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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History

VESSELS BUILT BY JOHN HARKER'S | VIC 99  | REBUS STONE

KNOTTINGLEY'S MARITIME HISTORY


DISASTERS AT SEA


by RON GOSNEY

| PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE |

HOSTAGES TO FORTUNE

Following on from the previous article regarding the information to be found in church burial grounds and local cemeteries, these are some of the newspaper reports often describing incidents at sea in great detail. It was not unusual for the ship's Master to have his wife and family on board with him in addition to a compliment of crew. Whilst operating in the coastal or foreign trade a mariner could be away for many months, even longer, without returning to his family: and his only alternative was to take them along with him. When this happened they were "hostages to fortune" for no one could expect protection from unforeseen calamities during a voyage.

Goole and Marshland Gazette - 1st November 1866
Schooner 'Cupid'

"Loss of a Goole schooner: The schooner 'Cupid', under the command of Captain Raddings, went ashore on Friday night 16th November 1866 at Munsley, along with 3 other schooners belonging Goole, and became a total wreck. The boy was washed overboard before the vessel struck, and the Captain, Mate, Captains wife and two daughters took to the rigging, and were there for five hours before they were rescued by the lifeboat. They have lost everything that they had on board, for within half an hour of the vessel striking, the cargo of wheat, and everything she had in her was washed out. The Captain's wife and daughters were in a pitiable condition, their clothes being nearly all washed off their backs by the furious seas rushing over them while in the rigging. The Captain arrived in Goole on Tuesday night having been sent home by the Shipwrecked Mariners Society. The schooner was owned by Mr. Charles Ackroyd of Leeds."

Goole and Marshland Gazette - 1st October 1862
Sloop 'Wesleyan'

"On Tuesday, October 21st 1862, the 'Wesleyan' of Goole, from Portland to London, went down off Newhaven. Captain Green of Knottingley, the Master of the 'Wesleyan' makes the following statement:
He left Portland on Thursday at about 3 o'clock, and early on Friday morning experienced very heavy weather, in consequence of which she sprang a leak. On board were his wife and six children. With his crew of two men he worked incessantly at the pumps, but the water continued to gain on them.
In the afternoon she was observed by the crew of the 'Wave' of Colchester, under the command of Captain Dorman, about five miles to the Westward, and nine miles S.E. of Newhaven. Perceiving that she was disabled, the 'Wave' ran as near the 'Wesleyan' as she could venture, and finally, in the face of a sea running mountains high, Dorman the Master of the 'Wave', leaving two men on board his own vessel, launched his own boat, quite a cockle-shell comparatively speaking, and with three other brave fellows made for the 'Wesleyan'. The boat was nearly swamped several times, but at last they managed to get on board, where here a truly heartrending scene awaited them.
The bulwarks were all gone, the boat was stove in, and the sea was making a clean sweep over them. The three men were utterly exhausted, and the poor woman and her six children were sitting huddled together below in nearly three feet of water which was pouring in from the deck. The youngest child was only six months old [note: this would have been Abner, born in April 1862, son of Jonathan Russell and Esther, nee Blackmore,] and the cries of the poor little creature were so piteous as to unnerve the strongest man.
Then came the difficult task of getting Mrs Green and the little ones on board the 'Wave', but this was accomplished, although the boat was half full of water. Dorman and his men, after working at the pumps for three quarters of an hour without any diminution of the water in the hold, abandoned her, and the crew were taken on board the 'Wave'.
In less than five minutes the 'Wesleyan' sank with everything belonging to the poor creatures, except for the scanty clothes that they stood upright in.
The 'Wave' beat up into Newhaven harbour, and landed the crew and family, thus narrowly saved from death."

Sadly not every incident ended so felicitously. Often there was a heavy loss of life with tragic repercussions for the families involved. However, not all tragedies occurred far out at sea. In tidal estuaries such as the Humber, the river, flowing towards the sea, would be met by the incoming tide resulting in treacherous currents that could be the cause of many unanticipated catastrophes. Mishaps regularly occurred along the coast or nearer home, an indication that no stretch of water could ever be considered safe.

The Times - 26th March 1846, page 6
FATAL SHIPWRECK
Sloop 'Bee'

Brighton, March 25: In The Times of Tuesday we reported the loss of a sloop, which had foundered about three miles off Shoreham harbour during the night of Saturday, leaving the mast above water; and added an expression of our apprehension that the whole of the crew had been lost, unless taken off by the 'Menai' steamer, which left harbour for Dieppe at daybreak on Sunday morning. The 'Menai' returned to Brighton this morning, and we now learn that five lives were lost when the vessel foundered, and that only one of the hands escaped, being taken off the rigging as was conjectured. The vessel turns out to be the 'Bee' of Goole, bound from Portland to London, with stone for the British Museum. She was a sloop or billy-boy, and had on board John Johnson of Nottingley, Yorkshire, the captain, his wife, and their son, a fine boy of eight years of age, William Allwood (the mate), James Allen Cole (seaman), and Francis Noster (an apprentice).

The Vessel left Portland on Wednesday night, and was off Littlehampton at 2 o'clock on Saturday. The wind was then blowing a brisk gale, which increased in strength up to 10 o'clock, when the captain finding himself to the eastward of Newhaven, stood westward, in order to make Shoreham harbour. On arriving off the harbour at half-past 1 o'clock in the morning, he found that there was not enough water to admit the vessel, and he therefore cast anchor, with an intention of riding out the storm till day-break. Soon after this, however, he found that the vessel was making water very fast, and he had just remarked that he must either slip the chain or get out the boat, when the vessel veered, fell broadside over, and then gradually filled and went down. The captain and crew were all engaged with the sails at the moment, and all of them, except the mate, together with the captain's wife and child, perished. The mate was at the bowsprit at the moment clearing the jib, and hearing the woman scream, and feeling the ship to be sinking, he let go of the bowsprit, and as the vessel grounded in six fathom water, he was carried into the rigging, and secured himself in the crosstrees. The scream of the wife was the only sound that met his ears, except the roaring of the wind and water. For two hours he remained in this perilous situation, when, the tide rising, the sea began to break over him, and he then mounted to the topsail yard, till the 'Menai,' on leaving the harbour, sent out her boat and released him from his perilous situation in a state of almost exhaustion. He was treated with the greatest kindness by Captain Goodman during the voyage to Dieppe and back, and a subscription is now being raised to send him home to Yorkshire. From him we learn that the captain had another child, four years of age, who, is with its grandmother at Nottingley, the owner of the vessel.

This was John Johnson baptised 6th August 1815, son of Thomas/Hannah and his wife Ann Sowersby baptised 5th February 1816, daughter of Martin/Amelia. They married 20th July 1836 at St. Giles Pontefract, and the son also lost would be William baptised 9th March 1837 and the other child was Hannah baptised 2nd March 1841.

The Times - 5th June 1860, page 5
THE RECENT GALE
Schooner 'John'

Shields, Sunday Night: The weather came on extremely rough again last night, a heavy sea roaring over the bar of the Tyne, and threatening a second storm. It rained and blew all last night, and has rained during the whole of to-day, the wind blowing from the south-east. A number of laden ships sailed yesterday, and seafaring people were very anxious last night with regard to them. There have been many arrivals of light vessels to-day. All have got in safe. The 'Mary Muncaster' bark has arrived here to-day from London, in charge of one of our most experienced captains, Mr. James Turple, an ingenious inventor of a patent trysail. The 'Mary Muncaster' has brought in with her the survivors of a schooner 'John' of Goole; the master and his wife have lost their lives under most affecting circumstances. The 'Mary Muncaster' left the Thames on Saturday night week, and encountered the fearful gale of Monday morning between the Dudgeon and Cromer. Mr. Turple states that the gale came on with immense suddenness and fury, and though he has been at sea 30 years, and has encountered all kinds of hurricanes in the China and Indian seas and on the Atlantic, and was out in the Royal Charter gale last year, he never encountered such a fearful storm as that of Monday. His vessel was speedily stripped of her sails by the wind, and so violent was the hurricane that the crew were unable to work their way up the rigging, and the vessel was taken out of their hands in the hurricane. While drifting before the storm the 'John' hove in sight, under balanced reefed mainsail, and, as the crew of the 'Mary Muncaster' were powerless, the vessels came together. The master and mate of the 'Mary Muncaster' hauled the mate and two of the crew of the schooner into their ship; but the master of the schooner, Mr. Rhodes, lost his life in trying to save his wife, who was on board. He had fastened a line about his wife, but while the officers of the bark were trying to haul her on board, the hitch he had made slipped, and she was carried away by the waves and drowned. Mr Rhodes had fastened a line about himself, and the mate of the bark was pulling him into his vessel, when the two ships were suddenly thrown together by a fearful sea, and the poor fellow was crushed between them, the line slipped from the mate's hands and he sank. The vessels fortunately shortly after drifted asunder, else it was thought they must both perish. During the storm the 'Mary Muncaster' drove on to a sand, and thumped on the ground several times, but the wind and sea raged so fiercely that she was carried over the sand and saved. There have been many wet cheeks by the humble hearths of our harbour towns to-day, as seamen have recounted their merciful deliverance from death in this fearful storm; and some affecting scenes have been witnessed as rough and hardy men have appeared at our places of worship to thank the Almighty for their merciful deliverance from peril and death.

Goole Weekly Times - 5th November 1880
Schooner 'Jessie'

"At the recent gales there has been a terrible loss of life connected with Goole. Ten other persons have perished it is feared with the 'Jessie', a schooner which belonged to Goole, and was owned by the Captain sailing her. At the time the gale set in, she was bound for Stockton with a cargo of wheat from Yarmouth. Nothing has been heard of her, but her boat has been picked up full of water, but otherwise uninjured off Spurn Point, by some Grimsby fishermen. It was at a point about 7 miles outside the Spurn Point.
Captain Baldwin had, it is sad to say, his wife and five children with him. His son was also mate of the vessel, and he is also perished, leaving behind him a widow and small family. Two other sailors were also on board."

The family lost, who originated from Knottingley were:
William Baldwin, father, 56, Captain
Hannah Baldwin, mother, 51
Albert Baldwin, son, 23, Mate
Aberner Baldwin, son, 21, Crew
Rachel Baldwin, daughter, 11
William Baldwin, son, 9
Tom Baldwin, son, 7
Lettie Baldwin, daughter , 5

 
Goole Weekly Times - 5th November 1880
Schooner 'Aguia'

"The schooner 'Aguia' of Goole under the command of Captain Hargreaves of Knottingley, bound from Poole to Goole with a cargo of pipeclay, had arrived safely in the Humber, but during the violent storm of Thursday night (October 1880) she was blown ashore at Stallingboro with five other vessels.
The mate Henry Lumley, 21 years of age of Goole, the son of the late Captain John Lumley of Goole, and Mrs Hargreaves the Captain's wife, were lashed to the rigging, but so violent was the gale that they were both washed overboard and drowned. The Captain and the cabin boy were later rescued in a prostrate position. The bodies of the Mate and the Captain's wife were washed ashore.
The body of Mrs Hargreaves was interred at Stallingboro, and that of Mr. Lumley brought to Goole on Saturday 30th October, where it was conveyed to its last resting place in the cemetery on Monday 1st November 1880."

Goole Weekly Times - 9th July 1897
Schooner 'Pearl'
"LOST OFF THE WOLF ROCK
A KNOTTINGLEY SCHOONER SUNK

“On the night of the 5th June, when landsmen were, or should have been, soundly asleep, a collision occurred off the Wolf Rock, by St. Agnes, Cornwall, whereby three lives were lost. The schooner 'Pearl' of Knottingley, was on a voyage from London when the disaster occurred. At a coroner's inquest held at St. Agnes last week, Capt. Horsted stated in evidence that although he had three lights burning and continuously sounded his foghorn when he saw the 'Aral' approaching, the latter came down at tremendous pace, and literally cut the 'Pearl' in two. Mrs Horsted and two of the crew were drowned. Other evidence was given to show that a proper look-out was not being kept on board the steamer, but David Jenkins, the chief officer, and other witnesses swore that every precaution was taken to avoid a collision. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Capt. Linnell and David Jenkins of the 'Aral', and Jenkins was at once arrested. Capt. Linnell was not present at the inquest, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.”

“The 'Syren' writes anent this case as follows:- A verdict of manslaughter has been returned against the master and chief officer of the 'Aral', a tanker of 2,160 tons net. The 'Aral' ran down the schooner 'Pearl' off the Wolf Rock, Land's End, and two of the crew and the captain's wife lost their lives. At this stage of the proceedings it would be idle to discuss the navigational questions concerned. The atmosphere was inclined to be foggy, the mist occurring in patches, and it was on emerging from one of these that the 'Pearl' became visible at a distance of 150 yards. It was, of course, too late to keep out of her way, and so she was run down by the steamer and sank almost immediately. The 'Aral' alleges that her side-lights were just lighted when she was first seen. But this statement is denied. Without, however, going into the complexities of the case, we are of opinion that it would have been more in accord with the principles of the administration of justice had the coroner's court suspended its judgement until such time as a Board of Trade enquiry court had settled the various navigational questions upon which the question of culpability hinges. As it is, when the Board of Trade hold their enquiry the unfortunate master and officer in charge of the bridge will come before the court practically labelled large with the intimation that a verdict of manslaughter has already been recorded against them for an offence which the enquiry court is called upon to investigate."

The Captain was George Henry Horstead and his wife Betsy Raddings, daughter of Charles Raddings, and sister of Edward, who was drowned in the Firth of Forth in 1888.

Ron Gosney

| PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE |


Also by Ron Gosney:

Christopher Rowbotham & Sons
John Harker Shipyard
Captain George Colverson


 

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