To the Foaming Deep

Found January 1861, on the beach at South Shields.

In a bottle:

North Sea, Feb. 2, 1860 — Dear Friends, — When you find this the crew of the ill-fated ship Horatia and Captain Jackson, of Norwich, is no more. We left Archangel on the 8th of January, all well; on the 2nd of February we hove to under close-reefed topsails, after scudding before the gale for 10 day; we have not been below for six days. A Norwegian brig hove to for our assistance. Four men got into the jolly boat, but after leaving a sea struck her, and sank her, and the four men were lost. Our crew consisted of eight men, master and mate, second mate, and two boys. When I am writing this, I have just left the pumps. We are not able to keep her up — 8 feet of water in the hold, and the sea making breach clear over her. Our hatches are all stove in, and we are worn out. Our master made an observation to-day. We are in 60 North lat. ; wind, N.E. I write these few lines, and commit them to the foaming deep in hopes they may reach some kind-hearted friend who will be so good as to find out the friends of these poor suffering mortals. I am a native of London, from the orphan school — John Laing, apprentice. We are called aft to prayers, to make our peace with that great God, before we commit our living bodies to that foam and surf. Dear friends, you may think me very cool, but, thank God, death is welcome. We are so benumbed and fatigued that we care not whether we live or die. John Ross, John Thompson, James Lee, Jos. Brig took the boat on the 21st of January.— William Ham, chief mate; Thomas Wilson, second mate; John Laing, and Frederic Maff, apprentices.

Although this detailed message was widely published around the UK, no further information regarding the Horatia (or Horatio, according to some newspapers) was found.

[The Times, 9 January 1861]

Get the Messages from the Sea book