Otago Witness 2 Jan 1875 - Burning of the "Cospatrick."

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Burning of the
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Otago Witness 2 Jan 1875, Page 8

The London telegrams to hand by the ss Omeo from Melbourne give us news of one the most terrible disasters at sea that has occurred for years — the burning of the emigrant ship Cospatrick, off the Cape of Good Hope, and the loss of four hundred and sixty lives. The vessel was on her way to Auckland with immigrants, and as a large proportion of those who have perished doubtless had friends or relatives in that Province, the intelligence will carry grief to many a home. In Dunedin at about 7 o'clock, when the news of the disaster became generally known, considerable excitement prevailed, and shortly afterwards the Daily Times office was besieged by a crowd eager to obtain copies of the Extras which were issued. Earlier in the afternoon we had posted a slip containing a few particulars, outside the office, and thus the news got abroad. The date of this terrible occurrence was November 19th, so that some time must necessarily elapse before we are in possession of all the details of the catastrophe. These, unhappily, will be harrowing enough, if we may judge so from what is conveyed in the telegrams. The Cospatrick was a wooden vessel of 1199 tons burthen and visited New Zealand a little over a year ago. She belonged to Messrs Shaw, Savill and Co., and was commanded by Captain Elmslie. She left London on her ill-fated voyage on September 8th, carrying (according to the European Mail) 424 Government immigrants, four steerage passengers, whose names are not given, and one cabin passenger (Dr J F Cadle). On September 10th she left Gravesend, and the next we hear of her is that on the 19th of November, when off the Cape, she was burned. The particulars we are in possession of with regard to the disaster are to the effect that in one hour after the flames broke out the vessel was completely gutted, and that hundreds who preferred a death by drowning to being burned to death cast themselves overboard and perished. The origin of the fire is not known. Two boats, each containing thirty persons, in charge of the first and second mates, left the vessel. One boat has not since been heard of, whilst all but three on board the second met a fate even more terrible than that of the others who lost their lives. Many died raving mad, and the telegrams state that the only three survivors— Messrs Macdonald, Lewis, and Cotter— only managed to support life by subsisting on the bodies of their dead comrades. The boat containing the survivors had been adrift on the ocean ten days when she was picked up by the ship British Sceptre. It would be waste of words to attempt to picture the suffering of these unfortunates— the tale is told vividly enough even in the curt words of the telegram. We are told that Captain Elmslie and the doctor stood by the vessel to the last, and then jumped overboard and were drowned. The three survivors have arrived in London, and a fund for their relief, and for assisting the relatives of those who lost their lives is being raised. The Lord Mayor of London and the owners of the vessel have each subscribed £200, and there is no doubt that a large sum will be raised. Last evening, one of the immigration officers here telegraphed to Auckland to ascertain whether there were any persons on board the Cospatrick for Otago, and a reply will be received this morning. We are informed that there were no nominated immigrants on board for Otago, but a young woman in this city had two sisters, passengers by the ill-fated vessel. The Cospatrick was employed as a transport ship, at the time of the Indian Mutiny. The following is a complete list of the immigrants:
Archibald: George 24, Anna 23
Bradley: Joseph 30, Mary 30, Frederick 9, Mary 8, Sarah 5
Blancow: John 29, Emma 30, Navini 6, Elizabeth 1
Berreman: Caleb 37, Mary 32
Beswitherick: J. 22, Erama 27
Warne: William -, Thomas -, Alfred –
Blott: Frederick 28, Sophia 25
Crosley: George 30, Amelia 30, Amer 2
Caldwell: Robert 29, Jessie 27, Hugh 4, Robert 1
Carroll: Edmond 36, Ann 35, Johanna 16, Margaret 13, Edward 6, Mary
Chapman: Joseph 37, Agnes 38, J A 11, Margaret 10, Maud 2
Dalton: Charles 50, Ellen 49, Ellen 17
Farrell: James 35, Bridget 36, Patrick 6, Michael 5, Bridget 2, John 1
Foulghann: Richard 25, Eliza 22, Richard 1
Gate: Edward 26, Annie 26
Geary: B. 24; Catherine 25
Hall: Thomas 28, Mary 21
Hall: John 38, Elizabeth 36
Hotton: George 28, Ellen 27
Henacott: Amand 44, Margaret 44, Gustave 19, Theophile 15, Isabella 14
Harrison: William 25, Selina 24, Emma 1
Hofferman: Cornelius 25, Mary 30, Clara 12, Jane 6, Margaret 5 Arthur 3. Walter 1
Jones: Thomas 30, Ann 38
Jones Phillip 27, Sarah 25, Sarah 3, Mary 1
King: William 25, Mary 25
Key: Henry 35, Selina 30, Sophia 10
Keating: Charles 43, Mary 35, Thomas 14, Mary 2
Le Greyt: Abraham 23, Eliza 22, Abraham 2
Marsh: John 30, Caroline 33
Novell: George 44, Sarah 41, Geo 16, Frdk 14, Alfred 11, Arthur 8, Annie, 3
Reilly: Patrick 44, Margaret 28, Mary 6, Florence 4, Ann 3. Catherine 1
Reeves: Benjamin 26, Eleanor 20
Sheward: Henry 34, Charlotte 39, Augusta 9, Charlotte 4
Towille: James 28, Esther 27, Esther 2, Edwin 1
Turner: Geo 22, Maria 23, Florence 3
Turner: John 34, Julia 32, John 14, James 12, Charles 10, Elizabeth 8, Wm 6, Alice 1
Vaicer: Edward 35, Caroline 26
Wray: Wm 38, Mary 35, Wm. 18. James 16, Mary 14, Frank 13 Hugh 10, Daniel 8, Kitty 6, Thos. 3, John 1
Williams: John 34, Mary 33 Mary 10, Emily 7, Charles 8, Ellen 1
Whyte: Wm. 27, Isabella 27, William 2, Elizabeth 1, Mary 58, J. 32, Robert 25, Andrew 19
Waiters: William 31, Elizabeth 29, Mary 5, Charles 3, Alice 1
Whitehead : Edward 30, Mary 30
Davis: John 27, Ann 25
Bailey: Reuben 23, Emma 23, Jane 2, Emma 1
Byron: Robt, 34, Jane 32, Mary 12, Robert 9, Marion 6, John 1
Bentley: Thomas 37, Francis 36, John 10, Frederick 11, Harriet 8, Ernest 4
Campbell: Arthur 26, Emma 28, William 1
Fitzgerald: Robert 33, Mary Ann 34, Robert 4, William 8, Ann 6, Elizabeth 2
Holborn: Wm. 30, Mary 31, Arthur 1
Hogan: Jas 28, Maria 28, Denis 3
Hedges: John 24, Sarah 23; Thomas 21, Charles 15
Hedges: John 24, Sara 23
Peirce: John 25, Charlotte 20
Hedges: Henry 30, Mary 30, William 3, Charles 1, Geo. 1
Ivins: Jas. 36, Hannah 38, Wm Jas. 13, Thos. 10, Edith 6, Ernest 2
Jacob: Jno. 47, Mary 43, Jno. 21, Thos, 19, Joseph 17 Simon 15, Emma 11
Mahar: John 41, Mary 36, James 18, John 17, Ellen 15, Michael 13, Bartholomew 12, Margaret 9, Mary 7, Annie 5, M. 2
Lee: William 32, Emma 29, Emily 7, Ann 6, James 2, William 1
Lewis: Thomas 40, Maria 37, William 17, Thomas 15, Alice 14, David 11, James 2
Mearns: William 27, Annie 26, John 6, James 4, William 2
Stallard: Thomas 45, Mary 32, George 9, Alice 7 Elizabeth 5, Emma 1
Reilly: John 42, Grace 31, Mary 4, Margaret 1, Grace 1
Riordan: Jeremiah 34. Elizabeth 32, Timothy 14, Mary 12, Elizabeth 10, Michael 7, Thomas 4, Jerry 1
Scott: Robert 22, Ellen 19
Shorthorne: Aleander 27, Ellizabeth 23
Scarf: Jno. 39, Isabella 38, Margt. 19, Jane 16, Jno. 10
Shore: Rd, 25, Mary 20, Mary 2, Rd. 1
Thomson: John 38, Barbara 35, Euphina 7, Lochlan 5, John 3, Sarah 1
Welch: Charlotte 53, Stephen 18, Frederick 21, Mary 21
Charter: George 31, Jane 38, George 4, Mary 1
Henderson: A 21, Jane 20
Cousins: Wm 20, Mary 22
Jones: George 29, Bridget 44
Mutton : William 25, Mary 23, John 1
Bunt: John 25, Sarah 25
Brown: George 35, Emma 39, Thomas 38, Alfred 10, John 6
Pearce: James 25, Harriet 27, Harriet 4, John 3, Martha 1
Trevena; William 32, Jane 44, Samuel 22, Matthew 20, Susan 10, Charles 17, James 14, Joseph 12, Eliza 9, Francis 7, Richard 5
Doyle: John 24, Eliza 23
Orchard: Edward 38, Louisa 23, Elizabeth 3, James 1
Wallis: Robert 36, Sarah 18
Townsend: Henry 60, Ann 55
Coleman: John 26, Mary 26.
Single Men. —
Lloyd Joseph 17
Lockett John 23
Anderson John 28
Birbeck: Nicholas 25, John 21
Bright Joseph 18
Bishop Henry 19
Connell Patrick 19
Connor James 20
Colley Arthur 23
Cook Harry 20
Eagles William 22
Easton John 18
Foulghan Wm 27
Foulghan John 63
Flood Denis 21
Gibson Frederick 20
Gorders William 21
Graham Alexander 21
Hutchinson James 22
Gilmore George 21
Heath Henry 21
Harvey William 24
Hammond John 29
Isaacs David 25
Jones David 22
Kerswell George 28
Kingoe H 28
Livingstone: Robert 24, Duncan 16, William 14
Leuchan Jeremiah 24
McMeckhan Robert 26
McLure George 24
Murphy John 29
McBride John 27
McKinnon John 22
McBean Jas 21
Meak Hy 25
Macfarland Jno 24
Nippen Thos 25
Prember Thos 38
Peacock Alfred 31
Stapleton Alexr 22
Shaw Wm 32
Schwartze Caleb 27
Duffield Wm 24
Wurtz Chas 22
Muckernst Wm A 23
McQuillin M 22
Calvert John 21
Shea Michael 23
Clifton Saml 30
Mouatt Jas 17
Trewhella Wm 19
White Geo 21
Lee Thos 19
Hewett W R 22
Single Women –
Weaver Eliza 28
Taugney Honora 33
Pritchard Ellen 19
Doughton Emily 17
Harvey Catherine 18
Prember Susanna 26
Burridge Ann 27
Campbell Eliza 21
Darvill Maria 16
Edmonds Charlotte 18
Elizabeth 21
Foulghan Mary 24
Harriet 25
Hargrave Ellen 22
Kerby Margaret 29
McCoy Elizabeth 22
McQueen Margaret 21
Pursey Elizabeth 26
Proctor Amelia 30
Quinn Elizabeth 28
Smith Isabel 20
Shea Mary 27
Trollope: Elizabeth 18, Wm A 24
Wood: Mary 23, John 3
Le Blond Maria 19
Richards Ellen 23

Otago Witness, 13 March 1875, Page 8
The Cyphreues brings newspapers containing accounts of the burning of the Cospatrick. The following is a copy of the deposition of Henry Macdonald, before the Receiver of Wrecks : — He was second mate of the ship Cospatrick. The vessel was supplied with a fixed fire engine on the forecastle head, with suction pump up and down, steam moveable fire engine with rubber suction hose, and also a considerable quantity of delivery box engines. They were in good order, and were employed in the endeavour to put out the fire, and threw large quantities of water. The vessel was well supplied with fire buckets, with lanyards attached. The vessel proceeded on her voyage, and met with fine weather and light winds. Two births occurred at 10 pm on the 17th of November. During the voyage the master's hat blew overboard, and the port boat was instantly lowered to pick it up, and returned co the vessel in a very short time, On Tuesday, 17th November, 1874, at noon, the vessel was in lat. 37.14 S. At 12.25, the weather was fine, with the wind blowing a light breeze. The deponent had charge of the first watch, and was relieved at midnight by the chief officer. The vessel was barely steering. About a quarter of an hour before midnight deponent went car fully round the upper deck, over the poop and forecastle. All was well, and there was no smell of fire or any other matter to attract attention. Deponent had been below about three-quarters of an hour when he was aroused by a cry of fire. He jumped out of his berth and rushed on deck undressed. He met the master at the cuddy door, in his shirt. The master ordered deponent forward to enquire the cause of the alarm. Deponent rushed forward and saw a dense smoke coming up from the fore-cabin The chief officer, was getting the fire-engine to work, and the passengers and crew were all rushing on deck. The cry was that the fire was coming up from about the boatswain's locker. Deponent returned and assisted the master to endeavour to get the vessel about, but she had no steerage way. In a few minutes flames came up the forecastle, and the foresail was hauled up. The vessel now came up head to wind, which drove the smoke aft, the flames bursting up the fore hatch way. The master sent for deponent, and asked if it was possible to get volunteers to see where the fire was. It was impossible, as the smoke was suffocating, and deponent asked the master if he should put the boats out, and the master said, "No, but do what you can to put the fire out." The foremast boats by this time caught fire, and the flames were now coming up the main hatchway. Deponent sent men to clear away the boats on the sides. The starboard quarter boat was now lowered, and about 80 — mostly women — put in. The davits bent with their weight, and as the boat touched the water, she turned over, and the people were all drowned. Hencoops and other moveables were thrown over, but it was of no avail to save their lives. He now stationed two men at the port boat to prevent anyone lowering it except by the master's order. The officers now made an attempt to get the long boat overboard, but there was too much confusion to get proper help. Her bows caught fire and she was abandoned, and there was a rush for the port life- boat, which was lowered, and about 30 or 40 people got into her. Deponent slid down and got on board by the fore tackle. The boat was kept clear of the ship. The chief mate and a female jumped overboard and were picked up. By the time the boat got to the rear of the ship the mainmast fell overboard. Shortly afterwards the stern blew out, then the mizzen mast fell. After first speaking to the master, deponent got the signal ammunition thrown overboard. At daylight the starboard lifeboat was found full of people. Deponent heard shouts from the officer to take charge of her. He got alongside and took charge. Thomas Lewis, AB, Edward Cotter, 0S, and Bentley, an emigrant, also got into the boat with deponent. The gear of the remaining boats was divided between them, deponent's boat getting one oar and a broken one. The two boats kept company, hovering round the burning ship the whole day, until the afternoon of the 19th, when the ship sank. There were 30 people in deponent's boat. Deponent then kept to the north-east for the Cape of Good Hope, as did the other boat. The boats kept company all the 20th and 21st of November. When it commenced to blow they separated. They were without provisions or water, mast or sail, and had but one oar and a half. The Wind was southerly, and by taking one of the footlines they managed to rig a sail with the girl's petticoats, and so keep the boat in her course. One boat contained Baker, the emigrants' cook, the three AB’s, one ordinary seaman, and twenty-three passengers, with deponent — in all making thirty people. The other boat contained the chief mate, with four AB’s, an ordinary seaman, the hatchers, and six passengers, including one baby aged eleven days. The people rapidly sank from want of food and water. By the 25th they were reduced to eight in number, and three of these were out of their mind. On the 26th, before daylight, a barque passed, which they hailed, but were unseen. On Friday, the 27th, they were picked up by the ship British Sceptre, of Liverpool, and the five people then remaining alive were received on board and treated with every kindness. Two however, Robert Hampton and one passenger, died before they reached St. Helena, leaving deponent, Thomas Lewis, and Edward Cotter. So far, he knew only three survivors. Deponent considers all the gear was regularly kept in the boat, and must have got thrown out in the confusion. The oils used for the side lights, for the lights in the cuddy, were kept in the port quarter galley The crew, including deponent, had lucifers, which they used to light their pipes and lamps with, when necessary. The boatswain was the only person having access to the boatswain's locker, of which he kept the key. Nothing was kept there but the stores already enumerated, and deponent does not know whether the boatswain had been there that day. There was one ordinary seaman told off to go into the coal hole every day to fill baskets, which were hoisted by the emigrants. No other person was allowed to go into the coal hole, and deponent, who used frequently to talk to him about the coals, heard no remark as to their heating or smell. He did not know how the fire originated. Signed, Henry McDonald.
Rowan Lewis, quarter-master, gave corroborative evidence, and said the boat in which he escaped remained two days by the burning vessel. They were much exhausted from thirst, and having no water or provisions, rapidly sank He could not account for the fire.
Edward Cotter deposed that when the ship caught fire, the emigrants formed a line on deck, and passed water along. The emigrants got tin dishes, and everything that could hold water, but the fire burned very fast. When the deck-house caught fire they were panic stricken, and ran away, the smoke stifling them. When lowering the boats people were sliding down and falling into the water. In the boat after leaving the ship, all they did was to lend each other a hand about. In the boat there was not much talk. The biggest, fattest, and healthiest-looking went off first. It was not from them that blood was obtained, but from other men. Witness only ate twice; he drank whenever a vein was opened, and felt better the last two days in the boat than before then. His great thought was of being picked up. It was cold during night, but very hot in the day. They had escaped with barely clothes to cover them.

Otago Witness, 20 March 1875, Page 8
Our English files to hand by the San Francisco Mail, contain full particulars of the disaster, and we give several items of news in connection with it that we have not yet published. Macdonald, the second mate, one of the survivors, in his statement to the newspaper correspondent who first interrogated him, said that he tried to get a compass, but had to leave it, or he would not have got away in the boat. Macdonald goes on to say — "After we, had. backed off the scene was horrible — men throwing their wives overboard, and women their children. I saw one man throw thirteen children overboard, and then jump in himself. They were praying, yelling, crying, but nobody got at these spirits. Nobody had, I should think, a thought of that, and another thing, they could not get at them. I did not personally see the captain and his wife jump overboard, but a man I picked up told me that he saw them jump, and also saw Dr Cadle throw over his boy and follow himself. The captain, when I left, was standing by the lee wheel, and was as cool and composed as ever a man was.
"Speaking of the vessel that is known to have passed by them, Macdonald says : — "Early on the morning of the 26th, not being daylight, a boat passed close to us running. We hailed, but got no answer. " She was not more than 50 yards. She was a foreigner. I think she must have heard us.*' In answer to a question, the men said the passing of the ship, which did not pick them up, did not reduce them to despair, but rather inspirited them, as they knew they were in the track of ships. Macdonald's opinion is that the second boat did not long manage to live in the wind and sea. The narrative of Lewis, another survivor, was very confused. The women, of whom three, he thinks, were in the boat with them, had to be held, or they would have jumped into the sea; and when, one by one, they died, they were eaten. Beyond this it was almost impossible, to get any particulars. Evidently it was most repulsive even to these strong men. On one point they were quite agreed, that no raft was made, or if made, could not have lived, and that no other boat except the two of which they knew was launched, for the best of reasons, that they were all burnt. Lewis is certain of that. At the official examination of the survivors, Mr Temple asked the mate an important question, "How was it that when there was a regulation that each boat should always have a keg of water in it, there was no water in the boat which lived? The first answer was that the boat which was saved had at first capsized, and that was the case. But it was confessed that there was no water in either boat. The kegs had been taken out of each that very day, when the boats were cleaned and hart not been put back. "Was it not the duty,'' said Mr Temple, "of the captain or somebody to inspect the boats and see that they were restored after being cleaned?" The mate could not say. He afterwards said that soon after leaving port he was told off to one boat and the first officer to the other. Neither of the boats had it’s keg, but the boat of which we have not heard had about a gallon of water in it in tins, which the emigrants brought up.
They did not sight Tristan d'Acunha on the way out in the ship, but Trinidad. They were much baffled by contrary winds, and were out of the course of New Zealand vessels and in the course rather of ships going to India. When they were in the boat, they thought by going eastward they would fetch the Cape somewhere, but Macdonald knew they were north of the Cape by the warmth of the weather. There is a northerly current around the Cape, The other boat might have got to the Cape, but when it was put to him privately, whether he thought she had, he said he thought not, and he assented to Mr Temple's suggestion that if she had ben picked up by a vessel going to India or Australia, she would have arrived by this time at some point whence there was telegraphic communication with England. On this a gentleman suggested Mauritius as a place where there is no such mode of communication.
The vessel sank at 4 pm on the second day, and the fire was still burning then. There was as much flame on the second as on the first night, and tht-re Was still flame when she pank. Iv Captain Foruter'a report that there was no "combustibles" on board, the word " combustibles" must be understood in a peculiar sense as referring to such inflammable and explosive substances as are forbidden by the Passenger Acts to be conveyed in emigrant ships. Undoubtedly there was among the measurement cargo much merchandise that would burn. Cotter's statement was similar to that given by Macdonald, and these statements reveal a more methodical series of amusements for extinguishing the fire than at first appeared. Cotter's memory appeared very good. He said the port boat, under Romaine, had 32 passengers in her, of whom eight or nine were women. There were William and Catherine Harvey, brother and sister, of Belfast; Mr Marsh and his wife, Mr Whitehead and his wife (with their baby eleven days old), Mr Carey and his wife, Mary Shea, the older Maher, aged 21; a son of the Lewis who was in the other boat; Colley, a constable among the single men; Byrne, Byron, or Barron, a Scotchman, picked up on a spar, and a boy named Wray. One of the immigrants told them that Wray threw his 13 children overboard and then jumped in himself. However, Wray (the father) is, in the official list of emigrants, only credited with nine children, and this boy reduces still more the number who were thrown in, He was no picked up on a spar; he was on the boat which was safely lowered. Of the crew there were in the boat, besides Charles Romaine, first officer; Thomas Dougharty, quartermaster; Charlie Cunningham, quartermaster, of Bristol, who left a wife and children; Turvey, AB, of London; Boscobie, AB, a Greek, whose name has been previously given as Rusken; Frank Bellifanti, AB, a Greek; Nicolls, AB; Hancock, AB, of Richmorid; Langdon, AB, and Wood, a lad fresh from the Chichester. The name of the passenger who was taken on board the British Sceptre and died soon after is unknown. His desoription was given, and he is supposed to be a farmer's son from Cork. There were four steerage passengers, named respectively W Simistttr, W Nelson, G Mason, and Edwin Bickersteth ; and for the rest, the people on board were emigrants from all parts of Great Britain. Referring to the statement in the letter of the Governor of St Helena to Lord Carnarvon, that there were over 200 tons of spirits on board the vessel, Mr Macdonald said he knew for a fact that the quantity on board did not exceed 40 tons, and that these did not ignite until the fire had made great progress. His attention being celled to the suggestion that if they had kept themselves continually wet with salt water they might have suffered less from thirst, Macdonald said that while in the boat they were never dry. He also mentioned that about two hours before the fire broke out the wife of a schoolmaster named Fitzgerald gave birth to a child.
The owners maintain a wholly different opinion as to the fire from that held by the Despatching Officer of the New Zealand Government, Mr Edward A Smith, RN. They think the fire was not necessarily in the lower hold, and they point out that the obstacle which the thick teak deck opposed to the downward spread of the flame was neutralised by the hatchways, four in number, on the main deck, which were closed by light pine flaps spread over, for the purpose of keeping out water, with an inflammable material, tarpaulin.
A late telegram from Madeira says :- Two steamers have arrived here from the southward -the Windsor Castle, from the Cape, and the Syria, from St. Helena; but neither of them brings any further tidings of the Cospatrick; "and the "fear is thus* strengthened that the second boat, in which Mr .Romaine and 32 passengers took refuge, has been lost.

Otago Witness, 3 April 1875, Page 12
THE COSPATRICK (By Electric Telegraph)
The Board of Trade enquiry into the burning of the Cospatrick was held at Greenwich on February 3rd, and five counsel appeared on behalf of the Board of Trade, the Crown and owners. (Story found on Page 5 Otago Witness 3 April 1875)