Monthly Archives: May 2017

Shipwreck #1

Disasters at sea were all too commonplace when Edward Weddall was a mariner. Before modern technology it was more difficult to predict weather patterns and communications with shore were limited as Emily’s husband Edward Weddall recounts in his letter to a newspaper below. The event of the night of 12th December 1869 resulted in the loss of  The Lady Flora, on which Edward Weddall first mate off the Island of Heligoland, in the North Sea. This may have been his first brush with death in his ten years at sea. He survived to tell the tale and to express his gratitude  for the kind treatment he and his fellow shipmates extended by the islanders. His letter to the Hull and Eastern Counties Herald of December 30th 1869;

Lady Flora in Lloyd’s Register of Ships 1865

The Loss of the Lady Flora

To the Editor of the Herald
Sir- During the fall of 1868 I remember seeing in your paper a story of the unkind treatment received by the crews of some Hull fishing smacks that were lost on the island of Heligoland at that time. I wish now, on the part of myself and the remainder of the crew of the Lady Flora, steamer, to state my experiences of the conduct observed towards use and the reception given us by the governor and the inhabitants, when we landed there from the wreck of the steamer, on the 16th instant.

Our second boat, after leaving the wreck, was unable to reach the island, on account of the terrible sea which was running and being in addition stove in in two places, our escape sensed almost hopeless; yet in the face of the awfully heavy gale and tumultuous sea, the islander out in there or four boats to our assistance, and eventually landed us safe on the island, which, but for their help, we should never have reached. On landing we were in a naked condition, and half dead from cold and exposure. They took us up to the houses, where the had already for us hot water for baths coffee and other restoratives and immediately provided us with new dry clothing which the had the greatest difficulty in obtaining having to send the bellman round the island asking who had a coat or other article of clothing for sale.

Owing to the stress of weather there was no communication with the main land, and we were detained on the island three days. during this time the governor (the Hon. Mr Masse) seconded by the port captain, Mr, Mains, showed us every kindness and attention in their power, visiting us three or four times a day to see if we were comfortable and had all our wants supplied. As an instance of their extreme kindness to all of us, I may mention that they even supplied the whole with pocket-handkerchiefs and other small articles of comfort, and the governor sent us a complete suit of his own clothing, even the studs for the shirt. He himself was the very first to volunteer to come off to our aid the they from the island observed the ship to be sinking.

I am requested by the whole of the crew (as well as obeying my own feelings) to endeavor to express out sincere gratitude to the governor, to Mr Mains and to the whole of the inhabitants generally for the unceasing kindness and attention shown to us while on the Island.

The death of Captain Borstal who was drowned while endeavoring to clear away the boats, and thus div a chance of escape to the crew, was mainly owing to his exhausted condition, he having had no rest since the Sunday previous (four whole days and nights), and when in the water was totally unable to help himself, and we were utterly unable to reach him. The other two poor fellows were lost as the vessel settled down and the boats were washed off the deck. With these three unfortunate exceptions, the whole of the crew have this day arrived safely in Hull by the s.s. Leopard, Captain Hedgecock, to whom I, in the name of the whole crew, wish to express our heartiest thanks for the kind and generous treatment accorded to us on board his ship. – I am, sir, yours respectfully, Edward Weddall,
Late Chief Mate of the s.s. Lady Flora.
Hull, 23rd December, 1869

Hull and Eastern Counties Herald 30 December 1869

Sailing the Seven Seas

Captain Edward Weddall’s career took off when he became a master mariner in 1870. His name appeared frequently in trade publications such as Shipping and Mercantile Gazette and Lloyd’s List. His journeys were reported on in local and national papers in the Latest Shipping columns, rarely seen in papers nowadays. In the time before air travel, the shipping routes were as busy as the airlines of today.


The s.s. Bracadaile, of Newcastle, 1416 tons register, Captain Weddall, has arrived in the roadstead, after quick voyage from New Orleans, with 2770 tons maize for the Distillers’ Company.  

The s.s. Bracadaile‘s Captain Weddall, of Newcastle, left Gibraltar for Castlellamare and Genoa on the 6th inst.

10 October 1883 – Fife Herald – Cupar, Fife, Scotland
07 October 1884 – Shields Daily News – Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, England

Captain Edward Weddall

On July 15th July 1870 Edward Weddall,  became a master mariner. At the age of twenty six and more than a decade at sea he had climbed up through the ranks was now a sea captain. To reach the top of his profession he would have had to reach a level of competency as outlined below.

Captain Weddall would spend the next twenty five years at sea, until he was forced into retirement after contracting a tropical disease.

A MASTER must have served one year as a Mate in the Foreign or Home Trade. In addition to the qualifications required for a mate, he must show that he is capable of navigating a ship along any coast, for which purpose he will be required to draw upon a chart produced by the Examiner the courses and distances he would run along shore from headland to headland, and to give in the writing courses and distances corrected for variation, and the bearings of the headlands and lights, and to show when the course should be altered either to clear any danger, or to adapt it to the coast. He must understand how to make his soundings according to the state of the tide. He will also be questioned as to his knowledge of the use and management of the mortar and rocket lines in the case of the stranding vessel, as explained in the Official Log Book…

Sources UK and Ireland, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Thanks to
House Museum Infante Dom Henrique, Porto, Portugal


First Mate

In 1867 Edward Weddall received his First Mate Certificate from the Board of Trade, he was now only one step away from becoming a ship captain. He qualified in record quick time as it was only two years since he got his second mate certificate. To qualify to that standard required a lot of work, dedication and study.

A FIRST MATE must be nineteen years of age, and have served five years at sea, of which one year must have been as either Second or Only Mate, or as both.
Foreign-going Ship.

IN NAVIGATION.-In addition to the qualifications required for an Only Mate, he must be able to observe azimuths and compute the variation; to compare chronometers and keep their rates, and find the longitude by them from an observation of the sun; to work the latitude by single altitude of the sun off the meridian; and be able to use and adjust the sextant by the sun.

The examination was both practical and written requiring the candidate to to have a good knowledge of maths for navigational purposes. Edward Weddall was well on his way to the next level, a master mariner or sea captain.

Thanks to
House Museum Infante Dom Henrique, Porto, Portugal