York Herald Saturday December 5th 1829.
Written by Nathaniel Ogle, Esq., on seeing a ship, which had been induced to alter her course by false lights, dashed to pieces on the rocks of Scilly at midnight, in December 1813. Transcribed [ts]
Fierce the winter tempest blew,
The moon in clouds was shrouded;
Through the surge the frigate flew;
Her deck with men was crowded.
For their harbour right they stood
When three watch lights dimly gleamed
Glancing rays along the flood
Broad upon the larboard beam.
‘Bare away’ the helmsman cries;
rocks and danger lie ahead’,
with the storm the frigate flies
by destruction demon’s led.
Deeper night heaven outcasts;
Brighter shines those trait ‘trous fires
Louder roar the threatening blasts;
Death with haste the ship inspires.
Scarce the seamen draw their breath;
Silent was that gallant crew
As if spirits whispered death,
And each his fate foreknew.
Opening clouds avial the skies
Crags and shoals begird her round
Raving surfs recoiling rise,
then push up the broken ground.
Lighted by the pale moon ray,
Balanced on a mountain wave;
Wreathed with foam and winged spray;
High she trembled o’er her grave.
Screams are mingled with the wind’
Granite reefs one crash resound;
No track of death the eye can trace
Nought but foam and billows round.
Buzza Hill - Rev George Woodley c. 1820
"On the top of Buzza hill are three cromlecks [large stones]. The principle of these, stands (or rather stood, for it is now suffering demolition by the hand of man) in the centre, surrounded by a mound of earth (or Burrow) about thirty yards in circumference, the whole being inclosed by a number of large stones, some erect and some recumbent; having two of a very large size at the North-East, and two similar at the South-West end. On the former appeared to have been some rock-basons."
Woodley tells us that according to Troutbeck, “a curious
gentleman hired labourers to open some of these burrows, to see if they could
find the remains of anything that might have been deposited in them.” The
results however were apparently meagre . “a little while after the workmen
had finished opening these burrows, there happened a most violent storm of rain,
attended with dreadful peals of thunder and lightning, which the Islanders said
was occasioned by disturbing these ancient sepulchres” Woodley having
related this older tail then describes what was then current:
“ On the 22nd day of November of, 1820, the larger burrow was again opened – having been fixed on as the site of a windmill (since completed) – and on that day we also had a storm of thunder and lighting, although these natural phenomena but rarely occur in Scilly."
" Once upon a time, some men of Tresco tied up the Governor in a sail and "put him to low tide", for reasons best known, and best kept to themselves. One of their party "finneagued" afterwards, because he felt it was not good enough to have such a thing on his conscience, so he went down to the shore alone and "put the Governor to high tide". Before the tide was full a coastguard came along and let him out. Very soon afterward that coastguard received promotion." [vyvy pp216-217]
The August 1843 Summer Assizes
Discovered during family research on the Cumming Clan. [Ed] Also passed to The Scillonian, See No. 272.
CUTTING AND MAIMING.
JOHN CUMMING, 18, was indicted on three counts, charging him with cutting and maiming WILLIAM MAYBEE, at Scilly, with intent to do him some grievous bodily harm.
Mr. HOLDSWORTHY for the
prosecution & Mr. SLADE for the defence.
W. M. MAYBEE examined:
"I live at Scilly, with my grandmother, FLORENCE MAYBEE; in March I worked with MR. RICHARD TAYLOR, a shoemaker; I leave work at eight o'clock; I left work on the 13th of March; Taylor lives about a mile from my grandmother; I left about eight o'clock; on going home, in the middle of Penninis Lane, a person jumped over the hedge and knocked me about the head with a stick; I fell, and then he took out a razor and cut me in the face (the boy showed a wound from his ear, all down the side of the cheek, and across to the mouth), that was done while I was on the ground; it was done by the prisoner; I knew him before; while on the ground I said I had done nothing to him; he said I had; he then left; I was bleeding; I then ran home; I was about half a mile from home; when I got home, I saw my uncle ROBERT MAYBEE and grandmother; I was then carried to the town of St. Mary; I had my wounds bound up by Mr. BLEWITT, surgeon; I was then taken home; I was ill a month. The prisoner had a baragan jacket and trousers on, and a shining hat."
"I live in Hugh Town, St. Mary's, close by where this boy works. I live with my mother; I had to go by Penninis Lane from my mother's farm on the night in question; I met the prisoner about half-past seven; he had on a baragan jacket and a black covered hat. I met him, and he went off, at the turn of Penninis Lane."
"I am quite certain that it was Cumming. I have known him all his life; he has been a particularly well-behaved boy."
"I am uncle of the prosecutor, and live with my mother, FLORENCE MAYBEE."
On the 13th of March, about eight o'clock, I was at home, and heard five or six screeches, and soon after my nephew came to the door and into the house. He was cut very bad and blood was running from his face down to his shoes. There was a cut extending from the top of the ear to the mouth, and another running down nearly to the throat. I tied up his face with a handkerchief and carried him to Mr. Blewitt. After the wounds were dressed I took him home.
"I am a surgeon, at St. Mary's. the prosecutor was brought to my house on the 13th of March by his uncle, about nine in the evening. There was a large wound across the face, beginning just above the right ear, and continuing below the chin. There was a cross cut to the mouth. There was a deep wound as if with a sharp instrument. I made three stitches, and then put on an adhesive plaster. There was a bruise at the back part of the head, as if with a stick. The wounds were not dangerous, and the bleeding not very considerable."
"There is no insanity in Cumming's family but two or three of his distant relatives are weak. I have known the prisoner fifteen years, and he has been a well behaved boy, but gloomy. There might be a taint of weakness to his mind, but not of insanity, though insanity may verge near upon that weakness."
"I live at St. Mary's and am a constable. I know Wm. Maybee; saw him at Mr. Blewitt's house; in consequence of what I saw I went in search of the prisoner; on the following morning, I saw him coming down Porthcressa Bank, in St. Mary's, with his father. I took him into custody, and put him to prison. The father was with him. I searched him and he said he had no knife. His father was by; and said what did you do it with, and he said an old razor. His father asked him where he got the razor from, and he said from up mine. His father said he would get some water for him to wash, but he said he had already done it."
MR. BLEWETT recalled:
"Was present at the examination before the Magistrates. I saw the Magistrate and Cumming make their signatures. The prisoner being cautioned, and asked if he had anything to say, said "No," and then added "I have been guilty of all that was done. I was not in my right senses when I did it. I was very sorry afterwards. I owed Maybee no ill-will."
Monument to Ann Cargill (Nancy Packet)
Times: Wednesday, November 9, 1785, Issue 273.
“A neat monument has been erected at St Mary’s, one of the Isles of Scilly, in memory of Mrs Cargill. It is said to have been paid out of the produce of some jewels that were found upon her."
Times: Saturday, November 24, 1787, Issue 908.
"A few days since a young man, who owed a considerable sum of money to a merchant of Guernsey, sailed from Land’s End towards the Scilly Island, to escape a bailiff who was in pursuit of him. The merchant and his 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 under water; and as the debtor showed no great disposition to save the bailiff, he and the two boatmen were drowned, but the merchant saved his life by swimming to a neighbouring island."
Scillonian Maritime Tragedy
Times: Saturday, January 3, 1789, Issue 1220.
“Extract of a letter from St Mary’s Scilly Dec 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 Stiddeford 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. Their names are Sergeant John Lovekin and John Cameron of Col. Dawson’s Independent Company of Invalids stationed here, Israel and William Holger, Thomas and John Conner, Hugh and Robert Jenkyn, and John Leaky”
Court Marshall of Garrison Soldier
Times: Friday, September 25, 1801, Issue 5221.
His Majesty has been pleased to confirm the Sentence of a General Court Martial, held at Government House Plymouth, on the 31st July and following day, on Lieut. Thomas Phillips of the Scilly Fencibles, for sending a challenge to Lieut. J. John, of the Royal Invalids, on the 25th June last, requiring satisfaction for being expelled from a Masonic Lodge on the 24th of June, and having declared the subsequent day, that the said Lieut. J. Johns was a coward. The Court Martial found him guilty of both charges, and judged him to be cashiered; but in consideration of his youth and inexperience, and general good character, humbly recommended him to his Majesty’s clemency. His Majesty, however, having taken into consideration all the circumstances of the case, deemed it necessary, for the sake of example, to confirm the sentence of the Court Martial.
Murder at Sea.
Times: Tuesday, October 26, 1802, Issue 5549.
“John Ferguson, a Gentleman of a very respectable appearance, was indicted for the wilful murder of Fernandez Fernandez on the high sea, near Scilly, by causing him to be beaten with ropes on his sides, back and belly, until he died.”
Royal Cornwall Gazette, August 28, 1813:
"Last week all the dogs on the Island of Sampson, in number about 14, ran simultaneously into the sea and were drowned together. No cause whatever can be assigned by the inhabitants for this extraordinary occurrence. The dogs appeared perfectly well a short time before this event took place"
Royal Cornwall Gazette, July 12, 1816: "A soldier of the 90th Regiment, stationed at Scilly, in a fit of intoxication, threw himself out of a window of the Barracks, and was killed on the spot".
Times: Wednesday, July 9, 1817, Issue 10193.
"A man named Jenkin, residing on the island of Trescaw [Tresco], in Scilly, having some damp gun powder in his possession this week, very incautiously put about 2lb. of it in an iron pot over the fire, in order to dry it. He employed his wife to blow the fire, whilst he stirred the combustible matter with an iron poker! The pot became heated; a dreadful explosion took place, attended with lamentable results. The man was struck blind; his thumb and hand were lacerated in a shocking manner; and his cloths, and several parts of his body, were much burnt and injured. His wife likewise was severely scorched. But what is most remarkable is that not a vestige of the pot has been found since" - Cornwall Newspaper.
Royal Cornwall Gazette, February 21, 1818
"On Monday last, William Boase, pilot and farmer in Scilly, was blowing a rock in his garden, but the explosion not ensuing as soon as expected, he went to examine the charge, when unfortunately it went off, and so dreadfully shattered his right arm, that amputation was necessary above the elbow".
Local Scillonian Disaster.
Times: Thursday, May 14, 1818, Issue 10356.
“A melancholy catastrophe occurred on Saturday, near St Agnes Island, Scilly. Four men had put out for the purpose of fishing, to supply their families, when the boat sunk, from some unaccountable accident, and three of them were drowned. The other was shortly afterwards seen on a rock by some men passing in a fishing boat. They exerted themselves, but in vain, to extricate him from his perilous situation. Whilst waiting for the ebb tide, they conversed with the unhappy man for upwards of two hours. He informed them of the fate of his companions, and entreated them for God’s sake to save his life; but a tremendous wave suddenly swept him off the rock, and he was seen no more. They have all left wives and children to lament their loss.”
Royal Cornwall Gazette, July 1, 1820;
"In the Scilly Islands it appears there is an ancient custom to carry lighted brands of fire on Midsummer Eve, a custom more honoured in the breach than observance since the most fatal accidents sometimes arise from these dangerous amusements. On Midsummer Eve a boy of about 15 years of age procured a gun which he charged with powder only. Intending to frighten a girl whom he met, he presented the gun at her, and immediately discharged the contents in her face! The consequence was, that one of her eyes of the sufferer was destroyed, and her face and neck so dreadfully scorched, that her life is despaired of. The mischievous lad who caused the disaster is allowed to go at large, the parents of the girl being too poor to prosecute him for the offence."
Message in a Bottle - The Case of the Royal Union.
Times: Monday, December 23, 1822, Issue 11749.
Currents of the Ocean.- The following paper was found in a bottle which was picked up a Scilly on the 11th instant, and transmitted to Lloyd’s:-
“Western Ocean. – On board the brig Royal Union, Daniel Grant , master from Quebec to Dublin, out 22 days, Lat 48.15.N, Long. 45.10 W of Greenwich, by James Pelan, cabin passenger. – Friday, September 27, 1822: [Note: – The Royal Union arrived at Dublin on the 11th of October.]
Whoever may this bottle find,
By reporting us, they will be kind;
Twill satisfy those who’re concerned,
And reap the fruit of our ship’s errand:
Now may you have a prosperous gale,
With as much aft as bear topgallant sails;
And may you in haven lie,
Safe moor’d beneath a tranquil sky;
And may you have a happy year,
Warm fires, good wine, and hearty cheer. JP”
Times: Monday, January 6, 1823, Issue 11761.
"We recollect the case of a vessel, after a long voyage, in which the crew had sustained many difficulties, being at length run upon one of the rocks of the Scilly Islands on her entering the Channel. Appearances there became so threatening on board, that the crew determined to quit the ship and take to the long boat, in which there was some probability of their gaining the land: they had no sooner, however, put off, than an ugly bear, which they had left behind, and which had served to amuse the more rascally of the crew during the voyage, by dancing and other tricks, plunged into the sea, and swam after them. Now, though they knew, and saw clearly, that the boat was already so fully stowed, that the admission of the bear would certainly sink her; yet they had not the sense and courage enough to pummel him with their oars, and keep him off: he forced an entrance, and down they all went together."
"Times: May 30, 1829
A gentleman perfectly competent is now on his way into Cornwall, and thence to the SCILLY ISLANDS, for the purpose of making a survey, valuation , and report upon the whole of them, for and on behalf of HIS MAJESTY, the owner of them as part of the DUCHY of CORNWALL.
These islands have, for very many years been granted on lease from the Crown, and the DUKE OF LEEDS is the present lessee, whose term will expire in about two years, and had been held by his ancestors for about 200 years; and whereas much distress has been experienced by the inhabitant at various times, especially in those of scarcity of crops of corn, the principle object of the survey is for the purpose of making an inquiry and taking into consideration the most eligible means for improving the condition and circumstances of the people, and by aiding and assisting them in bringing into cultivation a greater portion of the lands, much of which is now uncultivated; and also to endeavour by other means which may suggest themselves in the course of the survey, to strike at some better means of employment being the only means for their present sustenance, whereas, as the soil is particularly fertile, and the climate as mild and salubrious as any part of the South of France, it may be hoped, by exertion, and an expenditure of some capital in building an hotel and other public accommodation, invalids and other persons for pleasure might be induced to resort there as well as to PENZANCE, on account of the fine air there. There are six principle islands St MARY’S the largest where there is a Harbour, Garrison and Custom House and the contents of this island is 1640 acres and 1400 population. TRESCO 880 acres and 480 population. ST MARTIN 720 acres and 280 population, ST AGNES 390- acres and 282 population. BRYHER 330 acres and 140 population. SAMSON 120 acres and 34 population.
There are also eleven smaller islands the largest containing 80 acres and the rest of various contents all smaller and the smallest containing only about 16 areas. And besides these there are 21 islets. The intended survey is undertaken with a view to a joint and hearty co-operation of the present lessee with HIS MAJESTY for the improvement of the people on the islands; and it is hoped by an advancement of capital much will be effected to this end. Mr DRIVER is the gentleman who has been employed by HIS MAJESTY DUCHY of CORNWALL to resort there for the purpose above described.
The last and best book published on these islands is WOODLEY’S VIEW OF THE SCILLY ISLANDS 1822 to which we refer our readers. A survey was made in the reign of CHARLES II , but, we believe, none since, except for trigonometrical purposes, by the Ordnance Department."
Thursday, Oct 31, 1833, Issue 15310.
“It is now 35 years since His Majesty’s ship Colossus was wrecked in St. Mary’s Roads Scilly. A few weeks since two young men (brothers) were there with a diving apparatus of a new construction, and succeeded in bringing up several pieces of cannon, &c., from the wreck. The following extraordinary fact merits investigation: one of the guns exploded on being struck with a hammer, while lying near St. Mary’s quay, and the wadding, &c., fell on Rat Island. Master-gummer Ro?s was severely injured in the leg by the accident.”
Advertisement in the Royal Cornwall Gazzette October 1835.
"To Masons and others.
To be let by tender, the building and completing of a new pier & breakwater, from the present pier at St Mary's, Scilly, to Rat Island there. The proposed works will extend about 650 feet in length, 350 feet of which, commencing from the back of the present pier, will be a breakwater or causeway, the base of which will be about 50 feet in width, battered off to 30 feet in width at the top or surface. The remainder of the work from the breakwater to Rat Island to be of quay work.. Tenders expressing the sums of which parties will undertake the completion of the whole work, should be delivered or sent (free of postage) to Messers, John & Rodd, on or before the first day of December next, soon after which the party whose tender may be accepted will be required to produce security for the due performance of the work, and for the keeping it in repair for three years from its completion. Plans and specifications can be seen at the offices of Messers John & Rodd. Solicitors, Penzance. Dated 10th October 1835." [ts]
Case of Murder - Trial of Scillonian Boatmen
Times; Wednesday, March 15, 1837, Issue 16364.
Falmouth, March 11 – On the 9th instant a small vessel called the ADA of Scilly, Edwards master, arrived here from St Michael, with a cargo of fruit, consigned to a mercantile house here. Yesterday a seaman named Petrie who had been put on board by the British Consul, for passage to this country as a distressed subject, went to the mayor and deposed, that a boy had died on the passage in consequence of the ill treatment of the master and mate. Today a full enquiry has taken place at the Town Hall, before the mayor and one of the justices for the borough. It appeared that the vessel had sailed from St Michaels on the 22nd July; that on the 26th the diseased boy had been charged with having drunk part of the coffee intended for the master’s breakfast; inconsequence the latter had struck him across the back with a handspike, and caused him to be tied by the legs and hoisted up to the “jaws of the gaff” legs uppermost, which he was kept sometime; that the boy after a while, managed to get head upwards, and was then taken down; and that he was on coming down, forced over the side of the vessel into the water. Various other acts of severity were disposed of, one of which was, that the captain tied the boy with a rope round the waste and threw him overboard till he was senseless, and the foam was issuing from his mouth. The boy was laid on the deck in his wet cloths, where he continued groaning until about 9 at night, when he was found to be quite dead. In these acts the master and mate appeared by the evidence to have acted with about equal brutality. The evidence of Petrie was fully corroborated by a seaman belonging to the vessel named Sullivan, and a boy belonging to Poole named Harley. The master and mate are remanded a week to the town gaol. In the mean time the depositions will be forwarded to the Secretary of State upon the receipt of whose instructions the prisoners will be committed to take their trial, either on the charge of murder, or that of manslaughter. The mate’s name is Woodcock. The Town Hall was crowded to hear the depositions of the witnesses, which so excited the feelings of the auditory that the Court was frequently obliged to repress their expression by threatening to have the hall cleared.
Times: Saturday, April 8, 1837, Issue 16385 – Central Criminal Court
“Before Mr. Justice Littledale and Mr. Justice Coleridge
Richard Edwards, sailor, aged 21, and John Woodcock aged 19, were indicted for the wilful murder of Alexander Nance, aged 19, upon the high seas within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty.
After a long trial they were convicted of manslaughter.”
Times: Friday, April 14, 1837, Issue 16390 – Central Criminal Court
“Richard Edwards and John Woodcock, who had been convicted of manslaughter on
the high seas under very aggravated circumstances were then placed at the bar.
The Recorder told them that they had been convicted of the offence of manslaughter, the circumstances attending which differed very little from the crime of wilful murder. One of them was the master, and the other the mate, of the vessel on board of which a lad, under their command, met his death by their cruel treatment. It appeared from the evidence adduced at the trial, that they had both been guilty of a series of barbarous acts towards the unfortunate deceased, until by their cruelty he lost his life. They had frequently thrown him overboard secured by a rope around his body, and dragged him through the sea while the vessel was pursuing her voyage. They beat him almost every day, caused him to be tied up to the mast of the ship with his feet suspended in the air and his head downwards, and practiced other acts of such atrocious cruelty upon him, that he died by their hands. The laws of the country were ever willing to respect and uphold that necessary authority and control which were vested in the captain of a vessel and the officers below him. They had right to punish disobedience of orders or any conduct of a mutinous description; but the law which gave them that right would not permit that those placed in peril by their acts; and he hoped that the sentence which he was about to pronounce would serve as a warning to others in command of ships at sea.
The learned Recorder then sentenced the prisoners to be transported for life”.
Times: Tuesday, May 9, 1837, Issue 16411 – Removal of Convicts.
“In order to make room for the prisoners committed for trial at the present session, the following convicts have been removed from Newgate to the hulks, preparatory to their voyage to New South Wales: For Life – Others, plus Richard Edwards, 21; J Woodcock, 19”
Times: Monday, July 24, 1837, Issue 16476.
“The fair Isle of St Mary, Scilly was frightened for its property on Monday by the arrival of three vessels full of those miserable objects, the disbanded British Legion. The ships put in from stress of weather and want of food for the men. The vessel contained 500 men under the command of Colonel Mackintosh. This arrival gave great alarm to the peaceful islanders, who most carefully barred their doors and bolted their windows. The fellows looked like the most ferocious banditti ever beheld, and being without money great difficulty was found in obtaining three days food for them. Some of the most prudent, who had a little money, clubbed it, and hired a Cowes sloop to take them to their destination, whilst others got drunk, and after fighting, slept in the sheds or the fields during the night. Most of the officers had left the brigs and sloop, and on Wednesday these troublesome customers left the island, to the great joy of the inhabitants” – West Briton
The story of ‘AN ADVENTUROUS YOUTH’
Times: Thursday, August 27, 1874, Issue 28092.
The Plymouth correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette writes: - “A fortnight ago a well dressed lad, about 15 years of age, arrived alone and with no luggage at St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. He was very uncommunicative, but it was ascertained from books in his possession that his name was Barnard Herbert Ross of Napton, near Tenbury, Herts. On Thursday morning he was missed and as a fishing boat had also disappeared it was taken for granted that Ross had gone in the boat and that he had perished, as the weather at sea had been bad. A telegram from Falmouth, however announces that Ross had been landed there by a pilot boat by which he had been picked up 35 miles from Scilly. When found Ross was lying at the bottom of the boat insensible from exposure and want of food. He is now recovering but has not yet stated his motive in attempting his hazardous exploit."
Scillonian Cricketers Lost in Accident
Times: Tuesday, July 13, 1875, Issue 28366.
"Fatal Boat Accident - Four persons lost their lives in consequence of the capsizing of a boat between two of the Scilly Islands on Saturday. Between 8 and 9 o’clock in the evening a gig, containing nine persons who had been at a cricket match at Tresco was returning to St Mary’s, the principle island of the group, when a sudden squall overturned the boat, precipitating the party into the sea. In the course of twenty minutes another boat came to the rescue, but only succeeded in saving five persons who were then almost exhausted. The remaining four were:- William Hicks, Trinity pilot, leaving a widow and four children; Walter Legg, joiner (widow and one child); Walter Hicks, ship carpenter – all of Scilly, and James Phillips, aged 14, son of Mr Alexander Phillips, of Penzance Customs."
"Old woman, old woman, old woman,"
"Old woman, old woman, old woman,"
"A garden have I at my hand
"No amber-eyed tabby may laze