Saturday, February 23, 2013

Passengers on the Drummond Castle 1896

As reported in The Cape Times, the following were the passengers who sailed on the Drummond Castle from Cape Town and the coast ports on 28 May, 1896:

Misses Olive
Messrs F W and WW Whipp
Mr and Mrs Rudd (Reed?) and child
Mr Aspinall
Mr and Mrs. Harris
Mr Donaldson
Lieutenant v Geise
Miss Berrick
Mr E W Rich
Mr Drury
Mr and Mrs Ea(r)les and child
Mrs Hughes and child
Mr Bennett
Mr and Mrs Stevens
G Almond
J Richardson
J Dalziel
A Ryan
Mrs. Lucas and two children
Mr and Mrs Van Mundle
Mr and Mrs Gateman and child
H S Cohen
Mrs McLean and four children
Mr and Mrs Kingler
Mr and Mrs Brochein and child
Mrs Hugo and four children
Mrs Mercer and four children
Mrs F Mack
Miss McGee
N Tayleur 
T Knight 
A D Buxton 
Mr  Mrs and Miss Rae 
Mr Mrs and Miss Stevens
Mrs H Morris
Mrs Miss and Master Morton
Mrs and Miss Barnett
Mr W Roberts
Mr Mrs Master and Misses (two) Peachey
Mr and Mrs T. Peachey and three children and maid 
Misses (two) Mercer 
J Platt 
Mrs and Miss Willis
Mr and Mrs Powdrell
Mrs and Misses (two) Gethin
Miss Peace and nurse
Mrs McClelland
Mrs Taylor and two children
Mr J Goldman
Mrs Brown-Constable and maid
Mr C Marquardt

As always with such reported lists there are unreliable spellings, errors and omissions. For example, a passenger named John Wallis BLINKHORN (‘late of Adderley Street’) does not appear above because his decision to sail on the Drummond Castle was taken at the last minute, too late for his name to be added to the passenger list. His wife and child had departed for England three months earlier on another steamer but business had detained Mr Blinkhorn at the Cape. 

Several would-be passengers had for various reasons changed their minds about embarking on the Drummond Castle, including a Councillor COX who had booked his passage but did not sail.

There were a number of children on board the ship. Among them were Geraldine and Beatrice OLIVE, aged 15 and 13, daughters of the City Engineer for Cape Town, W T Olive. The girls were being sent to school in England.  Mrs LUCAS, wife of W B Lucas, formerly third officer on the S.S. Warwick Castle, was travelling with her two children, one of them an infant and the other about seven years old.

Charles MARQUARDT, according to some sources, sailed from Natal. He was one of three survivors of the wreck. He spent the night and part of the following day keeping afloat by clinging to a piece of wood, not a scenario he had envisaged when booking his first class ticket. Later he sent a cable from Ushant alerting the Currie Company to the disaster. Joseph Berthele, the retired Breton fisherman who saved Mr. Marquardt, was awarded a silver medal. Various other awards were made to the inhabitants of Molene and Ouessant (Ushant) in connection with the wreck. The Committee of Lloyds of London bestowed the bronze medal of the Society of Lloyds upon the fishermen Francois and Mathieu Masson (who rescued crew members WOOD and GODBOLT) and Berthele as an honorary acknowledgment of their extraordinary exertions in saving life. 

NORRIS and GRAHAM, described in contemporary reports as ‘firework men’, were assistants to the ‘pyrotechnist’ Mr Pain, and were returning to England after a stay of almost a year in South Africa. Both had wives and families who were left without a breadwinner after the wreck.

DALZIEL, ALMOND and RICHARDSON were operators of the Cape Telegraph Department travelling together. J Dalziel was to have been married on his arrival in England. 

CAPTAIN W W PIERCE had for many years been the master of the steamer Courland, trading between Cape Town and Natal. Pierce went down with his ship, the Drummond Castle. Most of his crew were lost, among them First Officer J WAYMAN and Second Officer T W HICKS. Fourth Officer P S ELLIS was buried at Ushant.

LIEUTENANT VON GIESE (or Geise) was an officer in the German army stationed in Damaraland but had been ordered home on sick leave. Unfortunately he was booked on the Drummond Castle. 

TULFSEN and UGLAND were passengers returning to Norway, after a long and perilous journey. They had been wrecked on a Norwegian ship and eventually reached Delagoa Bay in a destitute condition. Afterwards they embarked on the Drummond Castle, and were, therefore, in two wrecks within a few weeks, eventually meeting an apparently inescapable fate.

The PEACHEY family (Cornish settlers to S.A.) - the South Africa Magazine reported as follows:
In Durban … Messrs. Donald Currie and Co.’s offices were besieged by people asking for news of the disaster and the names of the missing. Well-known people belonging to Natal among the passengers are Mr. Peachey and family, of Tongaat, ten in all. They had decided to go by direct liner, but at the last moment changed their minds and booked by the Drummond (an intermediate steamer). Mrs. Peachey, senior, was paying a visit to England after an absence of forty-six years.
All the flags in town and on shipping at the Point were half-masted on receipt of the news. The Prime Minister of Natal cabled to Sir Donald Currie expressing sympathy with those bereaved by the foundering of the Drummond Castle. The Mayor of Pietermaritzburg has invited subscriptions to a relief fund.
[above extract transcribed from South Africa Magazine by Ellen Stanton]

The extent of the tragedy is difficult to comprehend even 117 years later. Some passengers drowned in their cabins. Those who managed to reach the deck perhaps fared worse. Of the bodies washed up on the beaches of Ushant and Molene, many were still wearing pyjamas. The islanders dressed them in their own ceremonial costumes kept for solemn rituals, and hundreds of people attended services and burials by the parish priest. Queen Victoria was moved by the care taken in recovering the bodies and the reverence with which the dead were treated.

Memorial Inscription at Goudhurst to Herbert Hinds, lost in the wreck of the
Drummond Castle off Ushant France 16 June 1896 and buried on the island of Molene.
His name does not appear on the passenger list given above:
Hinds may have been a crew member.

Has anyone sourced a crew list for the final voyage of the Drummond Castle? 

If so, please alert Mole via the Comments facility on this blog.


Unknown said...

I attend a church in Manchester where there is a stained glass window in memory of Geraldine and Beatrice OLIVE. Do you happen to know if they had family here?

Mole said...

I have no definite information about a relative or other link to Manchester for the OLIVE sisters, but as they were being sent to school in England they may well have had family there. I wonder if the school was in Manchester and the window was placed in their memory by their parents (who were in SA). Thanks for your comment. Mole

RoseH said...

I have just bought (Feb. 2015) a 'Memoriam card' 'In loving remembrance of my Beloved Wife and Children who were lost by the floundering of the Drummond Castle Tues. June 16th 1896. The wife is Jane MERCER (33) and her 6 children are named and their birth dates given - they age from 13 to 3 years old. The interesting thing is that only 4 children are on the passenger list NOT 6. There is no name on the card for the father. I'd appreciate hearing any further information about the ship and particularly this family.
Thanks - Rose

SHANEB said...

Lucy Emma Peachey (Thring) was my third Great Aunt, I remember my Grand mother telling me about this and going to visit the Memorial they have in the old Tongaat cemetery.

Mole said...

Rose I did look but have been unable to find anything further on Jane Mercer and her children. What sources have you tried already? Best, Mole

Karree Tree said...

William and Jessie Rae and their daughter Ada Winnifred are buried in a tiny cemetery outside Barberton, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Is there any further information about this family and why they were buried here and not in the UK?

Unknown said...

Jacqueline Williams...My great grandfather, William Frederick Montague, was a sea captain aboard the Drummond Castle went down. The next ship behind her carried my then 15 yr. old grandfather, Frederick William Montague. He had to identify his father's body. I don't know in what capacity he was aboard. Does anyone have crew list?

Mole said...

Hello Karree you left the following comment (sorry delayed response) - William and Jessie Rae and their daughter Ada Winnifred are buried in a tiny cemetery outside Barberton, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Is there any further information about this family and why they were buried here and not in the UK?

I find a deceased estate file on NAAIRS (SA National Archives Index)as follows:
STARTING 19120000
ENDING 19120000

If William Ogilvie Rae is your man (year is right) you could get a private researcher to look at the original estate file at Transvaal Archives. There could be useful information in the Death Notice in the file as well as an undertaker's invoice or other papers re the burial. The most likely explanation is that they had family living in Transvaal who wanted them buried there. But that is a guess. If you do get a researcher they need the full file reference as given above. Regards Mole.

Mole said...

Query from Jacqueline Williams...My great grandfather, William Frederick Montague, was a sea captain aboard the Drummond Castle went down. The next ship behind her carried my then 15 yr. old grandfather, Frederick William Montague. He had to identify his father's body. I don't know in what capacity he was aboard. Does anyone have crew list? *******

So far no complete crew list has been sourced. However see the following - and perhaps follow up in similar source but for crew other than officers? -
and also for your interest see

Regards Mole

Hardy Productions UK said...

The whole Gethin family were on board including John Gethin - see There are memorials at Kingsland, Herefordshire and at Llandough, near Cardiff.

Mole said...

Thanks for your comment. The passengers listed on that blogpost were those who sailed on the Drummond Castle from Cape Town and the coast ports on 28 May, 1896. However we know there are probably some omissions.

Unknown said...

hinds was to return Free State

Unknown said...

Dear Mole,

This past weekend (25 Sept '17) we visited Barberton (Mpumalanga, RSA) and happened upon a small cemetery with a small building. The building seems to be a mausoleum. There is a memorial stone (among others) in it for a lady who apparently perished the night the Drummond Castle went down.

I couldn't find the name of this lady on the passenger list.

According to the stone she was:

Margaret Maud Hammond
Born 23 March 1866, in Lochee Scotland.
(She was the wife of the late Frank Joseph Hammond, battery manager of the Sheba GMC, who died in Barberton on August 24, 1894, aged 33.)

I have a photo of both stones, if you would like them.)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hello Karree,

I don't think the Rae's are buried in the little cemetery at Eureka City.

I think the stone there was erected in their memory.

Karree Tree said...

Hi Elise,
Thanks for your comment. If this is only a memorial, their real burial place is a bit of a puzzle as I have been unable to find burial records for the Raes in the U.K., Canada and the USA - admittedly after a very quick Internet search. Anybody out there who can throw light on the subject?


Unknown said...

Good day from France,

My mother was born at Ushant and I spend a lot of time on the island when I was young. I did some researches on the loss of Drummond Castle in order to figure out what happened in the mid 80s. Among other things I got a copy of the of the offical inquiry and a copy of a 40 pages document written by a Union Castle representative who went to France shortly after the loss. This paper is named " A short account of a visit to Ushant and Molene after the loss of the Drummond Castle in June 1896". The official inquiry report includes both passengers and crew list.

- There is a Miss B. Olive, together with a Miss G. Olive mentioned as first class passengers from Cape Town.

- Regarding ther Mercer family, it states Mrs Mercer and four children as second class passengers from Delagoa Bay, however there are also two Misses Mercer as second class passengers from Natal. I suspect it refers to subject raised by Rose.

- Mr W. Rae & Mrs together with Miss Rae joined the vessel as first class passengers from Natal.

- There is no mention of Mr William Frederick Montague on the list I have.

- the Gethin family joined the vessel as first class passengers at East London, the list says Mr John Gethen (or Gethim) (late architect, Barry), Mrs Gethen (or Gethim), two Misses Gethem (or Gethim) and a Miss Peace and nurse.

- For the attention of Elise, a Mrs Hammond is mentioned as a first class passenger from Cape Town.


Mole said...

Thank you for your comment, Roland. I am sure other family historians with connections to the Drummond Castle will be most interested. Best Wishes Mole

Oliver Davey said...

Hi, I’ve just come across this post and have a lot more information about the Olive sisters as I am related to them. They were my great great grandfather’s nieces – this may sound a bit distant but they only had one brother (Hugh) and he had no children so there are no direct descendants.

Geraldine (b. 1881) and Beatrice (b. 1882) were the daughters of Gertrude and William Thomas Olive and lived in Didsbury, Manchester. William was a civil engineer who was awarded a prominent engineering position in Cape Town so the family sailed from England on 4th April 1895.

A year later, Geraldine and Beatrice boarded the Drummond Castle as first class passengers as they were returning to Britain to finish their schooling at a Ladies’ College in North Wales (according to a newspaper report I have recently found). My great great grandfather, Nolan Olive, had travelled to London to meet the girls where he would have presumably received the shocking news. I have read one report that says that of the few victims that were washed ashore in the following fortnight, one was identified as being ‘one of the two Miss Olives’ and she was buried on the tiny island of Molène.

I’m very interested to read on this page that there is a stained glass window dedicated to them in a Manchester church. Do you know where it is (Didsbury?) and if there are any pictures?

I do have a picture of the girls not long before they left South Africa, which I can send you.


Unknown said...

Have you seen this article? My great Uncle, Harry Wilson was travelling on this ship although he boarded at Las Palmas. He was killed along with his travelling companion and his body was brought back to Hartlepool for burial.

Mole said...

I had not seen the article you mention and thank you for the link. The report will be of great interest to all those seeking ancestors who may have been on board the Drummond Castle. Thanks for sharing the information. Best Wishes, Mole

Berenice said...

The Whipp brothers were Frederick Walker Whipp and Walter Walker Whipp, aged 34 and 30 respectively at date of death, and they're both remembered on their parent's gravestone in Clitheroe Cemetery, Lancashire. "Their remains are interred in the cemetery at Brest."

Mole said...

Thanks for your comment and the useful information. Best Wishes Mole.

Unknown said...

Hello. We made two pages dedicated to this tragedy on the website Do not hesitate to supplement them if you have other information. Thank you. Stéphane

Mole said...

Thanks for letting me know about this excellent account of the Drummond Castle, and for your interest in this blog. Best Wishes, Mole.

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Sadasivan said...

I happened to stop at a mountain-top gravesite while travelling along a dusty road today between Fairview and Sheba Gold Mine on the outskirts of Barberton, my curiosity got me to take a pic of the tombstone of the Rae family. I don't know how to post the pic on this blog.
Lennie Poonan

Mole said...

Thank for your interest and comment. Unfortunately I'm the only one allowed to post photos directly on my blog. If you like you could send me the photo (not too large) and depending on its quality I could consider posting it on the blog for you. Send it to

Best Wishes