The wreck of the "Ann Gamble" at the Bluff
A Welsh master mariner often chose as his first mate someone he could trust, so quite often both came from the same village or town. Perhaps they were even first cousins. From the Board of Trade records at TNA Kew both men are called John MORGAN and neither is called John MORGANS.
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition, 1903, page 1004 - Timaru Section
CAPTAIN JOHN MORGAN, formerly Proprietor of the Timaru Hotel, was born in Cardigan, Wales, in 1853. He went to sea at an early age on his father's ship, a China tea clipper. After serving a four year's apprenticeship with the Shire line of Liverpool, he was successively second mate of the ship, "Rutlandshire", and chief mate of the barque, "Annie Gambles", and the barquentine, "Swallow". In seafaring circles Captain Morgan was better known as having been master of the barquentine, "Annie Bow" and the barque, "Ganymede". He traded between London and New Zealand for the last ten years of his seafaring life, and retired from the sea in 1887. Having made a large number of friends in Timaru, he took over the Royal Hotel there, and remained in it for about three years. Subsequently he had the Commercial Hotel, Timaru, the Makikihi Hotel, Makikihi, and the Royal Hotel, Christchurch. In February, 1899, Captain Morgan returned to Timaru, and took over the Timaru Hotel, from which he retired about the middle of 1900. He was a member of the Timaru Caledonian Lodge of Freemasons, and also a member of the Druid's Lodge. Captain Morgan, who married a daughter of the late Mr. Alex. White, of Timaru, and had one son, died in January, 1902. Photo by William Ferrier.
Timaru Herald 17 October 1881 pg2
A telegram was received on Saturday from Mr A. White, coal and produce merchant of this town, who is now in Adelaide, stating that he had bought the barque Ganymede from Mr H.C. Fletcher, and the port of Timaru is to be congratulated on such a handsome addition to its locally owned fleet. The Ganymede is a clipper built iron vessel, 569 tons register and 950 tons gross tonnage and is classed AA1 at Lloyd's for 90 years. She is 167ft 6in in length, 29ft 6in in breadth, and 17ft 7 in depth. For some years past she has been principally employed in the trade between Adelaide and the Cape and Mauritius. She will leave Adelaide for Newcastle on Wednesday, where she will carry coal for this port. Captain Morgan, of the Annie Bow, leaves for Newcastle on Tuesday to take charge of her. His place on the Annie Bow will be filled by Captain Hugh Paterson, lately of the Maggie Paterson. We trust the enterprise displayed by Mr White in purchasing the Ganymede will meet with the rich reward which it deserves, and that he will never have reason to regret it.
The Evening Post; Weekend Post, 4 October 1884, Page 2 Wellington
The barque Ganymede, 569 tons, Captain J. Morgan, from London, has been signalled ail day, and was sailing up the bay as we went to press. She left London on the 7th June, and has therefore, not made a particularly good run. The Ganymede brings no passengers for Wellington. The barque is under charter to the New Zealand Shipping Company.
Evening Post, 27 July 1903, Page 6
Auckland, 27th July Arrived - Ganymede, barque, from Newcastle, after a passage of 37 days.
Why he settled in Timaru!
Timaru Herald 3rd January, 1884 MARRIAGE:
MORGAN - WHITE. On the 18th December, at the residence of the bride's father, Brown street, Timaru, by the Rev. George Barclay, John Morgan, master of the barque Ganymede, to Mary Ann, eldest daughter of Mr Alexander White. [There is a marriage registered in N.Z. in 1883 of Morgan, John Wesley to White, Mary Ann. Ref. 3267]
Otago Witness 8 October 1886
Departure: Sept. 30 - Ganymede, barque, 568 tons, Morgan, for Sydney
Captain John Wesley Morgan born 25 December 1853, Cardigan, Wales, is buried in the Timaru Cemetery, South Canterbury, NZ beside his in-laws, the White family. He has a beautiful white marble headstone with an anchor and cross carved out of white marble. John Morgan died on October 23rd 1901, in Timaru at the age of 48. His son was named John Alexander Morgan was born in 1888 and died at the age of 65. The death certificate for John Morgan, may give the length of time in NZ, also who his parents were.
Otago Witness, 30 October 1901, Page 22
Captain John Morgan, formerly well known as master of the barque Ganymede, died at Attenborough on Wednesday. He left the sea some years ago, and went into business at hotelkeeper, first at Makikihi, and then at Timaru, in the Timaru Hotel. He sold the latter a few years ago.
Evening Post, 30 October 1901, Page 4
Captain John Morgan, who for many years sailed the barque Ganymede between New Zealand, Australia, and Mauritius, died at Timaru last Wednesday.
Timaru Herald March 1897 Death:
WHITE. On the 7th January, 1897, at Moir Street, Wellington, Alexander White, late of Timaru, aged 57 years. [Interred at Timaru, two months later, on 4 March1897] [Photo of Alex.. White's headstone "So loved, so mourned." He died in Wellington, not Timaru.]
Timaru Herald 20th July 1891
Sir, - Allow me to correct my husband's false reports. He had told several people that him and me are not married. We were married by Mr Woollcombe at his private house in the year Nov. 26th, 1863. My witnesses were Mr Thomas Reid and Mrs Reid, Mr Lewellyn Jones of Timaru. It is not Mrs White which goes to sea in the barque Ganymeade with Alex. White but another women. I advertise this for the sake of myself and family.
Margaret White, Wattle Grove, Timaru, New Zealand. [Mrs Margaret White lived to1918 dying at the age of 76.]
Wanganui Herald, 28 January 1905, Page 4
The barquentine Alexa, purchased in Europe by Mr Hatrick, of Wanganui, which put into Adelaide recently with the loss of her rudder whilst bound for Wanganui, had an uncomfortable experience. Referring to the perilous experience of the vessel (she sailed a distance of 4500 miles with a jury rudder), an exchange says : — "Despite the trying adventures which had befallen them, the crew were in good health, excepting the boatswain, who had his eye nearly knocked out by the main boom, and the mate, who had a nasty fall on deck. The vessel, notwithstanding the impress of weather on her hull, presented a graceful appearance when she came to anchor in the offing. She is a new barquentine, was constructed at Holland recently, and was purchased on the stocks for the New Zealand-Australian trade. Generally speaking, she is of a very pretty design, and is of unquestionable utility. Captain White had his wife on board. Like her husband, she has 'gone down to the sea in ships' for a number of years, and philosophically accepted the position, with the assertion that 'it might have been worse.' It is a strange coincidence that Captain White's last visit to Adelaide was one of necessity. Twenty years ago he was on board the barque Ganymede, when she received small shrift from- the elements, and was sailed to Port Adelaide for repairs." Captain White is a native of Timaru, and is quite a younger man, about 35 years of age. He sailed the St. Kilda for some seven years, and when this vessel was sold last year he went Home for Mr Hatrick to bring out the Alexa. The Ganymede referred to was his father's ship, on which he served his apprenticeship. Captain White is every inch a sailor. The mate on board had his leg broken. Although the Alexa had to be steered with a jury-mast, a kind of immense steer-oar, she managed to make over 100 miles a day. though very little sail could be carried in her disabled steering condition.
The Wreck of the Barque Ann Gambles - he was the chief mate not the captain.
The Southland Times, Friday May 24 1878
Enquiry into the Wreck of the Ann Gambles.
Before H. McCulloch, and Captain Thomson and Mr Thomas Brodrick, Nautical Assessors.
An official enquiry into the causes which led to the loss of the barque Ann Gambles on Tewais Point, Bluff Harbor, on Thursday night, may 16th, was held at the Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday. The enquiry had been called by Captain Elles, Collector of Customs, in accordance with the 9th section of the Act. The certificates, both first class, of the master, John Morgans, and the mate, John Morgan, having been handed in. Bluff was sighted with fine clear weather between 8 and 10 pm on the 16th. The barque ran there under the foresail and the foretopsail. Her course was shaped for Dog Island, the latter being sighted about 8 o'clock, and then the barque was hauled up for the Bluff, which good be distinctly seen, the night being moonlight. All hands were on deck with the exception of the invalids. After hauling up for the Bluff, the barque hugged the land- wind dead aft, fresh breeze; wind held so until the barque was off Starling Point and them a most terrific squall, with a hail shower struck the barque. The wind came out of the westward. The wind came down the harbor and headed the barque off. A very strong flood tide was running, at a rate of six or seven knots, in and set the barque across the harbor. The port anchor was let go, but the barque ran away with it, and then canted round, and when she was head to anchor, tailed on to the rocks. Just before she struck the starboard anchor was let go. The foretopsail was set when the port anchor was let go. The carpenter at once sounded the pumps and reported two feet water in the main well, and the crew manned the windlass and tried to heave on the port anchor. The squall cleared off and the rocks could be seen quite clearly. Pilot Smith went ashore for the purpose of getting the steamer Ringarooma to come to the barque's assistance, but did not succeed. The lead was kept going from the time the barque was just out side Starling Point, the first cast gave 9 fathoms.
The port of registry of the ship was Workington, her official number 28813. She was classed AA1, with a star at Liverpool, barque rig, and built of iron, registered tonnage 424 tons. The number of her original crew was fourteen. There were 11 hands available when the ship reached the Bluff, one being below, and two ailing. The number of John Morgans certificate of competency was 94811. The barque was loaded with general cargo. There was no passengers. The port of departure was London, and that of destination the Bluff. The tide was half flood about when the barque struck. The wind was variable from west to S.S.W. There was no pilot, James Smith, coxswain and Junior Pilot at Bluff, had been at the Bluff 23 years, when the barque was off Starling Point. The mate was sent below for a blue light, but he came up again when the squall struck the barque. The blue light was not burned and soon after she struck the pilot boarded her. The squall struck her in less than a minute after she was off Starling Point. The squall struck her and the fore topsail shivered, but filled as the wind paid off and then immediately the anchor was let go. Thirty fathoms was first paid out, the ship being broadside to the tide and dragging with it. Then forty five fathoms was paid out and she struck the rocks.
Richard Unsworth, an apprentice of the Ann Gambles, was at the wheel when the barque struck, had been there two and a half hours.
The ship was well found in charts; he had 200 of them.
John Morgan, Chief Officer of Ann Gambles holding certificate of competency, No. 97092, deposed - That they made the Solanders two days before the barque struck, and then she was hove to till the following day. She was then kept before the wind and ran through the straits. He corroborated the master's evidence. It was 9 o'clock when the master ordered him to get blue lights on deck.
Anten Hunderberg, second officer of the Ann Gambles. He held a certificate of competency No. 03,827. The log was kept from noon to noon. The master said that civil time and astronomical time was the same and that they had altered the log to civil time after the barque got into port.
Southland Times Tuesday may 28 1878
David McDougall, carpenter.
James Sinclair, one of the pilot's crew at the Bluff, deposed that he saw the barque Ann Gambles when she was coming in and pass the pilot station. He was at his own house, five or six hundred yards from the pilot station. She was about mid channel, heading up the harbor and a quarter of a mile from where she stranded. Saw her go ashore. She came up the harbor and rounded to at the proper anchorage, as if she was going to let go her anchor. The weather was clear and had been from the time he first saw her till she went ashore. He did not hear the anchor let go. He went off to her in the pilot boat. When he first saw her she was under lower fore topsail. The sail was full but came aback as she rounded. She drove right ashore. The barque had lost her main topsails. They had had bad weather three weeks before and had lost her maintopgallant mast and two main topsail yards.
The Southland Times Wednesday May 29th
The Swallow arrives at the Bluff - John Morgan's next vessel.
Bluff Harbor - Arrived May 28 1878
Swallow, barquentine, 296 tons, Anthony, from Newcastle, Imports - 480 tons coal, Nicol and Tucker, agents.
The s.s. Gazelle mage another trip to the wreck of the Ann Gambles yesterday morning and returned at noon, with nearly a full cargo, principally consisting of railway material. The ketch Palmerston also returned from the wreck yesterday, fully laden with cargo.
The schooner which was signalled on the 27th inst. to the westward, turned out to be the barquentine Swallow, bound to this port from Newcastle, NSW. She made a quick run about seven days from land to land, but experienced baffling winds and very heavy weather just before entering the Straits. The Swallow hails from Dartmouth and is now owned in Newcastle, NSW, which port she left on the 8th ins. At 4 am under double reefed canvas and running before the wind a heavy sea broke on board and filled the decks. When the vessel recovered and the deck cleared, it was found one of the hands missing. His name was William Banfield, of Brighton, Essex, England, and he acted as an ordinary seaman on board. Another sea broke that day and carried away the long boat, a quantity of bulwarks on both sides and washed the tarpaulin off the hatches. A quantity of water entered the fresh water tank below and rendered it useless. A makeshift condenser was made out of an oil drum, by which three quarts of water were made daily, but as this had to serve eight men. As soon as they got near the signal station the captain signals the sate of matters on board to Mr McDonald, who immediately transmitted the information by signals to the pilot staff, and Pilot Smith with commendable alertness quickly converted a supply of water and brought the vessel to anchorage about midnight and berth astern of the Glen Caladh.
Southland Times Wednesday May 29th
The enquiry into the loss of the barque Ann Gambles is over and the decision of the Court given and we are therefore at liberty to freely comment upon the case. The master, a young man, but a smart seaman, evidently was inexperienced in the ways of Courts, and this fact, combined with his frank outspokenness, his unequivocal utterances, should we take it, have had very considerable weight with the Court. Shorn as she was of half her power, no difficulty was experienced in fetching her port of destination. She dodged about the Solanders in a S.E. gale, and then guided by the directions laid down in the New Zealand Pilot, edition of 1875, the master ran her for the Bluff. In his evidence he laid particular stress upon the directions of that fearfully and wonderfully compiled work. We have heard the "Pilot" dammed on many former occasions, and the edition possessed by Captain Morgans, the master, was misled by the sailing directions - the directions being applicable only to vessels from the eastward, yet as those were the only directions, he may have surmised they would work both ways and hence the hazardous experiment that terminated so disastrously. He assets that the hardiness of his vessel - that he could go anywhere with her; he was in strange waters, and could see by the sailing directions that the Bluff was not an easy harbor to work. The night was clear and moonlight. Again it is to be remembered that not one word of warning is uttered by the directions about attempting to enter the port during the night season. They also after leading the vessel up to Stirling Point, speak very positively about a pilot should be seen. [The pilot lookout was moved nine years before the disaster] Under these circumstances the master, in our opinion, was guilty of an error in judgment in attempting to enter the harbor when he did, but there are extenuating circumstances in the deceptive character of the sailing directions. We are also of the opinion that the barque was badly handed after the anchor was let go. Had she been permitted to have swung with, instead of being forced athwart, the tide, the probabilities are that the chain of the port anchor would not have parted. The decision of the Court, which condemns Captain Morgans to a suspension of his certificate for six months, and to pay the costs of the enquiry*. [The mate's certificate was returned at the inquiry]
We cannot but regard this decision as unnecessarily harsh. A severe reprimand and to be mulcted in costs, would we think, have amply met the case. The penalty is exactly the same as that imposed upon Captain J.V. Hall, of the steamer Chimborazo, who, for the sake of cutting off corners and "making a passage," risked the lives of scores of people by knocking "his vessel's brains out" against an ironbound coast in broad daylight. Taking all circumstances into consideration, we have no hesitation in recommending a reconsideration of the sentence for Captain Morgans. The payment of the costs of the enquiry might, at any rate, be waived.
A word upon the constitution of the Court which tried the master of the barque. One of its members was we submit, out of place on the bench. Captain Thomson, the harbor master. The department, of which he is the head was however, in a measure implicated by the wreck of the barque, and Captain Thomson might have been asked to explain how it was there was no look out kept by the pilots. It would have been more seemly to have procured the services of a certificated ship master, a stranger, and therefore likely to be absolutely unprejudiced. We may remark that if the very excellent sailing directions for Foveaux Straits, compiled by Captain Thomson, had been incorporated with the New Zealand Pilot, the Ann Gambles disaster would in all likelihood have been averted.
AJHR 1878 Section H12 page 30 Return of Wrecks
*Since the inquiry His Excellency the Governor has ordered a New Zealand Certificate as Master to be issued to Captain MORGANS, and has recommenced the Board of Trade to re-issue his suspended certificate at once.
John Morgan the mate of the Ann Gambles later held the New Zealand Certificate number 241.
Invercargill May 23 1878
The wreck of the Ann Gambles have just been sold. The cargo fetched £2150, and the vessel £500. Mr Dunning, of Dunedin, was the buyer of both. Mr Austin, resident engineer, lodged a protest against the sale on behalf of the Government, who own a quantity of the railway plant on board.
Ann Gambles, was heavily ornamented like the John Gambles. She was built at Harrington by Williamson & Co. in July, 1862 and owned by John Gambles of Workington.
General Picton - John Morgans,
Master. Certificate of competency no: 94811.
He seems to have been still active in 1888 when he got his name into the Black Book for the second time.
General Picton, iron ship, 1660/1589 tons. ON # 87123. Built at Aberdeen, UK, 1883; registered at London in the name of The General Picton Co. Ltd. Lbd 258.9 x 38.2 x 22.8 ft. Captain John Morgan. Cleared Port Phillip Heads for London with a valuable general cargo on 23 July 1888, stranded in fog off Foster Island, north-east Tasmania, 24 July 1888. She quickly settled by the stern. The first boat to be launched was stove and sank alongside. The occupants managed to regain the wreck but the ship’s papers and other valuables were lost. The other two boats managed to get clear without mishap with the twenty-eight crew, and were soon picked up by the steamship Warrentinna and taken on to Launceston. At auction in Melbourne, her hull, stores, and cargo brought £1300, but before salvage could be completed she broke up on 2 August, scattering wreckage and cargo over a wide area. Reference website: [Tasmanian Shipwrecks, Vol. 1 Broxman & Nash. Atlas History of Australian Shipwrecks by J.K. Loney. Australian Shipwrecks Vol. 6 by Loney & Stone]
Enquiry into the Wreck of the "General Picton" off Foster's Island
Start Date: 28 Jul 1888 End Date: 28 Jan 1889. Access: Open. Location: Tasmanian Archives HOB
Who was General Picton? A Welsh hero.
The Black Books are summary volumes of actions taken against merchant and naval officers who transgressed laws or rules of the sea.
NZ newspapers on
Newspaper clipping from the Southland Times.
Welsh Mariners - 22,000 Welsh Master Mariners. John Morgan is listed.
Swansea Mariners - 42,000 entries from Swansea crew lists
The Cardigan Castle - and a Cardigan master.
Cardigan, a country town, of Cardiganshire in west Wales lies on the estuary of the River Teifi in Cardigan Bay is strong on seafaring history as it was an international seaport employing hundreds of men as crew, masters and in related service industries such as sail and rope making. The young men of west and north Wales went to sea and the long ocean journeys took them to places which they could only have dreamt of. The work was often hard and sometimes even dangerous. It was in their blood, they were raised on boats and often followed in their father's footsteps like John Morgan. The sea was their thing. They understood the work. You could depend on them. They were lads with the sea in their blood. Many headed to the colonies and never came home again. By the early 19th century over 300 sailing vessels were registered at the port and more than 200 ships were built in the five shipyards. Then the river silted up, steam replaced sail and the railway came so the port died by the early part of the twentieth century. Trade Directories 1830
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