[From Manx Annals,1901/2]




In the night of the 4th of March, 1818, occurred a frightful storm: 'A Douglas paper of March 5th, that year, says : — " We have not for many years witnessed so tremendous a storm as last night struck terror into every bosom and, carried havoc and devastation in its train." It had been thundering ; and lightning and blowing strong for several days previously, and consequently the harbour at Douglas was crowded with shipping of all sizes. On Wednesday, the 4th, the wind stood at sou'-west, but at night it suddenly veered to sou'-east, and then blew a hurricane. Scarcely a vessel in the port escaped –" neither cable nor post resisted the storm the very posts in the quay were dragged cut." Then at nine, in the darkness of night and in the midst of consternation, a brig, Samuel, of Whitehaven, entered the harbour, and, driven by the gale, crashed into the other vessels. Then ensued crashing and smashing and fearful confusion — masts and bowsprits snapped, bows and sterns stove in, bulwarks smashed. Two boats were actually sunk; no lives lost, but many persons were injured. The quays were crowded with people, and everyone who had a lantern brought it to the quayside.

During a slight lull in the storm on Wednesday morning the Samuel, Utility, Santon Favourite, and Martha, all of Whitehaven, left for Ireland. At night the Samuel returned to Douglas with the above disastrous results. The Santon and the Utility ran into Derbyhaven and anchored safely; but the Martha [a snow , built 1802, laden with coal — Rocking, master and owner] — ran on the rocks at Langness, and the whole crew of eight were drowned. The Captains and crews of the Santon and Utility did everything to rescue the wreckage from a gang of plunderers. The wreckers got hold of the man who gave information of the wreck at Derbyhaven and treated him unmercifully, and swore vengeance against the captains for their interference.

At the end of September, same year, a ketch — the John and Thomas, from Liverpool to Oporto with a valuable cargo, sprung a leak, and with great difficulty reached Peel harbour with four feet of water in her hold. A few days later the wind blew a gale from the sou'-east. ' The fishing fleet then at Douglas, crowded into the bay. At two in the morning one of the fleet — the Stag, of Ramsey, with a hundred mease — ran on Conister with such violence as to become at once a total wreck. Captain Thompson, of the packet Duchess , on hearing the cries of the Stag's crow, put out a boat with three other men. It was pitch dark, and their only guide were the awful cries ; yet they succeeded in rescuing eight of the crew, The ninth, John Kneen, of. Andreas, was drowned.

On Saturday night, January 16th, 1819, at Port St.Mary, three men, named Edward Cowin, Thos. Corkill and Wm. Watterson, went out in a small boat to assist a wherry in distress. After securing the wheriy and having returned to the shore they went out a second time — the boat upset and all were drowned. A week later the Peggy and Catherine of Douglas, from Whitehaven, was wrecked at the mouth of Douglas harbour. A sloop from Strangford to Liverpool was wrecked at Castletown. It was on the 16th that the packet Lord Hill was wrecked as already related.

About three weeks after this the William Leece, of Liverpool, owned by Leece and Drinkwater (she had at one time traded between Douglas and Liverpool), homeward bound from Lisbon to Liverpool, was driven on Lhehrio rocks at Castletown, got totally wrecked (20th Feb 1819, 98 ton wooden hull Schooner, Jones Master 7 crew + 1 passenger Henry Ashworth drownd), and everyone on board were drowned. The wreckage and cargo were strewn on the coast the next morning. and not until then were the people on shore aware of the disaster.

In December, same year, the Annie, from Ramsey to Liverpool with wheat, was wrecked on Liverpool banks, when Joseph Curphey (master), Chas. Moore (one of the crew), and John Kelly (passenger), were drowned.

In March, 1820, an unusual accident happened off Douglas Head in thick weather. The sloop Mary and Peggy, from Cardigan with slates for Douglas, hailed a fishing boat to know their whereabouts. The boats ran into each other, and the sloop sunk. A subscription was got up in Douglas in aid of the Welsh crew; and twelve pounds were gathered.

In April, a sad event occurred in the month. A small boat set out from Port St. Mary to Poolvash rocks for a load of seaweed. On board there were four men and a young woman. On their return a storm overtook them and their boat was swamped. A yawl put out to rescue them; but they only found one of the party — an old man, Thomas Moore — clinging to the boat. The drowned were the old man's daughter, Judith, Thomas Nelson (left a wife and four children), Thos. Kermode (an old mariner, had spent forty years on sea). and a young man. The bodies were buried at Kirk Christ Churchyard.

The rest of the year was remarkably free from wrecks.

1821 was an unfortunate year. On February 7th, the Hope, of Harrington, was sunk near the Calf, and the drew, with the exception of one man took to their boat end landed at Port St. Mary — the man left behind went down with the vessel, On the next day the sloop John, of Campbletown, with oats, was towed into Port St. Mary by some fishermen; who found her with not a soul on board. On the following day the Martial (14 gun brig) was caught in the storm, and had to put into Douglas to refit.

A month after these disasters the brig. Young Holliday, from Savannah to Greenock, ran on the rocks in the Sound. and became a wreck. The crew, with difficulty saved themselves.

On a Sunday in May, David Martin, aged twenty-two, and John Quirk; eighteen, left Castletown for Douglas in a small boat: at Douglas Head the boat capsized, and both were drowned. In the same afternoon the Fleetwood, from Workington, when off Laxey, had her pumps choked. A small schooner look off the crew of three, And a few minutes later the Fleetwood went down before their eyes — the poor fellows lost all they had, as the vessel and cargo were their own,

In September, in a fog, a Welsh sloop ran on shore at Poolvash, and went to pieces. Next night several fishing boats went on shore at Port Erin, but got off again. And towards the end of the month a Whitehaven smack with 50 or sixty mease of herrings, was totally wrecked on the rooks at Fort Anne. In October, at two in the morning, as some fishing boats were working up for Ramsey the Perseverance, of that port, was run into by another, which sank half a mile of the shore, and seven out of the, ten men on board were, drowned. The others ran up the rigging and clung to the top of the mast. One of the survivors Wm. Gawne, held his almost lifeless brother for a long time, he was obliged at last to let him go by that time the water was up to the wry by of the mast where Gawne had been clinging for six hours

On November 30th, a storm raged for twenty-four hours. While securing a boat in Peel harbour a man named Kewin was drowned. His body was found two days after two miles off the land.

Same night a brig was wrecked at Dalby, and all were drowned. A herring boat, Jane, (Lace) left Peel at the begining of the storm, with twenty passengers for Ardglass.She was driven round the Point of Ayre and rode out the gale in Ramsey Bay Next day she came into harbour to land the passengers when there were found on board a quantity of rolled tobacco, cards, &c. The passengers being concerned in the smuggling quickly dispersed. The Warrenpoint-packet from Liverpool for Ireland with 150 passengers put into Peel shortly before this. The smack Honest Miller, of Ardglass, was then at Peel, and fourteen of the passengers agreed to go to Ireland in her. She sailed on the 30th, and after trying in vain to gain the Irish coast ran back to Peel — was driven round the north of the Island, and then she tried for Carlisle harbour. The night being dark, and they being strangers to the coast, the harbour was passed and the Honest Miller was dashed to pieces; only one man saved out of seventeen — crew and passengers. In December a brig (the Industry) was wrecked at Kirk Michael. : The captain went on shore for assistance. On returning. he found the cabin completely gutted of all movable articles. This caused great indignation but the thieves we not found, though the bishop — with others — watched the coast the whole day.


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