Loss of the Zemira and suspected murder of the Pilot, 1858

Liverpool Mercury, Oct 11th, 1858

The Equinox Gales

The equinox gales which prevailed last week have been attended with much loss of life and property on different parts of the coast with great fury. The Italian barque Zemira, Captain Marco PATRONI from the Tyne bound for Leghorn was carried upon the Newcome Sand, off Lowestoft about noon on Thursday. The wind was blowing fearfully from the south south-west, with a very heavy sea, which soon broke the ship to pieces. Most of the crew succeeded in clinging to the fragments of the wreck and were taken off by the Pakefield lifeboat, after being tossed about in the sea for nearly four hours, but the captain, his mate and four semen, and a pilot who had come with the vessel from shields were drowned. The survivors were landed in a very exhausted condition.

On the Gunfleet Sand, a new brig called the George Robinson, FISHER master, from London, was lost, but the crew happily are reported saved. All along the north-east coast to far beyond the Tyne, similar weather was experienced and numerous casualties are announced at the various ports. Two vessels, the Mary Anne of Whitby, and the Ann of Shields, sank off the former port. Down channel the gale told with serious effect upon the coasters. The rain also fell in torrents. A sad catastrophe has occurred in Penzance Bay, owing to the heavy weather and the way the vessels were labouring, the crews of the Jules of London and the Hopewell of Goole, which were anchored in the bay, had to abandon them. They took to the boats, and unfortunately the crew of the Jules perished. The crew of the Hopewell succeeded in getting to shore.

Off Holywell the schooner John and Edward of Aberystwith, bound to Maldon, and the schooner Sarah Ann for Liverpool, were wrecked. In the Bristol Channel the storm is described to have been very severe, the gale raging terrifically about midnight.


Liverpool Mercury, Dec 18th, 1858

Suspected murder of a pilot

The body of a man which was washed ashore to the south of Ramsgate about a fortnight since has been recognised as the body of James HALCROW, a pilot of Shields, who was shipped on board the ill fated Zemira, totally lost on the Newcombe Sands on the 7th October last. The body when washed ashore, had on it several wounds, one of which is reported to be sufficient to have destroyed life. Several weights were also attached to the body for the purpose of sinking it. It is supposed that the vessel piloted by him had arrived in safety in the Downs, after a quick passage from Shields, and that for some reason or other the unfortunate pilot must have been cruelly assassinated, and his body after being loaded with stones, thrown into the sea.


The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet December 31, 1858


In early November the body of a man, apparently a North Sea Pilot was washed ashore at Westgate Bay, near Margate under circumstances that gave rise to the suspicion that he had been murdered, two bags of sand or ballast were made fast to the body, and he had been stabbed six or seven times. A pilot was missing at the time John HALCROW, of this port who left the Tyne on the 7th October in the Tuscan bark Zemira, which was wrecked five days afterwards on the Newcombe Sands, the mate and 7 of the crew were rescued by the Pakefield lifeboat according to their account the master, two crew and the pilot were drowned. On discovery of the body in Westgate Bay inquiries satisfactorily identified the body as that of HALCROW, his family recognised his clothing and various articles found in his pocket, but, as his watch which he wore when he left the Tyne was missing, the conclusion come by the authorities at Margate and North Shields was that he had been murdered by repeated stabs with a knife or dagger before the wreck of the vessel and the body was thrown overboard with the bags of ballast attached to sink it and conceal all evidence of the crime. The coroner's jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder" against some person or persons unknown, and measures were taken to bring back the survivors of the crew from Leghorn.

The mystery of the case was cleared up on Tuesday by one of the men employed by the Trinity Board on board the Prince's Channel light-ship moored off Herne Bay. This man Francis REEVES attended at the Thames Police Court, and stated that on the 4th ult, the body was seen floating by the light-ship, as it was impossible to take it on board their vessel so many miles from land, the master gave orders to fasten bags of ballast to the legs and to prick the body with boarding pikes in order to sink it. The body then floated away towards the "Deeps" and was seen no more by the light-ship crew.

The magistrate after hearing this said that REEVES had acted most properly in the matter and that if any person was taken into custody and charged before a justice of the peace a communication ought to be made to that justice. The statement he had made was an important one, and might save much trouble.


Daily News, Oct 21st 1858

Rewards for saving lives at sea

The Board of Trade has awarded the under-mentioned, forming the crew of the lifeboat stationed at Pakefield, for their gallantry in rescuing, on the 7th inst, during a terrific gale, 8 seamen out of a crew of 13 hands belonging to the Tuscan barque Zemira of Leghorn, wrecked on the south part of Newcombe Sands, off Pakefield, Nathaniel COLLEY, coxswain, silver medal, John WARFORD, Robert LEWIS, John LEWIS, William PEARCE, Charles PEARCE, William FULLER, George WARFORD, Charles MULLENDER, Henry COLLEY, Edward MULLENDER, Robert LINCOLN, Robert COLBY, George LEWIS, George WHITE, John PEEK, William CARR, Nathaniel COLLEY Jnr, William WEST, John CHAPMAN, James PEEK, William PIPE, and Robert ADAMS, a bronze medal each.


2010, all rights reserved / To date