Caroline and Elizabeth

On Saturday night, about half past nine o’clock, the barque Catherine and Elizabeth, of London, for Sunderland, also struck on Whitburn Point, not far from where the brig broke upon the previous night. The lifeboat under the captaincy of Wm. Reay, again put out, and in a short time succeeded in safely landing the crew - 13 in number. Last night the Catherine and Elizabeth was still upon the rocks, but so badly held that there was not much chance of her being got off, the more especially as a heavy sea was making. The Catherine and Elizabeth was lightbound for Sunderland, but when she got off the Wear the captain (Mr Parkins) found he could not get in, and after lying to for a couple of hours he resolved to run for the Tyne. The Barque belonged to Mr Robert Thompson, shipbuilder, Southwick.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 3 December 1866

The Whitburn Lights

The North Sea pilot of the Caroline and Elizabeth, stranded at Whitburn, states that after he passed Sunderland, he saw Tynemouth Light clear, and consequently steered towards it, when the vessel went on shore at Whitburn. By this statement, it would appear that Tynemouth Light is seen over the top of the high land of Souter Point.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 December 1866

The barque Caroline and Elizabeth on shore on Whitburn Steel, was got off on Wednesday by Messrs Wilkie and Gray, contractors, and towed to Sunderland.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 7 December 1866

Important Salvage Case

South Shields Police Court
(Before W. Anderson, Esq., and Ald. Dale.)

This was an action brought by the complainants (25 in number), who were the sailors of the barque Caroline Elizabeth, against Mr Richard Thompson, of Fulwell, the owner of that vessel, and the underwriters, for the sum £125 5s 10 ½d, salvage money due to them according to agreement. —Mr J. Graham, of Sunderland, appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr C. A. Adamson, of North Shields, for the defendants.

Mr Graham said this was claim a brought by Thomas Morrow and others for salvage money for saving stores and materials from the barque Caroline Elizabeth, belonging Mr Richard Thompson, shipbuilder. Southwick. The vessel her last voyage was from London, and arrived off the port of Sunderland on the evening of the 1st December. There was a heavy sea running at the time, and acting upon the advice of the pilots (none whom would take charge of the vessel to take Sunderland harbour in the state of the weather), the master determined to make for Shields. The night was hazy and very stormy, and as the vessel bore away those on board state that they saw Tynemouth light for some time. He could quite believe that they saw it over the top of the headland, for suddenly they lost it, which was a sign that they were getting close in under the cliffs, for shortly afterwards the vessel struck. Lights were exhibited, and a tar barrel was burnt on board; the Whitburn men having put off in their lifeboat, took the captain and crew out of the vessel. On landing, the captain and second mate at once started in a cart for the residence of the owner, Mr Thompson, at Fulwell, who advised them to go to Sunderland and employ some hands to save as much as they could from the vessel for the benefit of the underwriters. They did so, and engaged the present claimant, Thomas Morrow, who was a person who had had very great experience in this description of work. The captain, who had held that position for a period of twenty years, had never had the misfortune to be shipwrecked before, and was consequently unaware of the terms usually agreed to on such occasions, and in this position he consulted the second mate, and acting under his advice, he offered Morrow one third the value of the stores and material saved, free of expense. This was accepted by Morrow, who engaged eight men in Sunderland to assist him in the salvage work, and then started for Whitburn, accompanied by the captain, and on the way thither the same terms were discussed and agreed to in conversation between them. He might state that Morrow was not in the way of writing, and for the purpose of knowing whom he had engaged, he got the captain to write out a list of the men who were to help him in the salvage work, each taking equal shares. The captain had previously intimated that as his men were engaged by the run from London to Sunderland, he had no further need for them, and he also recommended Morrow to engage them to assist him. There were twelve of them in all, and Morrow engaged them, in conjunction with five Whitburn men, making 25 men in all. The vessel had been carried into a very difficult position, and it was found that no boat could be got at her, and the Whitburn men intimated that the position of the vessel was so bad that they would not risk going off to her. It was suggested, however, that the men should carry a boat over the rocks and so reach the vessel from the inside between her and the rocks, while it was hoped that as the sea rose a coble might be brought round to her on the outside. The first part of this plan was successfully accomplished, but on trying to reach the vessel from the outside one of the cobles was struck by a sea which nearly swamped her, and which so intimidated the men in her that out of the whole crew only one man was found willing to remain and do the work. The business of saving the wreck then proceeded, and upon its completion, when it was gone over by two assessors it was found that £351 2s 8d was the value of the property saved, which would give to the defendants a sum of £117 0s 10½d, which, with a second claim for £8 5s for stores, spars, &c., made the sum claimed up to £125 5s 10½d. There was some demur with regard to giving up the articles saved to the underwriters without receiving some security, but after a little discussion, relying upon their word as gentlemen they gave up the things, and now the present action had to be brought to recover the rights of the men, and now Mr Thompson said that only part of the men had been engaged and a list of the names was sent back in which those of the Whitburn men were omitted. There were two answers to that, but he thought that when the names of the men were written by the captain himself it was a hard case that they were not be paid for their work. There was another way to deal with this difficulty. Morrow said he would save these materials and engage his own men, and it was not of any moment to the captain whether he engaged many or few. The vassal came to the ground about high water, which happened on the night of the 1st inst about eleven o'clock, at the very time when the vessel went ashore. The services of the men extended over four days succeeding the 1st inst.

Mr Adamson said the men were not able to work until seven o’clock on the morning of the 2nd inst.

Robert Usher, late second mate of the Caroline Elizabeth, was called, and stated that vessel to be a barque of about five hundred tons. He confirmed the statement of Mr Graham with regard to the engagement of Morrow, He had once worked upon the beach on a stranded ship, when they had got a third clear of expenses. In Cross-examination by Mr Adamson, he said could not say what time it was when they commenced operations upon the vessel, but the first boat went on to the ship on the Sunday morning before daylight. He, with the remainder of the crew, were allowed to assist as salvors. The weather was bad on the Sunday, and on the Monday it blew a terrific gate. The vessel was got off on the Wednesday, when the weather moderated. The stores were brought ashore in the longboat, towed by a coble. He was paid on the Tuesday £2 7s 6d for the run from London, and he thought himself one of the salvage men. In answer to Ald. Dale, the witness said he considered that the run was done when the ship passed into the hands of the salvors, and was then at liberty to take employment. By Mr Adamson: as one of the ship's crew, he could not be of service in saving the ship's stores like those other men, not having had the practice they had had that way. The captain never asked him to save anything from the ship. He could not act without his orders. If he had been cast upon a shore where no assistance could have been obtained, and the captain and first mate were out the way, he would have considered it his duty to have picked up what could.

Thomas Morrow gave evidence to his engagement by the captain, upon the terms stated by Mr Graham. He also stated that the place where the vessel was placed was a very dangerous one - where more risk was incurred than he had ever run before in similar cases.

Mr Adamson then addressed the bench for the defendant, and, in doing so, remarked that the captain had been shipwrecked upon this occasion for the first time, and, acting upon the mate's advice, he had given one-third. He produced the articles of the ship, which said that they had agreed to take the vessel from London to Sunderland by the run, and he maintained that the men were not clear of the ship until she arrived in Sunderland. He quoted the Act of Parliament on this point, and maintained that the owners were not bound by any foolish act of the captain. The men were bound to remain by that ship until they saw what had come of her. The second mate had gone off with the captain, and after he, had released his crew they had engaged with Morrow; but it had been shown in evidence that that they did little more than save their clothes. He maintained that they were not entitled to compensation; but with regard to the other men their compensation would to left in the hands of the magistrates. He thought that the fact of the boat going to and fro to the ship without any accident occurring beyond a little water getting into the smaller one showed that there was not much sea on. The weather was said to have to have been hazy, and this fact proved that the wind could not have been very strong or the haze could not have been there. He could quote an article from the Shipping Gazette where a reckless contract entered into on behalf of the owners by their captain, which, notwithstanding its stamp, was set aside the authorities, who tried the case. He would prove that these men were not entitled, to any money, and he would prove that the amount given in salvage cases were assessed by the run. In this case the risk run had been very small, and the amount of one-third granted to the salvors was such a one as was rarely given on this coast. He thought he should satisfy them that the captain had no right to grant any terms to the men of his crew to save the wreck, and in doing he had appeared to be acting in collusion with them. They had no right to come here and ask for salvage claims. He then called

James Nicholson and Captain Kay to speak to the state of weather on the Monday succeeding the vessel went ashore, and night the vessel went ashore, both agreeing that it was not very stormy.

Captain Robert Parkin was. than called, and in answer to Mr Adamson, said he was in command of the Caroline Elizabeth at the time she went on to the rocks Whitburn on the 1st inst. He was told it was a general case that they got one-third of the value of the articles saved clear of expense. He was not aware that it was the duty of the crew to try to save the cargo and stores of the vessel when she went ashore. He thought that only applied to men engaged by the month, and not those working by the run. The weather was very bad on Sunday during the whole of the day. It was more moderate on the Monday and continued to improve on the two succeeding days when the vessel was got off. She was now in Sunderland. He saw his crew getting their own clothes out of the vessel on Sunday, and they brought his clothes on shore. His men were helping the sailors to save the stores all the time with the exception of the time they spent in bringing the clothes ashore. By Mr Graham: He had thought that the ship was broken in two by incessant beating on the rocks. He believed that, his men being engaged by the run, he was done with them, and did his best to save what he could for the salvors. (Mr Adamson: By standing on the shore?)

Mr Graham said he would have the bench to believe that the bargain was not made in a loose manner, but was made with the utmost deliberation. He would have allowed that had the captain been in predicament, and a set of fellows were hanging about to make a sort of Shylock bargain with him he would have been justified by not standing by it. But such had not been the case, for the chief claimant was sought out in his own house while in bed, and if his terms were not suitable the captain and his adviser were quite liberty to go elsewhere. He could not tell how his friend Mr Adamson could get over the claims of the men in the face of the captain's written agreement with Morrow, and with his telling the men that he was done with them, and they might go and get engaged as they like. He (Mr G.) thought the captain was right in letting his men go, for as long as they were on board ship, and under his orders their agreement would hold good, but matters were changed when they came on shore. With regard to his owners standing by the agreement Capt. Kay had made, the latter was here as their accredited representative, and they were bound to stand by his actions, and the captain had said he would dispense with the services of the men, and they then became the servants of other men. This was before them in the captain’s hand-writing, and he therefore submitted that the salvors were entitled to the amount they claimed.

The magistrates retired with their clerk, and were absent from court half an hour. Upon their return to court,

Mr Anderson said they had had considerable difficulty arriving at their decision, as they thought the crew might not have any claim for salvage; but as the captain had made the agreement, and also dispensed with their services, they found it their duty to allow that to stand good, and they accordingly returned verdict for the plaintiffs for £117 0s 10½d with the costs of the court.—Ald. Dale spoke of the difficulty they had experienced in arriving at a decision in this case, and stated that they were of opinion that the captain had acted in a very improper manner in relieving the men from their duty and allowing them to act as salvors. The conduct of the captain was such indeed as to raise grave suspicions that he was implicated with them. With regard to the other matter, for carrying the things to Sunderland, they were of opinion that all expenses ought to come out of the £117 0s 10½d.—Mr Adamson said had only to say, on behalf of his clients, that they were placed in this position by the gross misconduct of the captain. He would report the magistrates' decision and remarks to the underwriters.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 December 1866