West Indiaman – Captain Wilson. Cargo, Cotton & Rum. (LARN) – Chesil Beach, West Bay. Victim of the 1824 Gale. Ref. Dor. Mag: 1975, No. 49 & 50
On the night of the 22nd and 23rd of November 1824 the South West Coast of England was to experience one of its worst ever gales which not only caused havoc at sea.
Seventeen died on the COLVILLE, homeward bound from West Indies to London. One of the passengers Henry Gosling tore off a piece of his shirt and wrote on it his name and London address on it before tying it around his neck. This ensured he was not one of the hundreds of those buried as unknown. Captain John Wilson was buried with 16 of his crew and one passenger in St George’s churchyard on Portland. Reports in the Sherbourne Mercury 29/11/1824 & Dorset Magazine 1975 No.49, p23.
Portland Parish Records.
28th Nov. 1824; Thomas Dixon GOSLING of London Passenger on board the COLVILLE West Indiaman wrecked Nov. 23rd.
28th Nov. 1824; John WILSON Capt of the COLVILLE West Indiaman of London homeward bound wrecked Nov. 23rd.
28th Nov. 1824; Sixteen men wrecked on Chesil Beach supposed to have belonged to the COLVILLE West Indiaman Capt. Wilson of London;
3rd Dec. 1824; Hugh Baron FRASER Esq. Late Civil Commissary, wrecked in the COLVILLE West Indiaman on Chesil Beach November 23rd;
The above H. B Fraser was one of the 16 men buried November 28th but was taken out of the grave & reburied at the request of a relation, Major Codd.
NOTE: There were eleven more buried at St George’s but not necessarily from the COLVILLE;
1 Dec 1824; Six unknown men wrecked on Chesil Beach.
6 Dec 1824; Three unknown men; wrecked on Chesil Beach.
12 Dec 1824; A man unknown wrecked on Chesil Beach; Coroner’s Warrant.
27 Dec 1824; A man unknown found on the Rocks near; Chesil Beach Believed wrecked in the late storm .
Colville West Indiaman – National Archives X106/34, Cornwall Record Office, Accession No. 39. Not yet requisitioned.
The Island & Royal Manor of Portland Historic Sources by K. V. Saunders:
Eye-witness account of the storm written on the back page of the Register of Baptisms of Wyke Regis Church. (Now in Dorset County Record Office.)
“November 22nd, 1824. In the Evening of this day, which will ever be memorable for the dreadful Catastrophe which caused such destruction along the whole Western Coast of the Kingdom, the village of Chisel was nearly destroyed, twenty-six of the Inhabitants drowned, and upwards of eighty Houses damaged or washed down by a tremendous Surf which broke over the Chisel Bank, and bore everything away with irresistible violence before it. This awful Visitation was occasioned by a heavy Gale, which, happening at a Spring Tide, and commencing from the South South East, increased till eight o’clock, when it blew a most dreadful Hurricane, such as never has been known before in the memory of Man. At nine o’clock a most horrid scene presented itself. The Sea ran down the Streets of Chisel with a sufficient depth of water to float a vessel of a hundred tons burden: and the Wrecks of the Houses, with the furniture of the poor Inhabitants, were every where strewed on the Shore. The Ferry House leading to Portland was washed away, and the Ferry Man drowned. The Communication between the Island and the Mainland was nearly destroyed by the ravages of the Sea, which carried away the Sand Bank on the Eastern Side, and rendered the passage four times wider than it was before. The Chisel Bank throughout its whole extent was lowered from twenty to thirty feet; and the Saines and Boats of the poor Fishermen of Wyke, as well as those of Portland, almost totally destroyed. The Pier of Weymouth Harbour was materially damaged, and three fourths of the Esplanade at Melcombe Regis entirely thrown down and demolished. The Waves of the Sea washed over the high Road at Melcombe Regis, and filled all the lower parts of the Houses in Gloucester Row, and the Crescent with gravel and water. In short, a Scene of greater distress and misery can hardly be conceived, than was occasioned by this Storm. And its dreadful Effects will never be effaced from the minds of those who witnessed it. The same Storm destroyed the Church at Fleet, and threw down several Houses, but fortunately no lives were lost. The COLVILLE West India Man of four hundred tons burden was totally wrecked in the West Bay; and every soul on board perished besides several minor wrecks too numerous to mention.
GEORGE CHAMBERLANE, Rector of Wyke.
December 16th, l824.
Register of Burials at St. George’s (Now at All Saints’ Church)
Between Nov. 23rd. & Nov. 30th. 1824, 40 people were buried by Coroner’s Warrant. These included the Captain of the COLVILLE West India Man, Captain Wilson, and sixteen of his crew. The sixteen crewmen were buried together in one grave on 28th Nov., but it was later discovered that included with them was a passenger on the ship, Hugh Baron Fraser, Esq., “late Civil Commissary of Demerary”. A note in the Register records that on 3rd December the grave was re-opened and the body taken out and buried in the Church “at the request of a relation, Major Codden.”
Day of Loss: 23
Month of Loss: 11
Year of Loss: 1824