Notable seafaring people in Hartlepool, including ship owners, brokers, chandlers and sailors.
Sven August Augustson, "Gus", was of Swedish descent. One of his brothers served as Chief Engineer on the RMS Queen Mary, while another brother owned a plantation.
Gus joined the Merchant Navy before the war, serving on a number of timber boats, ships working in the Baltic timber trade, and reaching the rank of Bosun.
Gus met and married a Hartlepool Headland girl, Hannah Jane Horsley, at St. Hilda's Churchin December 1933 or 1934. They had three children, two girls and a boy.
During the Second World War, Gus took two Gunnery Training Courses at Sunderland, and was topedoed twice. He eventually returned to Hartlepool and went to work as a Rigger at Richardson and Westgarth's, "Richies".More detail »
Henry Chilton Hood 1834-1913
Coxswain of Seaton Carew Lifeboats 1867-1898
(compiled by Maureen Anderson)
William Hood was born in Seaton Carew in about 1791 and had a large family including sons Robert b.1823, William b. c1826, Henry b.1834 and Charles b.c1836. William had become coxswain of the first Seaton lifeboat Tees when it was donated by Thomas Backhouse in 1823. During William’s time as coxswain on this first lifeboat he and his crew saved upwards of 188 lives. In January of 1851 he was presented with a bible and prayer book, a silver tobacco tin and money which had been collected by subscription from the people of Seaton Carew in approval of his conduct as Commander of the lifeboat. In October of 1851 he was awarded a Silver Medal by the Royal Society for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck for going out to 32 wrecks and saving 120 lives. He died on 6 June 1855 aged 65. His eldest son Robert's position as coxswain of the lifeboat was confirmed on 1 October 1855 and held that position until 1867. In 1857 the Seaton lifeboat was taken over by the R.N.L.I. with a new boat Charlotte donated to Seaton. In 1863 Robert Hood was awarded the Silver Medal for his long and gallant service. The first Charlotte gave service until 1867 when another Charlotte replaced her. Then in 1873 came Job Hindley followed in 1888 by John Lawson and in 1908 Francis Whitbourn. The station was closed in 1922.
In 1851 Henry was aged 17 and a mariner’s apprentice. In 1857 he was married to Mary Allison Brownbridge and by 1861they were living at 5 Pilot Street, Stranton, West Hartlepool. His occupation was listed as a Hartlepool pilot. In August of 1867 Robert Hood wished to retire as coxswain and an application was put forward to the Hartlepool Pilotage Board for Henry Hood to leave Hartlepool and move to Seaton Carew to become coxswain of their lifeboat. To do this he had to first obtain an ‘In and Out Branch’ as Pilot for the Tees which licence would have to be granted by Trinity House. This was duly granted in September 1867. By 1871 the family was living in Ashburn Street, Seaton Carew. In 1890 they were living at 15 Commercial Street, Middleton in the Parish of Stranton and in1891 they were living at Corner’s Garden and by 1901 Front Street.
Because of some mix-up with tug boats, on 11 March 1883 instead of running into Hartlepool Bay, the Norwegian schooner Atlas with her crew of five men went aground on the Longscar Rocks which jut out to sea from Seaton Carew. The signals of distress were seen and no time was lost in getting horses and men to equip the lifeboat. It was 9.45pm and dark when eight horses and 15 men managed to launch and push the life boat out to sea. Keeping to the lee of the rocks as much as possible the 13 crew of the lifeboat searched for the stricken schooner but could not see her because of the terrible sea running and sleet and hail forming a thick, freezing veil.
The lifeboat could not be taken nearer the rocks as she would haven smashed like a matchstick so a decision was taken by John Franklin and Henry Hood to do a search of the reef on foot as it was low tide. They groped their way along until on the north-east point nearest Hartlepool they saw the vessel with the seas breaking completely over her. They retraced their steps to the lifeboat and called for a heaving line which was thrown to them. At this point Matthew Franklin joined them in the water. Reaching a point near the ship they threw the heaving line which was caught by the captain but it also struck him below the knee. The mate had jumped overboard and he and the captain were barely conscious. Eventually step by step, hand over hand all five were taken aboard the lifeboat with Henry being dragged in last with severe leg cramps. They were back on shore by 12.30am and soon after the schooner had completely broken up.
John and Matthew Franklin and Henry Hood were all awarded Silver Medals for their bravery during this rescue. Henry also had the Albert Medal of the second class conferred upon him by Queen Victoria.
Henry eventually retired in August 1898 after 31 years as coxswain. He and his crew had been instrumental in saving 89 lives. On his retirement he was awarded the Silver Second Service Clasp Medal, a framed Certificate of Service from the R.N.L.I. and from the crew of the lifeboat and friends of Seaton Carew a silver watch, gold chain and £30.
In about 2010 the medals and watch were passed to the Hartlepool Museum by someone who had found them in their loft. It transpired that they were descendants of Henry and his family but had not known anything of the family history. Henry had left the items in his will to the Crawford family who were his nieces & nephews.
More detail »
The term ‘message in a bottle’ conjures up romance and mystery but, in most instances, this could not be further from the truth. Many of the stories of bottles containing messages washed ashore allegedly from doomed ships were hoaxes although there were a few that were all too real. If one could imagine being on a sailing vessel during a fierce storm with nothing but the wild sea washing over the decks the human instinct would be to fight for survival until the very end. The story of the message sent from the schooner Glory was written by a man who was at peace and had resigned himself to death. His last thoughts were of his family and, by his actions, at least his fate and that of his crew became known.
Although John was not born in Hartlepool he became master of a Hartlepool owned ship and his wife and children remained in the town after his death. Because of the poignancy of his story it is well worth including under Notable People.
John Loynes was born at Holt, Norfolk on 22nd February 1818 to parents Ann (nee Field) and Thomas Loynes. It appears that he first sailed on board a ship as an apprentice in 1839 which would put him at the age of about 21 which, in those times, was rather old to begin a seafaring career. What he did for a living prior to that is uncertain. The records for John are very sparse but he was aboard ship as a seaman from June to December 1845 and in December 1846. From 1851 to 1853 he was aboard ship, it appears as a seaman and a mate. He never applied for his master’s certificate. John married Ann Russell on 3rd February 1847 at Fylingdales, Yorkshire. The couple had six children during their marriage, Ann b. October 1849, Thomas b. June 1851 and John b. March 1854 all at Thorpe. The family were then residing at Robin Hood’s Bay with John sailing between Whitby and London. By 1856 the family had moved to West Hartlepool with Jane Russell b. June 1856, Sarah b. October 1860 and Robert Russell b. October 1862 all at Stranton, West Hartlepool. The youngest child, Robert, was born two days after his father’s ship was lost at sea.
After the tragedy, articles in religious magazines and stories from people who knew him described John as devoted, loving, consistent, cheerful and a humble Christian. He was also known as a kind and caring man and was well known at the Sailors’ Institute at Shadwell, London. He was a member of the Church of Christ and was deeply religious living and preaching the gospel both on land and aboard ship.
When John died in October 1862 he left effects of under £100.
Ann was awarded £16 5s by the Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society with liberty to apply for an annual grant to help over the first four or five years of her widowhood.
The Glory foundered at sea on 19th February 1862.
On 23 October 1862, a name-board which read ‘Glory, Hartlepool’ was washed up at Sonderho, Denmark. On the same day a tightly corked bottle was picked up on Nordby Strand, Denmark which contained a note from John Loynes, the master of Glory. It was addressed to his wife at 42 Grace Street, Stranton, West Hartlepool:
‘At Sea, October 19th, 1862.
My Dear Wife,
Before you get these few lines I shall be in heaven. Our ship, the Glory of West Hartlepool, is just about foundering. The pumps are both choked. John Hunter has his leg fractured by a sea breaking. We have had nothing but gales of wind, and we are almost a wreck. But thank God we are resigned to our heavenly Father's will. My men are all made happy in the Saviour's love. They were all crying for mercy, and they all found peace. The lad, John Hunter, was one of the brightest conversions I ever saw. My dear wife, I have left you in the hands of the Lord. I know He will provide for you and the dear children, and I hope you will all meet me in heaven. May He grant it for Christ's sake,
Your loving husband John Loynes.’
P.S. Send word to Wells, to Mrs Gill, and to London, to Mrs Margett’s, and to John Hunter’s friends.More detail »
John Punshon Denton was born on 28th September 1800 at Bishopwearmouth to parents Barbara (nee Punshon) and Richard Copeland Denton. He was in partnership with Frederick Allhusen as commission-merchants in Sunderland. The partnership was dissolved in 1827. John married Caroline Ord (eldest daughter of Robert Ord) on 1st December 1831 St Michaels Church at Bishopwearmouth. He established a shipbuilding yard in 1839 and went into partnership with William Gray in 1863. Further information on his shipbuilding can be found under ‘Denton’s Shipyard’. John was elected Mayor of Hartlepool in October 1849.
The couple had eleven children in nineteen years: Mary Ann Ord baptised 1st December 1834 died 1864; Caroline Ord baptised 26th September 1836 d. 1836; Julia Punshon baptised 16th September 1837; Richard Copeland born 15th February 1839 d. November 1921; John Punshon born May 1842 d. 24th April 1888 (Burma); Robert Ord born 1843 d. 21st August 1883; Caroline Ord born 1844 died 1921; Evelyn Rosa born 1846 died 1921; Emily born 1849 married Henry Hind d. September 1891; Errington Ord born 1851 d. 1865; Eva born 1853 married William Armstrong d. September 1882.
Errington Ord Denton drowned in a boating accident in Halfway Reach in February 1865 along with nine other cadets of the training ship Worcester.
John died aged 71 on 30th November 1871 at Norton House, Norton leaving effects of under £90,000. His widow, Caroline, died 13th September 1899 leaving effects of £5,656.
Newcastle Journal – Saturday 02 December 1871:
‘Death of Mr John Punshon Denton, J.P., of Hartlepool.—We regret, to announce death on Thursday evening of Mr John Punsbon Denton, J. P., of Norton House, the head of the eminent iron shipbuilding firm Denton, Gray, and Co., of West Hartlepool. For several months past, Mr Denton had been in gradually failing health, and on Thursday evening he expired at his residence at Norton, in the seventy-first year of his age. In early life Mr Denton was a captain in the merchant service, and upon leaving the sea, 40 years ago, he obtained the post of Lloyd's surveyor at Sunderland, which he held until 1839 when he removed Hartlepool and established himself as a ship builder. In 1863 Mr William Gray, of that place, became his partner, and under their joint auspices, the nucleus of the existing extensive business was formed. Deceased was a Port and Harbour and Pilotage Commissioner for many years, and under the old Corporation, once Mayor and alderman of Hartlepool, where he resided up to a year and half ago. In politics, he was a consistent and moderate Conservative, and took an active part in several county, as well as in the only borough election which the Hartlepools have witnessed, and on which occasion he was proposer of the successful candidate—Mr Ralph Ward Jackson, M.P. For a number of years he had been upon the Commission of Peace for the county of Durham, and was a most energetic, painstaking magistrate. Mr Denton married, early in life, the amiable lady who now survives him, and by whom he has had a numerous family, of whom two sons (both newly married) and three daughters are now alive.’More detail »
Joseph Pearson was born on 10 June 1799 at Whitby. He married Mary Sunley on 6th September 1823 at Whitby. In 1851 the couple were living with their son, George and daughter, Mary Ann at Market Place, Middlesbrough and by the late 1850s at Scarborough Street, West Hartlepool. Joseph became a master mariner certificate no. 45234 and was recorded as being a shipowner.
Ships Joseph owned and had shares in from approximate dates were: 1854 Ann (master 1854 to 1860); 1855 Atlantic; 1861 Doris (master1861 to 1863); 1861 Linton (master 1868 to 1869); 1864 Isabella Scott (master 1863 to 1868); 1871 Ivanhoe;
Other shareholders were: Nesswell Lowther; Robert Hutchinson; Henry Taylor; John & J Bedlington.
Joseph died aged 81 on 28th July 1880 at West Hartlepool leaving effects of under £100. Mary, his wife died in 1876.
Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Wednesday 28 July 1880.
An old inhabitant of West Hartlepool has passed to his rest. Mr Joseph Pearson, who was well-known to almost everybody in the town died this morning at the advanced age of 82 years. A town which has come into existence within the memory of men who have yet scarcely attained to middle age, does not possess the old associations which appertain to a community of some antiquity. A special interest, however, attaches to men who have been amongst the earlier settlers in a new town. They have seen the development from rural to urban form, and, in most cases their fortunes have been guided those of the place of their adoption. Mr Pearson was born in Whitby in that momentous year 1798, when England was heroically struggling to gain the maritime supremacy which she now possesses. Mr Pearson’s occupation was that of a mariner. Eventually he became the owner of several wooden ships, one of which he himself commanded. His vessel was amongst the first to trade to the infant port of West Hartlepool. Nearly thirty years ago, retiring from an active life, he settled in West Hartlepool, and devoted himself to works of benevolence. Of late years especially, he spent his time in visiting the sick. Sailors’ widows and orphans found in him a warm friend. He looked upon them as his peculiar charge, and has lightened the lot of many a bereaved one by his hearty and Christian sympathy, the little dole which he ever ready to offer. By religious persuasion Mr Pearson was a Wesleyan, one of the old type, and took an active part in the proceedings of that body. Until within a week of his death he was perfectly hale and strong, and beyond the grizzling effect of time upon his hair there was nothing to indicate his great age. His death, happening in the course of nature, and after the expiration of the full limit allotted to humanity, cannot be expected arouse the poignant grief which must be displayed when a man is snatched away in his prime. At the same time so well was his life spent, and so unceasing were his efforts for the good of his fellow creatures, that his death will be regarded with universal regret.More detail »
Robert Brewis, son of a Sunderland shipbuilder, began his working life as a painter and glazier. He must have been successful in his trade as he began purchasing shares in sailing vessels in 1837. By 1845 he owned ships outright and had shares in partnership with others.
Robert was born on 1st October 1808 in Newcastle to parents James (Sunderland shipbuilder) and Margaret (neeThompson) Brewis. Robert was brought up in Blyth and was married to Mary Heron at Tynemouth on 12th January 1832 and in that year the couple moved to Hartlepool. In 1841 they were living at Northgate, Hartlepool and by 1851 at Queen Street, Hartlepool. In 1851 Robert was listed in the census as a shipowner. The couple had two daughters, Mary Ann and Henrietta. Robert’s wife Mary died at Blyth aged 48 on 25th September 1856.
Robert’s second marriage was to Phillis Garritte (daughter of a Hartlepool Marine Insurance Surveyor) at Hartlepool in 1859. In the 1861 and 1871 census the couple were living at Albion Terrace, Hartlepool. They had a son, William, and a daughter Marian. In 1870 Robert became a Hartlepool town councillor and was rapidly promoted to chief magistrate. He was a trustee of Smith’s Charity Estate and a member of the Port and Harbours Commission and the Pilotage Board. Robert retired from his active business connections in about 1874 and moved to ‘Blythville’ Trinity Road, Darlington.
Robert died aged 86 on 23 January 1895 leaving effects of £23,399 11s 10d.
Obituary in the Northern Echo Thursday 24 January 1895:
‘DEATH OF MR ROBERT BREWIS, J.P., OF DARLINGTON.
On Wednesday morning, at his residence at t Blytheville, Darlington, in the presence of his wife and two faithful attendants, as calmly as in natural repose, at the advanced age of 86, Mr Robert Brewis fell asleep .Until three months he had shown no sign of the decrepitude of age. His life has been one of activity, industry and well-doing. Mr Brewis was by birth a citizen of no mean city. He was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne on the 1st of October, 1808. His father was for many years a successful shipbuilder in Sunderland, and a prominent merchant of Tyneside, who, through some reverse in fortune, " began the world again" with a young family in Blyth, where the boyhood of the future mayor of Hartlepool and borough magistrate of Darlington was spent in acquiring a practical knowledge of many industries and an insight into shipping affairs which afterwards stood him in good stead. It was--as he used afterwards to recall-the year of the cholera visitation- of the north-east ports -1832-that he removed to Hartlepool. He was one of the public-spirited townsmen who joined in reviving the ancient charter of that ancient borough. Being an ardent Whig in politics he took an active part in promoting the election of Lord Harry Vane (the late Duke of Cleveland) and Mr Henry Pease (father of the present Mayor of Darlington) as representatives of South Durham in 1857. When, two years later, the Hartlepools were enfranchised and had the privilege of direct representation in Parliament, he strongly supported successively the candidatures of Mr Thomas Richardson and Mr (now Sir Isaac) Lowthian Bell. In 1870 he became a Town Councillor of Hartlepool in succession to his friend of many years' standing, Mr J. Hyslop Bell, and was rapidly promoted to the Chief Magistracy of the borough. Many other public s offices in the busy seaports of, the Hartlepools were forced upon him about this time. He became a trustee of Smith's Charity Estate that singular foundation upon which has been reared the Hospital, Grammar School, and other valuable institutions of "the old town." Of the Port and Harbour Commission, the Pilotage Board, the Savings Bank, the Natural History Society, and the Mechanics' Institute he was long an active office-bearer. In his sixty-sixth year Mr Brewis retired from many of his active business connections, and built for himself the villa of Blytheville. The only public body with which he was then connected was the Tees Fishery Board, where he was one of a group of members who steadfastly devoted themselves to its developing, the fishery resources of the Tees river and estuary, and to the removal, which he lived to see almost completed, of the obstructive Dinsdale Dam. Mr Brewis was twice married. The child of the first marriage survives him. His second wife-to whom he was married in 1855, and who also survives him-was 'Miss Phyllis Garrite, youngest daughter of the well-known Marine Insurance Surveyor of Hartlepool. Two children of the second marriage, Marion and William, were educated at the seminaries in Darlington. The only son died two years ago. His death occasioned a source of grief and disappointment, from the effects of which Mr Brewis never completely recovered. The surviving daughter is the wife of Mr Albert Charles Seward M.A. Lecturer on Fossil Botany to the University of Cambridge. Mr Seward is well known in the North-country towns as having been a popular and successful lecturer under the University Extension system. An important work from his pen, which is no breach of confidence to say will owe much in its illustration to the artistic skill of Mrs Seward, is now passing through the University press, In September and October last, during a visit to Cambridge, Mr Brewis, after a pleasant afternoon on the banks of the Cam, was seized with the fatal illness to which in the end he succumbed. After some weeks of suffering he was sufficiently recovered to return to his own home, for which he had been most anxious have the advice of his regular medical attendant, Dr. John Hern, of Sommercote; but from the first week after his return he regarded the end as inevitable. He made a final disposition of his affairs, accepted with calm and thankful spirit all the ministrations of friendship and affection by which he was surrounded, spoke with the no uncertain language of the future life which he unfalteringly believed awaited him, and towards the close of his protracted illness divided his attention between making the most minute directions as to his earthly affairs and confessing his entire thankfulness to the Father of all for the goodness and mercy by which he had been guided and followed during a long and, on the whole tranquil life. The late Lord Chancellor had added the, name of Mr Brewis to the Commission of the Peace for the borough of Darlington. Mr Brewis felt it was due to the townsmen who had recommended him to the distinguished honour to qualify; but owing to a growing infirmity of deafness, he did not take upon himself the duties of the office.’
He was interred in West Road Cemetery, Darlington. His headstone reads:
In loving memory of WILLIAM GARRITTE beloved and only son of ROBERT & PHILLIS BREWIS of Blythville,Darlington who died Sept 14th 1893 aged 33 years. Also of the above ROBERT BREWIS JP who died Jan 23rd 1895 aged 86 years. Also of PHILLIS BREWIS widow of the above ROBERT BREWIS JP who died July 30th 1901 aged 78 years. Also of ANNIE ISSABELLA BREWIS who died Sep 29th 1916 aged 78 years. Widow of CAPTAIN J.E. BREWIS of Hartlepoo/ nephew of the above ROBERT BREWIS.
Robert Hutchinson was born in 1821 at Eldon, Durham. He married Susanna Alderson in September 1845 at Darlington. In 1851 the couple were living at Middlesbrough with Robert listed as a butcher employing one apprentice. By 1861 the couple had moved to 16 Lynn Street, West Hartlepool and by 1871 they were living at Tower Street, West Hartlepool. It appears that the couple did not have any children.
Robert died aged 54 on 28th February 1875 at West Hartlepool leaving effects of under £3,000.
Ships Robert owned or had shares in from approximate dates were: 1851 Glory; 1853 Ivanhoe; 1855 Atlantic; 1857 Newport; 1864 Earl Bathurst; 1864 Argo; 1864 Ravensworth; 1867 Fanny; 1867 Penelope; 1867 Solon; 1867 Zior; 1868 Astley; 1870 Markwell; 1871 Abbotts Reading; 1873 Catherine Roberts; 1873 Ipswich; 1874 Williams; 1874 Malvina.
Other shareholders were: John Dennis; Thomas Hogarth; Joseph Peacock; Joseph Pearson; Nesswell Lowther; Matthew Boyes; John Furness; William Young
Under his will land at Elwick was sold at auction. His ships and shares of ships were also auctioned.
Northern Echo – Thursday 12 August 1875:
SALES BY PUBLIC AUCTION. Elwick, in the Parish of Hart, in the County of Durham - Valuable Freehold Farm for Sale.
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, by Messrs MERRYWEATHER AND SON (by order of the Trustees under the Will of the late Robert Hutchinson, deceased), at the Royal Hotel, West Hartlepool, on THURSDAY, August the 12th, 1875, at Two for Three o’Clock in the Afternoon precisely, in the following Lots, and subject to Conditions of Sale to be then read:-
Lot 1.- All that valuable FREEHOLD FARM and LANDS, situate in the township of Elwick, in the parish of Hart, comprising the Farmhouse, Outbuildings, Yard, Garden, and Promises, and the several Closes of excellent Arable, Meadow, and Pasture Land held therewith, the whole containing together l02a. 8r. 4p., or thereabouts, and was late in the occupation of Robert Hutchinson, deceased. The Minerals will be sold with the Farm.
Lot 2.-All that FREEHOLD DWELLING-HOUSE, and the Garden adjoining thereto, situated at Elwick aforesaid, and now or late in the occupation of Mr Martin. Elwick is situated about three miles from the important town of West Hartlepool. The Farm lies in a ring fence, and is rendered very valuable from the fact of the land having been recently drained by the late owner at a considerable expense, and also from its close contiguity to the coal district, coal mines being worked within a short distance from it. Altogether, a very desirable investment is offered to the public. The Tenants will show the property, and further information may be had, and a Plan of the Estate seen, upon application to Dr. JAMES ATKINSON, JOHN FURNESS, Jun., the Trustees; to the AUCTIONEERS; or, to HIGSON SIMPSON, Solicitor, - West Hartlepool.
Northern Echo - Friday 17 September 1875:
‘SALE OF SHIPPING PROPERTY AT WEST HARTLEPOOL.-Yesterday afternoon, there was an unreserved sale of collier-ships, and shares of ships, the property of the late Mr Robert Hutchinson, shipowner, by Mr Richard Merryweather, auctioneer, at the offices of Messrs Lister, Baumann, and Co., West Hartlepool. The auctioneer reserved the right to start at an upset price fixed by the owner's trustees; and the results were as follows:-The Catherine Roberts, 250 tons register -upset price £250, sold for £340. Half of the brig Malvina, 186 tons register-started at £100, was purchased by the owner of the other half for £150. One quarter of the brig Astly, 205 tons register-first bid, £75- knocked down at £120. Half of the brigantine Argo, 124 tons register- first bid, £100 (by the owner of the other half), sold, after a spirited bidding, at £220. Half of the collier-brig Williams, 184 register tons-started at £100, there being no advance, was knocked down at that amount to the brother of the other owner, Mr T. Furness. Twenty-four sixty-fourths of the brig Solon, 165 tons register-first bid £75, knocked down at £125. The great feeling among the shipowners and ship- masters present at the sale was that the present is a favourable time for the purchase of wooden ships. The Plimsoll agitation has had the effect of withholding investors, and thus cheapening this class of property, although practical men and small capitalists, conversant with shipping affairs, experience no depreciation either in intrinsic or in productive value.’More detail »
From Geoffrey Milton Donald, grandson of William Milton Swarbrick. November 2009.
The 'Alexandra', though not strictly a Hartlepool ship, was part-owned by a Captain Stevenson and was on the run down the coast to London with north-east coal and presumably other goods to make up the ballast on the way back. We believe it was registered in Aberdeen, number 5324 at 160 tonnage, as a 'Hermaphrodite Brigantine', being two-mast square rigged, but with a fore-and-aft sail at the rear. The Stevenson family we think ran the 'Harbour of Refuge' pub in Old Hartlepool.
William Milton Swarbrick (1881 to 1969) came from a seafaring family with two captains in the lineage, one of whom lost his ship in a fearful storm, was washed up on shore alive but died of exposure. Grandfather was apprenticed at the age of fourteen on the Alexandra and was expecting eventually to gain his 'mates ticket' and follow in the family tradition. He took with him a copy of "Two Years before the Mast" which he kept all his life. In 1899 he transferred to steam-powered cargo boats (he always refused to call anything without sails a 'ship, even the Queen Elisabeth was a boat!) and covered both European ports and the Atlantic run to Charleston Carolina and Savanna Georgia.
After breaking a leg on shore he decided to leave the sea in favour of Miss Leah Clementson who became our grandmother. When she went to the docks to collect his final wage packet she was told that he owed the company two shillings and sixpence! He subsequently worked in the finance offices of William Gray's shipyards, where, apparently, Sir William would cheerily address him as 'Bill'. Amongst other pursuits he kept the books for the local branch of the Ancient Order of the Foresters mutual society and was a long-time member of the Eldon Grove bowling club. Despite several opportunities to move they lived all their married lives in Penrhyn Street, preferring the neighbourly community where, on the occasions when the front door was locked, the key would be hanging on a string behind the letterbox. He kept near-perfect health and mind until he died in 1969 after a brief illness not far off his eighty-eighth birthday.
The following reminiscences spring from the many and oft-repeated tales I heard from him in his 'anecdotage'.
As the young apprentice and possible future skipper himself, he was in the charge of the Captain, though by no means spared any of the hard work on a sailing ship. Quite the contrary, he was expected to learn everything to do with handling it, though Captain Stevenson was wont to cut an extra slice of cheese from the barrel for him to take away. 'His' sail was usually either the fore-topsail or the fore-t'gallant and he had to take his place in all weathers along the yard to set or furl the sail, standing on the swaying rope, with "one hand for the ship and one hand for himself". He told us that it was considered not the done thing to go the easy way through the 'lubber hole' in the masthead platform, but to climb up round the outside of the rigging.
At more relaxing times when the ship was at anchor or becalmed, the crew was able to devote time to fishing for supper. On one occasion the catch included 'gurnard' which can make noises like the barking of a dog. So annoyed at this, the captain's terrier dog Peter grabbed one but unfortunately fell overboard with it. Despite launching the boat he was never found. Captain Stevenson locked himself in his cabin for a long time afterwards. Even sadder, many years later, grandfather found him picking up cigarette ends in Llyn Street. He gave the old boy a fiver, which would be worth quite a bit in those days. There was not much in the way of pensions then.More detail »
(Compiled by Maureen Anderson)
William Grainger was born at Hartlepool in 1864. He married Bridget ‘Biddy’ (nee Fox) & they had two sons, William and James, and three daughters, Eve, Margaret and Ethel. In the true Hartlepool seafaring tradition of the time William served in sailing ships & early iron steamers, fished for herring in the Hartlepool keel boats and, in later life was a foy boatman.
He was a member of the Middleton Volunteer Life-Saving Company and the Hartlepool Rocket Life-Saving Brigade during which time he received a bronze gallantry medal from the Board of Trade. It was presented to him by the Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor M Harrison, at the Royal Naval Reserve Battery in the first week of December 1901 for his part in the rescue of part of the crew of the Trio on 13 November 1901. During a severe gale & turbulent seas the Swedish barque had struck the south pier and, within sight of hundreds of people, began to break up. All the crew ended up in the water and some washed towards the shore. A few of the men watching the tragedy had ropes to try to pull the drowning crew to land and one, Alfred Gales, donned a lifebelt and brought two men to land. One survived but the other was dead when carried ashore.
William, at huge risk to his own life, swam through the boiling surf and floating wreckage and managed to rescue a man. He then re-entered the water to try to save another but the wreckage came between them and the man later washed up dead. An alarm was given that another man had been seen in the water and William made a third attempt to save a life but this proved to be a false sighting. Only three from the crew of ten survived. For this act of bravery the people of West Hartlepool also presented William with a gold medal.
William was also a member of the Hartlepool Rocket Life-Saving Brigade for which he received a Board of Trade silver medal after 35 years’ service. The medal was presented on 17 October 1930 at the Hartlepool Rocket House by Captain R Bacchus, Inspector of Coastguards at Tynemouth. At this time William was aged 68 and living at 22 Wood Street. Remembered as a ringer of the fog bell on Hartlepool Breakwater he also acted as watchman for the Port and Harbour Commission at the Old Pier.
On his death The Northern Daily Mail of Friday, September 6th 1946 described William as one of the last of the original Crofters which referred to an old part of Hartlepool known as the Croft which has now gone.More detail »
William Lisle was born at Newton Bewley on 10th August 1801 to parents Elizabeth (nee Lister) and Thomas Crawford Lisle. He was a miller at Middleton-mills in Stranton, Hartlepool and must have been successful as he purchased shares in early shipping companies and ships.He married Ann Farrow at Billingham on 16th May 1832.The couple had four sons and four daughters. Ann died in 1868.
William drowned aged 73 in the River Tees on 8th May 1874. In his will he left effects of under £3,000.
York Herald – Saturday 11 May 1874
MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF A HARTLEPOOL MAGISTRATE. INQUEST AT MIDDLESBROUGH. On Saturday, as the steam-tug Dauntless was proceeding down the Tees from Middlesbrough, the captain discovered a body floating face downwards between the fourth and fifth buoys. He at once hauled it on board, and returned to Middlesbrough, where it was conveyed to the dead-house. Just afterwards it was recognised by P.C. Jepson as the body of William Lisle, Esq., one of the magistrates of Old Hartlepool. The authorities at Hartlepool were at once communicated with, and in the afternoon the friends of deceased arrived to claim the body. An inquest was held in the afternoon, before Mr. J. Dent, the deputy coroner. The captain having described his finding the body, Dr. O'Donnell said there were no marks of violence on the body. His opinion was that death was by drowning; but he was at a loss how to account for the body having floated so soon after death. If the deceased had been last seen alive at nine o'clock on the previous night it was one of the most singular cases on record that the deceased should be found eight miles up the Tees only twelve hours afterwards.— Mr. John Shiels, chief constable of Hartlepool, said the deceased had retired from business, and was in his 74th year. He was on the bench on Tuesday discharging his magisterial duties in the usual manner He learned that deceased was last seen about ten o'clock on Friday night at the end of Durham-street, from which there were two roads, one leading to the docks and the other in the direction of the sea, on the embankment of which there was no fence. The roads were very dangerous to go along after dark. He had no reason to believe that deceased had any cause to put an end to his existence. Elizabeth King, housekeeper to deceased, said his wife had been dead six years. Within the last three weeks she noticed that he appeared to be low-spirited. He was a man of very temperate habits, and was accustomed to retire to bed at ten. On Friday he kept in the house till nearly nine o'clock, when she heard him go out. He always carried his watch with him, but they found that he had left it and his money behind him. The jury returned a verdict of " Found drowned,” but added that there was no evidence to show how he had got into the water.More detail »