FRANCIS FREELING

H. M. Post Office Packet Weymouth; A fast cutter built in Portland in 1809, and named after one of the Post Office administrators. – (The Great Western at Weymouth by J. H. Lucking) Left Weymouth on the 06/08/1826 with a crew of 18. Run down on route to the Channel Islands by an unknown foreign brig, ten of the crew and six passengers drowned. May have been run down by a Swedish Brig which did report a collision – Portland. Important local story! Seven wives widowed and thirty children fatherless. Smith: p112 & √ DCC: 21/09/1826 & Dor. Mag: 1976 No. 50 p18.

Times: Thursday, September 28, 1826, Issue 13077 – “Among the unfortunate passengers on board the Francis Freeling of Weymouth, Post Office Packet, to Guernsey, on the 6th instant, which is generally supposed to have been run down by a Swedish vessel, and all on board to have perished, were Mr. Joseph Wolfe, of London, merchant, and Miss Stewart, of Guernsey, the only cabin passengers on board.” Ship Incident See detail in Index

Francis Freeling – 6/9/1825

His Majesty’s Post Office Packet Vessel (Note: There may be a packet with the same name at Falmouth)

Type – Cutter, Single Deck & Square Stern.

Date & Place – 1809, Portland Dorset

Dimensions – 57′ 7½ x 19′ 4½ x  9′ 2½

Tonnage 35 38/94 BM

Port of Registration – Weymouth 5/12/1809

Custom Surveyor – Abraham Flew

 

Owners:

 5/12/1809 – Charles Vipon

10/9/1814 – Fredrick White

Captain/Masters

5/12/1809 – Charles Vipon

10/9/1814 – Fredrick White

23/11/1825 – Thomas Duke

 

Dorset County Chronicle and Somerset Gazette, Vol. VI, No. 52 – Thursday September 21st, 1826

Weymouth, Wednesday, September 20th.

“We are aggrieved to state that all hopes are vanished as to safety of his Majesty’s post office packet Francis Freeling.  It is generally supposed that she was run down at sea by some unknown ship during the late gale.  By this disaster the wives of the crew, seven in number, together with upwards of thirty children, are left in the most affected state of distress.  A public meeting will be held at the Townhall on Saturday next to devise means to alleviate their present sufferings.  The names of the passengers on board at the time are not yet ascertained.

Dorset County chronicle and Somerset Gazette, Vol. VI, No. 301 [1] – Thursday September 28th, 1826

Borough and Town of Weymouth and Melcolme Regis, 23rd September, 1826.

“At a MEETING of the Inhabitants held at the Guildhall, pursuant to public Notice, for the purpose of taking into consideration the best means of affording RELIEF to the WOMEN and CHILDREN of the SAILORS who were LOST at SEA, with the Francis Freeling, Post-Office Packet, during the Gale in the night of Wednesday 6th instant. (sic)[2]

JAMES WILLIS WESTON, Esq., Mayor, (by desire) in the Chair.

Resolved Unanimously:-

1  That it appears to this Meeting that eight of the unfortunate sufferers had wives, six of whom are in the greatest distress; and reduced to extreme poverty, by the above calamitous event.

2  That a Subscription be immediately opened at the Libraries, Shops and Inns, in Weymouth, and a Collection made by the Committee, in person, from house to house; and that the Several Banks in the County be respectively requested to solicit and receive Subscriptions for the benefit of the sufferers.

3  That a Committee be formed of the following Gentlemen, (three of whom shall be a quorum) with liberty to add to their number; and that the moneys which shall be raised be placed at their disposal, viz – James Willis Weston, Esq., Mayor; John Martin and Joseph Horsford, Esqs., Bailiffs: the Rev. Dr Dupré, the Rev. George Chamberlain, the Rev. Willoughby Brassey,  the Rev. Joseph Addison, the Rev John Horsford, R. N. Captain Tullidge, R. N. Mr Welsford, Mr Wm. Morgan, Mr E. Barlett, Mr Barlow, and Mr Upham.

4  That the Reverend the Clergy of Weymouth and Melcolme-Regis and adjacent parishes, Portland, Chickerall, Radipole, Broadway, Upwey and Preston; be respectively desired to preach, or to grant their pulpits for Sermons, in aid of this so much needed charity; and that the same desire be respectively expressed to the Ministers of the several Dissenting Congregations in the town.

5  Missing at present!!

6  That George Arden Esq., and Lieut. S Conner, R. N., be requested to accept the office of Honorary Secretary; and that William Elliot Esq., be appointed Treasurer.

7  That a statement of the Receipts and Expenditure be laid before the Subscribers, at a Meeting to be called for that purpose by the Committee.

8  That a copy of these Resolutions be forwarded to the Right Honourable the Postmasters General, to the Members for the Borough, and to the Recorder, respectfully requesting their co-operation and assistance.

9  That a Report of the transactions of this Meeting be sent to the Islands of Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney, with an earnest request that their inhabitants would co-operate in the objects of this charity.

10  That these Resolutions be printed in the Dorset County Chronicle and Sherbourne Mercury newspapers.

Signed J. W. Weston, Chairman.

The Chairman having left the Chair, and the same having been taken by the Rev. Dr Dupré, it was resolved unanimously, that the cordial Thanks of this Meeting, be given to the Worshipful, the Mayor for his kindness in taking the Chair, and for his able conduct therein.

Signed JOHN DUPRÉ, Chairman.

Later in this same issue the above is reported on.  However there is some further information:  Firstly the Commander of the Francis Freeling is stated as being Mr Richard Wilkingson.  Secondly that a subscription collected at the meeting raised £60.  Thirdly that “The Committee for the last two days, highly creditable to their honours, have been indefatigable in their exertions, by waiting on the visiters (sic) and inhabitants, and have we hear, already collected upwards of £250.

In DCC: Wednesday October 11,  Vol. VI, No. 303, we find at least two of the Reverand’s have done their duty!

“On Sunday last the Rev. John Horsford preached an excellent sermon in Wyke- Regis church on the occasion of the deplorable loss of the Post-Office Packet, Francis Freeling.  A liberal collection was made after divine service, for the relief of the widows and children of the seamen thus rendered destitute and fatherless.”

The Rev. Joseph Addison at Melcombe Regis: “A very handsome sum was likewise collected”

Notes:

[1] – The numbers suddenly change from No. 51 to No. 301?

[2] – This seems to confirm that the collision took place on the 6th September.  As yet no evidence of any bodies or mail being recovered.

An odd Customs record:

30 Aug 1814

Weymouth Aug 27 Arrived the Francis Freeling packet, with mail from Guernsey and Jersey.

References:

The Great Western at Weymouth.
Dorset County Chronicle 21/09/1826.

Sir Francis Freeling

Sir Francis Freeling first baronet (25 August 1764 – 10 July 1836), was Secretary of H. M. General Post Office He was born in Bristol, on 25 August 1764. 

Freeling started work in the Bristol Post Office. In 1785 he was promoted, to a post in London, to develop the service. In 1797, he rose to the office of joint Secretary to the Post Office and in 1798, sole Secretary.

He initiated many reforms to the Post Office, including the introduction of local penny posts in large towns, the reorganization of London’s service and the use of steam trains and ships to replace horse-drawn vehicles and wind-powered ships.

A baronetcy was conferred upon him, as Baronet Freeling of Ford in Sussex for his public services on 11th March 1828.


Day of Loss: 6

Month of Loss: 9

Year of Loss: 1826


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Approximate Depth:

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