The Barque ‘Unico’

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Unico came to grief on Filey Brigg this day 1871. I favour her being the “barque” of the memorial obelisk rather than the “schooner” of this vivid report of her demise in the Driffield Times, 21 January.

Wreck and Loss of 13 Lives at Filey

The Italian three-masted schooner Unico, captain Angelo Dodero, coal laden from Newcastle for Genoa, which brought up in Filey Bay on Sunday, dragged her anchors in a gale of wind, before daylight on Monday morning, and struck upon Filey Brigg, and went to pieces immediately. Of the whole crew, thirteen in number, only one man, Litano Maccouchi, was found alive upon the rocks. A Newcastle pilot was also drowned.

The Inquest

On Wednesday, an inquest was held at the Ship Inn, before J. M. Jennings, esq., coroner, on the bodies of three men cast on Filey Brigg, whose names are Gaetano Paganetti (mate), Carlo Lavaggi (able seaman), and Francesco Bugino (apprentice). From the evidence of Litano Maccouchi it appears that the vessel Unico, with a cargo of 600 tons of coal, sailed from Newcastle-upon-Tyne for Genoa, on the 11th inst., having on board Capt. Didero, a crew of 12, and a Tyne pilot named Corbett. The vessel arrived off Flambro’ Head on Saturday 14th, and being hazy, with strong wind from S.S.W. the pilot requested her to be anchored under Speeton Cliffs; this done the vessel rode safely until Monday morning, when, thick with rain, a fearful gale sprung up from S.S.E., which caused the ship to drag her anchor. The pilot at once requested sail to be made, anchor to be slipped, and stand out to sea; this was done, but in doing so the Unico struck upon the extreme end of Filey Brigg. A heavy sea was running at the time and so great was the concussion that the ship’s bottom was stove in; at this momentary crisis part of the crew got into three boats, which were on deck, the other part of the crew took refuge on the fore-rigging; no sooner done than an awful sea broke upon the ship, swept the deck, and hurled the boats into the gaping sea, thus drowning at one blow eight of the poor fellows; a twin mountain wave followed, which burst upon the ship, carrying away the foremast, upon which were the other six clinging for life, but these were also thrown amongst the breakers, which were spending their fury upon the fatal rocks, only one rose to the surface to grasp a piece of timber to which he tenaciously clung, when another wave lifted and cast him upon a safer part of the rocks; fearfully bruised and bewildered he climbed upon a higher rock, and upon this rock he sat shivering for more than an hour, when he was found by two fishermen, who carried him over rocks and to the Ship Inn, where every care and comfort was bestowed upon him.

James Gondrill, fisherman, said: I left my house on Monday morning about 7.15 a.m. and went on to the Brigg, when I met two fishermen carrying a shipwrecked man; I proceeded further on the rocks and espied another one of whose hands was uplifted firmly grasping some seed weed: with assistance I lifted him up and found him cold and dead; a little further on I found another lifeless man, both of whom were taken to the Ship Inn.

The Coroner, having summed up, the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”

I think the reporter did rather better with the names of the unfortunate crew than whoever carved their names on the obelisk in St Oswald’s churchyard.

Here’s the Crimlisk transcription (the names are now obscured):

This stone is erected to commemorate a fearful shipwreck which took place

on Filey Brigg on 16 Jan 1871 of the Italian barque ‘Unico’ from Genoa

whereby 12 out of a crew of 13 including an English pilot perished

 

The following are interred in Filey Churchyard

ALGELO DODERO, Captain

GAETANO PAGANETTI, Mate

CARLO LAOAGGI, Seaman

FRANCESEAS BUGINO, Apprentice

and five others (Names unknown)

The East Yorkshire Family History Society transcription helpfully adds the Burial Register entries. These indicate that one body, supposed to be that of Captain DODERO, was not found for about ten days after the event and was interred with the others on 31 January.

*1871 Jan 19. Carlo Lauggi. Wrecked. 38.

*1871 Jan 19. Gaetano Paganetti. Wrecked. 37.

*1871 Jan 19. Francesco Bugiano. Wrecked. 17 yrs.

*These 3 men were washed up on Filey Brigg, from the wrecked barque Unico.

I walked to the overlook on Carr Naze this morning to photograph the scene of the wreck for Today’s Image. I was a little disappointed not be faced with a stormy sea and bruised sky but the upside was better light in the churchyard and Queen Street to picture two other elements of the story.

Fisherman “James Gondrill” was almost certainly James GOUNDRILL, born in Keyingham in 1839. At the census of 1871 he was living with his in-laws in Mosey’s Yard, off Queen Street, and working as a Gardener. Kath gives his occupation as Fisherman in Filey Genealogy & Connections but he began his working life as a Farm Servant (1851) and ten years later was a Servant to John Rook, the Miller at Mappleton. In 1881, still working as a gardener, he was living with wife Hannah and three daughters in Scarborough. The couple would return to Filey and be laid to rest in St Oswald’s churchyard. I didn’t have a photograph of their headstone in stock, probably because it is so hard to read, being well coated in lichen.

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In loving memory of HANNAH, the dearly beloved wife of JAMES GOUNDRILL, who died April 19th 1898 aged 52 years.

For to live in Christ and to die is gain.

Also the above JAMES GOUNDRILL, who died Sep. 9th 1905, aged 66 years.

The grass withered, the flower fadeth. The word of God stands forever.

James and Hannah are on FamilySearch Tree but without their full complement of offspring and for the most part disconnected from their forebears. When I find the time I’ll attempt to bring them all together. I had a quick look at Italian records for Unico’s named crew without success. I hope Litano Maccouchi recovered from his ordeal and lived well, to a great age.

I walked the short distance to Queen Street to photograph the Ship Inn, sometime after 1871 re-named the T’awd Ship, and now a private dwelling.

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There is a fine view of the Bay at the end of the street and from Cliff Top a cargo ship was heading north beyond the Brigg. It was the Mistral, a Ro-Ro flying a Finland flag, heading for Teesport from Zeebrugge. Calm sea certainly, prosperous voyage maybe.

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The Unfortunate Apprentice

On the night of Sunday, 10th January 1892, a gale blew the Whitby brig Lancet towards the Filey rocks. The Master, Lewis, ordered the anchors to be cast and these held the vessel until early morning when distress flags brought out the Filey Lifeboat, Hollon the Second. It took about six hours for the Filey volunteers to rescue seven of Lancet’s crew of eight. A newspaper reported that “one boy was drowned while launching the ship’s boat in an effort to get ashore”. Another report named the deceased as Henry COOR, who hailed from London and was “within eight months of completing his apprenticeship”. Henry’s body was transported by wave and tide about three miles and was found at Reighton the next day, the 12th. Several newspapers repeated the macabre and possibly misguided observation that “the poor fellow had evidently been alive when washed ashore, as his hands were full of gravel”. It is hard to imagine him surviving 24 hours in the winter sea.

Henry’s age isn’t given and I couldn’t find a “boy” with his name in London birth registers. Henry Thomas COOR, born in Bethnal Green, would have been 21 in January 1892. Old for a boy, and perhaps for an apprentice seaman, but a curious fact suggests it was indeed he who drowned in Filey Bay. His mother’s maiden name was registered as McCLARENCE. In the June Quarter of 1892 in Bethnal Green, a boy was born to Mrs. COOR née McCLARENLL (sic) and given the name Henry.

The names COOR and McCLARENCE bamboozled most registrars and their clerks. I couldn’t return the young man to his folks today with certainty. I think his father was William and his mother Maria – but she seems to have died aged 24 when Henry the First was two-years-old. It isn’t impossible that Henry the Second’s mother was Emma McCLARENCE, wife of  James COOR and a younger sister of Maria, but it’s quite a stretch.

I just hope the unfortunate apprentice will take his place on the FamilySearch Tree some day.

A Coincidence Chain

I wrote about Robert Jenkinson WATKINSON  back in August, on the anniversary of his death in 1917 on the Western Front. Eight months before his birth, his father had been lost at sea off St Abbs Head, about 140 miles north of Filey. That family tragedy happened 126 years ago today.

Looking more closely into the event this morning, I soon discovered that Robert Jenkinson senior had not drowned from a fishing boat but from the SS Bear, Master J. HAWRIE. The cargo ship was carrying pig iron from Middlesbrough to Grangemouth and sank after a collision with SS Britannia. Twelve of her crew of 14 drowned. (Sources: Canmore and Wreck Site.)

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I wondered…

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Reverend Thomas was the incumbent at Filey for 42 years (1831-1873). He has a memorial window in St Oswald’s but the sources readily to hand only reveal him making a speech now and again and “solemnly dedicating” the first Hollon lifeboat. He perhaps wasn’t a hard act for Reverend Basil K. WOODD to follow.

Basil, remarkably, had something in common with Mrs. NORFOLK – they shared the middle name Kilvington. It isn’t immediately apparent that the two were related. Sarah’s maiden name was BARSTOW and she was born in Acomb, about 16 miles from Basil’s birthplace, Aldborough. (Although The Driffield Times notice says the Reverend JACKSON was “of Acomb” he appears to have been a native of Beverley.)

KILVINGTON, as a family name, is surely derived from a geographical location. It is very much a Yorkshire name but there is only South Kilvington in the county. Nottinghamshire has Kilvington – but not many people bearing the name in the 19th century.

Whatever, this coincidence seems to beg further investigation.

FamilySearch is, perhaps for the first time in my experience, rather unhelpful. The Reverend Thomas has several PIDs but only this one gives a reasonable starting point. Others give him the “wrong” spouse and somebody else’s children. The system seems to be culpable, rather than human contributors to the World Tree, but it is still a mess to be cleared up.

I promised in August to “expand” Robert Jenkinson WATKINSON the Younger’s family on FST but seem to have done next to nothing since then. There are not enough hours in the day!

An Unfortunate Steamer

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Wreck Site has eight photographs of Laura in her distress 120 years ago. There are few accounts of the event readily available online and I have yet to find one that names anyone involved in the stranding – crew, rescuers, salvage men.

Occasionally the sand is scoured to reveal what remains of Laura’s ribs but most of the time low tide offers only the boilers and sternpost. Not much to see, but I can’t imagine anyone walks by without having a nose around.

A couple of short videos on YouTube give a drone’s eye view of the wreck in its geographical and historical context, here and here.

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Two Brigs called ‘Felicity’

Felicity
courtesy Hartlepool Library Service

I don’t know the details of this Felicity’s unhappy end but almost twenty years later a brig of the same name, but with a different home port, sailed from Hartlepool and came to grief at Filey.

WRECK OFF FILEY

LIFEBOAT SERVICES

On Sunday afternoon last, the brig “Felicity,” of Lynn, from Hartlepool, with coals came on shore on Filey Sands, opposite the town, during the heavy gales of wind which had been blowing on this coast from the eastward. The lifeboat of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, stationed at this place, was immediately manned by fourteen men and launched before the vessel took the ground; the boat then succeeded in taking off her crew, consisting of seven men, who were in half-an-hour afterwards landed safely on the beach. The gallant crew of the lifeboat will be paid £14 by the Lifeboat Institution, for their valuable services. This lifeboat station is one of the most complete on the coast.   The lifeboat coxswain and his crew were thoroughly conversant with the qualities of this lifeboat, which has been repeatedly instrumental in saving the lives of poor shipwrecked sailors.

The Scarborough Mercury, Saturday 20 November 1858

This un-named Filey lifeboat was built by Skelton of Scarborough and bought by public subscription a year or so before the RNLI was formed in 1824. It served this stretch of coast for almost forty years, requiring crews of tremendous courage as well as strength. All knew the boat could not be righted if it capsized.

The Institution took over the running of the Filey Station around 1852 and about three years after the Felicity rescue the local committee put in a request for a new boat. The joyful public inauguration of Hollon took place on 26 November 1863.

A Current Event

In July 1865 John CHEW of Filey, while helping passengers disembark from his pleasure coble, noticed a bottle bobbing in the wavelets. Breaking it he found a chilling message.

January 23, 1865. – Dear Friends, – We are sinking; the pumps won’t work; in lat. 35., long 19.30. Captain John Roberts, screw steamer Golden Eagle. Anybody picking this up is requested to take it to the nearest magistrate.

I wrote about this in Messages in Bottles in January 2013 and clearly thought it an unlikely story. I am amazed that I spent so much effort assessing the prospect of a bottle finding its way to Filey Sands from four locations. I concluded it was just about possible if the Golden Eagle had foundered 600 miles south west of Portugal.

Four years ago I failed to find any references to the death of Captain Roberts or the sinking of his ship but re-visiting the event today I found this:-

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Cap’n Roberts’ coordinates do indeed put  his vessel off the River Plate if the appropriate easting and northing are added – but over 2,000 miles off. And I would still argue that a bottle tossed into the sea there couldn’t float into the North Atlantic.  The dates are intriguing – Jan. 23 and Jan. 25 but the published report was a year earlier than stated in the message. I suspect a descendant of the writer of the note is now scattering fake news items about the Internet (and the Gray Lady is publishing them).

I spent a couple of hours searching for Filey CHEWS on FamilySearch Tree and found another candidate for the bottle finder. John Francis CHEW is plain John in some sources, including FST [ID MGCB-JN8], four years younger than the second cousin I thought might have owned the pleasure coble.

Every visit to FST  reveals how much work there is to do there. Here is an example of a mistake “the system” makes that cries out to be sorted.

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Robert married Betsey Ann NICHOLSON and they had four children at least. His mother was Lucy COOK and she had twelve children with Robert Senior. The elder Robert has a duplicate ID attached to his own baptism record (MGZS-4N3). Search for that and you will not bump into the interlopers from New Jersey and Indiana.

A short distance inland from the cliffs in the foreground of Today’s Image, in amongst the caravans of the Blue Dolphin Holiday Park, the body if Gristhorpe Man was discovered in July 1834. Anniversary post in a few days!