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The sinking of the "Jane" of Peterhead - October 14th 1881

Towards the bottom of the face of the Memorial Stone erected by James Marshall is the following for his son, also called James -
Also of their lamented son, JAMES,
who was drowned in Dunbar Bay
With the Jane of Peterhead on the 14th Oct 1881 Aged 20 years.

This is the story behind those few sad words

OCTOBER 14TH, 1881

Towards the bottom of the face of the Memorial Stone erected by James Marshall is the following for his son, also called James -

Also of their lamented son, JAMES,
who was drowned in Dunbar Bay
With the Jane of Peterhead on the 14th Oct 1881 Aged 20 years.,

This is the story behind those few sad words. I have been greatly helped by Alison Kennedy who works in Peterhead. In fact most of the below was supplied by her.

The Crew List on October 14th 1881 is as follows:

William Mackie, 62, Master, b. Peterhead
James Cowe, 40, married;
James Marshall, unmarried;
Michael Kelly, married

There was a severe storm which affected the east coast of England and Scotland on 14 October 1881 in which many lives and boats were lost. The loss from the storm to Eyemouth alone was 20 boats and 129 men, which left about 30 widows and 260 fatherless children; while the total number of lives lost between Newhaven and Berwick mounted up to little short of 200. In the afternoon a schooner ran ashore near Broxmouth Kirk about a mile and a half from Dunbar and no trace has been found of the crew, which would be about four in number. Her boat had the name Jane of Peterhead upon it.

The Aberdeen Journal, Saturday, October 15, 1881

The sad intelligence reached Peterhead last night that the schooner Jane, belonging to this port (Captain Mackie, skipper), bound from the Tyne, had gone ashore at Dunbar, and all hands had been lost. The names of the crew were - James Cowe, married; James Marshall, unmarried; and Michael Kelly, married - all belonging to Peterhead. Much sympathy is felt for the families of the crew. Mr Mackie was married, and leaves a grown-up family. The Jane was laden with a cargo of coals for Mr George Maitland, coal merchant, Peterhead, and neither the vessel nor the cargo were insured.

The Scotsman, Tuesday 18th of October

By daylight yesterday the Coastguardsmen and a number of the fishermen at Dunbar were on a lookout for bodies along the shore, but it was half-past eleven o'clock before any were recovered. After that hour body after body was washed into "the kettle" at the east end of the promenade, adjoining the North Dyke, till, by one o’clock, eight had been secured - the fishermen engaged in the work not hesitating, when necessary, to wade up to the waist in order to draw bodies ashore with a grapple. As each body was removed it was tenderly dealt with by local fishermen and several from Fisherrow, Newhaven and Cove. In nearly every case the upper garments had either entirely disappeared, or were reduced to shreds, while in several instances the bodies were in a state of nudity. With one or two exceptions, the unfortunate men seem to have pulled off their heavy sea-boots when the storm overtook them. Most of the bodies were a good deal disfigured, and in one case the features were so distorted that identification was a matter of some difficulty. The bodies were removed in carts to the hospital at the battery, with the exception of that of William Mackie, Captain of the Jane, of Peterhead, which was taken to the house of Mr Hutchison, fishcurer, a personnel friend of the deceased. In the first instance, this body was identified by the initials ”W.M." on one of the arms, and afterwards by a son of the deceased, who is a clerk in Edinburgh. Captain Mackie was 62 years of age, and had traded on the east coast for half that period. He was part owner of the schooner Jane, and belonged to Peterhead, where he leaves a widow and daughter. The other members of the crew of this ill-starred schooner -- Mathew Kelly, 26, unmarried, leaving a widowed mother; James Cove, 40, leaving a widow but no children; and James Marshall, leaving a widow and family -- were also identified, though in the case of Marshall, the only foundation for the identification was the initials "J.M." on one of the arms and on his stockings. (I think the writer is wrong about James Marshall leaving a widow and child - Richard Collinson,) All the crew resided in Peterhead. The recovery of the bodies at "the kettle" confirms the impression originally confirmed by the Coastguardsmen at Dunbar, that the men had been washed overboard before the schooner foundered on the rocks about half a mile further east.......................... It is expected that the bodies of Kelly and Marshall will be interred at Dunbar, while arrangements have been made for the burial of the others in the places to which the severally belong.

The Aberdeen Journal, Thursday, October 20, 1881 PETERHEAD

The loss of the schooner Jane. - All the bodies of the crew of the schooner Jane, which foundered off Dunbar in the recent gale, have now arrived in Peterhead, those of Captain Mackie, James Cowe, and Jas. Marshall being brought on Tuesday; and that of Michael Kelly yesterday. The funeral of the four mariners, which is to be a public one, takes place at one o'clock on Friday.

The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, October 26, 1881


Mr Alexander Brodie, Broxburn, Dunbar, writes: - The bodies of the captain and three men, comprising the crew of the schooner Jane, of Peterhead, came ashore here, and were taken charge of by Mr Hutcheson, fishcurer, who with the greatest kindness had them coffined and sent on to Peterhead. The railway charge for carriage amounts to £38 4s (this needs no comment). I hope the fund for the relief of the widows and fatherless will extend to the families of these poor men. The captain was part owner of the vessel. Just before the storm broke, he warned some of the fishermen to get into harbour, as his barometer was falling so rapidly that he was sure a fearful storm was coming. Owing to the vessel being uninsured I understand his family are left nearly destitute.

Once again I own a dept of thanks to Allison Kennedy of Peterhead.

Richard Collinson April 4th 2008

Owner/SourceRichard Collinson and Alison Kennedy
DateApr 4 2008
Linked toJames MARSHALL (Death)

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