During the first period of British Ship registration, from 1786 to 1824, the 202 ton ship George was the largest vessel registered in the Port of Penzance. A foreign built vessel, taken prize, some years previously, her subsequent history under Penzance registration reveals some novel features relating to British ‘bottoms,’ and ‘plantation’ trade, while touching on illicit trade.
Lloyd’s List for 27th June 1786, reported that a vessel named George, commanded by Captain Ward, had sailed from Penzance for Virginia during the week ended 20th June – her previous arrival at Penzance not having been reported. Her subsequent arrival at Virginia was reported in Lloyd’s List of Tuesday, April 10th 1787, when no date of arrival was given. Then, after another long period of silence, the George was reported in Lloyd’s List of 25th September 1787, as arrived at Penzance from America – on or about the 24th of that month.
Shortly after her arrival in Penzance, on the 29th September 1787, the George was duly registered under the new legislation at the Penzance Custom House, as:
As British property prior to the 1786 Act, she was permitted to be registered as a British vessel, but being foreign built was about to become an expensive problem.
Measuring 80’ 3” x 25’ x 5’ 6” height between decks, the George registered 202 tons; and had two decks, and three masts. A square-sterned ship, with no galleries or figure head, she was a little beamier than the contemporary Falmouth Packets, but was otherwise very similar in size. Her owners were then given as Thomas Love, John Dunkin, and James Dunkin, all of Penzance. John Ward was her master, and the ship was recorded as being manned by 13 hands in September 1789.[*]
Although no problems were raised about registering her as a British vessel on September 29th, immediately following her registration a correspondence was opened between the Penzance Customs Officers and the Board of Customs in London, hinging on the legitimacy, or otherwise, of granting an entry to her current cargo – it having been decreed that all goods from the late North American colonies had to be imported in either British built vessels, or in vessels built in North American. A protracted dispute ensued.
Comm.rs Customs 26 Sept.r 1787
Hon: Sirs, We beg leave to inclose yr. Honrs. a Copy of the Manifest of the George of this Port, a Foreign Built Ship, own’d by British and Navigated by His Maj: Subjects, John Ward Mr. from Wilmington in No. Carolina with Tar, Turpentine, Pitch, Reeds and Staves.
As the above Goods are in a Foreign Built Ship, own’d & mann’d wholly by His Maj. Subjects, we beg leave to request your Honors. to inform us whether the Pitch, Tar, Turpentine and Reeds may be admitted to an Entry on payment of the Aliens Duty, also whether the Staves may in this Case be admitted to an Entry Duty Free: His Maj’y. Order in Council of the 4th April last confining the Importation of Goods from the United States of America to British Built Ships Navigated according to Law, or Ships built in the Countries belonging to the United States &c. We humbly pray your Honrs. speedy direction.
We are &c. G. [Elias Govet – Act. Collector], JW. [Jos. Webb] [*]
Unfortunately no copy of the manifest has survived, but her cargo came under the general description of Naval Stores. Following the recent successful rebellion, the carriage of North American produce was strictly regulated by recent Orders in Council – particularly as to the nation of build of ships engaged in such trade. A petition to the Board of Customs, submitted by her owners in an attempt to secure the release of the ship and cargo, was noted as received on October 22nd. –
To the Honble the Comm.rs of His Majesty’s Customs
The Humble Petition of John Dunkin, James Dunkin and Thomas Love, all of the Town of Penzance in the County of Cornwall, Merchants, and Sole Owners & proprietors of the Ship George of this Place, Danish built, burthen. about Two Hundred and twenty Tons.
Sheweth, That your Petitioners have been possessed of the said Vessel above two years therefore thought themselves intituled to the priveliges of Foreign Ships Built before the first of May 1786, British Property, and with this idea and seeing the same done and suffered in other ports in this Kingdom ordered the Vessel to North Carolina in America navigated with all Englishmen, with a view to purchase Naval Stores for this place and Neighbourhood & said Vessel arrived here few days since, after a Long and disagreeable Voyage of Sixteen Months to the Great Loss of your Petitioners, but what aded much to our disappointment on making application to the Custom House to enter the said Cargo and pay the aliens Duty, were acquainted that it could not be permitted without application to your Hon.rs which is the Reason of this Memorial, not doubting when this shall be made Known that your Hon.rs will Suffer the said Goods to be admitted to an Entry on paying the Aliens Duty, or Grant us such other Relief as your Hon.rs shall think Proper there being no act to the best of our Judgement to prohibit the same, and your Petitioners are in Duty bound shall every Pray,
For Dunkin Love & Dunkin, Jn.o Dunkin
The Board of Customs in London, promptly referred the petition back to the Penzance Custom House officers, seeking their observations.-
To the Collr. & Comptr. of Penzance for their report & observations, observing to return this petition,
By order of the Commissioners, Danl. Curling
We beg leave to report to the Honble Board that the within Vessel called the George belonging to this port arrived here from Wilmington North Carolina about the 24 Ulto. Laden with Tar, Turpentine, Pitch, Reeds and Staves: the said Vessel being a Norway Built Ship owned and man’d by British Subjects, were [we’re] at a loss whether the said Cargo might be admitted to Entry, We apprehending His Majesty’s order in Council of the 4th April last confining the importation of Goods from the United States of America, to British Built Ships navigated according to Law, or Ships built in the Countries belonging to the United States, as we Set forth to your Honrs. in our letter of the 26th Ulto. No.63. We humbly pray your Honrs. Speedy directions.
E. G. Collr., A. H. in the Comprs. Absence.
Customho. Penzance, 26th Octor. 1787 [*]
At the same time as their observations on the George and her owners were sent to the Board of Customs, the Penzance officers also requested the Board of Admiralty to issue passes for her and the Lord Hood – both vessels being partly owned by the Dunkin brothers.
[To] Philip Stephens Esqr.
Sir, Please to order a pass to be sent me for the George of this port John Ward Master, Norway Built British Property, also a pass for the Lord Hood (French Built made free) William Mitchell Mr. agreeable to the said Certificate & Masters affidavit Inclosed.
I am Sir, &c. EG
Customho. Penzance, 26th Octr. 1787. [*]
The Board of Customs had no sympathy for the plight of the George’s owners – only British built vessels, or those actually built in the colonies or plantations, were permitted to trade with British colonies and plantations.
Early in November they forbade the Penzance officers to allow her cargo to be entered, and her owners were at a total loss as to which way to turn and what to do. Nearly three months later they submitted another petition, this time through the Penzance officers. –
Commrs. Customs 25 Decr. 1787
Honble Sirs, Inclos’d we beg leave to transmit your Honors the Petition of John & James Dunkin and Thos. Love, Merchants Owners of the Ship George of this Port, John Ward Mr. from Wilmington in No. America laden with Naval Stores together with the Affidavits of the said Master & Affidavits of Wm. Treluddra and John Nicholls Masters of Merchant Ships and of Samuel Nicholls Shipwright setting forth the great distress of the aforementioned Ship and Cargo;
We beg leave to refer yr. Honrs: to our letter of the 26 of Septr. last No.63 also to that from yr. Honrs. dated 8 of Novr. follg. No.86, directing us not to permit the said Ship’s Cargo to an Entry, she being foreign built. We beg to report that what is set forth in the petition & affidavits respecting the damages the Vessel has sustained partly: from the late Gales of Wind is strictly true.
We are, &c. EG, JW [*]
Unfortunately no copies of any of the affidavits mentioned were copied into the Letter Books, nor were they filed with this copy of the owners’ petition transmitted. –
The Humble petition of John & James Dunkin and Thomas Love of the Town of Penzance in the County of Cornwall
As a result of the George’s distressed condition, sufferance was reluctantly given for the cargo to be landed and secured in a warehouse, while the essential repairs were undertaken.
Most humbly Sheweth
That your Petitioners in Octr. last most humbly supplicated your Honrs: for leave to land a Cargo of Naval Stores then just arrived from No. America in the George of this place John Ward Master a foreign built Ship but solely & bonafide belonging to your Petitioners and navigated with English Men Subjects to His Majesty with a proper Register, to which memorial we now refer –
Your Honrs. must be acquainted that a considerable time was taken up before any Reply was made to said Memorial, and what added much to the delay was the mistake in transmitting the answer to Falmh. instead of Penzance – that in the interval we had many Gales of Wind at S.E. some most violent, in which there was scarce a hope of saving Ship or Cargo, as the pier in Penzance whence the vessel lay was open and exposed to such Winds, that tho we have the good fortune by employing a number of hands and much Expence in some measure to preserve the vessel from being dash’d to pieces against the Rocks, yet the whole frame was so agitated and shaken against the Quay, & striking so violently against the ground, with so heavy a Cargo, that the Tar began to wash from all parts of the Vessel to the pump Room, so that the Pumps were immediately choked, so that between Tar and Water, said Vessel is rendered quite unfit to proceed to sea, and further said Vessel drawing much Water cannot be removed but at Spring Tides, having formed a deep Channel or Dock in the Ground by means of the Keel occasion’d by the weight of the Cargo, there is no possibility of Removing her without discharging the Cargo, so that unless some reasonable and ready Relief is granted to yr. Petitioners the Vessel must be lost to the great detriment of your petitioners who meant nothing, but what was just & equitable having already sustained a Loss by the Voyage of near £1600 Sterling in Ship & Cargo –
In tender consideration of the premises that the Cargo may be landed under the payment of Duties, or suffer the same to be exported in other Bottoms or such other Relief as your Honours may think meet. And your Petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray.
Custom H.o London 3.d Jan.y 1788
Gentlemen, Having read your Letter of the 25th Ult.o N.o 83, transmitting the Petition of John & James Dunkin & Thomas Love, owners of the Ship George of your Port from Wilmington in North America, laden with Naval Stores, together with the Affidavit of the said Master and three other persons, setting forth the great distress of the said Ship & Cargo, praying that the same may be landed and admitted to an Entry, or transhipped in other Vessels for a foreign Market. –
As you have Certified that the Allegations of distress are Strictly true; we consent to you permitting the Cargo to be Landed under the Care & inspection of proper trusty Officers and deposited in Warehouses under the joint Locks of the Crown & Merchant until the Vessel shall have been repaired.
And you are to observe that the Crown be not put to any expence on the Occasion, and that a particular Account of the Cargo be taken at landing, as also that the Warehouse in which the same shall be deposited are perfectly secure, so that the Revenue may not be defrauded. ~
A Munro, H Pelham, Wm Hey, R Frewin [*]
Repairs took about a fortnight. Rendered fully seaworthy again, and only partially laden, the George was extracted from the tidal dock scoured under her keel and put out from the harbour to anchor in Gwavas Lake. During the night of the 17th January, supposedly under the strict control of the Customs officers, her cargo was shipped on board the Friendship for transhipment into the George out in the bay. However, the transfer did not go as planned by the Customs officers, and the George’s owners were immediately suspected of having worked a scam. No full account of what transpired has been discovered, but a couple of surviving affidavits, sworn by Excise and Customs officers, give part of the story. Reading between the lines it is easy to imagine what actually happened that night.
That same night, working on information received, Excise men from the cutter Wasp were out in their small boat waiting to intercept a smuggling lugger which was due to run a cargo near Mousehole –
In the Exchequer
William Boothby Mate and William Horn Seaman belonging to His Majesty’s Excise Cutter the Wasp voluntarily make Oath & says that between the Hours of 9 & 12 o’clock at Night of the 17th Instant & One the following morning they together with the Collector and Comptroller of His Majesty’s Customs in this Port, Mr. Edward Dunsterville their Commander and seven others belonging to the aforemention’d Cutter, were in the Cutter’s Boat, endeavouring to intercept a Smuggling Lugger which was expected to have Run her Cargo at Mousehole in Mount’s Bay in this Port, that they particularly noticed the Weather which was very moderate the wind being from SW. to WSW and Moonlight, with scarce any Sea that might have prevented the Brig Friendship, George Branwell Mar. from going alongside the Ship George, John Ward Mar. and putting onboard her any Cargo she might have had in for the said Ship George, and these Deponents further says that about seven o’clock in the morning the said ship George was standing on and off under Reef’d Topsails between Penzance and Gwavas Lake where she might have anchored and there taken on board from either a Boat or Vessel the remainder of her Cargo if it was Intended to have been done, tho the wind was considerably fresher than in the Night.
So help me God
Sworn before me at Penzance this 19 day of January 1788
Willm. Boothby, Willm. Horne, G Borlase a Commr. &c.[*]
Although their ‘information’ about a smuggling run proved false, having spent most of a fruitless night off Mousehole in their small rowing boat, so far as the Excise men were concerned, there was no sign of any ‘bad weather’ that might have prevented the transfer of cargo from the Friendship to the George. Being less than three miles from the anchorage in which the George lay, they can hardly have experienced very different weather conditions, but despite the evidence of the Excise men’s deposition, bad weather was claimed to have prevented the transhipment. Penzance officers were of course on duty at the actual scene. Tidesman and Boatman, William Parker being stationed onboard the Friendship that night, to oversee the transfer of her cargo to the George –
In the Exchequer
William Parker a Tidesman and Boatman in the service of His Majesty’s Customs at the Port of Penzance, Voluntarily Maketh Oath and Saith, that being Station’d on board the Brig Friendship George Bramwell Master Laden with Tar & Turpentine in Order to Convey and ship the same on board the Ship or Vessel called the George John Ward Master out of which Vessel the said Tar & Turpentine was lately Unladen on account of her having (as alledged) been Injured by bad weather and therefore in Need of Repair, and this Deponent further saith, that he went in the said Brigantine from the pier of Penzance on the Night of the 17th of this Instant January off the Mount Roadd [sic] where, the said ship George then lay and that some person on board her said the sea was so High, that they could not take the Tar in the Brig on board the Ship, and that this Deponent who hath been Eleven Years in His Majesty’s Navy as a Midshipman & Pilot, is of Opinion that the Brig might have laid alongside the ship – George and put on board her the Tar & Turpentine she then had in, with Great Ease and Safety. –
So help me God
Sworn before me, William Parker, at Penzance aforesaid this 19 day of January 1788
Before me G Borlase a Commisr. &c. [*]
From the Collector and Comptroller of Penzance’s accompanying report, it is clear that there were several other highly pertinent affidavits – those of Thomas Andrew, a Landwaiter; and Charles McLean, an Extra Man placed on board the Friendship; and one Stephen Hodge. But these three depositions are now missing and the full story of the events of that night are lost in the mists of history.
Though the Liberty was not mentioned in the previous affidavits, she was somehow involved in the transhipment, or in subsequent transactions relating to this cargo. Shortly afterwards a number of barrels of tar were alleged to have been fraudulently misappropriated, and her master and crew were alleged to have been working hand in glove with the crews of the George, and the Friendship.
Comms. Customs 24th Jany. 1788
Hon Sirs, Herewith we beg to transmit two Affidavits of William Parker Tidesman & Boatman, also an Affidavit of Mr. Tho. Andrews Landwaiter.
Your Honrs: will please to observe that examining: the Landwaiter’s Account with William Parker’s and with Stephen Hodge’s whose Affidavit we also send, there Appears to have been a Fraud committed by this Master of the Sloop Liberty of Twenty Barrels of Tar which said Sloop cleared yesterday for Ireland.
We pray your Honors. directions should she return here again, which is probable she will, as belonging to this Port, how far we may have a just cause to detain her. Your Honrs. will please to notice in the Affidavit of the said Mr. Andrews respecting his shipping 242 Brls of Tar onboard the Brig Friendship, Geo. Branwell Mr. for the Ship George, comparing his Acct. with Charles McLean’s an Extra Man boarded on the Brig whose Affidavit accompanies this, as also with Stephen Hodge’s Boarded on the Ship George; We flatter ourselves there will appear to have been Smuggled 110 Barrells of Tar, which was brought back under pretence of Ballast – By the Landwaiter’s Account for Brig should have on 167 exclusive of the 110 Barrells which is considerably more than she can carry. As a fraud from the first was intended the owners of the Ship George, the Brig Friendship, and Sloop Liberty are known Smugglers; We humbly Pray that the Brig with the Cargo now under Stop may be prosecuted in the Exchr. at the Crown’s Expence, and beg leave to refer yr. Honrs: to our Letter of the 20th No.5 and to the Affidavits then sent respecting the Weather when the ship George sail’d.
We have had an acct. of her being in Torbay which information together with Copy of her Manifest we sent the Collr. & Comptr. of Dartmouth. To save the post time would not allow copying the Inclos’d therefore yr. Honrs will be pleased to send them back to be sworn in the Exchr. should it meet your approbation. [*]
There followed another petition to the Board of Customs from Thomas Love and Co., dated January 23rd, 1788, No copy of this has been found, but from the following copy of the Board’s instructions to the Penzance Officers, it was affirmed that the George had been forced to put to sea, and had not been heard of since. And, despite the highly coloured nature of these transactions, the Friendship was to be allowed to depart with the remainder of the George’s cargo.
Custom H.o London, 19th February 1788
Gentlemen, Having read a petition of Thomas Love & C.o dated the 23.d Ult.o setting forth that the Ship George belonging to your port, put in there in distress with a Cargo of Naval Stores from America, has been driven to Sea with only part of her Cargo on board & no Account received of her since, & therefore praying that such part, which was put on board a vessel called the Friendship, in order to transport the same on board the Ship George then lying in Mount’s Bay may be now exported in the Friendship, together with the Goods remaining in the Warehouse.
As it is positively sworn in the Affidavit of Geo. Branwell the M.r of the Friendship & Chas. John a pilot, that from Stress of Weather they were prevented from transhipping the Cargo, & that it was necessary for the preservation of the Ship George, for her to weigh Anchor & proceed to Sea; We under all the Circumstances of the Case, consent to the residue being exported as desired upon sufficient Security being first given for the exportation thereof, observing that the same be done under the Care & inspection of the proper Officers, & that this revenue be not put to any expence on the occasion.
Edw.d Hooper, R Frewin, Tho.s Boone, Wm Hey [*]
Here the Custom House correspondence on this particular episode then closed.
After nearly ten months without mention of her, the George was again noted retrospectively in a report of changes of masters of vessels registered in the port.
Port of Penzance, An Account of all Certificates of Registry which have been granted at this port from the 8th day of Aug.st 1788, the Admission of M.r Scobell to the 10th of October foll.g together with An Account of all Endorsements that have been made on Certificates of Registry.
Ship No Ship name Master’s name Certificate of Registry Dates and particulars of endorsements 15 Success W.m Cornish 1786 Oct.r 30th John Phillips is now Master in the Room of W.m Cornish p-End.t 16th Oct.r 1788. 9 Adventure Ralph Dewen D.o 24 Richard Silby is now M.r in the Room of Ralph Dewen p-End.t the 17 Oct.r 1788. 7 George John Ward 1787 Sep.r 29th Ralph Dewen is now M.r in the Room of John Ward p-End.t the 22.d Oct.r 1788.
Honble Sirs, Annexed we beg leave to transmit your Honble Board An Account of all Certificates of Registry granted at this port together with an account of all Endorsements that have been made on Certificates of Registry from the 8th day August 1788, to the 10th Inst.
We are &c. JS, JW
Custom H.o Penzance, 25 Oct.r 1788. [*]
Now under the command of Capt. Ralph Dewen, the George sailed from Mount’s Bay for Leghorn on October 24th 1788.[*] Presumably laden with a regular cargo of salt-cured pilchards for export, unbeknown to the authorities she also gave a clandestine passage abroad to a local fugitive that night.
Some months earlier Captain Harry Carter (one of the notorious Carter Brothers of Prussia’s Cove) had been in command of the smuggling lugger Revenge. Engaged in running a cargo of spirits ashore at Cawsand, Harry and the Revenge were caught in the act of landing their contraband cargo. Earlier that evening, Captain Ellison, commander of H.M. Frigate Druid, having been asked for assistance by the commander of the Revenue cutter Busy, had sent off two armed cutters from the Druid, to patrol the waters off Cawsand. During the early hours of the morning of January 31st 1788, the ship’s cutters came across the lugger. A desperate skirmish ensued, during which one of the Naval cutters’ crew was killed, and ten of the smugglers were taken prisoner. Although cut down by two cutlass blows to the head, Harry Carter managed to slip over the side and made his escape from the scene. Helped ashore by his brother Charles, he made it back to Prussia’s Cove a couple of days later.
Immediately following this incident the Board of Customs placed a reward of £200 on Harry Carter’s head, and he was forced to lay low for many months. Indeed, his position was so precarious, that once his wounds had healed sufficiently to travel, it was decided that he should go into temporary exile. Accordingly, on the evening of October 24th, shortly after he had cleared Customs at Penzance, captain Ralph Dewen hauled his ship’s wind off Prussia’s Cove. Hove-to for a short while, Harry Carter was quietly put on board the George from a small boat rowed by his elder brother John – the legendary ‘King of Prussia.’ [*]
Her voyage continued, and towards the end of December the George was reported to have arrived at Leghorn,[*] where they spent Christmas, and remained a few weeks before obtaining a freight for Barcelona, whence they sailed towards the end of January 1789.[*] In Barcelona they shipped a cargo of brandy for New York, where she arrived on April 19th 1789.[*] There Harry Carter was put ashore – and the story of his travails in that land can be read in his autobiography. Meanwhile the George went on to Baltimore, and was later reported to have arrived at Barcelona from Maryland in July.[*] She then made another North American voyage, but was back in Barcelona again in the November.[*] After making a third North American voyage, in mid March 1790, she was reported to have arrived off Penzance, from Virginia, with damage.[*]
Hove-to off Penzance, there followed a virtual re-run of the 1787 debacle, only now she was laden with North American wheat instead of naval stores. The legitimacy of granting an ‘entry’ to her cargo was again questioned – though ‘wheat’ cargoes were seen in a different light – and for a time the Penzance Custom House correspondence focuses upon her and her cargo once more.
Custom House Penzance, 20th March 1790.
Honble Sirs, We beg leave to represent to your Honble Board that the Ship George of this port Ralph Dewen Mr. from James River in Virginia bound to Falmouth for Orders with a Cargo of Wheat is put into this Bay in distress having received great damage both to Vessel and Cargo, & application having been made to us by the Capt.n & his Agent, we have granted a Special Sufferance for her Cargo or such part thereof as shall be thought necessary to be taken out & put into Secure Warehouses under the joint Locks of the Crown and proprietor, which is now doing. Inclosed we likewise beg leave to transmit your Honors the Original Survey as taken & Sworn to before the Major of this Town for your Hor.rs Consideration and directions –
We are &c. JS, JW. [*]
Port of Penzance: A True and Carefull Survey made on the Ship George and Cargo, Burthen about three hundred Tons, Ralph Dewen Mr. who put into this port (being the first harbour in the Channel) in a very distressed Condition bound from James River in Virginia to Falmouth for orders, and at the request of said Captain Ralph Dewen, and John and James Dunkin Merchants.
We Thomas Halse, and John Ellis Merchants, Francis James, & Wm. Treluddra Ship Masters, James Kevill and Samuel Nicholls Shipwrights, did on this 11th day of March 1790, go on board the said Ship George in Gwavas Lake in this port, where she now lies at Anchor, and Carefully examined such part of the said Ship & Cargo as we could come at and see, and plainly perceived that the Ship had considerably strained by Violent Weather and from every appearance had made a great Quantity of Water from her upper Works, an is now in such Bad Condition as not fit to proceed out of Port, before the Cargo is discharged and Ship repaired.
That we opened the Hatches and on examining such part of the Corn as we could come at, found a quantity thereof much wetted, and verily believes from all those Circumstances that a great part of the Cargo is damaged, and we therefore Unanimously deem it indispensibly necessary to Discharge the Whole for preservation thereof That the Cargo should be discharged immediately, and for that purpose small Vessels ought to be employed to lighten the Ship in order to bring her into Penzance pier for further Inspection.
Thomas Halse, John Ellis, Merchants
Francis James, Wm. Treluddra, Ship Masters
James Kevill, Samuel Nicholls, Shipwrights [*]
Penzance 11th March 1790.
We the above named Thomas Halse, John Ellis, Fras. James, Wm. Treluddra, James Kevill, Samuel Nicholls together with Ralph Dewen Mar. of the said Vessel do severally make Oath to the Truth of the above State of the said Vessel & Cargo.
Thomas Halse, John Ellis, Francis James, Wm. Treluddra, James Kevill, Samuel Nicholls
Sworn at Penzance this 12th day of March 1790 before me Batten Jun.r Mayor. [*]
No references were made to the earlier incident concerning the George, though ‘J S’ (John Scobell) had been Collector at Penzance at the time and could not have forgotten that episode. The Board of Customs now advised him to ‘take care to prevent embezzlements.’
Custom House London, 16th April 1790
Gentlemen, Having read your Letter of the 28th Ulto. No.29 stating that the Ship George Ralph Dewen Master from Virginia with a Cargo of Wheat bound to Falmouth for Orders is put into your Port in Distress & that you have permitted the Cargo to be landed to repair the Vessel.
We direct you to take care to prevent embezzlements and that the Revenue be not put to any expence on the Occasion and for your government as to the disposal of the Cargo We acquaint you that the same may be admitted to an Entry, on payment of the low Duty or exported from the Warehouse of [if] the Proprietor shall choose to do when the before mentioned Vessel shall be ready to receive the same
Thos. Boone, Will.m Roe, J Bates, H Stiles [*]
The outcome of their petition falling in their favour – her owners now being permitted to enter their cargo at the ‘low Duty’ there was no need for them to have recourse to any subterfuge on this occasion. It is not clear just where she actually discharged her cargo of wheat, but it was probably at Falmouth, as a short time later she was chartered by Fox & Sons, of Falmouth, for a voyage to Archangel, for Naval Stores. This was to prove her last voyage.
Archangel Sept 13
On Sunday evening, the 8th instant, we had a heavy storm of wind from the W to the NW which about midnight was tremendous indeed, and beggars all description. IT continued the whole night, and the greater part of the next day, during which time incredible damage was done to the small craft, in the river opposite the market, and at the ‘Change Bridge, where vessels were loading with wine, sugar, French brandy, &c. Many were sunk, and others crushed to pieces, by striking against other. The losses sustained by divers, as given int to the Court of Inspection, amount to upwards of 70,000 roubles. The same night, or rather early on Monday morning, the ship George of Penzance, Ralph Dewen master, bound for Falmouth, lying at anchor within the bar, drove from her anchor, and went on shore; and, out of thirteen of the crew, only one, and that is John James, the second mate, was saved, to tell the dismal tale; the others all perished together with a pilot and his assistant. The ship Friendship of Leith, George Finlay master, was also at anchor within the bar, but had the good fortune to ride out the gales. The names of the poor sufferers in the George were, Ralph Dewen master, James Banfield chief mate, John Frethay carpenter, Andrew Miller, John Dunstan, John Edmunds, John Wills, Henry Balff, George Gould, James Rale, Richard Vial, and an Italian; seamen and boys. [*]
Over the following week this story was carried by a number of west country and other provincial papers, but these seem to have mistaken the date of the loss:
‘On the 24th of September last, was lost on the bar of Archangel, the George brig, Capt. Dewen of Penzance: her cargo, consisting of mast timbers, hemp, tar, &c., was consigned to Messrs. Fox & Son, Falmouth, and is partly saved; but the crew, together with two pilots, in all 14 unfortunately lost.’ [*]
Which tragic loss closes the account of the George, but both the Dunkin brothers’ Friendship and the Liberty mentioned above in connection with her were constantly suspected of being involved in clandestine trade, as also their brigantine Lord Hood, each of which got into all sorts of trouble, and their stories are re-told in this series.
Tony Pawlyn (C) September 20th, 2019.