The William Dawkins
mentioned was the Grandfather of (Gran) Gylettie Emma Dawkins Farman. His
real age was 35. My internet colleague decided to hand type the article
because his original newspaper is in such poor condition from 1866. He has
kept the spelling errors etc as was written.
Since receiving this story I
have been able to work out that William Dawkins Farman’s body floated onto
the beach opposite what is now Harbord Crescent, Great Yarmouth. The
accident occurred just after noon on Saturday the 13 January 1866 and
William was washed ashore sometime on the following Monday late afternoon.
The Lifeboat itself came ashore near the Wellington Pier. Several days
after the inquest Mr Robert Warner sadly passed away after not fully
recovering the tragedy and so the losses became 13 of the 16 crewmen.
William was buried in Gorleston Cemetery near the gates but apparently
there is no monument to be seen now.
R I P YOU
The following report
has been passed on to Garry via Derek Farman and Derek (an historian)
has given permission for it to be added to the website.
Date…Jan 20. 1866
noon on Saturday
last, a most melancholy and terrible catastrophe occurred at Gorleston,
which resulted in the loss of no fewer than twelve brave and experienced
The facts as gleaned on the
spot an hour or two later were as follows:in the forenoon a vessel with a
signal of distress in her maintopmast rigging was seen running northward
through the roads, and at once the lifeboats Rescuer and Friend of All
Nations were fully manned and proceeded out of the harbour in order to
render her whatever assistance she might require. The wind at the time
was blowing a gale from S.S.W. The sea was rather rough, and there was a
heavy swell on the bar, the itde being last quarter ebb. Both lifeboats
were under reefed sails, the Rescuer being just ahead and on the the port
side of the Friend of All Nations. As they passed over the bar, the water
upon which was very shallow, the Rescuer touched the ground, in
consequence of which her rudder became unshipped. At this moment a heavy
sea struck her and she caught the ground and immediately turned over
bottom upwards, the crew numbering 16 hands being underneath. Two of
these being named Robert Warner and George Palmer, managed to get from
under her sides and were then rescued by means of boathooks by the crew of
the other lifeboat. The Friend of All Nations was instantly veered round
and proceeded after the Rescuer, which in the meantime had beaten over
the North Sand, bottom upwards with two of her crew, namely Edward
Westwoods jun., and Wm. Austrin who had succeeded in getting onto her keel
. The Friend of All Nations came up with her after she had drifted about
three-quarters of a mile and managed to take off the two above-named men
in a very exhausted state. Every effort was made by the Friend of All
Nations to recover the rest of the unfortunate men, but without success,
as not a man of them was to be seen.
The names of
the twelve men who have thus perished were-
James Woods jun.,
aged 29, who leaves a widow,
brother to the above, aged 27 and unmarried.
sen., aged 55 leaves a widow and several young children.
aged 25, leaves a widow and one child,
aged 25, leaves a widow and three children,.
Whiley, aged 46, leaves a widow and eight children, five of whom are very
Parker, aged 61, married.
Dawkins, aged 27 leaves a widow and five children.
Spillings, aged 40, leaves a widow and eight children.
Manthorpe, aged 19, unmarried.
aged 24. unmarried.
Harris, aged 30, leaves a widow.
The crew of the
Rescuer were nearly all experienced boatmen, and were under the command of
Robert Spillings, the coxswain, in whom the greatest confidence was
reposed , as a man of long experience, firmness and steadiness. The
accident is attributed to no want of skill on their part, but to the
insufficient depth of water on the bar, and the state of the wind and tide
at the time.
came ashore subsequently near the Wellington-pier. She was a boat in the
buoyancy and sea-worthy qualities of which the men had the utmost
confidence, having been out withher n the heaviest gales. She belonged to
the Ranger Company, for whom she was built in 1856 by Messrs. Beeching on
Mr. Teasdel’s plan, which is not that of the self-righting principle. Her
draught of water was 2 feet 9 inches, the rudder drawing about 4 feet.
It ought to be
stated that the crew at the itme of the accident were not protested by
lifebelts, and wore their ordinary clothing, consisting of
oil jackets and heavy sea-boots.
so appalling has not occurred in this district for many years and has
spread a gloom not only among the hamlets of Gorleston and Southtown but
over the whol town of
It will be seen
that the foregoing list comprises nine widows and about 30 children, most
of whom it is believed are unprovided for.
INQUEST ON ONE OF THE BODIES
evening one of the bodies of the drowned men, named Wm. Dawkins was washed
ashore on the beach, and on Tuesday and inquest was held at the Duke’s
Head Inn, Gorleston before C.H. Chamberlin Esq., and a respectable jury,
of which Mr.Abel King was foreman.
said it woul dnot be necessary for him to detain them by any lengthy
observation. He had called them together, to enquire in the cause and
death of this man, who they were aware, was oneo those who perished in
that most lamentable catastrophe which took place on Saturday last. If
this was as is generally believed, entirely an accident, their duties as
jury men would be exceedingly simple. At the same time he would be very
glad to receive their assistance, as possibly some suggestions might arise
in the course of this enquiry, which would have the effect of rendering
the boarmen more careful, and preventing the recurrence of similar
The jury having
viewed the body, its identity was deposed to by Mr. J. F. Crowe, living
at Row 75,
Howard Street. The deceased
was a boatman who lived in Gorleston. He was 35 years of age.
living in 8,
Wellington Place, Yarmouth,
deposed that about a quarter- past six o’clock on Saturday afternoon, he
picked up the body on the beach opposite the Militia barracks.
said he was a boatman living in Gorleston and was one of the crew who went
out in the Rescuer on Saturday.
You went out in
consequence of seeing a signal flown by some vessel?- At
what time did the boat leave the leave the harbour? -About five minutes to
deceased, William Dawkins, one of the crew?- Yes
How many men
were in the boat altogether?- Sixteen
lifeboat go out at the same time?- Yes, the Friend of All Nations,
belonging to another company.
Which boat was
ahead?-The Rescuer was the first boat.
Then the other
boat did not hinder you in any way?-No, no, we were a hundred fathoms
How was the
And the tide?-
A strong ebb
tide?- Very strong.
Was there much
sea on the bar?- No there was not enough water on it to make a sea.
How did this
accident occur?- As she was crossing the bar she took the ground in mid
channel, and struck three or four times. Her rudder was sent up[ the
mizen and she hove down bottom upwards. When I found she was over, I
jumped clear of the boat and swam from her, but seeing she turned bottom
up, I swam back and got on her keel.
Then the boat
did not strike on the North Sand?- No, no. She was a long way off the
What water was
on the bar?- I should say not more than two feet.
What swell was
there? -There was not enough water to make much of a swell.
What water did
your boat draw?-About two feet nine inches, or three feet, the rudder
about four feet.
You say she
struck in mid channel?-Yes
You did not
endeavour to cut out the other boat? No, sir.
You had not
your lifebelts on?- No
you?- We did not think of them for such a time as that. We did not think
there was much use for them.
But if you had
them on you would all have been saved. Were your plugs all right?- I’ll
kiss the book on it. I took out the starboard plug myself, and a young
man who was drowned took out those on the port side.
ballast compartments full of water?- Yes, they were all right.
Are you sure
the accident happened as you have described?- I am sure if it were not for
her touching the ground it would not have happened.
How were the
sails? -There were two reefs in the lugger mizen , tow in the mizen, and
two in the foresail.
Did one of the
whips get foul?- One of the whips got under the rudder.
By design or
anything to do with the boat upsetting?-No, it was the ground that did it;
she was on the ground with a strong ebb tide, and that as the cause of it.
And she was not
near the North at all?-She was in mid-channel on the bar, sir, and that is
300 fathoms from the North.
There were only
four saved?-Only four!
Were you taken
off the boat’s bottom?-I was taken off by the crew of the other boat.
The Coroner -
Would you wish, gentlemen to ask the witness any questions?
The Foreman- a
lot of us saw the accident and know how it happened as well as himself.
What he has stated is perfectly correct.
Jury-She at first struck aft very hard and knocked the rudder up six or
seven inches. The rudder could not have got adrift. The boat lay heavily
on her bilge.
Foreman-There was not enough water for her to recover herself.
boat has gone through four times that weather and never took any harm.
The Coroner (to
witness)-Youmust have known what water there was on the bar?- We were
going to save life.
You were not
going to save life then?-She had a union downwards on her main topmast
rigging as as signal for assistance and we could not tell what was amiss
with her. We look upon a signal of that kind as a most urgent one, and
did not think much of our own lives.
The Coroner I
was informed by other persons that she had not a union down.
A juror -I saw
her myself as she was passing and she had a union downwards.
Juror-If those on board saw the accident they must have altered it
Coroner-Could they see the accident?
observed that that was a strong point in favour of the crew if they went
out believing life was in danger.
could have produced a hundred witnesses to the fact that the ensign was in
the main topmast rigging, union downwards.
reply to the Coroner said there was no neglect on the part of the men
whatever. The fact of the sheet foul had nothing to do with the accident.
The third time the boat struck the rudder was knocked half was up the
the other man taken off the keel of the Rescuer, gave similar evidence.
They were trying to get the mizzen sheet aft, which had got stuck in the
boat’s heel as she struck on the bar.
Do you think if
you could have got the mizzen sheet she would have struck the ground?- I
believe she would have done it all the same. We went round the south pier
as close as we could. The fouling of the sheet had nothing to do with the
accident, which was entirely owing to the want of water on the bar.
Several of the
jury who were mostly experienced boatmen expressed a similar opinion as to
the cause of the accident.
asked why this boat could not have gone out as the other boat did.
the other boat bumped too, but by good luck she shot herself ahead.
observed that it was clear if this boat had taken the same course as the
other, she would have got clear.
Witness to the
Coroner- The plugs were all right when we crossed the bar. We crossed in
mid-channel and did not touch the North at all until we went over it
bottom upwards. Could not see whether the other had dripped her anchor as
I was in the water at the time.
coxswain of the Friend of all Nations deposed- I did not see the boat
upset because the mizzen prevented me, but both started from the pier, and
as she was crossing the bar one of our people sung out, “Good God! That
boat is going over;” and another sung out to keep our boat away, bit I
said I dared not do so, as we were not clear ourselves, but as soon as the
rudder was clear of the gudgeon-
Coroner-Your rudder was not clear?
striking ourselves, and the rudder was on my arm. As soon as we crossed
the bar we slacked away and let go an anchor and veered down broadside to
the other boat. We picked up two of the men in the water, but before we
got to the others they had all gone down. I had hold of poor Mr Mr.
Warner myself with one hand and Mr. Whiley with the other, but the boat
lurching broke my hold of Mr. Whiley and he went down. We then followed
the other boat and took two men off her keel. We know the the water on
the bar was shallow, but thought the lifeboat could be got out. Had been
out before during this season, and the boat caught the ground several
times in crossing the bar.
What signal did
the vessel show?-A waif tied up.
It was not an
ensign?- I could not see whether it was an ensign or not.
Was it union
downwards?- I could not see that.
said the boatmen ought not to run such great risk in putting off to a
vessel with merely a waif, which was not a signal for urgent assistance.
It was a fact that when a boat wnet afterwards to the vessel themaster
said he wanted only oil ofr his lamps, though he afterwards took an anchor
A Juror- How
many times did your boat strike on the bar?- Four times
Before you bore
up for assistance?-Yes
You do not
think there was much sea on the bar?-No.
am afraid that bar is in a dreadful state.
very dreadful state, sir.
Many of the
Jury concurred in this remark.
stated that the master of one of the tugs refused to tow the lifeboat in
because his own vessel had struck heavily in going out. All the men who
had been rescued were now quite well, except Mr. Warner who was not yet
one of the jury, said, with reference to the plugs, that almost the first
question he asked his father when he was able to speak, was whether the
plugs were out, and he replied they were all out.
answer to the Jury, said the signal he saw was a waif stopped up. He was
sitting at home when he was told of a vessel passing, but as it was only a
waif he di dnot intend to go, as he thought she might only an anchor; but
as the other boat was going out he started too.
observed that for men to attempt to cross the bar and to risk their lives
when they considered the lives of otheres were in danger, was a brave and
heroic act; but if it was only a waif that was exhibited, it was very rach
and wrong to run such a risk.
Several of the
Jury affirmed that they themselves saw the signal and that it was a flag
union downwards. They expressed themselves fully satisfied as to the
cause of the accident, and returned a verdict of “Accidental Death”.