The Rocks of Scilly
Newspaper Transcriptions by Todd Stevens & Ed Cumming
Note: Taken from a secondary database, there is some repetition due to 'copy' between the various newspapers.
Stanford Mercury Thursday 20th June, 1717.
They write from Milford Haven, that the ‘Pearle of London’ from Antegoa, was lately lost on the rocks of Scilly.
Stanford Mercury Wednesday 22nd February, 1721.
On the 5th instant. The ‘Hestor’ brigantine, Captain Marshall, from Carolina, was lost on the rocks of Scilly but all the men were saved. The only daughter of the Lord Edward Hatley lies dangerously ill.
Newcastle Courant. Saturday 13th January, 1722.
Our merchants have advice that the ‘Mary’ Captain Swinford, for Nevis, was cast away the 14th December last, on the rocks of Scilly.
Caledonian Mercury Thursday January 1727
We have the bad news that on the 22nd past, was cast away on the rocks of Scilly, the ‘William and Mary’ from Jamaica, Captain Richards, who sailed hence with the Royal George and her convoy; the surgeon and only one passenger were drowned and one of the men endeavouring to save himself, was bruised to death.
Newcastle Courant Saturday 24th February, 1728
The ‘Stavely’ of this place, Captain Mynard, bound to Cadiz, was lately lost on the rocks of Scilly, and we hear had 125 hogsheads of tobacco on board.
Derby Mercury Thursday 11th January, 1733.
The ‘Anne and Mary’ of Cork, William Lucas, Master, bound for Gibraltar, but last from Cadiz for London, was lost on the 2nd December last, on the rocks of Scilly and her crew were all drowned. Except one boy, who saved himself on a piece of timber.
Newcastle Courant Saturday 4th January 1735
The ‘Night Hawk’ from Newfoundland, run on the rocks of Scilly, but the cargo being casks of oil, saved the ship from sinking, however, her boats and 3 men were forced overboard by the surges of the sea and lost.
Ipswich Journal Saturday 11 January, 1735.
The ‘Providence’ of Scilly is entirely lost between this place and Newport; the master Francis Bavan, with five of his hands, and all the passengers, (How many we cannot learn) were drowned.
Derby Mercury Thursday 28th October, 1736.
The ‘Triumph’, Captain Cross, from Jamaica, that struck upon the rocks of Scilly and foundered in the storm on the 9th instant at night, had on board upwards of 500 hogsheads of sugar, with a large quantity of rum; the Captain and six men were lost, the mate and 21 men saved themselves by keeping upon the wreck till the storm abated; when several boats went to their assistance and carried them ashore. She had lost all her masts in a violent storm on the 22nd of September, near the banks of Newfoundland; and though on the morning of the day she was lost they saw the rocks, yet having only jury masts and the wind and sea being very high, ‘twas not in their power to preserve the ship. (No mention of the crew being drunk)
Newcastle Courant Saturday 26th May 1739.
The ‘Griffin’, of North Yarmouth, Captain Nichols, bound from Sicily with wheat to Harvre de Grace, having lost her rudder in bad weather, stood for the islands of Scilly, where assistance came off, and brought her to anchor, but a gale of wind springing up, and the ground being foul, her cable parted and she driving upon the rocks, went to pieces; but the crew was saved. (The incident above is what gave rise to the name on Nichols rock in Porthcressa)
Caledonian Mercury Monday 1 August 1743.
‘Hollandia’ - The Dutch East India Company has lost a new ship from Amsterdam, for Batavia, with Mr. Imhoff, brother of the Governor of that name and all his family, with a very rich lading; which ship was cast away on the rocks of Scilly and not a man saved.
Oxford Journal Saturday 9th March, 1754.
“A scheme is proposed, which will be carried into execution next month, for recovering the money and effects of all ships and vessels lost on the rocks of Scilly; particularly the Hollandia, a Dutch East Indiaman lost about 10 years ago; and we hear that the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Godolphin, Lord of those isles and seas adjacent, has granted to Gilbert Douglass Esq; full power and authority to use ways and means for making this recovery for the term of five years. A new invented machine, to work underwater, with which many successful experiments have been made, is provided for this purpose, and several divers are appointed, among them is Mr. Mitchel, who recovered money belonging to the Indiaman that was lost some time ago on the Cape Verde Islands.”
Caledonian Mercury Monday 14th March 1748.
From Wye’s letter London March 8.
“They tell us from Bristol, of the 5th instant. That the ‘Lizard’ sloop of war, was lost near one of the rocks of Scilly, and all the crew perished in sight of the inhabitants who could afford them no assistance.”
Leeds Intelligencer Tuesday 21 November 1758
Wreck of the Gracia Divina
The Happ Adventure, Captain Repham from Leghorn, for London, last from Scilly, laden with silk & sundries, is arrived in Mounts Bay, and brings an account that the Gracia Divina struck on a rock some distance from that island; twenty nine men escaped in the long boat; fifty men were left on board, who perished. The ship was immediately beat to pieces, and little or nothing saved. Her cargo consisted of 350 bales of currents, 64 bales of silk, 70 of cochineal, and betwixt 30 and 40,000 pounds sterling in dollars.
Leeds Intelligencer. Tuesday 2 January 1759
An Express from Portsmouth has brought advice, that the Britannia, Lunden, of London, is arrived safe here from Jamaica, and says that the Scipio, Watson, from Jamaica, for London, was lost on the rocks of Scilly, and that all the crew perished, and only two puncheons of rum were saved. These ships sailed with the rest of the fleet from Jamaica, but were separated by a hard gale of wind. There are yet eight of the Jamaica ships still missing.
Bath Chronicle and weekly Gazette Thursday 29th December 1768.
The Roach, Morgan, from Honduras to London is lost on the rocks of Scilly.
Bath Chronicle and weekly Gazette. Thursday 12th January 1769.
The Roach, brigantine of Bermuda, William Morgan master bound from Bermuda to London, laden with mahogany, logwood, and some turtle shell, and having on board about 400 l. upon freight, struck upon the rocks of Scilly and broke to pieces. Five men, a woman and child, were unfortunately drowned.
Kentish Gazette. Saturday 24th February 1770.
"Yesterday afternoon advice was received at the India House, of the loss of the Princess Royal, East Indiaman, Captain Carr, outward bound, in a very hard gale of wind off the rocks of Scilly." (A false report)
Caledonian Mercury Saturday 25th September 1773.
The ‘Comet’, a large French frigate of 36 guns, and 300 men, from St Domingo, bound to Dunkirk, was lost on the 14th instant. In a very hard gale of wind, on the rocks of Scilly, and most of her crew perished. Also: A large ship very deep laden, was seen to founder last Thursday, off Scilly, and is imagined all the crew perished.
Derby Mercury Friday 23rd February 1776.
Wreck of the Lion.
We have been favoured with the following extract from a letter from a soldier in the 59th regiment, to his wife in Derby, dated, St Mary’s Isles of Scilly February 9, 1776.
“In September last, orders arrived for our Regiment, (which was then in Boston) to be drafted, and the officers, & co. to return to England to recruit; but General Howe detained us till the 16th of December, as he expected Boston would be formed by the provincials. We have, consequently, had a winters passage and were accompanied by 5 other transports and the Tartar frigate, in which were recruiting party’s from every chore in Boston, and about 100 invalids or wounded men. On Christmas eve, by stress of weather, we parted company. It was a very great storm, and the sea poured in upon us shockingly. However, we made the island of Scilly in about 21 days from Boston, when after staying a short time to refresh ourselves, repair the rigging, & co. we were on the point of departing for the English coast, (being all on board on the 3rd February) a storm arose, and that night we carried away our large anchor, which weighed 20cwt. But having a new cable to our small one, we rode it out, tho, it blew a perfect hurricane. On the 4th we strove to weigh anchor again, but the wind freshened, which prevented our putting to sea that night. About two o’clock in the morning of the 5th, out last anchor gave way. It now happened; our sailors did all they could to save the ship, (which was a fine vessel and named ‘ the Lion’) but to no purpose, she was quite ungovernable, having no time to use the proper sails to work her. I had now dressed myself and was making for the quarter deck, where I met some undrest, and others with half their cloathes on, crying and ringing their hands most bitterly. By this time our ship was standing in for a dreadful rock about 15 yards in height, but suddenly struck upon a hidden one, about 50 yards from the above, which turned her half round. Thus did providence, by this unseen rock, save our lives, as the general opinion was we had not half a minute to live. We got out our boats, but they were soon dashed against the rock and broke to pieces; yet thank god we all got safe on shore. We have sent an express to Lord Barrington, to acquaint him with our situation, but expect it will be April before we arrive in England.”
Newcastle Courant. Saturday 10th February, 1781.
The St Palais, a French frigate of 36 guns, from Brest, was on the 12th Inst. Driven on the rocks of Scilly and dashed to pieces.
Northampton Mercury. Monday 5th March 1781.
Extract from a letter from Scilly. February 26.
“This afternoon a large Dutch ship was drove on shore on rocks of this place by two English Privateers; the wind blowed so hard when she drove on shore that she has two planks parted, and is filling with water, so that none of her cargo can be saved.
Reading Mercury Monday 5th March 1781.
Wreck of the Grand Trimmer
A letter from Falmouth, dated February 22nd says, “A cutter is just arrived from a cruise; the Captain of which says, he saw the ‘Grand Trimmer’, privateer of London, lost on the rocks off Scilly and every soul perished”
Leeds intelligencer Tuesday 13th March 1781.
The ‘Le Hector’ and ‘Sartine’, French armed ships of 36 guns each, with all their people, were entirely lost on the 6th instant. At Scilly. Advice was received last night at the Admiralty, that the Conquerant, a French ship of 74 guns was cast away a few nights since off the rocks of Scilly and not a single man out of 700 has escaped the wreck. Her masts and stern beam, with the word Conquerant carved upon it; and her head, a lion rampant, are driven ashore off Penzance.
Also possibly related to above is:
Caledonian Mercury Wednesday 14th March 1781
The ‘Juste’ frigate of 44 guns, and 340 men, was wrecked upon the rocks of Scilly on Saturday the 10th, and not a single person, officer or man, saved. A sixty four gun ship named Le Priappes, supposed to have been the Atlas, was lost at the same time, and all the crew perished.
Leeds intelligencer Tuesday 22nd May 1781.
We have advice from Morlaix, that the ‘Duc de Chartres’, Privateer, of 18 guns, Captain Merciere, was lost the 27th ultimo in the night, upon the rocks WSW of Scilly, and blowing a strong Northerly wind she beat to pieces and the crew are supposed lost.
Northampton Mercury. March 18th 1782.
A letter from Torbay says; that a vessel is put in there from St Mary’s in Scilly, by which it is learnt that two French privateers, which were cruising off there were last Saturday morning drove upon the rocks in a gale of wind, one was entirely lost, and part of the crew was drowned, and the other was so much damaged that she is unfit for farther service; they both belonged to Boudeaux.
Northampton Mercury. Monday 12th April 1784
"A gentleman of undoubted veracity, who was at St Helena at the time the Nancy was there, and who was well acquainted with every gentleman on board, gives an account that the passengers who were lost on the rocks of Scilly were Captain Johnstone, 100th regiment. Captain Hobson, ditto; Lieut. Forsyth, ditto; Lieut. Lee, on the Bombay Military Establishment; Mrs Cargil; and the unfortunate Captain; there were two or three children on board, one of which was master Pemberton. This information came home in the 'Eagle' Snow."
Derby Mercury Thursday 29th July 1784.
A letter from St Mary’s in Scilly, says, that two vessels under Flemish colours were in a gale of wind on the 20th ultimo. Drove upon the rocks and entirely lost. The crews climbed up the rocks, where they remained twelve hours before any vessel could venture near enough to take them off.
Reading Mercury Monday 22nd November 1784.
Wreck of the Achilles.
A letter from Dublin, dated, October 13, says; “The Achilles, Captain Bready, from Lisbon to London, laden with wine and fruit, was lost on St Mary Rocks of Scilly, on the 29th ultimo of 21 persons on board, among whom were 3 female passengers, only the captain and boy were saved, who were picked up by a vessel bound to Londonderry, and are now arrived in this city. The above vessel was partly owned by a merchant at Cork.”
Sussex Advertiser Monday 21st February 1785.
A letter from Guernsey says, that the ‘Guernsey Packet’, bound from Southampton to that island was lost in a storm of wind on the morning of the 3rd ultimo. The crew were taken up by a French ship, which was afterwards driven upon the rocks of Scilly; at which place the crew were again taken aboard another ship and carried to St Mary’s Island, from whence they got passage home.
Times November 24, 1787
A few days since a young man, who owed a considerable sum of money to a merchant of Guernsey sailed from the Lands End towards the Scilly Islands- to escape a Bailiff who was in pursuit of him. The Merchant and the bailiff got another boat, and chased the fugitive with such a press of sail, that, just as they came up with him, they ran their boat underwater; and as the debtor showed no great disposition to save the bailiff, he and the two boatmen drowned, but the merchant saved his life by swimming to a nearby island.
Oxford Journal Saturday 1st November 1788.
Captain Salisbury of the Termagant, sloop of war, has just now taken a prize valued at about 2000l. but in giving chase to a brig, supposed to belong to Jersey, she ran aground on the rocks of Scilly where in all probability she was lost.
Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 14th March 1789.
Wreck of the London.
“On Tuesday about midnight, or rather Wednesday morning, about the hour of one, the ship London, of London, Capt Curling, from Charlestown, with rice, tobacco, indigo, and some specie, is totally lost on the western most rocks of Scilly. The Captain 13 hands with Mrs Riley, widow, a passenger, and a native of Ramsgate, all perished. Joseph Tuttle, carpenter, only was miraculously saved, by being cast on rocks distinguished by the appellation of Cribbe Widden, where he remained two days and nights, great part of the time lashed to the rocks; when the gale abated, and the weather cleared, the signals he hoisted were observed by the inhabitants of Agnus islands, where the lighthouse stands, at a distance of about four miles, who took him off much wounded and bruised, the middle fingernails of both hands being torn from the roots. About 3000 dollars, and 150l in different gold coins that were cast on the rocks have been preserved, and were with a few silver articles of cabin furniture, this day delivered up to the members of Lord Carmarthen’s Court, but no part of the cargo or vessel, being both carried out to sea, the latter piece meal as observed by the poor wretch left to tell the melancholy affair. The ship sailed from Charlestown, on or about the 22nd January, in company with the ‘Olive Branch’, ‘Agnes and Castle Douglas’, Cooper.”
Caledonian Mercury Thursday 24th June 1790.
On Sunday the 6th instant, above the hour of ten at night, the brigantine ‘Eagle’, from Charlestown, South Carolina, (American built) bound for Falmouth for orders, laden with tobacco and rice, was tonight lost, with the cargo, by striking on the westernmost rocks of these islands. Thick weather accompanied with rain prevented them descrying the lights; and the vessel, at the time she struck, was going better than eight knots. The Master, John Brown, of (Shields?) with the crew, a woman and her child, passengers, were providentially saved in the boat, but without ever having any time to secure any apparel whatever. They were brought to St Mary’s Scilly in the morning, by some of the inhabitants of Agnes whilst going out fishing. A few casks of tobacco and rice were taken up, but in a state not fit for use.
Times 29 June, 1790
On Friday night the 8th instant at Scilly, a number of guns was heard from the westward, supposed to be signals of distress from some ship, and, on Saturday morning, the stern of a ship was seen out of the water. On her stern was written- the Elizabeth of London. She must have been a ship of very large size: as a piece of carved work of her stern gallery measured 17 feet in length. She drifted all round the islands of Scilly on Saturday and Sunday with the tide.
Stanford Mercury. Friday 3rd September 1790.
Monday- a very disagreeable report was spread, that a seventy four gun ship and a frigate are run ashore in a fog, on the rocks of Scilly and it is feared will be lost, though every possible assistance is given them by the fleet. As Englishmen, we are bound to with it untrue; and though the name of the seventy four ship (The Director) is mentioned, yet without any pretended gift of prescience, we hope and believe it will turn out to be nothing more than a report. This account is pretended to have been received from Lord Howe in letters of the 26th.
Times December 3, 1790
The Felicity revenue cutter was drove on shore on Sunday last off Scilly, and totally lost; the crew were taken up by a fishing boat who landed them at Scilly; the cutter had on board upwards of one thousand anchors of brandy and Geneva, besides near two tons of tea, &c. which she had seized out of a smuggling cutter, not withstanding two of the Felicity’s crew were put on board her.
Bath Chronicle and weekly Gazette. Thursday 24th February 1791.
The Nancy of Liverpool, Captain Jeffries, from Jamaica, was lost on the rocks of Scilly on the 8th inst. There were 16 passengers on board, and all perished except four men and a boy.
Times November 14, 1793.
Tuesday advice was received from Scilly with an account of the Frederick , letter of marque, belonging to Liverpool, having put into that place, with the loss of all her masts, rudder and rigging, in great distress, after being chased by a French frigate; the frigate in chasing her drove on shore, within one league of Scilly, and is supposed will be lost.
Reading Mercury Monday 26th October 1795.
The Zeeliley, a Dutch East Indiaman, one of the prizes taken by the Sceptre, & c. that sailed from the Shannon, on the 9th instant, under convoy, struck on the most western rocks of Scilly on the 13th and was totally lost; her cargo was mostly tea and china. The commander (mate of one of our ships) is drowned, and 24 others; 45 are saved and taken aboard Sir Edward Pellews ship at Scilly.
Times February 3, 1796.
A vessel, supposed to be American, is on shore on the Western Isle of Scilly. Seven people drowned in attempting to go to her assistance. 27th January last seven pilots perished in giving assistance to a vessel in distress on the Western Rocks of Scilly.
Times Friday October 20, 1797.
Last month G. E. Ashley, Esq. sailed for South America in the Lethe and was wrecked on the Scilly rocks, having run foul of the Mary, transport
Times Jan 3 1798
St Mary’s Scilly December 10.
Upwards of a hundred sail, chiefly coasting vessels, are now in this port wind bound. In boarding of one as a Pilot, a young man of the name of Stiddiford was drowned, which is the fifth of the family that has been lost in like manner within a short series of years. And yesterday a most shocking catastrophe happened by a boat filling, in which were nine souls, all of whom perished, and their bodies not taken up, leaving seven widows and children to lament their loss in extreme poverty.
Times December 15, 1801.
Arrived Voltiguer of 18 guns, Lieutenant Hill (acting) from Aporto. She was nearly lost off Scilly in a gale of wind of Tuesday last, in which she threw ten of her guns overboard,
And received considerable damage.
Times December 30, 1805.
Ten days since two victualling brigs sailed from hence with provisions for our ships at St Mary’s, Scilly; They encountered shocking weather; the Active, one of them, shipped such a sea as carried away her masts and she arrived at Scilly in a bad state; the other, it is feared, has foundered.( Possibly the Harvey?)
Exeter Flying Post Thursday 16th February 1815
On the night of Friday the 27th ultimo the brig, Queen Charlotte, William Reysid, Master, bound from Greenock to Kingston, Jamaica, with a general cargo, for the West India market, was driven on the rocks near the Scilly Islands, and almost immediately went to pieces. The master and eleven seamen, who composed the crew, with three out of six passengers, got upon one of the rocks which was elevated above the rest; the other three passengers were unfortunately drowned. In this dreadful situation, without food, and exposed to the inclemency of the weather; these fifteen persons remained from the time of the accident on Friday night, until Sunday; during which time there was no possibility of approaching them from the shore. On Sunday morning, several boats put off for the purpose of relieving the sufferers from their perilous situation, but the sea running mountains high, the attempt was attended with the utmost hazard. The first boat that approached the rock, was that belonging to Mr. Tregarthen, owner of the Scilly Packet; the boat was immediately upset and of six persons who were on board, four were saved by the other boats, one was picked up dead, and the other has not yet been found. The poor fellow who was taken up dead, was but a few months returned from France, where he had been a prisoner for eleven years; he has left a wife and seven children. The other man who perished was named Charles Jackson, of Penryn; he was but a short time married. The benumbed and almost despairing individuals on the rock, who were spectators of this shocking scene, were at last got off by the other boats, the men on board of which displayed the most undaunted perseverance in their endeavors to rescue these strangers from their fearful situation. A considerable part of the cargo belonging to the Queen Charlotte floated on shore on the island of Bryher, which, according to custom, was seized by the inhabitants as lawful spoil; much, however, has been recovered by searching their homes.