Pz.28 Ada

Ada 4.PZ  pre 1869-1885; Ada PZ.28: 1885-1897.

The Ada was a working sea fishing boat prior to the Sea Fisheries Act of 1868, and would then have fished under a PE. – fishing number, but lacking any earlier registers or documentation, we do not know when she was built, or what her PE number was.

Under the Sea Fisheries Act of 1868, all British seagoing fishing boats were registered anew, and those working out of Mount’s Bay harbours, coves and fishing places, were registered at the Custom House in Penzance – Penzance being the Port of Registry for Mount’s Bay.

Here on February 25th 1869 the Ada, then being deemed a 2nd Class boat by measurement [less than 15 tons], was registered as 4.PZ., in the ownership of John Wallis, of Newlyn, and under the command of skipper William Mitchell.1

The use of the word ‘boat’ in her registration indicates that she was undecked, and was regarded as an open boat by the authorities – though by this period she would have been what was known as half-decked, with hatches. As such her crew, when on long voyages, would have slept in a small cuddy/cabin under her fore-deck.

On registration she was simply described as a Lugger Rigged Boat, setting a Foresail & Mizen, and working Drift Nets. Essentially the Ada was a mackerel driver, with a 40 foot keel, and was worked by a crew of five men (including her skipper), and a boy. The office copy of her register was endorsed annually from 1870 to 1881, to confirm that she was continually employed in fishing throughout that period. The register was also endorsed to indicate the boat was lengthened by three feet in January 1876, giving her a 43 foot keel, but somehow not affecting her tonnage measurement. At the same time as she was lengthened John Wallis took command of the boat, becoming an owner/skipper.

For administrative purposed her registration was transferred to a new register in 1881, when the registrar made a mistake – initially recording her as the Fling, which carried the number four as a first class boat (PZ.4.), while the Ada being a second class boat, was 4.PZ.2 Still owned and skippered by John Wallis, the name error was corrected and the Ada’s register continued to be endorsed as a working fishing boat from 1881 to 1885.

Not one of the larger mackerel drivers, even boats of her description ventured far from home, fishing off the coast of Ireland, and in the North Sea in the relevant seasons. In the late summer of 1884 she was stranded while working off the coast of Yorkshire:

The Ada, fishing-boat, of Newlyn, on returning to Whitby from the fishing-grounds on Saturday morning during a dense fog, ran ashore at the Scar, between the High Lights and Whitby harbour. She was got off on the afternoon’s tide and towed into Whitby. She will be docked, having sustained damage to her port bilge.

Cornishman, Thursday, August 14th, 1884

Following this stranding Ada boat appears to have been re-built and decked before being re-registered on October 16th, 1885, but she now came under totally different ownership and command.3 Mary Tonkin Nicholls was now registered as her owner, with Richard Nicholls as her skipper. Now described as a Decked Lugger – still with a 43 foot keel, she was found to measure 19.23 tons, which brought her well within the 1st Class fishing boat range, and was so had to be re-registered s such. However, PZ.4, [which had been allocated to the Fling] had since been re-allocated to the Saxon Spirit, so a completely new [spare] number had to be allocated to the Ada. Accordingly she was now given the number PZ.28. She continued as a working fishing boat over the next four years, though at some time during this period Edward Nicholls, became her skipper.

On January 24th 1890, the Ada was re-registered on ‘Change of Owners.’ Mary Tonkin Nicholls had died in February 1886, and her sons Richard Nicholls (31), and Edward Tonkin Nicholls (28), now became her registered owners. Initially Richard was her skipper, but his place was taken by Edward in December 1891.4 This registration only ran for four years, as in July 1895 the lugger was again re-registered following a change of owner and rig.

Acquired by Samuel Payne of Newlyn, on July 12th, 1894, the Ada was Dandy-rigged, for ‘Trawling & Lines.’ Skippered by Sam Payne, she now only carried a crew of three men and a boy. This proved to be the last stage of her long working life, as Samuel Payne had overextended himself – having also acquired the lugger Swan~PZ.132, in 1894. In April 1895, Samuel Payne was declared bankrupt, and the registration of the boat was cancelled ‘No longer employed fishing.’5

No further mention of the boat has been found, and I suspect she was broken up.

Registered Dimensions4.PZPZ.28
Length of keel (ft)
Length (ft)46.446.446.4
Breadth (ft)
Depth (ft)
Tonnage (gross)19.2319.3219.0
Tonnage (Net Reg.)19.2319.3219.0
Crew (men)55573
Crew (boys)1111

Tony Pawlyn
Created 06/08/2019; Last updated 19/08/2019.

  1. CRO/MSR/PENZ/5: folio 2 [frame 5×14]
  2. CRO/MSR/PENZ/ 6; folio 1
  3. CRO/MSR/PENZ/ 6; folio 11
  4. CRO/MSR/PENZ/ 6; folio 13
  5. CRO/MSR/PENZ/ 7; folio 14