The water-logged ship Jane Lowden. — from a sketch by a passenger on board the Gresham

The water-logged ship Jane Lowden. — from a sketch by a passenger on board the Gresham. 1866. Source: Illustrated London News. Click on image to enlarge it.

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The passage below was created using ABBYY FineReader to render the Hathi Digital Library images into text. — George P. Landow

We mentioned last week the dreadful fate of the crew of the vessel Jane Lowden, of Padslow, which was disabled and waterlogged, in a voyage with a cargo of timber from Quebec to Falmouth, and lay twenty-eight days a helpless wreck afloat on the ocean, whilst all the men, except Mr. Casey, the captain, perished — some by drowning, and others by hanger or thirst, eight of them having taken refuge in the maintop when the hull was sunk under water. Their sufferings most have been terrible indeed, between the 21st of December, when the vessel filled with water (but was prevented by the nature of its cargo from going to the bottom), and the 23rd of January, when Captain Casey, the sole survivor of seventeen, was taken off by the Dutch barque Ida Elisabeth, and brought home alive. The Jane Lowden was again seen, four days afterwards, by the troop-ship Gresham, which was on its way from Hong-Kong with the invalids of the 11th Regiment, and we have been favoured by Dr. W. T. Black, surgeon to that regiment, with the sketch which is engraved on our front page. From the statement of Captain Brayiey, the commander of the Gresham, it appears that he sighted, on the 27th of January, in lat. 47.14 N. and long 18.24 W., at some distance to windward of his ship, a vessel apparently dismasted and very deep in the water. Captain Brayiey worked his vessel up towards the wreck, and on nearing it launched one of his boats and proceeded on board. It was found to be a large vessel waterlogged, and evidently of old build. There was no living person on board. Her decks had been swept by some tremendous sea, which had carried away bulwarks fore and aft, boats, deck-houses, and one cathead with its anchor. The broken part of the chain cable lay amidshipe on the vessel's deck, and on the top of a heap of wreck composed of broken spars, the ship's capstan winch, and other gear. Underneath this wreckage were lying, jammed on the broken deck by the weight, three human bodies, frightfully mutilated. One body was apparently that of a ship’s officer, the others those of two seamen. Captain Brayiey supposes these men to have formed part of the ship’s watch when she was struck by the sea. Where the bodies lay the deck had been torn up by the ring-bolts which held boats' fastenings to the deck amidships, and which had been dragged out by the boat when carried away by the sea. Through the openings in this torn planking projected parts of the bodies of two more of the crew, the limbs jammed in between the broken planking. These had no deck clothing on, and are therefore supposed to have formed part of the crew below. No other bodies could be found. The ship's stern was carried away, and part of the cargo (timber in deals, and balks) washed out. The bowsprit, with all the headgear and cathead, was gone. On the other cathead hung its anchor with the greater part of the chain cable run out and hanging down in a long bight from the hawse-pipe. The fore and mizen masts were carried away about a foot below the trestletrees. The main topmast was earned away, near the mainmast head, and no yards remained aloft but the fore and main lower. The sail itself had been blown out of the bolt-ropes, and fluttered from the mainyard. Tho maintop was covered round as securely as possible with canvas, and here had evidently been the last refuge of the survivors after the catastrophe had taken place below. Bags of clothing, the ship's ensign, a compass, a chronometer, a carpenter's axe, saw, and tin were found there, but there was no trace of food or water. In the chronometer case was found its “rate” paper, which stated the instrument to have been rated by W. J. Cox, at Plymouth, on the 15th of April, 1860. The chronometer was full of salt water, and had stopped at forty minutes past nine. A further search among the wreckage on the broken deck by Captain Brayley and his men, after leaving the maintop, led to the discovery of a bell, which had on it the name Jane Lowden. Captain Brayley took the chronometer away with him from the wreck, but left all the other articles on board, removing them down, however, from the maintop to the vessel's deck, and tearing away the remains of the mainsail, which looked like a signal for assistance to passing ships.

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“The water-logged ship Jane Lowden” Illustrated London News 48 (17 January 1866): 149-50. date???? Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 18 December 2015.

Last modified 18 December 2015