News from 1869: Wreck of Royal Standard

Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Times, 16 November 1869

Advices received yesterday from Rio Janeiro [sic] communicate intelligence
of the total loss of the ship Royal Standard on the Brazilian coast while on
her outward voyage from London to Melbourne. Many of her passengers, chiefly
women, were drowned, and several of the crew were missing. The Royal
Standard was originally built as a steamer of nearly 3,000 tons measurement,
and had made several successful voyages between Liverpool and Australia.
Recently she had been converted into a sailing ship, and was owned by
Messrs. Wilson and Co., of Liverpool. She sailed from Gravesend on her late
voyage on the 12th of August, with a full general cargo and about 28 chief
and second cabin passengers. The number of people, in all, on board,
including officers and crew, was about 80. Lloyd's agent at Rio Janeiro
forwards the following details of the catastrophe :-

"Rio Janeiro, Oct, 16

"Having this morning returned with the passengers saved from the cutter of
the British ship Royal Standard, Captain Clarke, from London for Melbourne,
wrecked on the sand-bank running from 20 to 25 miles off Cape St. Thome,
about 151 miles distant by water from this port, and, feeling assured that a
painful interest will be excited in London when the news arrives there, I
address you these lines to furnish you with all the detailed information I
have obtained on the melancholy subject. On the wreck being made known here,
at 4 p.m. on the 12th inst., I chartered the steamer Competition, and
proceeded at once to the spot.

"The Royal Standard was dismasted on the 30th of September; she was
immediately put under jury-masts, and Mr. Bailey, the chief officer,
informed me she steered very well under this temporary aid. The captain's
intention was to bring the vessel into Rio Janeiro; but just before daylight
on Sunday, the 10th inst., and when they supposed themselves far from land,
the ship suddenly stranded on the sand-bank above-named. After daylight, the
captain, on seeing the long low coast of sand about five or six miles off,
called the Furago, decided on sending the women and children ashore in the
only boat they had left fit for the purpose---the cutter (the other boats,
but one, were stove in when the ship as dismasted), and in this cutter at
about 10 a.m. they left the ship, there being 23 persons in charge of Mr.
Bailey, the chief mate---namely, Mrs. Dummett, five daughters, and one son
(Harry); Mr., Mrs., and Miss Lawrence, Miss Weston, Miss Stoddart, Mrs.
Miller, Mrs. Rees, Mrs.. Northcote, Dr. Cortes, James Young, the sailmaker,
and five seamen. All they took with them on leaving the ship was a tin of
small biscuits, but no water presuming they could land in one or two hours;
but on approaching the shore they discovered such a line of breakers that
they dared not attempt a landing, till driven to desperation by hunger and
thirst and the horrors of their situation,---the currents, sea, and wind
baffling all attempts to regain the ship---on Monday, the 11th inst., at
daybreak, they attempted to land. On their beaching the boat Mrs. Dummett,
her five daughters, Miss Lawrence, and Miss Stoddart were drowned. After
much toil and suffering over about 15 miles of burning arid sand, the
remainder reached a miserable negro's hut, and were by him taken on the
following day to the estate and residence of the Viscountess Ararnamo,
through whose real Samaritan hospitality and kind attention they reached
Macalie on the morning of the 13th. Captain Clarke, wife, and child, and 21
of the passengers and crew were taken off the wreck by the Brazilian
brigantine Camponeza, and another portion of the crew and passengers found
their way to Rio Janeiro on the Portuguese ship Amelia, whose captain
deserves great credit, He ordered a second attempt to rescue those still on
the wreck, and sent his longboat and nine Portuguese, two of the crew of the
Royal Standard volunteering. But this boat did not succeed in getting
alongside the wreck; the captain of the Amelia was forced by his passengers
to haul away from the edge of the bank; and consequently had to abandon not
only the wreck, but his own men in the boats. Fortunately the boat
afterwards effected a safe landing on the coast some 15 miles south of
Macalie which they gained on the 14th inst. The remainder of the crew and
passengers, 12 in number, left the wreck on a raft, and have not since been
heard of. I have despatched the Competition steam-tug to go in search along
the coast. Her Majesty's ship Speedwell, Captain Perry, left Rio Janeiro for
the scene of the wreck immediately on receipt of the news, and took off the
shipwrecked people from the Brazilian brigantine, as well as five seamen
from the Standard cutter. The Royal Standard when last seen had broken in
two, the bow was sunk, and the stern was fast settling down in the sand in
about 23ft. of water. Nothing whatever belonging to her has been saved."

One of the survivors of the crew (the engineer) reached Liverpool on Sunday
night, and communicated the particulars of the loss to Messrs. Wilson and
Chambers, the owners. It appears that Mr. Dummett, one of the passengers,
was saved, although he lost all his family. He was a sugar broker, of
Mincing-lane. The names of his family drowned were Mrs. Henrietta (his
wife), aged 38; Miss Florence, aged 15; Miss Louise, aged 9; Miss Jessie,
aged 7; Miss Vivian, aged 6; and Miss Daisy, aged 3. The other two
passengers drowned were Miss Stoddart, the daughter of a clergyman at
Camden-town, and Miss Lawrence, from Sheerness.

The Royal Standard had four iron bulkheads. She was built by Messrs. Palmer
at Jarrow, near Newcastle. She was 255ft. in length, 40ft. in beam, and
27ft. 5in, in depth. The owners are represented to be fully insured in
London and Liverpool.


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