Loss of the ESCAMBIA

Loss of the ESCAMBIA

Liverpool Journal, June 24th 1882




A cablegram received in Liverpool on Monday evening announces the loss of the Liverpool, iron screw steamer ESCAMBIA.

It appears that the ESCAMBIA was a vessel of 2,150 tons register, and left San Francisco for the United Kingdom or Continent, having a cargo principally of corn. It seems she had only got outside the Heads when she suddenly foundered. Indeed, she had left the bay only a short time when the disaster happened, being but 5 miles from the Heads. It was 7 in the evening when the vessel went down.

The owners say the vessel was under the command of Captain PURVIS who belonged to the East Coast and that at least one of the officers was a native of Liverpool. It seems that some, if not all of the firemen were Chinamen, but there was also a good number of Europeans amongst the crew.

The ESCAMBIA was built in Sunderland in 1879 and was classed 100A1.


American correspondent of the Times :-

The pilot who took out the foundered ESCAMBIA reports that the water in the ballast tanks had been pumped out in order to make the ship carry more cargo, and that the coal on deck was stowed as high as the bridge. While going down the harbour the ship rolled scuppers under, upon which her machinery stopped and she fell off into the trough of the sea. All on board are still believed to have been lost with the ship.


A cablegram received by the owners on Wednesday, from which, while it may be considered satisfactory after the melancholy news of Tuesday [when all on board where reported drowned], it still appears some 20 lives have been lost by the foundering of the steamer. Immediately intelligence was received by the owners they cabled their agents for all possible information of the disaster, and particularly for the names of those saved, if any. The reply being that four were saved, the captain, 3rd engineer, cook and steward. The cable mentions the cause of the disaster as the steamer having been struck broadside by a heavy sea in shoal water on the bar, which filled the decks and caused the vessel to founder. The vessel was literally engulphed by the gigantic breakers.

The owners gave a list of the officers, the list of the ordinary members of the crew had been no doubt, considerably altered from the old list, which for that reason would be no guide for those on board when the ESCAMBIA sank :-

Captain PURVIS

Stephen GEORGE, Chief Officer [belonging to Wales]

John SIMPSON, 2nd Officer of Liverpool

J. MEYLER, 3rd Officer of London

J. SHORROCK, Chief Engineer [this could be a missprint and should read James Sturrock]

P. WALKER, 2nd Engineer

P. D. WALKER, 3rd Engineer


George DASH, Steward

It is known that two of the original crew COLES and OLEON, Donkeyman and carpenter respectively, left the vessel at San Francisco. It is feared the ESCAMBIA had a passenger named O. DETCHON belonging to Shields who was having a complimentary trip from England and intended to go the round with the steamer.

The ESCAMBIA had a cargo of wheat when she foundered.

Reuterís telegram from San Francisco Wednesday :-

Messerís CROW, BOGART and RUDOFF, of 8b Rumford Place, received a cablegram from San Francisco in reply to the one on Wednesday.

It reads :-

ďMen saved were Capt PURVIS, Peter WALKER, 3rd Engineer, George DASH, Steward, John GEORGE, Cook. DETCHON and the rest, it is feared are lost.Ē

Liverpool Journal, December 2nd 1882


At the Wreck Commissionerís Court, Westminster, on Tuesday [before Mr H. C. ROTHERY, Wreck Commissioner, and two nautical assessors] the inquiry into the circumstances attending the loss of the Liverpool steamer ESCAMBIA, with 22 of her hands, owned by Messerís CROWE. DUNLOP and Co of Liverpool was concluded.

The ESCAMBIA built at Sunderland in 1879, by the Sunderland Ship Building Co, and was 2,154 tons gross. On the 22nd of June last she capsized having struck three heavy seas when crossing the bar of San Francisco, and the Naval Court there decided that the vessel was lost through the ordinary perils of the sea. The Board of Trade, not being satisfied , ordered the present inquiry. Mr M. JONES appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr BARNES for the master of the vessel and Capt PURVIS, and Mr KENNEDY for the owner of the cargo.

The Wreck Commissioner, in giving the decision of the court, showed the ESCAMBIA was on a voyage with a cargo grain from San Francisco to Cape Verde when she capsized. The court was of the opinion that she was deeply laden when she left the port, and the Captain was to blame for taking the vessel to sea under that condition. He ought to have put back into the harbour, especially as the vessel had a list to the port side. The court was in the opinion that, taking all the circumstances into consideration, the Captain acted, simply through lack of judgement, and, seeing that he made every effort to save life after the vessel capsized, the court would not deal with his certificate.

Copyright 2002 / To date