Nora Will Get Over It in Time

Found April 1867, off the west coast of Africa.

In a bottle:

Ship Dover Castle, Jan. 13, 1867.
Mr Alfred Dawes begs to inform his friends, at 23, East Cliff, Dover, that the ship is about to go down; he begs that his friends will pay all his bills, and trusts that Nora will get over it in time. The ship is two days’ sail from the Line, outward bound. Anybody who gets this will oblige Mr. Dawes by putting it in The Times newspaper. And now as I have not much longer to live, believe me yours, A. DAWES.

The message was picked up from the sea by Kroomen (West Africans recruited into the British Royal Navy) and passed via George Blackshaw at the Company of African Merchants’ Factory in Liberia to the Times in London.

[The Times, 3 June 1867]

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4 thoughts on “Nora Will Get Over It in Time”

  1. I’ve got my doubts about ‘Nora will get over it in time, Ship Dover Castle, Jan. 13, 1867’. Emphasis on paying his bills is a clue I feel. A little searching brings up Dover Castle, Blackwall Frigate, ‘A Voyage from Australia to England: An Interesting Account of All Incidents Occurring on Board the Blackwall Liner Dover Castle (1867) Paperback – by John G. Horsey. ‘The Blackwall Frigates’ by Basil Lubbock says she was built in 1858 and ‘The Dover Castle, under Captain J. H. Ayles, once came home in under 80 days from Hobson’s Bay, but I know of no unusual sailing in her records. She was sold to Shaw Savill, and sold again to C. F. Boe, of Arendal, and renamed Kem ; after living to a good old age she was finally broken up’. Found July 1897 yet published in the ‘The Times’ a month earlier on 3 June 1867 seems strange too. We have a ship that sank two days from The Equator on 13 January 1867 but still managed to make a journey from Australia to England later that year and sailed for many years after that and a message published a month before it was found. A cad facing too many bills and an unwelcome pregnancy is my guess.

    1. Hi Nigel, sorry, July 1867 was a typo, actually found April 1867, now corrected. It is possible this message is a hoax. There is an account of the Dover Castle being caught in a terrible gale that caused panic among passengers (included in The Stag Diary by Doug Limbrick). It is possible Alfred may have genuinely believed the ship was about to sink.

      1. Paul, thanks, I love this site, beautifully presented. I heard about it from intheboatshed. Perhaps Mr Dawes made it to Australia after all but I still suspect I’m right about his bills and poor Nora.

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