We have recently explored the exploits of a noble New Ross sea captain, John Williams. This week I wanted to look into some of the activities of one of his ships, the Lady Bagot.
The Lady Bagot was one of several vessels operated by the Graves family of New Ross and skippered for several years by Captain Williams. We saw recently how she had been in the right place at the right time in the rescue of the crew of the brig Atlas. In brief, arriving alongside the brig which had healed over on her side, Williams ordered his ships boat lowered and his crew row to the stricken vessel and attempt a rescue. In heavy seas and at great risk to themselves all the crew of the Atlas were eventually rescued. Little, I’m sure, did her crew know that that kind deed which they bestowed would be desperately needed by themselves within a few more months.
On the 21st October 1847 the Lady Bagot left go her moorings in her home port of New Ross and with the assistance of the Waterford Steamship River Services paddle steamer Shamrock was towed down the river Barrow to the harbour where she made her own way to sea. Her master was Captain Anderson, who had replaced Captain Williams earlier that year.
For many years her regular passage was New Ross – Quebec. Passengers fleeing poverty, starvation and seeking a new start were the outgoing manifest, timber (a backbone of the Graves family business) the return. A measure of the numbers fleeing the country can be gauged by a report of her arrival into Quebec on the 1st June 1846 when she was just one of four ships from the Waterford area; President of New Ross –Captain Grandy and Thistle – Captain Thomas and Lawrence Forrestal – Captain Toole both from Waterford city. Other ships recorded that week hailed from amongst dozens of European ports but included Liverpool, Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Derry and Galway.
Although the trips were regular, not all were without incident. The account from previously shows how dependent such sailing ships were on the elements and the Lady Bagot was no different. For example in August 1845 she was reported off Cork with her bowsprit lost having being in a collision with a larger vessel off St Pauls on the 24th July. She later put into Youghal for repair. A few months later, December of 1845, she was again in the wars. She put into Halifax NS having departed Quebec for Liverpool. She had lost her anchors, chains, her mizzen mast was cut away and other damage was reported but not described. She finally left Halifax on 5th February 1846.
Williams last voyage that I could find was a round trip to New Orleans in December 1846 arriving back to Waterford (New Ross I’m sure) in May. Her next outward bound trip was reported on 15th June 1847 but no details are given, however she is reported as arriving in St Johns NB in July under her new master; Captain Anderson.
As we mentioned earlier, Anderson sailed for Savanah in October and thanks to the Duchas Schools collection we have access to some mentions from the ships log for detail. Having arrived into port of 18th December 1847 it would appear the crew left their hair down. One crew man, Martin Moran, was detained for fighting with a “coloured man” whilst two others “gave way to drunkenness” These may or may not have been Joseph Irvine and David Cooper who were elsewhere described as “getting into scrapes”. On the 24th December a crew man William Simpson had an accident onboard, falling into the hold. This required hospitalisation and he was not released until January 6th. No other details are given of the 7 week overlay but eventually the Lady Bagot sailed on the 4th February 1848 with her hold filled with timber, apples, molasses, sugar and rice.
A few weeks later (possibly Tuesday 28th February) the Lady Bagot sailed into heavy weather. The log records that at 2pm a squall split the foresail, while by 3pm a complete hurricane was blowing with the seas crashing over the ship and Anderson surviving being washed overboard after a crewman grabbed him by his hair (the ships dog was less lucky). At 4pm the ship “hove to” and using a storm mizzen the crew were set to operating the pumps to remove water from her holds.
All that day and the next the crew stayed manning the pumps but by midnight up to four feet of water was reported in the hold. By 8am of the following morning the water was still rising. It was then that a passing American ship the Oregon under Captain Healy came upon them. Anderson requested that she stand by until the next morning in the hopes that the crew could arrest the worsening situation, but they were out on their feet with exhaustion and the carpenter having found the waters rising at an alarming rate (8 ½ feet at that stage) the captain gave the order to abandon ship.
As they boarded the Oregon, the Lady Bagot was down to
her chains and Healy later reported after he arrived at Le Harve that they left
Bagot in a sinking state at latitude 47 longitude 14.
Next week I’m unraveling a mystery of a ship photo that reveals another occasion in Waterford’s history with a connection with the river. Its titled, at least presently, as the “Visit of the Stormcock“ I will also have a blog on Sunday morning to honour the national holiday; St Patricks Day. Have a lovely weekend wherever you be.
 Lloyds List; Monday 29th June 1846; page 3
 Ibid; Saturday 30th August 1845; page 3
 Ibid; Tuesday 2nd September 1845; page 1
 Ibid; Friday 16th January 1846; page 2
 Ibid; Monday 9th March 1846; page 1
 Ibid; Monday 17th May 1847; page 2
 Ibid; Monday 16th August 1847; page 1
 Duchas School collection at https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5009220/4999216 accessed on Sunday 10th March 2019