERHAM sworn aboard the Londonderry with his wife: saw a respectable passenger, Miss. McGOWAN, she is alive her brother, who was with her, is dead: Doesn’t believe any could have survived the night and is sure he could not live had he been in steerage.

Peter KERRIGAN is from Sligo with his mother

Eliza M’GOWAN sworn passenger in steerage with her brother he was dragged from her side and killed. (he was one of those that died and that is what she meant when she says killed) before they closed the hatch people up top said.  they would have bullocks coming down on their head;  She was hit with a wooden stick in the breast and received a blow from a belt.

Attending the Londonderry when she pulled into port were
Sir. R BATESON, Sergeant MAGEE, Mr. DYSART, Mr. NICHOLSON, William BALLANTYNE a ship carpenter in Londonderry.

Daniel FEIGHNEY sworn from Ballymena Sligo has no recollection of being sick sailor came down in the morning and gave him 2 boxes can’t say why he was struck. (said he was a sailor) dragged above when his £6 and silver was left below never got it back. was out of his mind when below and thought he was dying. had a female second cousin on board who came from Carnaveenag

Joseph MILLER M.D. testified examined 30 of the dead; when he first saw them there was bloody of frothy muens from their lips and noses. many had bruises; some had wounds; formed an opinion that they had come by their death by too many people were in too small a place and an imperfect air supply;

Henry SKIPTON M.D. sworn – concurs with Dr. MILLER
Dr.’s MORTON and HARE sworn concur with Dr. MILLER and SKIPTON

Jury returns the verdict death was caused by suffocation and gross negligence against Capt. Alexander JOHNSTON, Richard HUGHES first mate, Ninian CRAWFORD second mate, and we therefore find them guilty of manslaughter. (Derry Journal)

11 Apr. 1849 Melancholy Shipwreck

A dreadful loss of life happened on board the steamer Londonderry, Captain JOHNSTON, one of the vessels belonging to the north-west of Ireland Steam Packet Company, plying between Sligo and Liverpool. The vessel left Sligo on Friday evening, the 1st December, for Liverpool, with a general cargo, a large number of cattle and sheep, and about 190 steerage passengers, emigrants on their way via Liverpool, to America, and two or three cabin passengers. As she proceeded on her voyage, the weather became exceedingly foul and after midnight the wind rose to a perfect gale. About one o’clock that night, or rather on Saturday morning, it was deemed expedient to put the steerage passengers below and the order was executed, not, we understand, without some resistance on the part of many of them.

The steerage cabin was not more than eighteen feet long, by ten or twelve in width and in height about seven feet. Into the space ventilated by only one opening, the companion, 150 human beings were packed together. We can only guess at the necessity which gave occasion for this apparently inhuman and alas, fatal order; but it is reasonable to suppose that there was an apprehension lest some of the unfortunate passengers might have been washed overboard, had they remained on deck, as the sea was at times breaking over the vessel. The steerage being thus occupied, it was next, as alleged, feared lest the water should get admission through the companion and this only vent by which air could be admitted to the sufferers below, was closed and a tarpaulin nailed over it; thus hermetically sealing the aperture and preventing the possibility of any renewal of the exhausted atmosphere. The steamer went on her way gallantly braving the winds and waves, unconscious of the awful work which death was meanwhile doing within her. In the darkness and heat and loathsomeness of their airless prison, its wretched inmates shrieked for aid and there were none to hear their cries, amid the boisterousness of the storm, or if they were heard, none sagacious enough to interpret the dreadful meaning they were meant to convey.

At length, one man, the last it is said who was put down, contrived to effect on opening through the tarpaulin of the companion and pushing himself out, communicated to the mate that the people in the steerage were dying for want of air. The mate instantly became alarmed and obtaining a lantern, went down to render assistance; such however, was the foul state of the air in the cabin, that the light was immediately extinguished. A second light was obtained, and it too, was extinguished. At length the tarpaulin was completely removed and a free access of air admitted. When the crew went down below, they were appalled by the discovery that the floor was covered with dead bodies, to the depth of some feet. Men, women and children were huddled together, blackened with suffocation, distorted by convulsions, bruised and bleeding from the desperate struggle for existence which preceded the moment when exhausted nature resigned the strife. After some time, the living were separated from the dead and it was then found that the latter amounted to nearly one half of the entire number. Seventy-two dead bodies of men, women and children, lay piled indiscriminately over each other, four deep, all presenting the ghastly appearance of persons who had died in the agonies of suffocation; very many of them were covered with the blood which had gushed from the mouth and nose, or had flowed from the wounds inflicted by the trampling of nail-studded brogues and by the frantic violence of those who struggled for escape. It was evident that in the struggle, the poor creatures had torn the clothes from each other’s backs and even the flesh from each other’s limbs. Nearly all of these strange passengers were poor farmers from the neighbourhood of Sligo and Ballina, with their families and many of the dead were nearly naked from poverty.

The Londonderry put into Lough Foyle on Sunday. The authorities hastened to the spot and gave orders for the arrest of the captain and all the crew, and they were accordingly removed to prison, under a military escort. An inquest was held on one of the bodies on Monday and the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against the captain, Alexander JOHNSON, the first mate, Richard HUGHES and the second mate, Nicholas CRAWFORD. (The Cornwall Chronicle)

30 Oct. 1840 Melancholy Shipwreck of the Chipewa

On Thursday June 4th, it was rumoured in the Royal Exchange that some misfortune had befallen the barque Chipewa, from Glasgow to Montreal, but from the imperfect nature of the information it was deemed prudent to suppress any public allusion to the subject. On Friday, however, the worst anticipations were realized by the arrival of a letter from Mr. MILLAR, the master of the Chipewa, announcing the loss of the ship, during a dreadful snow storm, off Cape Rozier, to the northward of Gaspe Bay and near the south entrance to the St. Lawrence. She sailed from the Clyde for Montreal on the 30th March; the catastrophe happened on the 30th April and we are grieved to announce that every soul perished, with the exception of the captain and a boy. The crew, we believe, inclusive of the captain, numbered 21 men and boys, with three cabin passengers, viz: Mr. GLASS of Greenock (the master of a ship in the American trade): a young gentleman, the son of Ed. COLLINS Esq., Dalmuir; and an Irish gentleman, of the name of CAMPBELL, from Londonderry.

The Chipewa was a fine new barque of 380 tons, built at Greenock in 1838, was well found in every respect and considered a first-rate ship. She carried a most valuable general cargo, consisting of silks, cottons, woollens, haber-dashery, hosiery, cambrics, velvets, pepper, brandy, flint glass, stationery and other wares, and the total value has been estimated at more than £60,000 sterling. The letter, which was received from Captain MILLAR on Friday, alluded to a previous one which had been despatched, though it had not come to hand and thus, for a time, the particular circumstances under which the catastrophe happened were not known.

This letter, however, reached Mr. BUCHANAN, one of the owners, on the following morning, (Saturday,) of which we append a copy. We understand that the hull and such of the cargo as could be saved from the wreckers, has been sold for £2000 currency.

Gaspe, 9th May 1840.
My Dear Sir,
It has fallen to my lot to be left to inform you of the melancholy loss of the Chipewa on Cape de Rozier, on the night of the 30th April, with every soul on board, except one of the boys and myself. We struck the reef about half past six in the evening, during a very heavy snow storm, with a tremendous sea running. As soon as we struck, I tried all plans to get a hawser on shore, but every effort proved ineffectual. Owing to the darkness of the night and the sea breaking over the ship, it was impossible to get the men to work even for their own preservation, every one clinging to the ropes for safety. About half-past seven, finding the ship striking very hard, I cut away all her masts in expectation of her keeping together till morning, but all proved unavailing, as she was full of water by half-past eight and the tide rising. I then ordered all the men and passengers to make themselves fast with ropes to the most secure places about the ship, some of them did so and others just gave themselves up to their fate. I believe some of them got stowed away and of course, were the first to perish. About ten o’clock, the sea was breaking over the ship fearfully and the cries of the poor fellows dreadful, as they were washed away one after another. I was lashed to the dead-eyes of the weather mizen rigging and all the men that were left, about me, but they had completely given themselves up to despair. At this time the sea was making a fair breach over and over us, hardly giving us time to breathe; by this time the decks were beginning to give way and the cries of the men continued to be dreadful as they were swept away. At this time I turned round and the stump of the mizen mast caught my eye; in a moment I cast the rope off and ran to the mast before another sea came, which I fortunately gained and climbed up about six feet from the deck, where I again made myself fast with ropes. I think it must have been about 12 o’clock at this time. On looking about between the seas I could see no one on deck and everything was carried clean away. About 2 o’clock I found someone at my feet and on looking down it proved to be the boy saved. I got him up and made him fast to the same rope as myself. From the severe shocks the ship was now getting, I made up my mind it would be impossible for her to keep long together.

My conjecture was right, as she was not long of parting from the bottom and drifting in close to the beach. We still had to remain on deck till 5 o’clock and the tide then being low, we got on shore and after crawling over a little way, found the inhabitants plundering the bales and boxes instead of coming to render us assistance. Owing to the bruises I had received it was two days before I could leave the house I got to and then only with a great deal of difficulty. As soon as I could hold a pen I wrote to J. W. M’CONNELL, Lloyd’s Surveyor, to come to my assistance, which he did on the second day after we got ashore. After holding a survey of the ship and cargo and getting a few bales and boxes, we thought it advisable to sell the ship and what cargo remained in her, as the inhabitants were plundering in all directions, and no way of protecting the property, as long as she remained in my hands, for the under- writers and also the ship in danger of breaking up with the first gale of wind. The bottom of the ship was completely out and the cargo floating out of the broadside and everything strewed along the beach. Some of the boxes were found at least 18 miles from where the ship went ashore and hundreds of the people picking them up. I am now at Gaspe getting all my papers put in order and as soon as this is done, I will proceed to Montreal and see what is to be done. Please to inform Mr. GLASS of this melancholy affair. I cannot think of writing to him just now in the state of excitement I am in. I have found 14 of the bodies and amongst them, Mr. J. GLASS who was buried in a small piece of ground belonging to an English farmer, with as much respect as possible under the circumstances in which we were placed. Young Mr. COLLIN’S body has not been found, and I cannot think of leaving this until it is done, that I may see him decently interred. I still want my mate, Mr. CAMPBELL, passenger, Mr. COLLINS, and do and five of the seamen. The Arabian is on shore nine miles from this, crew and passengers saved. The cargo almost all damaged.

I am, &c.

“Thomas BUCHANAN Jun., Esq.”
In the letter of Captain GREENHORN announcing the loss of the ‘Arabian’ (which is noticed below), he communicates his having been in correspondence with Captain MILLAR and with having supplied him with clothes, the unfortunate master of the ‘Chipewa’ having had nothing but what was on his back. The name of the boy saved is TURNER.

Loss of the Arabian

We regret to state the disastrous effects of the storm which raged on the last day of April and first day of May near the mouth of the St Lawrence, have not been confined to the loss of the Chipewa. On 1st May, the Arabian, GREENHORN, also from Glasgow for Montreal, was driven on shore at Griffin’s Cove, near Gaspe Bay and within nine miles of that part of the coast where the wreck of the ‘Chipewa’ lay. Fortunately all the crew and passengers were saved, but the barque has been condemned and the cargo is almost all damaged. Including 8 passengers, the total number on board amounted to 35 persons, who have been kindly sheltered in a farmhouse and were all well when the accounts left. Like the Chipewa, the Arabian was Greenock built; she was 371 tons; and during the three years which she has run, she was a general favourite from her sailing qualities and as proof of it, we may mention that last year she was the first spring ship out at Montreal from Great Britain. (The Sydney Herald )

24 Dec. 1870 Terrible Shipwreck, Loss of a Steamer and 170 lives

We regret to have to record another terrible shipwreck and loss of life, this time on the Irish coast. The ‘Cambria’ belonging to the Anchor line of steamers, running between New York and the Clyde and commanded by Captain CARNIGAN, was wrecked off the coast of Donegal on the night of October 19. All the souls on board have, it is feared, perished, with the exception of one man, a steerage passenger, named John McGARTLAND. His account of the occurrence was at first discredited when he reached Derry very late the following night. His statement is substantially as follows;

About 11 o’clock on the night of the 19th, the ‘Cambria’, which was under canvas and steam and proceeding at a rapid pace, struck on the Inistrabull rock, about seven miles S.S.E. of the Heads, at the entrance of Lough Foyle and the vessel  immediately commenced to fill with water. It became at once evident that a large hole had been made in the ship. The engine fires were at once put out, the crew and passengers rushed on deck and orders were given to launch the small boats. Four boats were accordingly let down, into one of which McGARTLAND got, along with about 15 other passengers. The boats quickly drifted from the wreck and McGARTLAND cannot say what became of those who parted from him. The boat in which he secured a seat almost immediately capsized and after regaining consciousness he
found himself grasping the gunwale of the boat, which by this time had righted. He succeeded in getting into the boat and then discovered the body of a lady dressed in lack silk, under the seat. He tried whether any consciousness remained in his fellow passenger, but he soon saw that life had fled. The lady had no doubt been drowned during the time the boat was upset. McGARTLAND spent the night from between 10 and 11 o’clock in this boat, tossed about by waves which every moment threatened to engulph him, until half-past 2 the next morning, when he was fortunately picked up by the steamer ‘Enterprise’. Captain GILLESPIE put about his vessel and sailed round the scene of the disaster for some time and Mr. BRADLEY, his mate, at great personal risk, succeeded in rescuing the survivor of the boat. The Cambria had left New York on October 8, and had made a good passage to the entrance of the Foyle.

As nearly as can be known, there were 170 or 180 souls on board, among whom were several passengers belonging to the city of Derry, Glasgow, and Liverpool. Inistrabull, where the wreck took place, is a most dangerous rock off the coast and is carefully guarded by a lighthouse, which ought to have been seen and avoided if a good look-out had been kept on board the steamer.

Captain GILLESPIE and the mate of the steamer ‘Enterprise’ say that at 5 o’clock, on the morning of the 19th October they left Liverpool for Derry. The weather was very heavy during the passage. At 2 o’clock, when off Portrush, or about eight miles from Inneshowen Head, they saw deck-planks floating. They turned back, and found panelled doors, cabin furniture, life-buoys, &c., and afterwards a boat containing McGARTLAND.

Captain HATRICK of the barque ‘Twilight’, which has arrived in Derry from St. John’s, N.B., says he passed Inistrahull about three hours before the wreck of the Cambria; there was a fearful sea running at the time and the wind and rain were so great that he could not see more than half a ship’s length ahead. Coastguards along the Derry and Antrim coast have been picking up bits of the wreck of the ‘Cambria’.

Amongst articles which have been washed in at Portstewart are two boxes; one of them evidently belonging to a seaman. They are marked ‘Wm. McKEA, Oban.’ The stern of a boat, marked ‘Glasgow,’ has also been found; a looking-glass, with the name ‘Henry G — n,’ supposed to be GILLAN, on the back; a life-buoy, marked ‘Cambria’; the legs of a cabin table and some pieces of furniture. At Blackrock, an empty boat has also come in. No other survivors have, as yet, turned up. Mr. McGARTLAND, the sole survivor, states that the Cambria left New York on the 8th of October. Everything went on in a most satisfactory manner until the vessel approached the west coast of Ireland, when she was perfectly manageable, and the weather was fine, until a few days before; but on nearing the Irish coast she was caught in a furious gale and struck on Inistrahull rock, which stands about nine miles from the mainland. The lifeboats were immediately lowered and himself, with twelve other passengers, took refuge in one of them, which soon capsized and all were washed into the sea and he succeeded in again getting into the boat, after which, he lost all conscious with the woman, who was then dead.

McGARTLAND said he was nearly two days sailing about in the salt water and during that time he saw nothing of the other boats. Of the crew and passengers, amounting in all to nearly 200 persons, all told, he is the only survivor who has yet been discovered.

The ‘Cambria’ was one of the finest vessels of Messrs. HANDYSIDE’S and HENDERSON’S Anchor line of steamers trading between Clyde and New York; in fact, she was their last new steamer, having only been launched in March, last year. She was an iron screw steamer, of 2,000 tons, and had engines of 400-horse power, but capable of working far above that. She was 342 feet in length, 35 feet beam, and 22 feet depth of hold and had six bulkheads. The classification at Lloyd’s stood Al in red for 20 years. She was built at Port Glasgow in 1859, by Messrs. B. DUNCAN & Co. and at the time she was wrecked was commanded, we believe, by Captain CARNIGAN, an able and experienced officer. The Cambria left New York for Glasgow on October 8, with about 170 people, all told, on board and was making a very rapid run home when the calamity occurred. If, as is reported, the vessel was wrecked about 10 o’clock on the night of October 19, she must have been caught in one of the terrific squalls which occurred about that time and driven bodily on Inistrahull Island or rock, almost parallel with Malin Head and opposite Malin Well, one of the extreme points on the Donegal coast. The Cambria had weathered Tory Island and Malin Head and must have been heading round for Moville or Greencastle when she struck and became a total wreck. The body of a young lady has been washed ashore at Blackrock, near the Giant’s Causeway. She was dressed in a cloak, which was very much torn by the action of the waves; she had two gold rings on her fingers and was otherwise handsomely dressed.

The man, McGARTLAND, the sole survivor, has made the following additional statement;

“On Wednesday night, October 20, the weather was very bad. The wind blew furiously and a heavy rain fell; and, what with the wind and the rain and the waves which broke over the gunwale, I could see nothing outside the ship. I don’t think any one could see objects at even a short distance. I remained on deck that night till about 11 o’clock. Then I went below. I had seated myself at my bunk, thinking over old times and my near approach to home, when suddenly there was a horrid crash and I was sent spinning forward on my face on the floor. I did not lose my senses, although I was a good deal frightened and getting to my feet I hurried up on deck. Here I found passengers running to and fro in great excitement, but I cannot say there was much crying or shouting. I was myself much put about. I heard the order given, “Launch the boats,” but I cannot say whose voice it was;  and I also heard some one saying, “There’s a mighty big hole in the boat.” Our vessel, I now know, had struck the rock of Inistrahull, bow on; but at that time I really saw nothing beyond the boat itself, the night was so dark, and there was so much blinding rain and spray. I did not see the light on Inistrahull. Some time before the wreck I saw two lights, but I do not know the Irish coast and I cannot tell you where they were. As I have said, the order was given to lower the boats. There were seven small boats, I think, on board, four of which were lowered. One of them was in the fore part, the others in the off-part, or cabin end. I saw three boats in the cabin end in course of being lowered; but I did not see them in the water, and I know nothing whatever as to their fate. When the boat in the steerage end was lowered, I got into it with others. There were in all, to the best of my judgment, 10 or 11 of us, all steerage passengers, I think, besides two seamen. No provisions were taken on board; we were nearshore. Our boat, however, was scarcely launched when she capsized. When the boat lurched over I got hold of it, but I cannot say what part of it, and when it righted again I managed to scramble in. I never saw a living soul after that. I did not hear a single cry when the boat heeled over and I never afterwards saw any of my companions. I was very much put about. I must have grasped the boat quite mechanically and when I got into it again I don’t know that I could have told where I was. I did not see the ‘Cambria’ go down. The waves carried my boat quickly away from her. When I recovered myself I noticed someone lying in the bottom of the boat. I stooped down and found that it was a young woman, lying face downwards. She was dead. I saw that nothing could be done for her, poor thing and, to tell you the truth, I did not feel able to do much for myself. The oars were tied with small ropes to the boat, and I was not equal to the exertion of recovering them. I just let the boat drift aimlessly along. The wind and the waves carried me along all morning with my melancholy burden, the poor thing at the bottom of the boat.

At half-past 2 o’clock that afternoon, after fourteen and a half hours drifting helplessly in the storm, I was picked up by the Enterprise (Captain GILLESPIE) in Lough Foyle. I was almost insensible at the time. A rope was passed round my body, and I was drawn on deck. I was brought to Londonderry and have since been almost entirely confined to bed. I lost all my clothes and eleven guineas in money. Besides this, a brother of mine in America entrusted me with parcels of goods to friends at home and these have all been lost.”

The coastguard men have been along the shore near where the Cambria was wrecked, but have found nothing. Men have been in the caves at the Giant’s Causeway and found spars but no bodies. On October 21 there was a great quantity of wreckage, the sea being quite covered, all drifting for the Scotch coast. Scarcely any wreckage has been seen at Ballycastle. The end of a flour barrel was picked up, bearing the words, ‘ship’s stores.’ The captain of the steamer ‘Rose’, which arrived at Portrush from Glasgow, reported the weather to have been very stormy during the night, but he saw no wreckage. The officer commanding the coastguard at Portrush has recovered a great quantity of wreck, spars, &c, which the natives attempted to conceal. Fragments of three lifeboats, supposed to have belonged to the ill-fated vessel, have been washed ashore between Blackrock and Dunluce castle and quantities of the internal fittings. The body of a respectable woman has also been found. (South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail)

Estimates of Ship Losses

Note of transcriber- the following list is far from complete.

The loss of merchant and other ships by wreck upon lee-shores, coasts, and disasters, in the open sea, was estimated at Lloyd’s in 1800, to be about an average of 365 ships a year.

In 1830, it appeared by Lloyd’s Lists that 677 British vessels were totally lost under various circumstances in that year.

British vessels wrecked in 1848 were sailing vessels 501, steamers 13, tonnage 96,930.

In 1851 there were wrecked 611 vessels of which number 11 were steamers, the tonnage of the whole being 111,976.

The year 1852-3 particularly the winter months, Dec. and Jan. was very remarkable for the number of dreadful shipwrecks and fires at sea; but few of them are recorded.

Many vessels were lost in the great storms 25 – 26 Oct. 1850; 28 May 1861; 19- 20 Oct. 1861; and 13-14 Nov 1862 by a cyclone; India 5 Oct. 1864; in the West Indies Oct. 1867.

From the establishment of the Royal National Lifeboat institution in 1824, to the end of 1867, 16,987 lives had been saved by its life boats.

Some of the Wrecks

“Charlemont Packet” from Holyhead to Dublin 104 drowned, 22 Dec. 1790.

“King George” packet from Park-gate to Dublin lost on the Hoyle bank, 125 persons passengers and crew drowned, 21 Sept. 1806.

“Prince of Wales” Park-gate packet and “Rochdale” transport on Dunleary point near Dublin, nearly 300 souls perished 19 Nov. 1807.

“Blenden Hall” on inaccessible Island, many perished 23 Jul. 1821.

“Alert” Dublin and Liverpool packet, 70 souls perished, 26 Mar. 1823.

“Robert” from Dublin to Liverpool, 60 souls perished, 16 May 1823.

“Venus” packet from Waterford to Dublin, near Gorey, 9 persons drowned 19 Mar. 1828.

“Newry” from Newry to Quebec with 360 passengers cast away near Bardsy about 40 persons were drowned 16 Apr. 1830.

“Lady Sherbrooke” from Londonderry to Quebec lost near Cape Ray, 273 souls perished, 32 only were saved, 19 Aug. 1831.

“James Cooke” of Limerick coming from Sligo to Glasgow, 21 Nov. 1841.

“Solway” steamer on her passage between Belfast and Port Carlisle, crew saved 25 Aug. 1841.

“Abercrombie Robinson” and “Waterloo” transports in Table Bay Cape of Good Hope of 330 persons on board the latter vessel 189 principally convicts perished, 28 Aug. 1842.

“Phoenix” in a terrific snow storm off the coast of Newfoundland, many lives were lost 26 Nov. 1843.

“John Lloyd” by collision in the Irish sea, several lives lost, 25 Sept. 1845.

“Carrick” brig in a gale in the St Lawrence, 170 emigrants perished 19 May 1847.

“Exmouth” emigrant ship from Londonderry to Quebec of 240 persons on board nearly all were drowned, 28 Apr. 1847.

“Ocean Monarch” 24 Aug. 1848.

“Caleb Grimshaw” emigrant ship by fire, 400 persons miraculously escaped 12 Nov. 1849.

“Edmund” emigrant ship with nearly 200 passengers from Limerick to New York of whom more than one half perished, wrecked off the Western coast of Ireland, 12 Nov. 1850.

“Birkenhead” troop-ship iron paddle-wheeled and of 556 horsepower sailed from Queenstown 7 Jan. 1852 for the Cape having on board detachments of the 12th Lancers, 2nd, 6th, 12th, 43rd, 45th, and 60th Rifles, 73rd, 74th, and 91st regiments. It struck upon a pointed pinnacle rock off Simon’s bay South Africa, and of 638 persons only 184 were saved by the boats. 454 of the crew and soldiers perished 26th Feb. 1852.

“St. George” steamship bound from Liverpool to New York, with 121 emigrant passengers chiefly Irish and a crew consisting of twenty nine seamen the captain inclusive, was destroyed by fire at sea.

The crew and seventy of the passengers were saved by the American ship “Orlando” and conveyed to Havre in France, 51 supposed to have perished 24 Dec. 1852.

“Queen Victoria” steamship bound from Liverpool was wrecked off the Bailey lighthouse, near Dublin, mistook her course in a snowstorm, 67 lost out of 120 ,15 Feb. 1853.

“Rebecca” on the west coast of Van Diemen’s Land, Capt. Shephard and many lives lost, 29 Apr. 1853.

“Annie Jane” of Liverpool an emigrant vessel driven on shore on the Borra Islands, on west coast of Scotland, about 348 lives lost, 29 Sept. 1853.

“Tayleur” emigrant ship driven on the rocks off Landbay Island, north of Howth, about 380 lives lost, 20 Jan. 1854.

“John” emigrant vessel on the Muncles rocks, off Falmouth, 200 lives lost, 1 May 1855.

“Pacific”, Collins steamer left Liverpool for New York, with 186 persons on board, never since heard of supposed to have struck an iceberg, 23 Jan. 1855.

“John Rutledge” from Liverpool to New York, ran on an iceberg and was wrecked many lives lost, 20 Feb. 1856.

Many vessels and their crews totally lost 1-8 Jan. 1857.

“Pomona” an American ship, Captain Merrihew, 419 persons on board from Liverpool to New York, was wrecked on Blackwater Bank, through the master mistaking the Blackwater for the Tuskor light, only 24 persons saved, night of 27-28 Apr. 1859.

“Windsor” emigrant ship, struck on a reef near the Cape de Verde Islands, 1 Dec. 1857.

Many wrecks and much loss of life during gales, 6-11 Jan. 1866.

from “Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates: Relating to All Ages and Nations, for Universal Reference 1874”