The Story of the
Flying Joan, Captain John Chidley
By Todd Stevens
This ship / (wreck) was described as an armed Pinnace and called the Flying Joan of 120 tons. John Chidley was her Captain and he had a crew of 25 men. A fleet under Sir Walter Raleigh, that numbered 13 ships in all, left Plymouth for the west indies on the 12th June 1617. Just 8 leagues west of Scilly these ships were scattered by a storm. Most of these vessels made it in relative safely back to port. However, one ship, referred to simply as: a fly boat, under Captain Sam King, was blown way up into the Bristol Channel and went ashore there. Also, somewhere, the full circumstances and exact position as yet unknown in or near Scilly, the Flying Joan is known to have come to grief and sunk. It appears that the crew may have got away as not long after the incident Captain Chidley rejoined Raleigh on another ship to complete their intended voyage. (The fact that Chidley was saved is interesting. It may be pointing towards the position /circumstances in which this ship sank during the storm. Did the Flying Joan sink outside or among the islands. If inside then this would have allowed the men to quickly gain the shore? Or did the wreck wallow in the sea to eventually sink somewhere in the islands?. Or did Chidley bring the ship into Scilly in a sinking state where she sank in the anchorage? Its not inconceivable to see a ship come to grief in the open sea around Scilly only to sink inside the archipelago. In 1790, The wreck of the Elizabeth went 3 times around the islands before coming ashore on Bryher. Then in 1840 the Nerina turned over out at sea and came ashore with her keel up at Porth Hellick.. In 1881 the Independenza struck the Crim, yet the sea pushed her all the way into St Mary's Roads to leave her wreck under the north side of the garrison shore. Did a similar thing occur to the Flying Joan? Is this the Lizzy?)
The reports on this fleet differ in ship names /sizes/captains. However, here are some of the details Iíve tried to piece together.
The Destiny - 440 tons, Sir Walter Admiral with his son as Captain.
Jason - 240 tons. Captain J Pennington.
Encounter - 160 tons. Captain Ed Hastings (Captain Whitney. After Hastings died at sea)
Thunder - 150 tons. Sir Warham St Leger.
Flying Joan - Pinnace. 120 tons. Captain J Chidley.
Southampton - 80 tons. Captain J Bayley.
The Page - Pinnace. 25 tons. Captain James Barker
Convertine - Captain Keymis
Confidence - Captain Woolaston.
Flying Heart - Shallop. Captain John Ferne.
(A Fly boat) - Captain Robert Smith.
(A Fly boat) - Captain King.
The Chudleigh - A Carvel (could be the Flying Chudleigh)