Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wreck of the Prince Rupert 1841

Prince Rupert, a British barque of 322 tons, Captain Ramage, was wrecked 4 September 1841 at the Mouille Point battery at 21h00 after entering the bay; she was on a voyage from London to New Zealand, carrying cargo. The wreck was mentioned in Cape Govt Gazette 1 October 1841; Shipping Register KAB CC 2/15. 

The following report from The Sydney Herald Tuesday 23 November 1841:


On the 4th September (1841), the Prince Rupert, from  
London, with one hundred and sixty passengers
and cargo for New Zealand, in entering Table
Bay, about nine o'clock in the evening, ran
aground on Mouille Point, stuck fast, and be-
came a total wreck. When the Prince Rupert
struck, about fifteen minutes past nine o'clock,
she was, on firing a gun, observed from the
Bucephalus, Indiaman, at anchor about two
miles from the point, within the Bay, and a
boat under the orders of the Chief Officer, Mr.
John R. Merewether, put off to render assistance.
Mr. Merewether succeeded during the night in
making three trips between the wreck and the
Bucephalus, bringing off thirty of the people,
besides others that he put on board the boats
that were near him at different periods of the
night. About five o'clock, fancying that some
persons still remained on board the Prince Ru-
pert, Mr. Merewether proceeded to the wreck a
fourth time with a crew of seven men, the sur-
geon of the Prince Rupert, and Mr. Frood, a
passenger whom he had previously brought on
board the Bucephalus. When they came under
the stern of the wreck, a short sea broke over
the boat and nearly filled it, and the succeeding
wave upset her, and this gallant and humane
young officer, with three of his crew, and Mr.
Frood, perished in the surf among the rocks. It
is impossible to express the grief which the
untimely fate of this excellent young man has
caused on board the Bucephalus, where his
talents, his many accomplishments, and his
most noble and generous disposition, had made
him the object of universal respect and affection.
Of him, and of Mr. Fulcher, the commander,
the numerous and most respectable company of
the passengers by the Bucephalus, speak in the
highest terms of esteem; and Mr. Fulcher
laments the loss of his first officer and friend as
the severest calamity that could have befallen him.
Mr. Merewether was in his twenty-fifth year.
He was the son of Mr. Sergeant Merewether,
Whitehall Place, London. In consequence of
rumours that the captain (who was second mate
of the Julianna [sic], wrecked on the same spot last
year) had wilfully lost the vessel, a court of
enquiry was held and from the report we give
the following extract :—"The whole of the pro-
ceedings from the time of being abreast of Rob-
ben Island until the vessel was on shore at
Green Point, we consider to be highly culpable,
but we fully acquit Captain Ramage and his offi-
cers of intentionally losing the vessel." Among
the passengers were Mr Spain, the Commis-
sioner for investigating Claims to Land in New
Zealand, and Mr. Lizars, the Deputy Surveyor
General. Many of the emigrants had obtained
situations at the Cape.

28 of those on board the Prince Rupert were conveyed after the wreck to Algoa Bay on the Conch, schooner of Captain William Bell, later Port Captain of Natal. Among those who travelled by the Conch may have been the three Hockey brothers, originally destined for New Zealand, who decided to remain at the Cape (Grahamstown).

The Grahamstown Journal 24 November 1842 referred to 'additions to the immigrant population of Algoa Bay' the previous year, noting 'per Conch the wrecked passengers ex Prince Rupert (28)'.

See also:

Dimond, J.T. WRECKED UNDER THE GREEN POINT LIGHT, the background to the Green and Mouille Point lights and stories of six shipwrecks in the area. The stories of the building of the two lighthouses and of the wrecks of the Juliana (1839), Prince Rupert (1841), RMS Athens (1865), SS Thermopylae (1899), SS Aotea (1911), and S.A.Seafarer (1966).


Hakuna Matata said...

It sound good and I think its really a wonderful story. I will try to read it after works.

Thanks for sharing.

(TFI) the family international

Mole said...

Glad you enjoyed it, tinita. There are other shipwreck stories on my blog which you might like as well. Thanks for your comment, Mole


I agree with tinita! Thank you Mole.

SantaSandy said...

Thanks for the share. My Currin ancestors were on board the Prince Rupert. I wanted to know some more details, I had found the report in The Sydney Herald but you have added the bit how they joined my 1820 settler Ancestors. I may try and buy the book. Greatly appreciated.