Liverpool Mercury Oct 15th 1847

Supposed loss of an English vessel

A letter from Bremen, of the 4th inst, states that a bottle has been picked up on the shore near Wongerus containing a slip of paper on which was written the following words :-

“On the 8th August 1847, on board the SCOTTISH MAID of Newcastle-on-Tyne, coming from Boulogne. For the last day or two the weather has been stormy, wind W.S.W, Monday, half-past five in the afternoon. Good God! We are going down. May God-----” the rest was illegible.


Aug 24th 1854

Bottle washed ashore

Singular communication

On Monday a bottle was picked up at low water by George ROCKLIFFE containing a piece of paper of which was written in pencil in a clear and legible hand the following :-

“Off the Isle of Man, August 15, 1854 - Dear Mother, Unhappy circumstances compel me to end my miserable existence. God forgive me for my sin - G. H. HARDING.”

The above is crossed with the words “Mr Harding, Bath, Somerset.”

Whether this be a hoax or genuine we give the fact of its discovery for what it is worth.


Liverpool Mercury, July 9th 1864


ILFRACOMBE, JULY 6th.... A bottle was picked up at sea this morning, containing a paper on which the following was written in pencil :- “The OCEAN QUEEN, G. ARMSTRONG Master, has been sunk off Bermuda February 4th, 1864. All hands with the exception of two, James DADDS and John WILLIAMS, who were drowned are in the boats. She sailed from Liverpool December 11th, 1863, and the owners are Messers JOHNSON and LAKE, Liverpool, G. ARMSTRONG, Master.”


May 6th 1870

Message in a bottle


Receiver of Wreck-office, Custom House, Liverpool, May 6th,

A paper was this day picked up at Waterloo, in a stone bottle, purporting to relate to the City of Boston, as follows;-

“S.S. City of Boston, Feb 4th, 1870.

“The City of Boston is fast settling. We have lost 4 men overboard, 3 have died. We …. in great danger of our preservation. The ship is on fire, and hurrying all the passengers to the bows. We have had to come on under canvas. Our propeller is broken, and we are now at the entire mercy of the waves. God help us, I ham hon my bare feet hand ave been all the weak.

“Sig …..Hough

“J. Hon.


“Whoever finds this bottle will do a great kindness in forwarding I ….W. Inman, Water St, Liverpool, England. We have . . . 4 vessels, but . . . Id nor . . . Then . . . Us.”

This was enclosed in another paper which was written :-

“City of Boston is sinking, W. Inman, WATER St, Liverpool, England.”

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

A. W. COULSON, Assistant-Receiver of Wreck.

We are informed the names signed do not appear on the articles of agreement with the crew. If, therefore, the paper is not a hoax it must be signed by passengers.



Saturday, Jan 20th, 1877.


The Eastern Morning News of today [Tuesday] published a letter from Charles and C. WELLS, owners of the steamship WELLS, and the following letter which was picked up in a bottle washed up ashore near Lyhster, on the night of the 12th, inst, Dec 21 st 1876

My dear Wife and son,

We are lain in the North Sea, about 100 miles from the Holman, with our main mast stove in and gang ways gone. The sea is fearful. It is washing in and out of the main hatchway, and washing the linseed out of the hold. It happened at 4 am this morning.

My Dear we have the boat swung already for lowering, but we dare not for the sea. There is no water in the after hold, and the engines are going ahead to pump the water out of the boat. I am afraid it is to no purpose. I don’t think we shall live the night out. Pray to God, forgive our sins for we have many, My dear Wife and son it is a painful thing to write to you both, to say I expect every moment to be my last. The ship was too deep down. Plimsoll’s mark. Ships ought not to be allowed to load so deep. Good day, God bless you both, and I hope he will protect you. Tell JOHN to be a good boy, and keep honest and sober.

John COOK, Chief Mate, SS. WELLS of Hull, 130 days from Hull, Kind love to all.

Messers WELLS stated that the vessel had a cargo of fully 23 tons, less than her usual cargo since the plimsoll mark was affixed to her side, that the WELLS was worth, £17.000, and they are insured for £12.000. The freight, about £1.000, was uninsured, The cargo consisted of linseed and flax, and was consigned to Mr Fred B. GROTRIAN of Hull and worth £17.000. She left Memel on the 17th Dec and passed Elsinore on the 19th .


The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, November 23, 1872

A message from the sea, North Sunderland, Nov 15th, -- Telegram, "Message in a bottle washed ashore, Steamship City of London, November 7th, cabin full of water, gale wind SW, heavy sea, three horses, 187 sheep, report if picked up."


Manchester Times, January 9th 1891

Bottle messages

It has for centuries been the practise of those who go down to the sea in ships to throw overboard, corked up bottles containing written statements for identification, in order to test the direction of the drift of ocean currents, or in the fond hope that friends in the old homesteads should hear from their wanderers on the trackless main, if perchance these fragile messengers be cast upon a frequented sea coast.

More scientific attempts have recently been made to derive precise information by these means, and Prince Albert of Monaco has done much to improve our knowledge of the circulation of the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Glass bottle, hollow copper spheres and oaken barrels, were all employed by him as sea letter carriers. The United States Hydrographic Department has instituted a similarly accurate but less costly system, which is attended with excellent results. Very few of the innumerable bottles containing messages that are thrown into the sea fulfil the expectations of their senders.

The United States Arctic Discovery Ship, Jeanette, better known as Pandora of Sir Allen Young, from whom she was purchased, was crushed by the ice in 77 degrees north latitude, 155 degrees east longitude, and was perforce abandoned by her gallant crew, but few of whom survived the subsequent sufferings to which they were exposed by the inclemency of the weather. Her commander Lieut De Long, U.S.N, before leaving her to lead the retreat in which he perished, carefully sewed up a record of the events of the voyage within a piece of black India rubber, placed the package in an empty boat water-cask and entrusted it to the mercy of the waves in the hope that, should all the devoted band perish, their fate should not be shrouded in uncertainty. The cask messenger was faithless to its trust. Several articles which had belonged to the ship were found near Julianshaab on the Greenland coast in June 1884, three years after her loss. It is supposed they had drifted thither on a mass of ice by way of the North Pole. In consequence of this message from the sea, Dr Nansen, the Arctic explorer, proposes to make another attempt to penetrate the icy fastnesses of the Arctic regions.

Clement Wragge, the Ben Nevis meteorologist, threw overboard 150 well corked bottle messengers during the passage from Australia to England in 1878. Only six of them were heard of afterwards. One was picked up in the entrance of Mobile Bay, after having made a circuit of 5,500 miles in 2 yrs. It had drifted from, 37 degrees north latitude, 38 degrees west longitude, through the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf of Mexico.

A bottle message from the ship Dunmore despatched when she was in 27 degrees north latitude, 26 degrees west longitude, on the north east verge of the Sargasso Sea, reached Cuba, a distance of 3,200 miles in 437 days.

The United States, surveying ship Washington sent a bottle adrift in 73 degrees north latitude, 69 degrees west longitude, on July 31st 1846. The paper it contained bore the following words, “ Any person finding this will please notice the date and position through the papers, as a means of ascertaining the course of the current.” It was picked up 11 mths later between Puffin Islands and the Skilligs.

One of the most remarkable messages from the sea on record was that sent in a bottle from the burning East Indiaman Kent, by Major [afterwards Lieut-General] McGregor. It had been hastily written in pencil on a scrap of paper addressed to Mr John McGregor, Commercial Bank, Edinburgh, and put into a bottle, which was corked, sealed, and committed to the deep, with but faint hope that it would reach its destination. This took place on March 1st 1825, in 48 degrees north latitude, 10 degrees west longitude, and, strange to say, the bottle was picked up by a person bathing on the shores of Barbadoes on Sept 30th 1826. The paper itself when returned to the writer was slightly stained, but still legible. Had every soul on board the Kent perished, the scrap of paper would have explained their sad fate by fire or water. The memorable message was worded as follows:-

“The Ship, the Kent, Indiaman, is on fire, Elizabeth, Johanna, and myself commit our spirits into the hands of our blessed Redeemer. His grace enables me to be quite composed in the awful prospect of entering eternity. - D. W. N. MCGREGOR, March 1st 1825, Bay of Biscay.”

The ill-fated Kent lay burning briskly at this time, and an awful death seemed imminent, for the vessel that eventually rescued crew and passengers had not yet hove in sight, so that cold words of prose would fail to do justice to the fortitude of Major McGregor.

Chambers Journal.


Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, September 15, 1895

A long drift

A bottle message which was found on Aug 9th at Hirtshale Denmark, has just been recieved by the Customs authorities at Lerwick. It reveals the remarkable fact that the bottle had drifted about the North Atlantic for the long period of two years. The message, which was written by a Shetland passenger on board the Beaver liner, Lake Ontario, was set adrift simply from curiosity to see where it would be found. It was despatched on Aug 31st, 1893, in lat 54.10 north, long 45,43 west, the distance run from Liverpool being 1,508 miles. Hirtshale Denmark lies in lat 57,35 north, long 9,57 east. The bottle had taken 2yrs to travel a distance of about 2,000 miles.


Liverpool Mercury, May 20th 1899

A letter from Andree

Discovery of bottle message

At last, if we can trust the news published by the “Chronicle” there is to be definite news on Andree. A bottle with a message from the aeronaut has been found on the coast of Iceland in ice recently drifted from the Pole.

The bottle was picked up on the ice near Rif in the early part of April by a farmer named Johann Magnusson who was hunting for seals on the great floes drift ice which frequently surround the coast of Iceland.

Breaking the bottle he found the letter addressed to the Swedish Polar Expedition as follows :-

“Polar-expedition, I Goteborg Sverige.”

The letter was stamped with Andree’s official stamp, and the envelope bore a request for the finder to post it to the nearest postoffice. The farmer handed the letter to Mr Sveinn Einarsson, a merchant living at Raufarhofn asking him to post it. Mr Einarsson, endeavoured to send it by the steamer Egil, but found she could not call owing to the ice floes. He then sent it on May 6th by the Viking a trading vessel belonging to Mr Thor E. Tulinius, of Copehagen. The vessel left Iceland with general cargo, called at Granton, nr Edinburgh on Tuesday night, and on Thursday sailed for Copenhagen, where the letter will be posted or delivered as directed.

The further developments which may be expected are eagerly awaited.


Message in a bottle.

Liverpool Mercury March 21st, 1908

At the beginning of last year the Liverpool barque MAELGWYN while on a voyage from Pisco, West Coast of South America for Australia, in ballast, was dismasted during a gale in the South Pacific. While the vessel was lying on her beam ends and the crew feared she would founder, one of the sailors place “a last message” in a bottle and cast it over.

Fortunately the crew were rescued and landed at Lord Howe Island, whence they were conveyed to Sidney, where they joined a mail steamer for England. It now appears that the bottle message has been picked up a few miles from Clarence heads on the New South Wales coast.

It was written in pencil as follows:-

“Sunday January 21st, 1907, Barque MAELGWYN adrift, dismasted South Pacific Ocean. We had a gale of wind Saturday morning. Ballast shifted. W had to cut away mast. Ship on her beam ends. We have decided to get ashore on Lord Howe Island. Lord have mercy on us – H. R. 8 Bethel Place, Bangor, North Wales.”

The MAELGWYN was owned by, Messers Robert THOMAS and Co, 26 Chapel St. Liverpool.



Messers Vogt and Maguire 29 and 31 South Castle St We have recieved the following information. Found off the coast of Jarderen South West Norway, written in pencil on an envelope and found in a bottle sealed with a cork Ship sinking, Remember to Mother and Dad Albert and J. Symonds Liverpool. Can be seen at above address.


Liverpool Mercury Mar 9th, 1913

Message from the sea after 8yrs

A remarkable and pathetic sequel to the loss of the steamer NUTFIELD nearly 9 yrs ago, with all hands, was disclosed at South Shields.

The NUTFIELD left for a Mediterranean voyage and was never heard of again. It was supposed she was lost in the Bay of Biscay.

The crew included two Shields men, J. SLATER and W. HOWARD, a farewell letter written jointly was received by Howard’s wife on Saturday, having been found in a sealed bottle on the Kent coast of the Thames by Mr George JOHNSON of Cliffe, Rochester.

The letter contained two messages on each side of the paper.


Dec 1904

Dear wife and children – All the time I am writing this I am going to my doom. I hope you will look after the children, and Willie will be a good lad to you. – [signed] W. HOWARD

A series of crosses representing kisses followed, post script read –

“Best love to all, let mother and father know”

SLATER wrote :-

To whoever picks this up please make it known our ship is doomed. We have a heavy deck load, and are looking for every minute to be our last.

Goodbye to all

[signed] A. SLATER

On a fly leaf was written, “We are in the English Channel.”

Copyright 2002 / To date