The Yawl ‘Ebenezer’

Captain Syd Smith’s database offers six fishing vessels named Ebenezer but only one yawl, registered as SH30, official number 14911. She was built in Scarborough in 1856 and was only three years old when she lost three of her crew. The Yorkshire Gazette of 9th April reported the tragedy.

Fatal Calamity at Sea

A deep gloom has been spread over Filey for the last few days, owing to the melancholy intelligence having been received on Saturday last that three fishermen, named Francis Haxby, William Sayers and Edmond Sayers, the two latter of whom were brothers, had met with a watery grave. This sad event occurred about four o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, the 1st inst., 30 miles distant from Flamborough Head. The particulars, so far as can be ascertained, are as follows:- The way in which fishing is carried on here, at this season of the year, is by proceeding out to sea a great distance, perhaps 50 miles, in large decked boats called yawls, manned with a crew of eight men. On reaching the fishing ground, two smaller boats called cobles, which are carried on the deck, are launched, three men getting into each. From these smaller boats the lines are put out, and will often extend for miles in length. The lines are taken in after a few hours, the cobles remaining attached to them. It was at this juncture the accident happened. There was a strong gale of wind blowing from the south-west, which, at this distance from the shore, brings on a dangerous sea. The yawl had broken its fore-yard, and whether the men in the coble had been directing their attention to this circumstance, not sufficiently regardful of their own perils, or from whatever other cause, must remain a mystery; but, sad to relate, on proceeding to the spot, nothing could be seen of the men,  –  the coble was there, and full of water. It is supposed a heavy sea had broken into her, or upset her, and that the coble had afterwards righted herself, – the poor fellows having been thrown out. It is to be regretted that the fishermen do not provide themselves with “life-belts,” to put on when following their dangerous calling; had these men had them their lives would probably have been saved. Edmond Sayers was an excellent swimmer, but this could be of little avail, encumbered as they are with clothing and heavy sea boots. William and Edmond Sayers are unmarried; Francis Haxby has left a wife and three young children. His widow will be entitled to some relief from the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society, he having been a member of that noble institution. The bodies have not been recovered. The coble, too, and all the lines were lost.

Francis was part owner of Ebenezer, with his brother Jenkinson, Robert JENKINSON and Francis CRAWFORD. Jenkinson HAXBY skippered the boat. The vessel was transferred to Hull in the summer of 1876 and re-registered as H1228.

Francis is remembered on his parents’ headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard, and on the stone below, which also names his wife, Susannah, and a fourth child, Mary, who died aged 5 years and 6 months, a year and a half before her father. Francis junior, the couple’s youngest child born in the spring of 1857, would drown from Eliza in October 1880.

D205_HAXBfrancis_20170928_fstb

Francis and the Sayers brothers on FamilySearch Tree.

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