By John Higgans


Many lives were lost by drowning in the Hayle estuary and the treacherous waters of St. Ives Bay in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Most of the fatalities happened when the victims were out sailing or bathing.  Among them were:


William & Charles MILLWOOD


Jan 1786

James Blight RUSSELL, age 33


2 Apr 1786



Apr 1792

Christopher CLEMENCE


Apr 1795

Charles MILLWOOD, age 27


Jun 1815

Elizabeth MARTIN, age 25


Jun 1815

Loveday MARTIN, age 16 

) sisters

Jun 1815 (see note)

Margaret MARTIN, age 13


Jun 1815

Joseph MITCHELL, age 24


Jun 1815

Sampson MITCHELL, age 17

] brothers

Jun 1815

Thomas WHITFORD, age 35 of Crowan


Aug 1822

John HAWKE, age 32


Aug 1824

Catherine VINCENT, age 15


Jun 1828

John BRIANT, age 38


Feb 1833



Jul 1848



Jul 1848

Elizabeth HARRY & Martha LUKE of St Ives


Jul 1866

[Unknown] GREGORY


Jul 1870



Sep 1873

William ARTHUR of Truro


Sep 1873

William GEORGE, age 41 and two others


Nov 1880


(Note: Elizabeth and Loveday MARTIN were buried at Phillack on 6 Jun 1815; Margaret MARTIN was buried at Phillack on 11 Jun 1815; Joseph and Sampson MITCHELL were buried at Phillack on 7 Jun 1815.        JS - OPC Phillack & Hayle)



The sea also claimed the lives of a number of crew and passengers of Hayle ships.  Among them were:


John KING, master of the ‘John Adams’ and crew, lost off Land’s End in October 1823.


Richard BANFIELD, master of the ‘Mary Ann’ lost off St Ives with all hands in January 1829.


John SPRAY, master of the ‘Fame’ lost off Portreath on 6 Mar 1848.  Also lost were the mate, Francis IVEY and the ship’s boy, Thomas BASTIAN of Gwinear.  Passengers drowned were Jane CURNOW, nee SEMMENS, and her children William 6, John 5 and Richard 19 months.


James GOODMAN, mate of the ‘Thistle’ drowned at Londonderry on 14 July1850.


Anthony HARRIS fell overboard and drowned at Palermo (Spain) in February 1850.


Thomas TRENERRY, master of the ‘Pencalenick’ and his brother, William, the mate lost off north-west Ireland in March 1867.


John GRENFELL, master of the ‘Electric Flash’ and crew lost off Padstow in August 1868.


Samuel SPRAY, master of the ‘Western Wave’ lost off Santander (Spain) on 2 April 1874.

John SPRAY, chief engineer of the SS 'Trewarvas'  (of St Ives), lost on a voyage from Cardiff (Wales) to Jamaica 
in 1892.

In addition to the deaths listed by John Higgans, the Phillack Burials Registers reveal further deaths by drowning:


Aranias JAMES, carrier of Helston

Jan 1757

John SCORE, Captain of Clovelly

Mar 1764

William FRANCIS of Clovelly

Mar 1766

Thomas HOPKINS, mariner of Swansea

Nov 1779

Peter BROKES of Ilfracombe

Feb 1799

William ATKINS, mariner of Swansea

Mar 1800

Jamey SEYMER, mariner

Dec 1801

David JAMES of Fishguard Wales

Dec 1820

William TRETHOWAN of Camborne

Sep 1858

John FOUND, seaman of Barnstaple

Oct 1859

James CARTER of Hayle

Oct 1863

Thomas CARTHEW of Hayle

Feb 1870


As well as those named in the Phillack Burials Registers, there are a number of burials of unknown mariners whose bodies were washed up on the beaches of Phillack or Hayle.



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