Loss of the T. E. LEMON, 1873

Liverpool Mercury, Aug 30th 1873

The recent gale

Wreck of a Liverpool vessel and loss of life.

The gale on Thursday night did not pass off without at least one serious disaster at the entrance of the Mersey. About noon on Thursday the full-rigged, ship T. E. LEMON, belonging to Messers Lemon and Company of this port, sailed from the Mersey in ballast, bound for Sapelo, in tow of the steam-tug Knight of the Cross. The T. E. LEMON which was a vessel of 1090 tons burthen, was built at St John's Newfoundland, in 1860 and was of the following dimensions, length 174ft 3inches, breadth 37ft, depth 23ft. She was in command of Captain C. W. REID and had a crew of 21 hands all told, but there were also on board two friends of the captain, and four stowaways making in all 27 persons. Early on Thursday afternoon the barometer suddenly fell and gave indications of an approaching gale, which raged with great fury through the whole of Thursday night. The T. E. LEMON which was in charge of Robert SILCOCK, pilot, slowly proceeded down the river in the face of a strong north-westerly wind, and had reached some distance beyond the Bell Buoy, when the hawser which was used for towing the vessel gave way. It is alleged that the steam-tug then went away and the captain of the vessel then ordered the sails to be set, with the view of proceeding to sea. At this time the wind had increased to a full gale, and, though every effort was made by tacking to take the ship out to sea, no progress was made, and it was determined to wait for the flood tide to enable the ship to put back. Soon after 9pm a tremendous sea struck the vessel, carrying away the rudder gear and depriving the crew of all means of steering the ship. The men on board however, manfully struggled against their difficulties, and endeavoured to steer the vessel by means of the sails, but soon afterwards she struck on the Jordan flats, and continued thumping on the sands till the flood tide was strong enough to float her. This was accomplished about 1.30am, when the ship drifted near the Crosby lightship, and her starboard anchor, with 75 fathoms of chain attached, was thrown out by the crew. Finding that there was no possibility of saving the vessel, blue lights were burned and rockets were fired by order of the captain, in the hope that some of the steam tugs usually plying in that direction might be attracted to the spot.

The signals were seen by the master of the steam tug, Hero, who without delay reported the matter to Mr MORGAN, second master of the Prince's Landing-stage, who was on duty at the time, and that gentleman without delay took steps to forward the lifeboat to the scene of the disaster. The men were mustered as quickly as possible, and the No2 boat in charge of James MARTIN, who only recently assisted in the gallant rescue of the crew of the ship DUNMAIL, proceeded on its errand of mercy. The crew of the boat consisted of J. MARTIN master, J. ELLISON, J. SMITH, J. GREEN, G. LEE, D. MATTHEWS, H. MARTINDALE, J. FLEMING, J. CARTER, J. CAUGLINE and R. SMITH, a stageman, No 9, belonging to the Prince's Stage. Before the lifeboat arrived it became apparent that nothing could keep the vessel afloat, as she was then more than half full of water, and the captain accordingly took steps to leave the ship. The gig was lowered and the captain ordered some of the crew to enter it, but in consequence of the heavy sea that was running they hesitated to obey, eventually, however six of the crew and the pilot entered the boat and were picked up by a steamtug, but the gig was smashed to atoms. The tug then attempted to rescue the other members of the crew from the vessel, which was rapidly filling, but finding it impossible to get near enough to the ship to open any communication with the crew, the steamtug proceeded to New Brighton to obtain the aid of the lifeboat at that station, the parties on board being ignorant of the news of the wreck having reached the persons in charge of the Liverpool life boat.

As soon as the vessel struck, no fewer than four stowaways, who had secreted themselves on board, left their hiding places, and efforts were made to save them in common with the other persons, notwithstanding the questionable character of their appearance on board. When the lifeboat from New Brighton arrived, the vessel had sunk, but the Liverpool lifeboat was fortunate enough to rescue no fewer than 13 persons, who but for the timely help might have met a watery grave.

The following is a list of the persons saved by the lifeboat :-

C. W. REID, master, John MORGAN, mate, William WHITE, carpenter, Henry TUDOR, passenger, Frank LYONS, Samuel WILSON, George DEMETRIUS, Theodorus DOLCE, Henry BATHS, seamen, Pat MURPHY and William ROMENY, stowaways.

Before the arrival of any assistance the ship's longboat left the vessel with several persons on board, and it was feared they had all perished, but, intelligence was received yesterday afternoon that the boat after being knocked about all night had reached the shore at Altcar, with one person alive and intelligence that three others had drowned. The man saved was in a most exhausted condition from exposure, but stimulants having been given he was soon able to give an account of the sad casualty that had occurred.

The following is a list of those saved in the captain's gig :-

W. J. MAXWELL, 2nd mate, John SILCOAT, pilot, William GOFF, master rigger, James ARNETS, cook, Harry ULRICHS and Charles UTECH, seamen, Peter CARLIN, stowaway.

At present it is impossible to say who are the persons drowned, but they are supposed to be the steward, the boatswain and one or two of the stowaways.

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Liverpool Mercury, Sept 2nd, 1873

The wreck of the T. E. LEMON

Recovery of four bodies

Yesterday Mr DRIFFIELD, county coroner, held an inquest at the Blundell Sands Hotel on the bodies of Charles LLOYD, John O'BRIEN and Carl BUNK, and a fourth man, name unknown, who were drowned in connection with the wreck of the ship T. E. LEMON, which took place in the channel on Friday last. The body of Mr LLOYD was the only one lying at the Blundell Sands Hotel , the others having been deposited at the Hightown Hotel, but for convenience the investigation took place at Blundell Sands.

James NORRIS of Great Crosby, labourer, spoke to the discovery of the body of Charles LLOYD, about 1 o' clock on Friday near to the entrance of the Alt. Robert AINDOW, of Formby, labourer, said he was on the beach off Little Crosby, just before daylight on Friday, when he found a quantity of wreck washed ashore. He did not then know that any vessel had been lost. Soon afterwards he saw the heads of two men in the water, and waded in and took off one of the men, who was clinging to the keel of a boat bottom upwards. Seeing a man on the shore, he ran to secure his assistance, and on witnesses return, he found that the second man had relaxed his hold of the boat and had sunk. AINDOW, who had put his hat and coat on the first man as soon as he drew him ashore, then recovered the second body and laid it upon the shore whilst he went and obtained stimulants for the first man. He then did not know that the leg of the second man was broken.

Coroner, "Why did you not go in and get the second man out at once ?"

Witness said he could not do so, for the man could not walk, and he could not get him off alone. If he had neglected the first man, he might have perished from cold or starvation.

Coroner, "You saved one life, and that is no mean thing to say, but, you might have saved two if you had rescued the other man first, or gone in for him immediately you had saved the first man. I have no doubt you did what you thought best at the time."

Witness continued, "The man first rescued was taken to one of the rifle butts, and some brandy having been given to him he recovered, his name was William MACARTNEY."

Mr George LLOYD, tailor and draper, of 21 Ranelagh St, identified one of the bodies as that of his brother, who joined the ship as a sailmaker.

Carson William REID, of Liverpool, the master of the ship T. E. LEMON, which was a full-rigged sailing vessel, belonging to ROBBINS and Co, of Warwick, said this was his first voyage on board the ship, which was in ballast for Sapelo. He joined the vessel 19 days sine. The ship left the Mersey on Thursday morning last, in tow of the steamer Knight of the Cross, the wind blowing S.E, in the river, and varied to N.E, then to N. W, at the bar.

Robert SILCOCK, pilot, of No 10, had charge of the ship. About 5.30 when about 4 miles from the North-west Lightship, the gale which commenced about 5am, increased fearfully, and the hawser which connected the ship with the steamtug parted. Witness called to the captain of the steamer for the hawser of the tug, and he replied, [as well as I could make out] "Mine is on shore" Witness then said, "Don't leave us on a lea shore, come and take the other end of our hawser" to which no reply was made, and then the steamtug went away.

Coroner, "Did he go quite away?"

Witness, "He went away and left us to the mercy of the waves."

Captain REID then detailed the measures he took for some time to try to save the ship, and to keep her off the beach till the flood tide would enable them to return to Liverpool As the ship wore to the last time at 9.40pm, she struck on the Zebra Flat and after striking for half an hour, the steering gear was broken and they were unable to steer her, the ship continued to strike and signals of distress were burnt, which were answered by the Crosby Lightship. After thumping for several hours the rudder was sanded up so that it could not be moved. At that time the vessel was full of water up to her tween deck beams, with a heavy list aport. About 2am the ship suddenly floated, and as there was a danger of running down the lightship, the anchor was thrown out, and run out all the chain which was on the deck, that was done by order of the pilot. This brought the ship's head round so that she cleared the lightship, and as she was filling fast and the wind was blowing furiously, the captain ordered the gig, which was aft, two be launched and 7 persons got into it. Meantime the steamer GREAT CONQUEST came up and took the men on board, but the boat was smashed in the operation. More men were ordered into the boat, but they were paralysed and would not go. A second attempt was ineffectually made to launch the longboat, and the men then clung together on the poop. Attempts were made to open a communication between the ship and the GREAT CONQUEST, but they failed, and then the GREAT CONQUEST started for the purpose of securing the services of the New Brighton lifeboat. By his direction the mainmast was cut away, and this acted as a breakwater on the leeside of the ship, and kept the ship an hour longer above water than it otherwise would have done. When the ship sank the men went up into the rigging, and those who were saved were taken out of the mizentop rigging, he saw two washed into the sea from the crossjack yard and drowned, but he knew nothing as to how the longboat got afloat. He was once washed away but recovered his position. In about three-quarters of an hour a tug appeared with the Liverpool lifeboat in tow in charge of Master MARTIN. Daylight was then breaking, and after extraordinary efforts all the men were taken off the rigging, and a Mr TUDOR, who was on board, and could not drop into the lifeboat from gaff jumped into the sea, and was hauled by a line on board the steamer. The New Brighton lifeboat came up about an hour afterwards, and the steamer GREAT CONQUEST was sent in search of the longboat. The danger signals were burning for about 6 hours before any assistance was rendered. All the deceased belong to the ship, but he knew the names of only LLOYD and BUNK. He did not know that there were any stowaways on board till they appeared on the poop, when he ordered one of them to assist in getting the boat out. The crew was 22 in number, 4 stowaways, and 3 others were on board making 29 hands. Of these 9 are missing including the steward, who was in the cabin handing up paraffin to supply the signals of distress. O'DONOUGHUE, an able seaman, and the boatswain Alphens CHICKENBURY, an American. During the delivery of the latter part of his evidence the captain was quite overcome and wept copiously.

In reply to the coroner, the captain said that it was not usual to tow with more than one hawser. On this occasion he verbally agreed with the steamtug company that if the ship's hawser broke he was to have the use of the steamer's hawser at tariff rates. He could only account for the steamer going away on the supposition that it was shipping water and the crew were afraid of their lives. Mr LLOYD must have been washed from the crossjack yards, and the others lost from the longboat. The lightship answered their signals of distress by burning blue lights, but did not fire any rockets. He had been told that the Liverpool lifeboats had been forwarded in consequence of information given by the steamtug HERO, but he did not see that tug.

In answer to the foreman, Captain REID, said that if the steamtug had given him its hawser, it would have enabled him to keep the ship's head to the wind till there was tide enough to get her over the bar, when he would have returned to Liverpool, as he had agreed with the pilot to do if the tow rope held together.

William MACARTNEY, of Peel St, Liverpool, a sailor, one of the stowaways on the ship said, there was three other stowaways besides himself, his object being to get an engagement in America, as he could not get one here. The stowaways were in the hold, but, they came on deck when the ship struck. The witness then detailed the circumstances of the wreck previously deposed by Captain REID, and that whilst he was in the rigging, the longboat, which had been on the forepart of the deck, floated past and five of them jumped into her. It was soon capsized and all of them got upon the keel, but, one man was washed off and drowned, and soon afterwards the second and third men fell off. O'BRIEN and witness clung to the boat and were washed ashore at about 5 o' clock. O'BRIEN had one of his legs broken. The other stowaways were all saved.

William BARROW, 62 Pitt St, dock gateman, identified the body of O'BRIEN, he having lodged with witness before he went on board the T. E. LEMON, Michael O'DONOUGHUE, who is missing also lodged with him.

This being all the evidence, the coroner said if the jury wished, and could see any object in doing so he would carry the inquiry further, but he did not see any purpose to be accomplished except to the steamer leaving the ship, which seems to be to a great extent the means of this ship being lost, but the crew of the steamer might give their own account of the occurrence, and no doubt would do so, and it might then be shown that the loss of the ship was in consequence of the tow rope breaking, and the steamer being compelled to leave the ship. With regard to the conduct of the crew of the steamer leaving the ship, it struck him as being a hard case to leave the vessel in the plight it was in, and not even to stay by for a short time to see how the crew of the ship got on. He did not like the look of it but would not say much about it, for it would be a matter of inquiry before a court legally authorised. The jury could enter into the consideration if they saw any possibility of arriving at the conclusion that the death of these men was attributable to the steamer leaving the ship, but that they could not legally show, for a number of circumstances occurred after the steamer left the ship, and a chapter of accidents ensued before the deceased met with their end. One man was washed from the rigging, and four others left the vessel in the longboat, thinking they were more likely to save their lives than by remaining, but in that they were mistaken. With regard to the two men who were washed ashore clinging to the boat, it was to be regretted that the man AINDOW did not first save O'BRIEN, who was suffering from a broken leg, and evidently exhausted, but he did not like to blame the poor man who did what he thought under the circumstances was best.

The jury considered that no object would be gained from an adjournment of the inquiry, as the conduct of the crew of the steamer would no doubt be investigated at the Board of Trade inquiry, and they therefore returned a verdict of "Accidental death."

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Liverpool Mercury, Sept 2nd, 1873

Death

LLOYD, Aug 20th, drowned from the T. E. LEMON, hence for Sapelo, Charles LLOYD, aged 46.

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