Saturday, January 23, 2021

In Memoriam: Jeannette Grobbelaar


Jeannette Grobbelaar died in November 2020. 

Lighthouse Authorities recently informed me that Jeannette had passed away. She will be greatly missed.

A solitary figure, she was an amazing lady. Honorary Curator of Cape Agulhas Lighthouse Museum, Author of Cape Agulhas Lighthouse: The First Hundred Years 1849-1949 as well as Golgotha van die Oseane – Skeepsrampe aan die Agulhas-kus. 

She was also a good friend. Jeannette's friends were all like-minded researchers, authors and historians.


Along the shore I spy a ship 
As she set out to sea;
She spreads her sails and sniffs the breeze
And slips away from me.
I watch her fading image shrink,
As she moves on and on, Until at last she’s but a speck,
Then someone says, “She’s gone.”
Gone where? Gone only from our sight
And from our farewell cries;
That ship will somewhere reappear to other eager eyes.
Beyond the dim horizon’s rim, resound the welcome drums,
And while we’re crying, There she goes!
They’re shouting, Here she comes!
We’re built to cruise for but a while
Upon the trackless sea
Until one day we sail away into infinity.

John T. Baker


Saturday, January 2, 2021

P-J Hannabus: In Memoriam


P-J Hannabus passed away on 31 December 2020. 

The last of the Hannabus Lighthouse Dynasty we are glad that he was able to give us many wonderful anecdotes about himself, Babsie, Charlie and AE Hannabus. These stories will remain on this blog as a reminder of a good friend who will be missed.

He was so proud of his Lighthouse Days as relief Lighthouse Keeper and that he was former Captain, South African Police Services Technical Unit.

Keep the light shining bright, P-J.

For more on the Hannabus family go to:

(In a series by Suzanne-Jo Leff Patterson)

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Christmas Greetings

 Songs of the Angels

Wishing all readers of this blog a Peaceful and Happy 
Christmas and a Safe New Year

Thursday, November 19, 2020



Notes by Michael Parcell

1)   “The old Jaol” was demolished in 1792.

       2) The two former tiny villages of Eston and Normanby,  which lay very close to each other, are now united by housing development and are now part of Middlesbrough.

       3) Bond Street still exists and is in the very centre of the city.

    4) The Methodist New Connexion also then known as “Kilhamite Methodism” was formed in 1797 by secession from the Wesleyan Methodists by Alexander Kilham who believed that too much power was in the hands of its ministers at the expense of the laity.

      5)  Report in the local newspaper “On Tuesday morning last, Mr. R. Garbutt, merchant, laid the first stone of a new Sunday School, now erecting at this place, Mason Street, inclosed in which (the stone being divided) was deposited, in a lead box, a plate of brass bearing the following inscription ‘ WESLEYAN METHODIST SUNDAY SCHOOL, for the children  of the poor of every Denomination.  THE FIRST STONE LAID  on Tuesday 26th August A.D. 1817’.  The size of the building within is 50 feet by 50 feet;  and there are two storeys, one intended for the reception of the boys and the other for girls and capable together of containing about 800 children”.

6   6) John Brodrick (26.9.1775 – 23.4.1851) was born in Whitby.  He was a ship builder and owner and lived at No 39 George St, in the best residential area of Hull.

     7)   Latona is a town  in Ontario on the Great Lakes.  I found a report of a vessel of this name, trading between England and Canada which on 16.11.1832 was wrecked by another ship running into her.  All hands were  saved.  I cannot be sure that this is the ship referred to by Capt Brown.

    8Merimachi.  I think he must mean Miramichi which is a port in New Brunswick on the Canadian Atlantic coast.

    9George Yard (see picture) is in the centre of Hull by the River Hull.

1110)  The Hull Flax & Cotton Mill was founded in 1836 by Joseph Rylands having left his father’s business in Manchester.  His father’s business was to become one of the largest manufacturing companies in the U.K. but Joseph’s enterprise did not do as well

1111) This was a charity formed in 1817 to provide sailors somewhere to pray.  The first floating chapel (a hulk) in the Thames was provided to “promote their religious instruction, moral reformation and eternal happiness”.  Other floating chapels were established throughout the Colonies.

1112)   Tutmagush is Tatamagoughe a port in Nova Scotia.

1113)   Saint Hilda’s Church was consecrated in 1840, a fine looking building demolished in 1969. (see picture).

1414)  There was a Protestant Church in Malta, the corner stone having been laid by Queen Adelaide, the wife of William IV, in March 1839.  A report tells that Rev. T.N. and Mrs. Hull from Ireland arrived there in 1838.

11 15) The Bethel Flag was first used about 1817.  Hoisting it on arrival at a port became the way of announcing that religious services would be held on board and was used by various  Christian organisations.  Bethel means House of God.

1116)   The Dandie Dinmont was an iron built schooner of 225 tons built in South Shields in 1848.  The owner was George Cammell of Hull.  On a voyage from Newcastle to Memel with a cargo of coal she was wrecked off Borholm on 18.3.1850 after being “put back” because of ice.  Memel is a port in the present day Lithuania in the Baltic. There is a painting (attached) on which is inscribed “To George Cammel  Esq. of Hull.  This print of the iron built clipper schooner Dandie Dinmont respectfully dedicated  by his old servant John Ward.  John Ward of Hull (1797-1849) is described as “the leading marine artist and ship portrait painter in Hull during the first half of the 19th century”.  

1717)   Bornholm is an island in the Baltic about 20 miles in length belonging to Denmark but about 180 miles to the east of the Danish mainland.

1818) Over 200 lives were lost when the London went down but about 60 were saved.

1919) The Mariners Society was founded in 1839 and is now a charity providing vital financial support  and practical assistance to merchant sailors, fishermen and their dependants in need.  In 2019 the charity distributed £i.4 million in grants.

2220)   Samuel Bullard and David King founded Bullard, King & Co in 1850 with a fleet of sailing ships trading between London and Natal under the flag of the White Cross Line.  In 1860 the first advertisements began to appear in the newspapers regarding the White Cross Line.  The first clipper in the Line to arrive at Natal had been the barque Priscilla – later a regular service was established.  The Priscilla is stated as having made the fastest passage from Natal to England at that time – 52 days in 1863.

2221)  Algoa Bay is in south-east Africa about 500 miles south of Durban.

)    22) Blythe Bros.  Actually Blyth Bros;  founded in 1830 to deal with all matters related to shipping in Mauritius.  Nowadays Ireland Blyth Ltd is the second largest business in Mauritius handling shipping, insurance and providing agency services for the sugar trade.

2 223) Isle de France is the former name for Mauritius which became part of the French Empire in 1715. It became an important base for French naval vessels and because of continuous raids on British shipping the British attacked it in 1811.  It was ceded to Britain in 1814.

2224)  Ira David Sankey (1840-1908) was an American gospel singer and composer of hymns.  He was in partnership with Dwight L. Moody as evangelists and from 1870 held a series of evangelistic crusades in the USA.  In 1873 they visited the U.K. where they achieved fame.

2  25) Mrs Harriet Atwood Newell (1793-1812) was an American missionary.  She married Rev. Samuel Newell in February 1812 and immediately left for Calcutta where the East India Company refused them entry so set sail for Mauritius.  Three weeks before arrival she gave birth to a child who died after five days.  Harriet died in Mauritius in November 1812.

2  26)  Dr Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) was a non-conformist Doctor of Divinity.  During his life he suffered from ill health and was advised to go abroad to recover his strength.  He chose Portugal where he died of tuberculosis in 1751.

2727)  John Scott was Governor of Mauritius from 1856 till 1864.

Friday, November 13, 2020


The original of this fascinating document is lost but an anonymous person has typed it out and what follows is an accurate copy.  I (Michael Parcell) have retained the original spelling and punctuation as the typist seems to have done.  George Brown died in 1899.  It is of interest to note that in his manuscript he wrote ‘fs’ instead of ‘ss’ which had gone out of fashion many years earlier.  The numbers in brackets refer to the Notes, which appear later in this blog. (Acknowledgement: Michael Parcell)

       Born in Paradise Place Mighton & Castle Street Opposite the Old Jaol (1) & Burying Place, near the Humber & Junction Docks Hull May the 4th 1817 who during his life was several years sailing out of the Port of Hull as Apprentice, A. B. , Mate and Master in Home and Foreign trades also out of Stockton & London leaving of Sea Life in the year of 1879 to live at Eston & Normanby (2) near Middlesbrough up to the month of June 1894 & now living in Cleveland Street Normanby 1899.

      My father was Master Mariner in Hull ships & My Grandfather Thomas Codling and Grandmother was getting old & had a horse and Trucks & good Businefs.  Largish House & Stable and premises in Bond Street Mews (3) so we as a family went to live with them till their death, my Grand Mother died first she was Cousin to the Kilham the founder of the Wesleyan New Connection 1797 (4), she was a Methodist in Mr Wesley’s day and of about Epworth.  My Mother & I was visiting there when I was a Little Boy – found lots of old Methodist in our family thereabouts.  My Father was lost at Sea when I was about 8 years old.  He was Master of the Mary Ann Elizabeth of Hull a large bark bound to Sierra Leone (all hands perished) as singular to say my Father’s fore Fathers following the Sea also perished either by shipwreck or Climate & he was left an Orphan when young as I was a Fatherlefs Boy.  About this time a Scholar at the Mason Street Sunday Wesleyan School(5).  We had some good teachers as Anthony  Hall and Mr Cussons who had us at prayer meetings in a private House and some of us got converted.  I was happy for some time & having no help at home my religion became as the Morning dew.  I was Educated at Mr. Crozer’s  Clafsical Accademy & was considered a good Scholar at 12 years of age when I went to Sea in the Bark Clarkson of Hull To Petersburgh Capt R. Ward came back to Hull. In Jany  1830 my Grandfather died & I am sorry to say he was  Insolvent.  My Mother in taking his businefs with debts ruined her own position by it,  but was Glad to not let her Father die thus.  He died we think happy in the Lord gave up Calvinism & died a Methodist,  finding my Mother had more than she could do to support us all respectable there was myself and two Sisters to keep & she had only £12 year income, so I was off to Sea & went Apprentice for 7 years to John Brodrick Ship owner (6)  4 years was I in the Foster Capt Calender – 1 year in the Amazon Capt Brodrick in the Quebec Trade with Goods and Pafsengers, and 2 years in the Latona (7) Merimachi  (8)trade Capt c Wilson,  in 1837 my Apprenticeship was ended, in 1833 My Master in drink was drowned before our Eyes in the North Atlantic.   I was fond of him, having heard once he was in the good way to Heaven it affected me much & led me into strong Convictions for Sins as a Backslider, for about 3 months my compunction was great, it was a Revival time by Squire Brooks, one Sunday night at the prayer meeting in the Vestry at George Yard Chapel (9) I found liberty,  this was some time in about October 1833, I had met (as a penitent) in Clafs during my apprenticeship, we only was a few months in the year in Summer at Sea, the long winters at home so had grand times at our Chapels and with such Ministers as at this date we had J. Stephens, J. Mothley, J. Macowen, W. L. Thornton Mr Vaughan Supernumary we had only one circuit at this time 1833,  1837 went on A Steamer the Enterprise running between London and Yarmouth as Steward but such was the drinking  Gambling, Sabbaths so profaned on board that I left after a few weeks & returned to sailing ships where we had more chances to live to God & save Souls, I went 2 voyages to Riga in the Amulet Captn L. Taylor & finished the year in the Thedford Capt T Sadler in the Rotterdam and Hull trade, 1838 I was in the Aquatic also most of the year, Captn Sadler a Methodist.  He got me to preach in Rotterdam in a chapel Vestry to our Crew & 3 years before this I had exhorted one Sunday night in a large Alley between the Market Place & High Street in Hull in Company with my Clafs leader and prayer leaders after Sunday night preaching.  My preaching was very poor work for so good a Master, the latter part of this year I got my hand injured in loading the Aquatic & had to resign my birth when Capt Strutt of the Cygnet of Whitby  then at Hull enquired of Mr Post foreman of the North Bridge a very pious & devoted Class leader for a pious young Sailor to join his Vessel,  as he knew me as one of the members of the Clafses branched off from his,  He recommended me as a Methodist to a Methodist Capt hoping God would make me a blefsing to the crewe,  We made one Voyage to London one to Rochester & back to Middlesbro & then she laid up for the Winter & in the 1839 I began as Mate of a Sloop the Two Brothers of Stockton bound to Newcastle loaded with lead we got disabled & I returned to Hull,  in the Spring joined again the Cygnet sailed to Rostock back to Stockton thence to Dantzic & London for 2 voyages & finished the year in the Coal trade & at home in Hull  This was the Centenary Year of Wesley and Methodism and I was glad to be at the great  Gathering of Hull Methodists and Commemorate by a public  Tea of about 2000 members and Public Meeting afterwards   The spacious Cotton Mills (Rylands Manager) (10) was built so far as to allow of one extensive floor or story to accomadate all 2,000 for this Great Occasion.  We had old and young Ministers who spoke so wonderfull as if specially Inspired for the Occasion  the principal speakers was Rev W Lord Rev Peter Duncan Rev Mr Smith  Rev Mr Jones,  there was a full platform & fully a very large assembly Lay men Officials all fully alive  there seemd a great deal more life in & about Hull than usual, the Speaking, Singing, so Enthusiastic & Benevolence to the Poor members no expensivenefs spared to get every poor member to the feast.    1840 went to London in the Smails of Whitby Captn Stephenson  we had on the pafsage a wonderfull deliverance in answer to prayer & Mate & Cabin Boy Converted,  wishing to sail in the Cygnet joined her again but had such imprefsions to go to Hull again quickly I could not rest so was obliged to leave my dear old Master where we always had prayers in the Cabin & every chance to be good & do good,  He used to pray & I used to preach as well as I could & souls were saved,  In Dantzig of a Sunday morning, I distributed tracts amongst the ships & invited all to service in the evening in the Cygnets cabin, & with the Steerage we could hold a congregation of 70,  we had it many times filled with sincere worshippers.  I recollect we had 4 brought in one month.  John Walsh & Capt Prin were mifsionarys of the British  & Foreign Sailors Society (Bell Wharf Chapel) (11),  When in London these good men got me to preach I helped them as often as I could.  Mr Bailey was at Falmouth in 58 when we was landed there as a ship wrecked crew & sent to our homes by the Shipwrecked & fishermens society of which I was a member.  In the spring of 1840 went in the Elizabeth of Hull (Capt Minnet a pious Capt) as A.B. We got the owner to allow us tea sugar & coffee in the room of Beer & Spirits on our American Voyage to Tutmagush (12) & we had not a drunken man for the voyage.  Owners, Capt & crew was all satisfied & happy on arriving home at Hull.  This was the first instance of a temperance sailing ship out of the port of Hull,  The custom was crew had no groceries found them but Beer & Rum in large quantities,  In foreign ports & in America ½ pint of raw rum daily for every man & drunkenefs was the order of the day .  up to this time  I had only known one teatotal vefsel afloat which was the Argo of Goole a dear Capt Nicholson formerly commanding the Providence a very pious man was he.    I was desired to go Mate in the Hamburgh trade the Brig Sympathy (Capt Clifton) instead of going 2nd Mate of the Elizabeth.

We sailed all that year between Hamburgh & Hull & had many precious seasons on the Ship, & in Hamburgh  a Mission was founded by the Wesleyan association ,  we took out the second missionary sent there a Mr Walker.  The Lord helped me to preach Jesus on the waters & on the shore as I went about, often in connection with the port of Hull Society Floating Chapel afterwards the Sailors Institute (Junction Dock close to it).

 This following  winter & early spring a long hard winter of frost all ports froze up across the sea, the Humber also,  we laid loaded for Hamburgh so was liberated for a while  & I had a blessed time at Witton and Aukbrough (Aldeburgh?  MBP) Lincolnshire.

The winter subsiding we commenced trading  between Hull & Hamburgh, During the summer of 41 I had my head injured severely by a great block in tackle that came down from the main mast head & I was considered as dead for some time bleeding profusely & I was insensible to all around the first doctor that was fetched on board gave up the case saying if I could be restored  they must get me quickly to the Hamburgh Hospital.  All I could understand was something must have happened & I was dying, at this juncture I was living near to God & my peace was flowing as a river so death was no terror to me.  It had been arranged for me to preach on board the Cygnet of Whitby now in this port (Hamburgh) the night I  was taken to the hospital as was thought to die but God was gracious to me, for about 2 days & nights they placed me with a bladder of ice on my head.  I had nothing but a sheet to keep down inflammation &  as I lay on a bed was not allowed to move.  After this they capt my head & closed the wound, ordered not to think of anything.  All this time now & then I was a little sensible & so happy and I resigned my only desire for life was to serve God & support my mother  & sister.  After several weeks I got home & began to wish for a voyage again.  My system was weak & my memory considerably failed.  It was a wonderful cure after all (in answer to much prayer) & as I was able gave myself to recover my lost powers of reading, praying, preaching & recollecting all that was usfull in my profefsion & Christian life.  In the meantime I was placed in command of the Cygnet of Whitby went on a London voyage & back to Hartlepool to load for Malta.  My way was now clear for to make a Home & support my mother.  So married on Christmas day at St Hildas Church 1841 (13).  Made my home at Middlesborough & the port to sail from  The population  at this time was about 5,500 all told.  My Dear Wife the daughter of Capt Struut the then managing owner gave me leave to spend our Honey moon on a Malta voyage so sailed we on the 27th Dec 1841 from Hartlepool to Malta .  While there we ,with a pious Sunderland Capt Young, visited St Pauls Bay The Cave of Publius & Paul for private fellowship, the place where Paul shook the viper from his hand to the astonishment of the natives who was expecting his death so they looked upon him as a God.  We ranged about the Catacoombes & saw & learned from tradition.  It threw amazing interest on the 28th Chap of Acts.  I had long to sail to Malta when reading Pauls shipwreck and the Lord favoured me & here we found a Wes Meth Minister & cause in the Rev Thos T N Hull (14) now in 1894 still living as supernumary.

On our passage home put into the port of Malayo,  We hoisted the Bethel Flag (15) its first appearance there in Ireland. We here loaded wheat for Southampton & thence returned to Middlesborough,  in this the 1842 was mate of the Spray of Whitby Capt Robinson, to Exeter & back.  Then Mate of the Spray of Whitby Capt Robinson, to Exeter & back. Then  Mate of the Empress of Stockton a voyage to London & Rochester & back to Hartlepool.  In Feb 1843 then went  Master of the Tees of Stockton in the coal trade all year.  1844 was in the coal trade, Baltic trade & Oporto trade.  1845 was in the coal trade, Baltic & the French trade.  1846 was in the Holland, Hamburgh & Cottenburgh (Gothenburg ? MBP) trade.  While in Cottenburgh in Sweden we had help & comfort  from the Society of Friends,  we always carried the Bethel Flag &  held services under it in every foreign port also taking the help afforded wherever we had English Churches of any Protestant  denomination & many glorious times had we.  Here we had as a deputation the poor Quakers in this country Mr Isaac Sharp of Darlington, Mr Trigelis of Falmouth, Mr Rudge of Cork who was real gentleman & was delighted to hold meetings on the Ellen Crawford of Hull & our vessel the Tees of Stockton & shewn great friendship & kindnefs to Capt Newby & myself in giving us at any time a interview on leaving us presented me with the life of Mr Fox their founder.  While here we had Frederick Nelson a swede a true believer in Jesus Christ,  connected to the British & foreign Bible Society a distributer of Bibles  &  tracks in Swedish amidst this great persecution carried out by  the fallen & corrupted Lutherian Church (now ruled by priestcraft) against the Quakers & Methodists a society in Stockholm enjoying the Rev Mr Scott Wesleyan Minister (in a great revival) (missionary)  & other orthodox churches.  1500 left this year for to have the freedom in America to serve God according to their conscience some of the leaders of this great revival of pure christianity  were imprisoned such as Johnson, Wilson & others & their Pastor Mr Scott had to leave for home (England).  This man expected he would have to leave his country with many more, or be imprisoned.

On the ship under the British flag the authoritys could not interfere so we held meetings to convert and comfort those who was seeking & serving The Lord.  Of an evening numbers came in boats & I preached to them in English & Nelson interpreted it to them in Swedish.  We had one blessed service before we sailed when my subject was “ Fear not little flock it is my Fathers & your Fathers pleasure to give the Kingdom .  many wept but rejoiced in hope of the glory of God,  Luther was a great reformer of this country which was when his religion began to operate well but Sweden sunk deep into gross wickedness.  Roberies, murders, was very common.  They delighted in War & bloodshed, crime & boasted of it as a qualification for a happier future State so I have been informed In Sweden.  In the little ports in Norway & Sweden we often had meetings on shore but in large towns or ports no Church can or could be used without permifsion by law.

I have sailed during my life with many Norwegians & Swedes & have generally found them good sailors, quite & of a religious turn to attend our Services.  In 1847 fore part of this year was in Hamburgh trade to Lieth & rest of the year was at Middlesborough Redcar & Witton Park near Bishop  Auckland  preached on the circuit.  I always felt a great interest in Temperence, though sometimes was silenced BEING FORCED TO CARRY it on the vessel by law for pafsengers & crew as considered necessary yet I restrained the drinking all I could.  In 1848 I went back to Hull & sailed out there Chief officer in the Dandie Dinmont (16) in the Memel & Riga trade from Hull

March 1850 was wrecked on the Island of Barnholm  (17)a place I had often pafsed & wished & wished to preach the Gospel.  After much suffering been frozen out of all ports & disabled by ice for weeks we drove ashore & ship broke up very soon.  However we were treated very kindly & after several good religious meetings we all was brought safe to Elsinore.  Capt Newby & all the crew was sent in different vessels to England after much suffering & our thanks be to God for our deliverences. 

1850 went chief officer in the Red Rover Hull Capt Geo Davey 2nd  voyage to St Petersburgh & back Dec 1850.  Dec 1850 went master of Silva of Goole.  1851 Traded in the Baltic.  1852 & 3 traded to Harburgh, Hamburgh, Baltic & in 1854 she changed hands & became family property & was now Silva of Hull

1854, 55, 56, 57 & part of 1858 we sailed in the Baltic, Portugal, Mediteranian trades then we sold her & bought another,  Went into the barque Alexander Johnson Bound for Barcelona &  Odessa in the Black Sea,  she sprang a leak & foundered in the Bay of Biscay about where the London steamer after foundered (18),  she was bound to Australia & on board amongst the pafsengers was the Rev Mr & Mrs Draper who acted their part so bravely in leading all on board they could to Christ as this large steamer was filling & going down, & perished without any way of escape except the little Jolly boat. The foundering of this steamer was in 1866,  many perished in the London.  But the lord was gracious to us.  Our crew in this barque numbered 12 & we was picked up from our 2 boats by the Barque North Star of a port in Norway who treated us kindly & landed us in Falmouth.  We were sent home by the Mariners Shipwrecked & fishermans Society (19).  We arrived home in Hull with much loss,  but thankful our lives were preserved.  I a while my health was restored & in committing my case to the Lord to open my providential way again.  I spent much time in private prayer for to be led right.

It seems now my way to join a London firm & open a trade for goods and pafsengers between London & Port Natal S. E. Africa ( now Durban MBP).  I had now been sailing out of Hull again for about 10 years.  In the later part of 1858 I was placed in command of the Priscilla of London by Bullard King & Co (20).   We was chartered to carry out to Port Natal emigrants by the British Government & sailed under Government rules, we always, as our rule 6pm had prayers for all that would attend when weather permitting.  On Sundays at 10-30 am Government rule Church.  At 6pm our rule Methodist Chapel service.   This voyage in 1859 we had to go to the Mauritius with a cargo of horses and then from there to Adelaide S. A. with a cargo of new sugar and dates we received, taking in some copper Ore we went to Port Augusta the top of Spencers Gulf  taking from Port Adelaide credentials to make it a Port with its officials.  Here we loaded wool for London, while there we held services in the Town of about 4 to 5000 people. They was much needing Methodist preaching having never any other than an Anglican Church Clergyman once a month,  they liked Methodism and we had services regular in the then appointed Harbour Masters house.  This was the beginning of Methodism here.  1860 Priscilla again chartered by the British Government for emigrants to Port Natal,  Loaded back to London calling at Algoa Bay (21) for goods & pafsengers.  God helped me to be a witnefs for Him at both ports.

On arriving in London found my dear wife had left Hull as we arranged & living in Normanby near her dear Father & mother  Myself accepted as a member of the Wesleyan Chapel & local preacher in St Georges London circuit.

Traded between London & Natal up to 1873 with the exception of a voyage to Archangel in 1865.Here we had good meetings under the Bethel Flag (for English people).  1873 made an intermediate voyage to Isle of France & back to Natal,  we had very good services under the Church of England,  The Island was principaly Catholic a large coolie population with their different religions of India but the Bishop Ryan & clergymen of the Anglican Church was real good men & they had one Independent or Presbytarian cause which had a good minister on the Island,  By the help of the Spirit of God I took services in both Churches.  They had received the gift of a large sailing ship from Blythe Brothers (22) of Isle of France (23) & London to be fitted up for an English Church for sailors they were invited & looked after by an excellent clergyman.  The floating church was opened by Bishop Ryan & it was attended well by crews of English ships for different kinds of meetings.  It seemed to me I could do most good by my Bethel Flag awhile & work in anyway I could with this Church mission for sailors so did so,  & we had some good times.  One of the Church missionaries had been brought in under Moody & Sankey (24) & the Methodists I think in Ireland.

When visiting the cemetery here I found the following epitaph on a marble tablet to the honour or memory of the Rev John Sargent Wesleyan minister who died June the 10th 1831 aged 31 years, the first and only W M missionary ever placed there (the Isle of France).  The expense which was bore by a few pious soldiers of the 99 Regiment to shew their respect  to Gods dear servant   Many died of fever here in the sickly season   The next Tombe to his is the tombe of the lamented Mrs Harriet Atwood Newel who died Nov 30th 1812 aged 19 an American missionarys wife  who went here from Bombay for her health (25).  The Tombe was erected by the American board of commissioners for foreign missions.   I loved to visit good mens graves in foreign lands, especially missionarys.

In Lisbon a few years before this I visited the grave of the celebrated Dr Philip Dodridge (26) the author of a grand work for the soul in its rise & progrefs  How sacred seemed the land where he lay.  I often think of the many happy times I have had in foreign lands with those who are noe in Heaven in ports and places, in France, Belgium, Holland, Hanover, Bremen, Hamburg, Lubeck, Denmark, Prusia, Rusia, Sweden, Norway, Spain & Portugal.

In 1874 in May I left the Priscilla of London & went to Eston where I lived till a new Bark (named Panda) was ready for me.  She was building at Allberg Denmark.  The latter part of the year 1874 I went over to superintend her finishing.  In the Spring of 1875 we commenced the Port Natal trade from London.  In 1875 in our first voyage in the Panda of London (she was named after the Tula chief Panda) we was bound to Port Natal with goods and pafsengers my daughter Fanny was with me & we had Dr Lamplow the Son of the vendor of the Pryletic Salina as our pafsenger for to improve his health.  On the 17th July we had a wonderful deliverance from fire in the south atlantic which threatened the destruction of the vessel and all on board about 800 miles from any land.  Early on the 17th in the middle watch about 1-30 am the cry of fire was heard from the officer of the watch “ship on fire”.  Cargo in the forhold on fire.  The first thing I saw was fire  bursting out of the forehold forecastle bulkhead in large flames.  It was a strong wind & all except small sails set.  At first there was confusion & terror by pafsengers and crew but we was soon organised in trying to put out the fire.  Crew & pafsengers  with a will all obeyed orders as the sails reduced speed stopped,  ships head brought round as near to the wind as possible to keep the fire in one place   Fire engine well manned fore hatch way cut into for the pipe to enter.    The other part of the hose placed in the sea & water was poured in abundance upon the fire.  By about 6 am the fire was out & we began to undo hatches after which we took the burning and burnt cargo on deck fore & aft keeping the fire engine playing on everything as it was got up from the hold.  It appeared that jute bags pf nails & oil in tins & coals & bales had become ignited near the bottom of the forehold, but had not reached some large cases of matches & combustable goods,  so by the blefsing and help of God we was preserved,  Had we not been prompt & got the flames out we could not have saved the ship & the rest of the cargo.  Though a large quantity of the cargo was destroyed by fire & water used to quench the fire.  The surveyors on our arriving at Port Natal was astonished that the ship and cargo was saved but it was through Gods wonderful providence.  When we returned to London the underwriters of the ship made the Capt a handsome present of a gold watch & chain of 50 guineas value & the chief officer Mr N Leason one of half value for an acknowledgement of & for special services rendered in extinguishing the fire & saving ship and cargo.  Thank God none of us received much harm, the men working at the cargo suffered certain burns but soon recovered.  We loaded goods & passengers back to London.  We was favoured this time in Port to attend Moody & Sankeys commence gatherings at Bow Hall & Agricultural Hall.   Much good was done.

1876  1877 was in the Port Natal trade from the time of first trading to Port Natal 1859 to giving up sea.  My name was on the Durban plan &  had always as much preaching work as I could take either on this plan or about the Colony as my shipmaster duties required or permitted me to go .  In one instance I had to Government House to go to see the Lt Governor Mr Scott  (27)in Petermaritsberg. The Rev Horatio Pearse was chairman of the Natal District  he was only poorly so we went to York together  & I took the service in the Chapel.

1878 from Natal we sailed to the Isle of France from thence to Melbourne, Victoria  I got to see my nephew Geo Thom Wood who had been there since a child about 1840,  they had left England for there.   He now lived on his own little estate om Mount Eliza, Frankston, Victoria with his wife and large family. 

From Melbourne we sailed with a part cargo to Walleroo & Port Pirie Spencers Gulf.  At this port we loaded flour back to Port Natal from there we saild to Port Louis of Isle of France.  In Sept 1878 laid for 4 months to load direct for London & sailed arriving in London in March 1879.

The Lord preserved me in pretty good health in this sickly season at Port Louis till the last day when I caught the fever & was more or less ill always to London.  I was so reduced by illness that after the ship was safely docked in St Catherines Dock & ship entered at the custom house & did the needful at the owners office Bullard King & Co I had to lay up & leave the chief officer & clerk to pay wages & see after all it was necessary for me to leave the ship in charge of another Capt.  After recovering to some extent came to Eston on May the 12th 1879 when after about 50 years of sea life it was found best to get moored all fours & live shore life with my dear wife &  dear father & mother Strutt & assist in any way I could with his estate where Mrs Brown & family had lived for many years together for mutual benefit.   Becoming a member of the Eston  Society in the Stoksley circuit.  In 1889 Eston Society became part of the Middlesborough & South Bank circuit. 

Now in 1894 & 77 years of age I am only fir for a supernemary & to be ripened for heaven.  Many have been my escapes from apparent death as is usual to sailors but I have had a great deliverance from being drowned in the North Sea when an apprentice in 1835,  fell overboard & towing by a rope & no one knew for ever so long & the ship going 5 knots.  I was specially kept from sailing in 2 ships which was lost & allon board.  Once delivered from been stung to death by a serpant or viper getting into my bed in S.E. Africa.  I am thankful to God for all his mercies to me an unworthy servant.

In addition to many marvellous providencies & bearing with my sins & short comings He has often given me the desires of my heart in sending me to Malta, Shetland Isles, Port Natal, Australia Bernholm, not only for the purpose of commerce but to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Now in 1899 am enjoying Gods gracious providence through Jesus Christ my Lord feeling daily I am his.  My dear wife still continued to me for my comfort through heavy afflictions at times for about 5 years an invalid yet bright with future hope of Glory patiently waiting the Lords will so we are to help each other to a better Land.  I have for the comfort of my family as I have been requested recorded som of the principal circumstances of my life with its duties so varied in sea life at home & abroad as a Methodist Christian & witness for Christ.  I have been requested & recommended to write life for a book by friends at different times at places where I have been labouring for Christ.  This was not my aim or desire .  I should only like my death to be recorded that my friends at home & abroad may know that my days are ended below & have joined the church above to God be all the Glory that I am a sinner saved by Grace. 

Capt G. Brown died at Normanby June 8th 1899 aged 82 years.       






       George Brown was born in the centre of the City of Hull on 4th May 1817 the son of a sea captain who was lost at sea when George was aged 8 when his ship the “Mary Ann Elizabeth” was on a voyage to Sierra Leone.  From an early age he took up the Christian religion in a big way as his “Log” reveals.  His “Log”, or life story, written in old age at the request, it seems, of his family is an extraordinary tale in several ways;  it tells of long voyages, of shipwrecks, gives great detail of his preaching activities in faraway places but says almost nothing about his family.  The “Log” is attached to this chapter.

      He recalls that as his widowed mother had him and his two sisters to support on an income of only £12 a year he had to find work so was apprenticed as a sailor for seven years at the age of thirteen.

      In 1840 he sailed as Able Seaman from Hull to America on the “Elizabeth” with no beer or spirits on board for the crew which, he says, was the first instance of a temperance sailing ship out of Hull. He always believed that the presence of alcohol on board was to be deplored and later in life, when a Master, complained that he was compelled to allow it for the crew and passengers.  The story of this first alcohol free sailing was told to me when I was a child as being something of note but with a different slant as it was said that he, as the Master of the vessel, had been responsible for the event.

      About 1838 he injured his hand while loading a ship in Hull and was forced to stay on shore.  He was introduced to a Captain Thomas Strutt whose vessel, the “Cygnet”, was in the port and who had been looking for a pious young sailor as a crew member.  He made several voyages in her and eventually was put in charge of her by Capt Strutt who was part owner.  On Christmas Day 1841 he married Fanny Strutt, the boss’s daughter at St Hilda’s  Church in Middlesbrough which is where the Strutts lived and where the couple made their home.  His new father-in-law gave them permission to travel as passengers on  their honeymoon to Malta and they sailed off  from Hartlepool two days later.  Fanny was born in 1819 in the tiny fishing village of Flamborough, a remote and out- of- the way spot.  How long the family was there and what Thomas had been doing I do not know, nor can I tell how George and Fanny met and became betrothed.  Originally George had been sailing out of Hull but on joining the Cygnet which was based in the Middlesbrough area he would have spent his time between voyages there.  Having been given command of one of his vessels Capt Strutt must have held him in high regard and a suitable husband for his daughter.  There must also be the matter of his piousness;  he had been preaching in Methodist chapels from a young age which would have impressed the older man who was also a staunch Methodist.   The Census for 1841 was taken in June but there is no record of him so we may assume he was on the high seas. 

      In 1843 they had a son, George Thomas, born in Middlesbrough but the family was soon in Hull where Joseph was born in 1849 followed by William in 1852, Fanny in 1854 and Mary Ann Strutt Brown in 1860  The Census of 1851 describes George as a Mariner but in fact he could have been recorded as a Master Mariner as in January that year he had obtained his Master’s Certificate.  They were living very close to Hull Docks in Mary Ann Buildings at 20, Osborne Street but these houses no longer exist as they probably suffered damage during the War.  At this time young George Thomas was staying with his grandparents Thomas and Frances Strutt in Stockton Street, Middlesbrough. 

      In 1861 he and Fanny are lodgers in a house in Tower Hamlets, London, but the name of the street is illegible. The house must have been a large one as there were 14 occupants consisting of several families and lodgers.  Tower Hamlets is close to the north bank of the River Thames and the Docks so it is possible that Fanny had made her way there to be with her husband while his ship was in port.  By then there would have been a well  established rail service from Hull.  In this year George and Fanny’s  children Joseph, William and Fanny were  with their grandparents in Eston Lane Normanby which is now a part of the conurbation of Middlesbrough.   Their son George Thomas was absent as he had already started his sea-faring life.  It was at about this time that George was persuaded to leave Hull to live closer to his wife’s parents who were becoming elderly. 

      We find Fanny Brown and her daughter Fanny now aged 17 in 1871 living with Thomas and Frances Strutt in the High Street in Eston.   George and his son George Thomas are away at sea;  I do not know where William was but their son Joseph had died in 1867 aged 18 and is buried in the cemetery at Tower Hamlets in London.  I do not know the circumstances of his death but is curious that a few years earlier his parents had been staying there. 

      While on a homebound voyage from Mauritius in 1879 George had a serious illness from a “fever” and on arrival at St Catherine’s Dock, London, now in his sixties, he decided to give up the sea after nearly 50 years.  Thus, in 1881 in his retirement, he and Fanny  are still living in the High Street in Eston but  in the house next door to Fanny’s parents.  The house where Thomas and Frances had occupied seems to have been a large one as several members of their family had been living there;  is it possible that, as both couples were elderly and children and grandchildren had gone their own way, the house had been divided in two.

        Frances Strutt died at Eston on 27th December 1883 aged 87 and Thomas died there on 25th February 1886 aged 92.  They are buried together at Eston.  The 1891 Census tells us that George and Fanny were still in Eston living at No 19 Cleveland Street which was a modest four-roomed house and he is described as a retired master mariner and local preacher.  Captain George Brown died in 1899 aged 82; Fanny Brown died in 1911 aged 92.  They are in the same grave as the Strutts.

      We have seen that George’s son Joseph died in 1857;  son William died aged 55 and is buried in East Ham in London.   I do not know what happened to his daughter Fanny.  George Thomas Brown is the subject of a separate chapter as are the Strutts.  

      In his Log George records his voyages to South Africa.  I have found a William Strutt, Master of the vessel “Dane”, who was engaged in the same trade at the same time in the 1850s.  I do not know who this William is;  Thomas Strutt had a son, Thomas, who became a Master Mariner so perhaps William is another son whom I did not find.  There are very many sea captains in these stories !

Michael Barry Parcell      Summer 2020.    




The clipper barque Priscilla (Captain George Brown) which brought my own great great grandfather, Thomas Alfred  Gadsden, to Natal in June 1863. The Priscilla, one of the earliest of the White Cross clippers (others were the Silvery Wave, the Verulam, Isabella Hartley and Burton Stather) was a frequent visitor to the Colony during the 1860s and 70s.

Advertisements in The Natal Mercury reveal that the Priscilla in November 1863 made the fastest passage then on record from Natal to England, i.e. 52 days.



Friday, October 30, 2020

More Tombstones


Tombstone Angel

Lamb of God with Angels


Angels at Rookwood

Grim Reminder

Remembered for killing 99 bears. A dubious claim to fame.


 Informative Memorial for a Mariner

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Gravestone memorials: Sydney Bartle and Maud Alice Gadsden, Stellawood, Durban


The Gadsden family plot at Stellawood Cemetery Durban. The side visible in the photo shows the names of Maud Alice Gadsden (my grandmother) and Ernest Alfred Rhodes (her great uncle). Sydney Bartle Gadsden's name appears on the other side of the memorial.


draped urn cemetery tombstone symbols

Kimberly Powell Photo

After the cross, the urn is one of the most commonly used cemetery monuments. The design represents a funeral urn and may symbolize immortality.

Cremation was an early form of preparing the dead for burial. In some periods, especially classical times, it was more common than burial. The shape of the container in which the ashes were placed may have taken the form of a simple box or a marble vase, but no matter what it looked like it was called an urn.

As burial became a more common practice, the urn continued to be closely associated with death. The urn is commonly believed to testify to the death of the body and the dust into which the dead body will change, while the spirit of the departed eternally rests with God.

The cloth draping the urn symbolically guarded the ashes. The shroud-draped urn is believed by some to mean that the soul has departed the shrouded body for its trip to heaven.