The Isle of Wight 150 years ago.

Extracts from the Hampshire Telegraph.

January 1861

5 January 1861

The Isle of Wight mail packet, while proceeding between Ryde and Cowes, recently, was struck near the stern by a shot from the shore, where gunnery practice was going on. The captain, fearing some serious damage was done, prepared to lower his boats to say is passengers. The steersman had just ordered his course or the shot would have made to the stern and probably have killed some of the passengers. The name of the vessel was the Emerald. The shot struck are sharply and it did considerable damage. In consequence of the mishap orders have been issued by the military authorities at Portsmouth to continue for the future all shot practice from the 6 and 8-inch guns of the auxiliary battery at the east end of Stokes-bay.


Hampshire Assizes – William Thomas pleaded guilty to stealing one pebble, the property of his master, at Newchurch, three months’ imprisonment.

Thomas Parsons was indicted for fraudulently obtaining various articles of clothing, at Newport. - Acquitted.

Henry Jacobs was acquitted of stealing 14 pounds of coals, at Godshill.

Frank White and Frederick Redman, pleaded guilty to stealing several fowls at Brading, they were sentenced to 2 months’ imprisonment.

John Hayes, and Edward Collier were charged with stealing four boots at Northwood. Acquitted.

Robert Howell pleaded guilty to stealing one shilling at Ventnor, and was sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment.


The crew of the John Wesley, wrecked at the back of the Wight, were brought into Cowes on Wednesday, and after being bound usually refreshed, were sentenced to Southampton, from whence they would be sent to Guernsey, at the charge of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.


Our valued townsman, Admiral Ratsey, one of the few survivors of the “Glorious First of June,” invited 20 old ladies to a tea-party at his residence, Claremont House, on new year’s day, but from various causes only 17 could avail themselves of his kindness. The worthy Admiral did his best to make them all happy and comfortable, and some of his personal friends present contributed greatly to increase the pleasure of the evening. The mirth was great, but neither “fast nor furious,” and all went home at a good hour grateful to their kind entertainer and declaring the feast with furnish them with conversational food for a twelvemonth.


12 January 1861

We beg to call the attention of the benevolent to an appeal is our advertising columns for the relief of a widow and orphan children of Mc.Loud, late of the Coast Guard, who was killed on the 1st January by a piece of rock falling on his head while ascending a cliff near Freshwater, Isle of Wight.


An Earnest APPEAL is made on behalf of the WIDOW and ORPHAN CHILDREN of DONALD MCLEAN, who was a Commissioned Boatman in the Coast Guard, stationed at Brooke, and who was killed on the 1st January by the fall of a piece of rock while ascending the Afton Cliff, after searching for the crew of the John Wesley, stranded there during the late severe storm, and who were supposed to be on board the ill-fated ship or clinging to the ledges of the cliff.

He leaves a widow and six children, one crippled by an accident, and one born since his decease.

The following Gentlemen have kindly consented to act as Trustees to the Fund, by whom also Contributions will be thankfully received:-

Captain Bathurst, RN, Inspecting Commander, South Yarmouth Division, High Down, Freshwater.

T.S. Cutajar, Esq., R.N., Officer in charge of the Brooke Station, Brooke, Isle of Wight.

The Rev. E. McAll, Rector of Brighstone, the Rev, J Pellew Gaze, Rector of Brooke, Hon. Secs. of the Isle of Wight Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

January 10th, 1861


Cowes - On looking round our building yards, we find the Hamburg schooner Isabella in Mr. White’s large dock, undergoing a thorough repair, by order of the owner. In the yard of the same builder we observed a fine cutter for the Revenue Service, built to replace the Stag, cutter, now too old for service; also a fine brig, to be named the Veritas, building for our spirited townsman, Mr. Charles Ratsey. In Hansen's yard, the R.Y. schooners Derwent and Shark are undergoing lengthening.


We are much pleased to hear that the National Life-boat Association, at their last meeting, awarded the sum of £14 to the crew of the Brook life-boat, for having, at risk of their lives, gone off twice to the John Wesley, brigantine (which was afterwards stranded near Freshwater Gate), in the endeavour to save her crew, but their services were declined by the captain. The sum of £10 was also presented to the widow of Daniel Mc Cleod, a commissioned boatman, who unfortunately lost his life in climbing the cliff, after he had boarded the wrecked vessel in the hope of saving her crew.


26 January 1861

SOMETHING WORTH WINNING. - A ladies’ very elegant dressing-case, silver mounted, is now displayed in the shop window of Mr. Miller, in the High-street, Newport, being a president to be shot for by the Newport Rifle Company, the best marksman of which will have an opportunity of transferring it to his lady-love. This valuable prize is offered by Henry Nunn, Esq., of Broadlands.


BACHELORS’ BALL. - The annual bachelors’ ball came off at the Victoria Rooms, Ryde, on Wednesday night, and was intended by a large number of both ladies and gentlemen. The Committee remunerated bachelors of a very tender age, but we presume their services were not less acceptable. The rooms were tastefully decorated, and, with the engagement of a first-rate quadrille band, and other accesses in refreshments, &c., the affair part of in a very agreeable manner.


FATAL AND APPALLING ACCIDENT. - The following distressing accident occurred on Saturday afternoon last on board the Emerald, steam packet, while on her passage from Cowes to Ryde:- Captain Barton, of the Zouave, schooner, was returning to Ryde (where he resided), and during the passage he was observed to be in rather an excited state, but not so bad as to apprehend any danger from his being on deck. When off Osborne, Barton was in conversation with a gentleman of Ryde, standing between the engine-hold and the fore companion. Turning round suddenly, it appeared that the unfortunate man lost his equilibrium and fell in upon the engine, when he was caught by the crank and dragged through the framing on to the cylinder cover. One revolution of the machinery was sufficient to cause instant death and tear his body literally to pieces, for, though the engines were stopped directly, and the body presented a dreadful spectacle, being mutilated to an extent that can scarcely be described. The heart was torn from the mangled body and both thighs and one arm broken, the face and head of being a scarcely injured. The body was flown in a blanket and sail, landed at Ryde Pier, and thence conveyed to the home of the deceased. But little notice was given to the family, and their feelings can be better imagined than described. The unfortunate man has left a wife and seven children to lament his fate. The poor wife has been quite unconscious since the event. A subscription list has been already opened, and we have reason for believing that, as the deceased was a captain of a yacht club vessel, the case will be fully commiserated by the members, and a handsome sum subscribed to place the widow and her children beyond the pale of want. We feel assured that the inhabitants of this locality will co-operate, and generously as the cause of this suddenly bereaved family, who are totally unprovided for. An inquest was held on Monday, before the Coroner F. Blake, Esq., but as the jury could not agree as to a verdict, one of the jury suggesting that the steam-packet should be brought to Ryde, that the skylights may be inspected, to ascertain, by the depositions of the witnesses, and the presence of the crew and engineers, if any blame could be attached to them for the perilous way the skylights were opened. The inquest was therefore adjourned and was resumed on Friday. Mr. Coxwell, of Southampton, appeared to watch the proceedings on behalf of the owners of the vessel, and Mr. T. H. Reed, solicitor, of St. Ann’s-lane, London, and represented the widow and family of the deceased. Several witnesses were examined, and it transpired that the unfortunate man was not a sober at the time of the accident. After half an hours’ deliberation the jury were of the opinion “that the death of William Barton was caused through his accidentally falling through the skylight into the engine-room of the Emerald, on the 9th inst; and that they are of the opinion that there is not sufficient protection for the prevention of such an occurrence.” The funeral took place on Wednesday, and was followed by four of the children and about 40 of the Ryde waterman, pilots, and the yachtsman, the deceased being generally respected.

The Isle of Wight 150 years ago

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