A MARITIME COLLECTION
NORTH DEVON & LUNDY WRECKS (pre-1900)
THE STORY OF THE 'LOUISA' LIFEBOAT AT LYNMOUTH (1899 - re-enacted 1999)
DEVON PILOTS (Following an explanation)
THE SEAFARERS (Reports of late-17th c. sailings)
SOME BRAUNTON SEAMEN of 1845/50
20 NORTH DEVON VESSELS (Details from 1861 registrations)
MARITIME ARCHIVES (Newfoundland-based North Atlantic Archives)
DEFOE'S reference to the sea-trading confirms well-known
activities from the 'Tawmouth' ports of Barnstaple and Bideford.
Trading was extensive with Iberia, France and Newfoundland, and
the London Gazette of the 17th and 18th centuries is full of
accounts of sailings to and from these ports. In those days,
sailings were not hum-drum affairs, and many of the reports are
full of colour.
Many reports concern shipping that was wholly or partly
wrecked around the North Devon coast, and there was a lot of
that, together with much loss of crew. Reports during 1690 and
1691 were also much concerned with troop movements via North
Devon to and from Ireland. Other 'Gazette' shipping reports concern everyday
landings and sailings, but all clearly show the exotic ports that
they visited - Bilbao, Lisbon, Oporto ("O Porto"), Cadiz, Algiers
("Argiers"), etc., as well as Boston, Prince Edward Island, "St.
Lucs", and Dublin. Their cargoes are reported as wool, sugar,
"trayn" (whale) oil, wines, prunes, herring, oranges, iron, etc.
Interestingly, a report is also given concerning the taking of
the SCANDERBERG, and that Mr. Robert Fishley, the commander, was
taken by the Turks to "Argiers".
Here is a sample (note spellings for Ilfracombe,
1670, reported in 20-23 May Issue At Barnstaple. Small vessel put
in from Rochelle with Salt/Wine (being bound from Lisbon to
Tercera's) but that the Turks, after a warm dispute, after having
grapled with her, and put a great many men on board of her, were
forced to quit the combat, and leave 14 of their men behind them,
which were all killed, save one, who having sheltered himself in
the shrouds, obtained quarter, and the said vessel continued her
1672, reported in 22-25 July Issue At RYE. Yesterday, the JOHN of
Dover brought in a small vessel of 36 tuns, called the LAUREL
BRANCH of Barnstaple, which they rescued from a Dutch Privateer,
who had seized her nine days before on her way to Newfoundland,
laden with Malt, Salt etc.
(An observable issue here is that this ship and so many other
ships were so small, yet made such hazardous ocean-going voyages.
This event was also one of many reported where a Devon ship had
been taken by a foreign vessel, but later retaken).
1678, reported in 3-7 October Issue Swanzey. We have had for
these 14 days last past very stormy weather, which hath had
effects on some small vessels on these Coasts. The Master of a
Small Vessel of Coombe, coming over here to load Coals a day or
two before the bad weather began, did confidently report that he
and his Company, upon their crossing the Severne, saw a Mair-man
apparently whole above water, his head and face being like that
of a man, with long hair.
1689, reported in 28 Nov/2 Dec Issue On Saturday last was brought
to Ilford-Combe.....a French Vessel which was taken by one of our
Frigates on the coast of Ireland, being laden with Iron and
Hoops. Here is likewise arrived the TERRA NOVA of this place,
from Newfoundland; She met a French Privateer on the coast of
Ireland, with whom she exchanged several Broad-sides, and at last
forced the Privateer to leave her.
1693, reported in 26 Feb/1 Mar Issue London, Feb. 26th. This day
at a General Sessions for the Admiralty of England, held at the
Marshalseas by Virtue of Their Majesties Commission of Oyer and
Terminer and Gaol Delivery..........
Six other Mariners named DERBY COLLINS, JOHN RYAN, RICHARD
SHIVERS, PATRICK QUIDLEY, JOHN SANGSTER, and CONSTANTIN DEHERTY
were severally indicted for Piratically taking and carrying away
two English Merchant Ships called the MARY of Tinmouth and the
HAPPY RETURN of Biddiford; They alledged that they had the late
King James's Commission, but being found Guilty upon the
aforesaid Indictment were condemned to be Hanged as Pyrates. (Of
these, DERBY COLLINS and PATRICK QUIDLEY were executed at
"Redriff Stairs" on March 5th, 1693. Of the others, no record is
1694, reported in 25-28 June Issue From on Board the JOHN AND
SUSANNA in Milford Haven.... On the 20th instant we made the
land, which was the Skellick, and two hours after espied 3 sail,
which proved to be two English Man of War the WEYMOUTH and
DUNKIRKE, with a French Privateer, Which they had taken the 17th
instant being Sunday, the WEYMOUTH came up with her about two in
the morning, and fought her till Sunset, when the DUNKIRKE coming
in, the Privateer Struck; She is a new Ship called the GRAND of
St. Malo, had 56 guns mounted, and 320 men, of whom 50 were
killed and 45 wounded, but was extremely disabled in her Sails,
Masts, Yards, and Rigging; Both our Frigates are gone with their
Prize to Kinsale. This Ship (the JOHN AND SUSANNA) came from
Virginia on the 20th May, together with the RICHARD AND JOHN of
Bristol, and a BIddiford Ship, which are with us in Milford
Haven, and a Londoner called CADIZ MERCHANT who went into
Kinsale. (Note - there was very little about any Devon shipping
in this report, but I thought it worth reproducing, particularly
on reading the opening line, which is something like a report on
the BBC Television News!).
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