The Times, Thursday, Jan 18, 1866; pg. 9; Issue 25398; col C


                           THE LOSS OF THE STEAMSHIP LONDON.


A profound sensation was created among all classes yesterday morning upon receipt of the sad intelligence that Messrs. MONEY WIGRAM and Sons’ auxiliary screw steamship the London had foundered in the Bay of Biscay with upwards of 200 souls on board. The fame this fine vessel had acquired as a passenger ship – partly owing to the fact of her last outward passage having been made in 59 days – was in itself calculated to dispel all anxiety on her behalf, even during the late tempestuous weather, and it is believed that her owners and the underwriters concerned were least of all prepared for the terrible disaster that has happened to her. It is a remarkable fact, moreover, that the London is the first ship belonging to the famous house of MONEY WIGRAM and Sons to which any serious casualty has occurred. In a century’s experience, Messrs. WIGRAM have enjoyed a perfect immunity from loss, with the single exception of the True Briton, which belonged to a former generation of the firm, and foundered early in the present century in the same fatal bay.

The London, which has been commanded ever since she was launched from Blackwall yard, in 1864, by Captain MARTIN, an Australian navigator of great experience, left the East India Docks on Thursday, the 28th of December, and dropping down to Gravesend, sailed thence on Saturday afternoon under charge of Mr. THOMPSON, a river pilot. As the night was wild and the wind dead ahead the ship brought up at the Nore, and lay there during the whole of the following day. There were two clergymen on board, the Rev. Dr. WOOLLEY, Bishop of Sydney, and the Rev. Mr. DRAPER, and both of them took part in the usual Sunday services. At daybreak on Monday, the 1st of January, the anchor was weighed, and the ship steamed down Channel, still against a head wind, but making fair way. While passing outside the Isle of Wight the wind increased to half a gale, and Captain MARTIN deemed it prudent to put back and lay to for the night in St. Helen’s Roads. On the morning of the 2d inst. the London proceeded through the Needles into the open Channel, the wind being still ahead, but light. As the ship ran down Channel the wind rose and the sea increased, and a couple of hours after passing the Needles the wind blew a gale right ahead with a heavy sea rolling, which continued all the way to Plymouth, where the ship arrived about noon on Thursday, the 4th inst. A sad casualty occurred here. A pilot cutter put off a small boat, having on board the pilot and his assistant, to bring the London inside the breakwater. When the boat was about 100 yards from the London a sea capsized her, and both the pilot and his assistant were thrown into the water. Captain MARTIN instantly ordered one of his lifeboats to be lowered, and with great difficulty the assistant pilot was rescued, but the pilot was drowned. The London came to an anchorage inside the breakwater at 1 p.m. on the 4th inst., and during the afternoon took on board those of her first and second class passengers who had arranged to join the ship at Plymouth. At midnight on Friday she proceeded on her voyage, the weather being at this time calm, with a light wind ahead. She had full steam on during the whole of Saturday, and the voyage proceeded very satisfactorily until Sunday morning, when the wind increased, and a head sea gradually rose. During this day the London passed several ships, and nothing occurred to create the smallest uneasiness in the minds of any of the officers of the ship. During Sunday night the wind increased to a gale and the sea rose considerably. On the morning of Monday, the 8th inst., the ship was well clear of the land, and Captain MARTIN having ordered the engines to be stopped, set his topsails and so endeavoured to keep the ship moving slowly ahead. At noon on this day, the wind having somewhat lulled, the engines were again set in motion and kept steaming slowly ahead through the night. At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the 9th inst., while the captain was still endeavouring to keep the ship in her course by means of the screw, the violence of the gale carried away at one sweep the jibboom, the foretopmast, the topgallantmast, and the royals. These large spars were not wholly detached from the ship, but, hanging fast to the stays, swung to and fro with such violence that the crew were wholly unable to secure them. About two hours later the mainroyalmast was blown completely out of its socket and added to the general wreck. Captain MARTIN, who had not been in bed since the previous Sunday night, was not at all disheartened up to this moment; but, as the gale continued to increase during the morning, with a sea already running mountains high, the position of the ship was undoubtedly felt to be one of some peril. Still, as the wind had somewhat veered round, the engines were kept steaming easy ahead, and it is believed that at this moment no person on board felt anxiety for the ultimate safety of the ship. About 3 p.m. on Tuesday, however, a tremendous sea struck the ship and carried the port lifeboat clean away from the davits. All that evening and through the succeeding night the wind blew a very heavy gale and the sea ran very high, but the screw was still kept steaming easy ahead. At 3 a.m. on Wednesday, the 10th inst., Captain MARTIN sent for Mr. GREENHILL, the chief engineer, and informed him of his intention to put the ship about and run for Plymouth, and he desired that full speed should be got up directly. This was immediately done. In half an hour after the ship’s course had been altered, she was again struck by a tremendous sea, which carried away the starboard lifeboat, and the same sea stove in the starboard cutter. At noon on this day the ship’s position was lat. 46 48 N., 8 7 W. A very heavy cross sea was running, with the wind now dead astern of the ship, which caused her to roll heavily. But no danger was even now anticipated, and all through the evening on Wednesday, and long after midnight, the ship continued to steam slowly ahead, the captain and his officers remaining steadily at their posts, and the passengers appearing to have full reliance upon the skill of Captain MARTIN to bring them safely to port. At 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday, the ship still rolling deeply in a heavy cross sea, and the wind blowing a whole gale from the south-west, a mountain of water fell heavily over the waist of the ship, and spent its destructive force upon the main hatchway, over the engine-room, completely demolishing this massive structure, measuring 12ft. by 8ft., and flooding with tons of water this portion of the ship. Instant endeavours to repair the hatchway were made with a promptitude and vigour commensurate with the imminent crisis. Every spare sail that could be got at, and even blankets and mattresses from all parts of the ship, were thrown over the aperture, but each succeeding sea shipped by the vessel tore away the frail resource of the moment, and not more than ten minutes after the hatchway had been destroyed the water had risen above the furnaces and up to the waists of the engineers and firemen employed in this part of the ship. The lower decks were also now flooded with the rush of water the ship was continually taking in. The chief engineer remained at his post until the water had risen above his waist, when he went on deck and reported the fires were out, and his engines rendered useless. Captain MARTIN, with calm conviction, remarked that he was not surprised: on the contrary, he had expected such a result. Finding his noble ship at length little more than a log on the water, Captain MARTIN ordered his maintopsail to be set, in the hope of keeping her before the wind. This had scarcely been accomplished when the force of the wind tore the sail into ribands, with the exception of one corner, under which the ship lay to throughout the remainder of the night. The donkey engine was supplied with steam by a boiler upon deck, and all the deck pumps were kept going throughout the night, and the passengers of all classes, now aroused to a sense of their imminent danger, shared with the crew their arduous labours. Notwithstanding every effort the water still gained upon the pumps, and the gale continuing at its height, cross seas with tremendous force were constantly breaking over the vessel. The motion of the ship became low and heavy, and she refused to rise to the action of the waves. At a quarter after 4 o’clock on Thursday morning she was struck by a stern sea, which carried away four of her stern ports, and admitted a flood of water through the breach. From this time all efforts were useless, and at daybreak Captain MARTIN, whose cool intrepidity had never for a moment forsaken him, entered the cuddy where all classes of the passengers had now taken refuge, and responding to an universal appeal, calmly announced the cessation of all human hope. It is a remarkable fact that this solemn admission was as solemnly received – a resigned silence prevailing throughout the assembly, broken only at brief intervals by the well-timed and appropriate exhortations of the Rev. Mr. DRAPER, whose spiritual services had been incessant during the previous 24 hours. At 10 o’clock, the ship still rolling deeply, an attempt was made to launch the starboard pinnace, but a sea struck her just as she reached the water, and she sunk, leaving a crew of five men struggling for their lives. As the ship was lying-to three of them managed to scramble up the sides of the ship, and the other two were rescued by ropes being thrown to them. After this the exhausted crew appeared indifferent to their fate, and no further effort at launching the remaining boats was made until 1 o’clock, when, the water having reached the main chains and the ship evidently settling down, the port pinnace was got over the ship’s side. Even at this moment the sea was so heavy that those of the passengers who were within reach of the boat appeared to prefer the frail shelter of the sinking vessel to the obvious dangers of a small boat in a raging sea. At this crisis Captain MARTIN, always at hand, addressing Mr. GREENHILL, his chief engineer, under whose command this particular boat was rated, said, “There is not much chance for the boat; there is none for the ship. Your duty is done; mine is to remain here. Get in and take command of the few it will hold.” Thus prompted, Mr. GREENHILL, with his fellow engineers and some few others, numbering only 19 souls, among whom were only three second-class passengers, quitted the ship, with only a few biscuits in the shape of provisions, and not a drop of water. The pinnace had scarcely cleared the wake of the vessel, upon the poop of which upwards of 50 of the passengers were seen grouped, when a tremendous sea was seen to break over the doomed circle, who, when the ship rose slowly again, were dicovered to have been swept into the surging waters. Another moment and the vessel herself, settling down stern foremost, threw up her bows into the air and sank beneath the waves.

The pinnace having no sails on board could only keep afloat before the wind, and was repeatedly in danger of swamping. They had not been afloat two hours before they saw a full-rigged ship sail past them, but at too great a distance to hail. At 3 a.m. on Friday they sighted the sails of a brig, the crew of which overheard their shouts and bore towards them; but, failing to get into the track of the boat, after making several fruitless tacks, she bore away. At daybreak a full-rigged cutter was observed at some distance, and, hoisting a shirt upon an oar, they endeavoured, but in vain, to attract attention. Shortly afterwards the Italian bark Adrianople, Captain CAVASSA, bound with a cargo of wheat from Constantinople for Cork hove in sight, and the captain having observed the pinnace, immediately shortened sail, and lay to, preparing to take them on board. On reaching the ship, notwithstanding the stress of weather and straitened means for the support of so large an increase to his crew, Captain CAVASSA received the Englishmen with unbounded kindness and hospitality, supplying them with all that was necessary in their destitute condition. The exigencies of the gale had obliged Captain CAVASSA to sacrifice more than half his cargo, and during the four days’ run into Falmouth the weather carried away his rudder, and brought into useful requisition the services of his English passengers.

The foregoing details having been furnished to the reporter by Mr. GREENHILL, may be relied upon as strictly authentic, and the same remark applies to the annexed list of the passengers and crew of the ship: -


Commander, Mr. J. B. MARTIN;

Mr. Robert HARRIS, first officer;
Mr. Arthur TREEHURST, second officer;
Mr. A. C. ANGEL, third officer;
Mr. J. V. FAULE, surgeon;
George BATES, carpenter;
Richard MORLEY, sail-maker;
F. S. HUCKSTEPP, captain’s steward;
Francis HUCKSTEPP, steward;
Grace LOGAN, stewardess;
John MACKENZIE, chief cuddy servant;
John LYALL, second class steward;
William FOWLER, second cuddy servant;
James BENNETT, third cuddy servant;
Johns LEHBOND, captain’s servant;
Thomas HAM, captain’s cook;
Henry APPLETON, passengers’ cook;
James MURPHY, baker;
Robert GANNON, butcher;
Mr. John GREENHILL, chief engineer;
Mr. John JONES, second ditto;
Mr. John ARMOUR, third ditto;
John STADEN, boatswain;
D. T. SMITH, boatswain’s mate.

Able seamen: -

William DANIELS,
John KING,
Samuel BROWN,
Benjamin SHIELDS,
Edward QUIM,
Martin ARNOLD,
Auguste DITTMER,
James GOUGH,
Henrich BUTCHER,
Richard LEWIS,
and Andrew ANDERSEN;

Henry JONES, winch-driver.

Ordinary seamen: -

George CASE,
and William CURRIES.

Boys: -

Alfred WHITE
and Edward LOGAN.

Firemen: -

Thomas PURKIS,
Frederick HALFORD
Thomas BROWN,
and George CRACROFT.

Trimmers: -

George HOLMES,
George ROBSON,
and W. M. CLARK,

John F. HALE, fourth cuddy servant,
Alfred W. SMITH, fifth cuddy servant;
Morris M’KENZIE, sixth cuddy servant;
and John FUNNELL, ordinary servant.

The following who had signed articles deserted before the ship left Gravesend: -

Martin BROOKS,
Edward ALLEN,
and William JOHNSON;

and the following were shipped at Plymouth –

Edward THOMAS,
Charles ANSELL,
and Robert G. STEPHENS.



First Class. –

Rev. Mr. and Mrs. DRAPER
Mrs. OWEN and child,
Mr. and Mrs. George F. URQUHART,
Mr. and Mrs. John PATRICK,
Mr. and Mrs. G. VAUGHAN,
Mr. and Mrs. James ALDERSON,
Mr. and Mrs. Philip BENSON,
Mr. and Mrs. FENTON,
Mr. A. and T. R. FENTON,
Mr. G. M. SMITH,
Mr., Mrs., Master, and Miss CHAPMAN;
Mr. and Mrs. CLARK and Son,
Mr. and Mrs. BEVAN,
Mr. and Mrs. DEBENHAM,
Miss Laura MAUNDER,
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert AMOS,
Miss Catharine M’LACHLAN,
Rev. Mr. and Mrs. James KERR,
Miss Mary CUTTING,
Mrs. and Miss KING,
Mr. and Mrs. J. THOMAS and two children,
Mr. E. A. MARKS,
Mr. D. F. DE PASS,
Master W. D. BURRELL,

Second Class. –

Frederic STONE,
Annie WHITE,
Helen PRICE,
Mr. and Mrs. GRAHAM
Georgiana GRAHAM,
Charles GOUGH,
Allan BRACE,
George CROSS,
William DAY,
Mr. and Mrs. GIFFETT,
Elizabeth WOOD,
William CLAYSON,
Thomas WOOD,
Elizabeth WOOD,
Godfrey WOOD,
Bennett BERAN,
Henry DAVIS,
Thomas V. HAGAN,
Francis FRYER,
Ellen and Mary Ann MEGGS,
Elizabeth MARKS,
John, Jane, Elizabeth, Harry, Alfred, and Emily HICKMAN,
Archibald M’LEAN.

Third Class. –

Benjamin HAY,
Ellen JONES,
Selena and Alice SIMPSON,
John and Elizabeth HENSON,
Mr. and Mrs. William GRAHAM
George, Ann, and Maggie GRAHAM,
John, Elizabeth, Helen, George, and Henry SERCOMBE,
Mr. and Mrs. FLACK and four children;
Zabee MORRIS and Zabee BARNETT,
Thomas SKEGGS,
David and Elizabeth SMITH,
Samuel SPRING (boy),
James WALLS,
William BARROW;
Susan, Caroline, and Mary LAMPES,
Henry M’COVEY.

The Dr. WOOLLEY mentioned in the above list is, we understand, Bishop WOOLLEY, on his way to Sydney. Mr. G. V. BROOKE, the tragedian, is said to be among the passengers lost.


                                (From the Western News.)


It was 10 o’clock on the morning of that fatal Thursday that Captain MARTIN had the terrible task of making known to the 200 passengers that the ship was sinking, and that they must prepare for the worst. She was then as low in the water as the main chains. The whole of the passengers and crew gathered, as with one consent, in the chief saloon, and having been calmly told by Captain MARTIN that there was no hope left, a remarkable and unanimous spirit of resignation came over them at once. There was no screaming or shrieking by women or men, no rushing on deck, or frantic cries. All calmly resorted to the saloon, where the Rev. Mr. DRAPER, one of the passengers, prayed aloud, and exhorted the unhappy creatures by whom he was surrounded. Dismay was present to every heart, but disorder to none. Mothers were weeping sadly over the little ones about with them to be engulphed, and the children, ignorant of their coming death, were pitifully inquiring the cause of so much woe. Friends were taking leave of friends, as if preparing for a long journey; others were crouched down with Bibles in their hands, endeavouring to snatch consolation from passages long known or long neglected. Incredible, we are told, was the composure which, under such circumstances, reigned around. Captain MARTIN stationed himself in the poop, going occasionally forward or into the saloon; but to none could he offere a word of comfort by telling them that their safety was even probable. He joined now and then for a few moments in the public devotions, but his place to the last was on the deck. About 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the water gaining fast on the ship and no signs of the storm subsiding being apparent, a small band of men determined to trust themselves to the mercy of the waves in a boat rather than go down without a struggle. Leaving the saloon, therefore, they got out and lowered away the port cutter, into which 16 of the crew and three of the passengers succeeded in getting and in launching her clear of the ship. These 19 men shouted for the captain to come with them, but with that heroic courage which was his chief characteristic, he declined to go with them, saying, “No, I will go down with the passengers; but I wish you God speed and safe to land.” The boat then pulled away, tossing about helplessly on the crests of the gigantic waves. Scarcely had they gone 80 yards, or been five minutes off the deck, when the fine steamer went down stern foremost with her crowd of human beings, from whom one confused cry of helpless terror arose, and all was silent for ever.

After the pinnace had got away from the London, and in the brief interval before she foundered, a rush was seen to be made to the two remaining boats, but the efforts to launch them were ineffectual, and the suddenness of the foundering at last – the London being an iron ship – prevented what might have been a successful second attempt to save a few more lives.

Some hairbreadth escapes in connexion with the disaster are already known. A lady who was desirous of proceeding from Plymouth with her family to Melbourne by the London had made repeated pressing applications to the owners’ agents at Plymouth, and the captain had been consulted, but, fortunately for the applicant, had declared that his cabins were so full that he could not possibly accommodate her, a result that, at that time, caused her much disappointment. A second-class male passenger was so alarmed at the rough weather which the London encountered on her way down to Plymouth, that immediately on her arrival at that port he came ashore, resigned his passage, and went back to his home, thus unwittingly saving his life. A young man, as the result of some family quarrel, left his home and took a passage by the London. He was advertised for in The Times, and importuned to return, his friends being unaware of his whereabouts. Messengers were sent down to Plymouth, and an influential shipbroker in the town was employed to intercept him should he attempt to sail thence. Fortunately he was detected among the passengers of the London, and his family communicated with by the broker, the result of which was that a brother of the young man came down to Plymouth and persuaded the would-be emigrant to forego his voyage.

The following is the list of those saved: -

John GREENHILL, engineer;
John JONES, second engineer;
John ARMOUR, third engineer;
Thomas BROWN, fireman;
W. M. EDWARDS, midshipman;
D. T. SMITH, boatswain’s mate;
Wm. DANIELS, quartermaster;
John KING, A.B.;
Benjamin SHIELD, A.B.;
Richard LEWIS, A.B.;
James GOUGH, A.B.;
Edward QUIN, A.B.;
William CRIMES, O.S.;
A. G. WHITE, boatswain’s boy;
William HART, carpenter’s mate;
Edward GARDNER, second-class steward
D. G. MAIN, passenger;
John MUNRO, passenger;
J. E. WILSON, passenger.