Index
 
Wreck of the Barque Spirit of the Ocean
off Prawle Point - between Start and Lear Tree Rocks

23rd March 1866


Prawle Point and Start Point, the former being the southern most point along the coast of Devon, must be one of the most formidable and dangerous areas along the English Channel.

One wreck in particular is well remembered, not only locally but also nationally.

The 578 ton barque, Spirit of the Ocean, built by Jones and Co, with a crew of 18 and 24 passengers, was running down the English Channel bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the early Spring of 1866, with a strong north easterly offshore wind. However, it would appear that the weather deteriorated to a degree where the master, Captain R. Carry, considered an attempt should be made to shelter in Dartmouth harbour (County of Devon, England). During this exercise, in attempting to avoid becoming embayed in Start Bay, the ship fell off the wind and lost way and started drifting back across Start Bay, which lies to the south of Dartmouth. The captain managed to avoid Start Point and continue to the west, only to strike a submerged rock, between Start Point and Lear Tree Rocks which shortly afterwards caused the vessel to break in two.

It isn't thought that anyone would have survived had it not been for Samuel Pepplestone, a local farmer, who saw the Spirit of the Ocean, come ashore and who was responsible for informing the Hallsands Coastguard. He then proceeded to risk his own life by climbing down the sheer cliffs to save two men. It may not be relevant but I note that there are on-line references to Samuel Popplestone in the Devon Family Historian for Feb 1990.

Lists of the Crew and Passengers (originally supplied by the owners) were as follows:

List of some of the Crew, four of whom, I understand, were saved:
Capt CAREY,
James W. WOOD,
Joseph HILL, carpenter,
Patric WRYNESS, steward,
Deidrich COOK, cook,
Joseph GANIER, AB
George WILMUT, AB
Oscar TORNGREEN, AB
John PALMER, OS
George OHERN, OS
G.LEE, OS
Charles WOOD, OS
George BROWN, OS
Chrighton JENKINS, mate
William IMPETE?
James MULLER, AB

List of some of the passengers, all of whom were drowned (minors are often not included on such lists ie those under 21 years of age):
James Kenworthy COOKE
Susanna Sophia COOKE
Annie Kenworthy COOKE
Mary Agnes COOKE
Margaret Gertrude COOKE
Ella Meredith COOKE
Edwin BAILEY
George BROWN
T. STEWART
C. LUM

Following the wrecking of the vessel the bodies of:
Capt. CAREY and
Robert Ellis Jones EARDIES / EARDIER
were taken away for burial elsewhere.

In the weeks that followed a number of burials took place in Stokenham parish:
Richard GRAINER
William MANSELL
Oscar TORNGREEN/TOMGREEN
Male body
Male Body
Edwin BAILEY
George BROWN
Margaret Gertrude
Mary Agnes
James Kenworthy COOKE
G.LEE
Male Body
Male Body
Male Body
Male Body
Male Body
Charles WOOD
Male body
Susanna Sophia COOKE
Anne Kenworthy COOKE
Ella Meredith COOKE
Male Body

Details of the vessel, which in addition to the passengers, was also carrying a cargo which included tea, then quite an expensive commodity, are as follows: she was sheathed in yellow metal in 1864 and partly fastened with iron bolts ; her dimensions: 158.7 feet long, 32.6 foot beam and holds 18.8 feet deep

She was built in 1863, by Jones & Co and was owned by Messrs C. Walton and Croshaw & Co. Her Port of registry and survey was London

I am grateful to and acknowledge the following sources:

Richard Larn - Shipwrecks of the Devon Coast, published by Countryside Books, 1996.

Bartholomew's Revised Half Inch map of South Devon - date unknown.

Gilbert Provost's transcription of Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping.

And last, and by no means least, Bev Edmunds, who drew my attention to this wreck and who was kind enough to provide much of the information.



Thanks Bev.

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