Another Blackwaller of 1847, Green's Sutlcj, was
one ofthe four ships lost under the well-known house-flag.
She w^as destroyed by fire in January, 1850, when she
was about to leave Calcutta, homeward bound, with a
cargo of saltpetre and jute. The jute became ignited
by spontaneous combustion, and after smouldering all
night burst into flames in the morning when the luitches
were opened. Loud explosions took place as soon as
the fire reached the saltpetre in the hold ; and these so
terrified the crew that most of them jumped overboard,
five being drowned.
The "Blenheim" in a Cyclone.
Marlborough's sister ship the Blenheim was very
nearly lost in a cyclone in 1867, and was so strained
and damaged that she had a very big repair bill.
The following account was given to the late Captain
Whall by one of her officers, and is so interesting and
curious that I have taken the libertv of quoting it in
Vv^e had discharged part of our cargo at Madras and were bound to
Calcutta ! but, on the passage up, wc ran into a hurricane, which
BLENHEIM IN A CYa.ONE 171
finished the career of the good old Blenheim, though she reached Calcutta
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
in safety. In brief, it came on vrorse and worse, till, in the height of the
storm, she suddenly went on her beam ends. This was her position:
passengers all down below paralysed with fear. Captain— well— he
lost his nerve— and there we were without a leader. It seemed to be
only a question of minutes ere she foundered with all hands. I was
only a young officer and scarcely realised our position : these terrific
storms beat all sense and feeling out of one. Well, I came across the
boatswain, with whom I had been very friendly on the voyage.
" Look here, Mr. Murdoch," (I withhold his real name), he roared in
my ear, for that is the only way 3'ou can speak to anyone in the
height of a hurricane. " Them h'officers is all dazed. Come along
o" me and we'll save her yet."
" All right." I cried in answer, recovering my senses now I had got
He scrambled along, I following, till he reached the carpenter's
berth. It was tenantless. He groped about and presently cried,
" Here! catch a hold! " and I found an axe in my fist. " Now, follow!"
Again we scrambled aft through the howl and scurry of the storm.
At the gangway, abreast of the mainmast, he stopped and began to
climb out on to the ship's upper side through one of the gunports. Now
I knew what we were going to do — cut away the masts— and without
orders! We clambered out on to the channels.
" Now. sir." he yelled in my ear. " hack away! " We hacked ; but
it was awful work out there, with the flying spray and rain beating on us
like whips, and the screaming hurricane almost hurling us from our
hand-clutch, whilst the great hull beneath us rolled and wallowed in the
In about ten minutes we had got five of the lanyards cut. Suddenly
he held my arm. " Look out ! " he cried, " Mind when she rights ! "
And all in a moment the black snakes of rigging seemed to be drawn up
swiftly into the dark heavens — silently, for no sound could be heard of
cracking ropes, of ripping decks or breaking masts — all was drowned in
the one horrible roar of the storm: but, instantly the ship's great spars,
rigging and all, vanished. Slowly she began to right herself.
" Come on," cried the bosun, and we crept inboard again. " We
must take these axes back and no questions will be asked."
Once more we regained the carpenter's berth. He dragged the
door to, which shut out some of the din, and, in a comparative silence,
he said in my ear: " Now, sir, never you say a word to anyone about
what we've done ! The old packet's a proper wreck now; the whole
three sticks are gone. Mind you ! No one gave the order and if we was
found out there'd be the devil to pay, so keep quiet."
Weil, it saved the ship. Had she not been relieved of her spars,
172 THE BLACKVVALL FRIGATES
she would soon have foundered ; as it was, wlien morning broke and the
hurricane had ceased, we found that she had 12 feet of water in the hold :
and she still lay over with her lee scuppers in the water, and no wonder,
for 900 tons of railway bars in the hold had gone over to one side ;
that alone would have destroyed a less strongly built ship.
As the storm decreased, the crew began to wake up. The captain
remarked that it was a good job the masts had blown out of her and
that it had saved the ship. (Bosun and I said nothing— indeed, this
is the first time anyone else has heard of the affair.)
We rigged jury masts and got to port. Later on a tug came and
towed us to Calcutta, where crowds came to see the wreck, the Governor-
General amongst others.
T. & W. Smith sold the Blenheim in 1874, tlioiigh
she was still as tight as the day she was launched.
She eventually became a coal hulk at the Nicobars.
Dress on the "Trafalgar."
The style of a ship depends entirely upon her
commander. The Blackwallers, following in the wake
of the lordly East Indiamen of the Hon. John Company,
were no whit behind them in their grand ways of carrying
on. "Blackwall fashion"' was a recognised term for
this grand manner.
Most of the captains were exceedingly particular
with regard to the dress of their oHieers. A certain
captain of the Trafalgar was one of the few sailormen
who wore an eyeglass. He was a tall, thin aristocrat,
a prime sailor and seicntihc navigator, and with all a
very strict disciplinarian. As for dress, his steward
was sent to inform the midshipmen's berth every
morning as to what dress they should wear for the day,
whether blues or whites.
The following amusing anecdote of this man is told
by W. I. Downie in his Reminiscences of a Blaclavall
Midshipman : —
I had only two cloth caps with the badge and band on them, but
had three or four more naval caps without the glittermg adornments, and
DRESS ON THE TRAFALGAR 173
nnfortunately, before I had been a month at sea, I lost the two former
overboard. Consequently, one morning, at eight bells, I was obliged to
go on deck in a phiin cap to keep my watch. I noticed the skipper
looked very hard at me, but put it down to his short-sightedness. At
last, however, after screwing his eyeglass into his eye, he came over to
leeward and said: —
" Are you ashamed of the Service, sir ? "
" No, sir," I replied; " certainly not."
" Well then, why have you not the company's flag on your cap ? "*
I told him both my badges were overboard.
" Then, sir," he said, " go down on the main deck, and keep your
watch there ; I cannot have half-dressed officers on the poop of this
With rueful steps, I descended the poop ladder, and, poor little
wretch that I was, I thought I should sink under the disgrace. For a
quarter of an hour I walked dismally up and down the stretch of deck,
between the cuddy awning and the mainmast, feeling very sick. At the
expiration of that time, the captain's steward came to me, and, holding
out a small parcel, said, "The captain's comphments, sir; and will
you please place this badge and band on your cap. You can then
resume your duties on the poop. He would suggest you attach a
lanyard to it."
This was a piece of kindness I had altogether failed to anticipate, and
I joyfully proceeded to ship the brass binding, not forgetting to secure
it as suggested. Then, no longer an outcast, I gleefully once more
mounted the poop ladder, touching my cap as I stepped again into that
sacred piece of deck, which must not be trodden save by those suitably
decorated with the company's house-flag.
The Trafalgar was still afloat in 1873-4 under Green's
house-flag, but she is missing from the register in 1875-6,
the year Rose's iron wool clipper Trafalgar was launched.
The Loss of the "Dalhousie."
It speaks well for the Blackwall frigates, their
owners, officers and crews that, at a time when every
gale strewed the shore with innumerable wrecks,
there should have been so few of their number lost.
During the whole era of the Blackwall frigates there
were only four really big tragedies, those of the North
Fleet, Cospatrick, Dunbar and Dalhousie; the first
through collision, the second from fire, the third from u
174 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES
mistake in navigation, and the fourth due probably
to faulty stowage of cargo, which rendered the ship
crank and unsafe.
This last, the loss of the Dalhoiisie, occurred in 1853.
The ship, frigate -built of teak, was launched at
Moulmein in 1848. She measured 800 tons and was
owned by Mr. Allan, of London. It will be noticed that
she did not belong to one of the first-class Blackwall
firms, nevertheless she was undoubtedly a fine sliip,
well found and well manned.
On 12th October she left the E.I. Docks bound for
Sydney under the flag of the White Horse Line of
Australian passenger ships, with a cargo valued at
£100,000 and a crew of 48 hands. Luckily only a
dozen of her passengers joined at Gravesend, the rest were
to be picked up at Plymouth. The Dalhoiisie arrived
in the Downs on the 15th and was detained there by
strong headwinds until the 18th. At 7 a.m. on the 18th
she sailed from the Downs, the wind being fresh at
N.W. At 7 p.m. when the ship was 10 miles west of
Dungeness, the wind shifted to the S.S.E. and freshened.
At 10 p.m. the topgallant sails were taken in. At
midnight all hands were called to reef topsails, the
wind and sea increasing rapidly. At 2 a.m. Joseph
Reed (the only survivor) took the helm, Beachy Head
light being in sight abeam. By 4 a.m. it was blowing
a gale; the ship was rolling very heavily and seemed to
have a difficulty in recovering herself: the starboard
quarter boat was washed away. At the change of the
watch the fore and main topsails were double-reefed
and the mizen topsail stowed: shortly afterwards
a sea swept the ship and actually washed away the long-
boat. At 5 a.m. the ship was hauled to the wind and
the crew commenced throwing overboard water casks.
LOSS OF THE DALHOUSIE 175
sheep pens, etc. At 5.30 the larboard quarter boat was
washed away, the ship went over on her beam ends and
I will now quote from the sworn account of the
seaman Reed, the only survivor: —
At half-past five a.m. she rolled right over on her starboard beam
ends, and remained in that position with her mastheads in the water,
lying at the mercy of the sea, which then made a clean breach over her,
and washed away the larboard quarter boat. A great many of the
crew took refuge in the maintop, and I got outside the ship on the
weather gallery, it being impossible to stand on deck.
Captain Butterworth, the chief and second mate, the carpenter,
cook, and some of the crew, joined me on the weather quarter, and thev
dragged through the gallery window four passengers, consisting of a
gentleman, his wife and two children, who took refuge with them. I
and another seaman also succeeded in getting out of the water a younc^
lady, who had come out of one of the poop cabins, and I lashed her to a
large spar, and placed her with the rest of the party on the gallerv
Immediately afterwards a large sea broke over the ship, which washed
off the gentleman above mentioned with his wife and children (four in
all) and they perished together. At about this time a schooner was
observed about half a mile to the eastward, bearing down upon the
Our ship was at that time settling fast in the water, and it was
evident that she could not re.main afloat many minutes longer. I cut
the lashings of the spar to which the young lady had been made fast
in order to give her a chance for her life. As the spar went adrift.
Captain Butter\vorth, the second mate and one or two of the seamen
quitted the sinking ship and held on to the spar in the hopes of saving
themselves, I being left on the quarter with the cook and carpenter.
Many of the people had by this been drowned, but others remained
holding on as they best could on the weather side of the wreck. She
lay thus for about ten minutes after Captain Butterworth had left her
and then sank, going down head first. I scrambled from the quarter
to the mizen mast, which I ascended as the ship sank, I found the
surgeon in the mizen top, and we went up together to the mizen
When we were submerged I lost sight of the surgeon, and I swam to
some deals which were floating about. I got hold of one of them, but
shortly afterwards I saw near me one of the chocks of the longboat,
capable of affording me better support than the deal, which I therefore
left and placed myself on the chock.
The schooner was then within shouting distance, being about lOU
176 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES
yards to leeward of me, and I hailed her, begging her crew to go
about to windward and afterwards drift down among the Dalhousie's
people, of whom several were still alive. (The schooner's people
declared that they did not hear the hail, nor could they work to
windward and get near the men struggling in the water ; and
after waiting for half an hour they were obliged to make sail for their
own safety, as they were drifting down upon a lee shore and it was
blowing hard.) In the course of the morning several other vessels passed
near me, both going up and down Channel, without seeing us. My
companions gradually perished one after the other, and I was repeatedly
washed off my frail support. At about 1 p.m. the wind veered to the
S.W., and towards 4 o'clock a brig hove in sight to windward, standing
down towards where I was floating : I made signals to her with my
handkerchief in the best way I could, which were fortunately seen. The
bri" soon came alongside me, and having lowered a rope with a bowline
in it, I made it fast round my body and sprang from the chock into the
sea. Although the crew of the brig observed every precaution in their
power, I was unavoidably dragged under water for a minute or two
before I could get on board, and when I at length reached her deck I
was nearly senseless.
The brig was the Mitchel Grove, bound from Little-
hampton to Sunderland with timber, and she landed
Reed at Dover on the following day.
Great quantities of wreckage were washed ashore at
Hastings and Rye, and the body of Mrs. Underwood,
a passenger, washed up on the beach at Dymchurch.
In these sole survivor tragedies, the sole survivor is
always proved to be a man of most extraordinary strength
and endurance. Not many men could have held on to
that longboat chock and lived through those long hours
in that rough, cold, Channel sea and autumn gale of
Origin of Marshall's House -Flag.
George Marshall came into prominence as an
owner of first-class frigate-built passenger ships about
the time of the discovery of gold in Australia. Marshall
was a Sunderland shipbuilder and built all his own
ships, running them both to India and Australia. The
STATESMAN AND HOTSPUR 177
first of Ills ships to make a name for herself was the
Statesman, of 874 tons, launched in 1849. She made
several very rapid passages out to Australia, and one
especially, of 76 days from Plymouth to Melbourne
before Marco Polo had astonished the world, was the
cause of the blue circle in Marshall's house-flag. On
this occasion the Statesman was commanded by the
celebrated Captain Godfrey, a great exponent of Great
Circle sailing, who also made two 77-day passages in
Marshall celebrated Captain Godfrey's feat by
adopting as his house-flag the St. George's Cross with
a blue circle in the centre.
Toynbee's *♦ Hotspur.*'
The Hotspur, which followed the Blenheim off
the stocks, was one of the most popular passenger ships
trading to Calcutta. And this was in great part due to
her commander, Captain Toynbee.
Smith's ships were a good deal fuller in the ends than
those of Green and Wigram, though they had plenty
of dead -rise; and the Hotspur had bluff bows like a
Geordie, but with the Geordie's fine run. Her utmost
speed was about 12 knots, yet under Toynbee she was
sailed so hard and made such good tracks that she
averaged : —
Pilot to pilot — outward passage . . , . . . 90 days.
,, ,, homeward ,, .. .. .. 91 ,,
Best passage out — Lizard to Madras . . . . 79 ,,
,, home — Madras to Lizard . . 85 ,,
She made her best run on 12th September, 1864, in
42° S., 56'' E., when she covered 328 miles in the 231-
hour day; whilst running her easting down she once
averaged 230 miles a day for 19 days.
178 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES
These performances meant hard driving. With a
ship's company of 60 to 65, and a watch consisting of
the officer of the watch, 3 midshipmen, a bosun's mate
and 17 men, sail was never taken in till the last minute
and set again at the first possible moment. Shaped
as she was like a serving mallet, the Hotspur owed
more than a little of her reputation for good and regular
passages to her celebrated commander.
Captain Henry Toynbee was one of the most scientific
navigators of his day, and many were his valuable
papers to the Nautical Magazine and other shipping
periodicals on such subjects as "lunars," "star naviga-
tion, " " rating chronometers, " '' trade routes, " etc. "He
was always sure of his longitude within five miles,"
writes one of his officers. And his wonderful landfalls
were the admiration of his passengers.
Toynbee was the son of a gentleman farmer in
Lincolnshire, and went to sea in 1833 at the age of
fourteen as a midshipman on the East Indiaman
On his second voyage he went in the free -trade barque
Eleanor, to China, and then got a third officer's appoint-
ment in the Duke of Argyle, belonging to T. & W.
Smith, his first commander in Smiths being John
Sydney Webb, afterwards Deputy Master of the Trinity
Toynbee 's first command was the Ellenborough; and
he had also commanded the Glorlana and Marlbui ongh
before he took over the Hotspur, the command of which
he resigned in 1866 in order to succeed Admiral Fitzroy
as Marine Superintendent of the Meteorological Office.
He retired in 1888, and lived to be over ninety years of
age, an example of all that an officer in our Mercantile
Marine should be.
Toynbee was succeeded in the Hotspur by his first
officer T. L. Porteous, and the following is the last
mailing notice in the Times of the famous old ship: —
FOR MADRAS DIRECT
T. & W. Smith will despatch the fine, fast-sailing ship Hotspur, Al
13 years, 1045 tons register. T. L. Porteous, Commander : to load in
East India Docks. Last shipping day, 30th October. Has excellent
accommodation for passengers. For freight or pa.si.age apply to Messrs.
Grmdlay & Co., 55 Parhament St., S.W., or T. & W. Smith, No. 1
Crosby Square, E.G.
On that voyage the Hotspur went ashore and became
a total wreck in the Madras cyclone of 2nd May, 1872.
The storm is thus reported in the log of the ship Inverness,
Captain Thomas Donkin, R.N.R., which managed to
ride it out in Madras Roads: —
1st May. — Noon, wind N.E.ly, force 6. Barometer 29.567. Ob-
served signal at the Master Attendant's Office — " Surf impassable."
4 p.m., wind N.E.ly, force 7. Set sea watch. Towards evening squally
weather, heavy showers, wind coming in gusts. Veered to 90 fathoms.
8 p.m., secured everything about the decks, etc., for bad weather.
Close-reefed topsails, foresail and lower staysails ready for setting.
Midnight, wind N.E.ly, force 8, Barometer 29.527. Heavy squalls
and heavy rain.
2nd May. — 2 a.m., wind N.E., force 9. Barometer 29.436. 4.15 a.m.,
wind N.E., force 11. Barometer 29.343. Daylight very heavy squalls
and very threatening appearance: waited for a lull and paid out to 130
fathoms of chain, letting go second anchor before doing so, and veering
to 35 fathoms. 6.30 a.m., observed the Buflingtoti drifting. 7 a.m.,
the Ardhe^ drifting. 8 a.m., wind N.E., force 11.5. Barometer 29.266.
9 a.m., wind N.E., force 12. Barometer 29.267. 9 and 10 a.m..
Sir Robert Sepping dragging. Invershie, Hotspur, Kingdom of Belgium,
Armenian, Mary Scott and other country ships parted. 11 a.m., the
wind began to veer easterly and knowing then that the centre was
passing south (though very close) felt convinced that if the chain only
held on another hour we should be safe. The ship did not drag at all:
we were prepared to cut away should she have commenced. During
the morning the sea was fearfully heavy, and now and then the head ot a
sea came aboard, but no large body of water. 8 p.m., wind S.ly, force
t), decreasing. The Inverness was in a favourable position for riding
out the Sturm, but the Hotspur was too close in. It WL'uld not hava
180 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES
been safe to put to sea at the first indication, as the ships would havs
had to beat ofl a lee shore whilst they were getting stronger and stronger
winds as they neared the centre of the cyclone.
"Anglesey's" Famous Figurehead.
Green's Anglesey was noted for her wonderful
figurehead, representing the Earl of Anglesey. This
work of art was very much admired, and so carefully
looked after that it was always kept covered up whilst
in harbour except on holidays and special occasions.
The Anglesey was a very smart little ship, and holds
the record for the biggest 2-t-hour run ever made by a
Blackwall frigate. She was also exceedingly fast in
light airs, which was due according to her officers to the
beautiful modelling of her counter.
The following is a epitome of the voyage, in which
she made the big run, taken from her log-book.
Fast Voyage to Melbourne and back by the
Ship's Company — Commander J. Maddison; 3 mates, 5 midshipmen,
bosun, carpenter, steward, butcher, cook, 17 A.B.'s (all British names),
2 O.S.'s, 3 boys, 1st cuddy servant. — Total 4G.
London to Melbourne.
5tb April, 1871. — 130 p.m., hauled out of East India Docks. Draft of
water forward, 18 ft. 3 ins. aft., 18 ft. 11 ins.; well 19 ins. Taken in
tow by Scotia. 5.30 p.m., made fast to buoy at Gravesend. Took
in livestock and one bull.
6th April. — 5.30 a.m., mustered all hands. 3.30 p.m.. Captain
Maddison joined the ship. 4.15 p.m., passed emigration survey, and
proceeded in tow.
7th April. — 3.30 a.m., cast ofi tug and made all plain sail. Mod.
E.ly breeze. 1.20 p.m., passed Beachy Head. 10.30 p.m., St. Catherine's
8th April. — 9 a.m., hove to for pilot cutter. 10.30 a.m., ;\Ir. Joues,
pilot, left the ship off Berry Head. P.M., falling calm.
lyth April. — Sighted Island of Lazarote, one of the Canaries.
22nd April.— Lat. 26° 10' N,. long. 16° 21' W. Took N.E. trades.
1st j.lay.— Lat 3" 19' N., long. 22' ou' W. Lo3t N.E. trades
ANGLESEY'S LOG 181
2nci May. — Crossed the Equator, 24 days from Start. Took S.E.
4th May.— Lat. 5° 57' S., long. 26" 10' W. Course S. 19' W. Distance
230 miles. Fresh trade and squally. Carried away fore top-gallant
backstay bolt. Split flying jib and shifted it. Ship pitching heavily.
14th May.— Lat. 32° 17' S.. long. 17° 36' W. Course S. 46° E.
Distance 241 miles. Fresh westerly wind with sharp squalls. 11.45
p.m., struck by a sudden gust giving no previous warning. Carried
away jibboom and three topgallant masts, main topgallant mast going
in three pieces, one piece damaging port boat in its fall. Also blew
away main topmast staysail out of bolt-ropes.
15th May.— Lat. 34° 47' S., long. 13° 50' W. Course S. 52° E.
Distance 240 miles. Unsteady W.S.W. breeze and squally. At
daylight commenced clearing away the wreck. Sent down all the
yards and pieces of topgallant masts.
16th May.— Lat. 36° 45' S., long. 11° 00' W. Course 5. 50° E. Dis-
tance 182 miles. Wind westerly, unsteady and gusty, ship rolling
heavily, tremendous sea.
17th May. — Lat. 39° 5' S., long. 7" 35' W. Course S. 49° E. Distance
240. Unsteady westerly breeze and gusty. Employed getting
jibboom and spritsail yard rigged. P.M., mod. breeze and pufiy. Sent
jibboom out and set the jibs.
18th May.— Lat. 39° 56' S., long. 5° 34' W. Course S. 61° E. Dis-
ance 108 miles. Light W.S.W. wind. Ship rolling heavily at times.
Employed getting fore topgallant rigging aloft. Shifted mizen topsail
with best. P.M., moderate breeze. Sent up fore topgallant mast.
19th May.— Lat. 40° 46' S., long. 1° 54' W. Course S. 75° E. Dis-
tance 176 miles. Wind west, unsteady and gusty, threatening appear-
ance all round. A.M., crossed fore topgallant yard and set the sail.
P.M., hght breeze, sent up mizen topgallant mast, crossed the yard and
set the sail.
20th May.— Lat. 41° 3' S., long. 0° 50' E. Course S. 81° E. Dis-
tance 125 miles. Wind S.W. Moderate and squally. (Crossed