Who Do You Think You Are?
Seafarers Rescued From The Records
Simon Wills’ ‘Focus On’ article about Victorian shipwrecks in the December issue was a huge boost to my research efforts – thank you.
I have a hand-drawn family tree of past generations of my father’s family, which included several master mariners. My great grandfather noted “drowned” or “lost” against half a dozen names, some of whom were merely boys.
The name of a distant cousin, James Stannus, was annotated “Colombia US, 1901”. Was this the South American country, or the American District of Columbia, or something else? Within an hour of reading the article, I had found James’ name in Findmypast’s ‘British Armed Forces and Overseas Deaths’ list, establishing that he was First Mate on the
Andrada of Liverpool, and had discovered newspaper reports of the loss of the ship. It had apparently been blown out to sea off the Pacific North-west coast of America, wreckage being found near the mouth of the Columbia River. His death was recorded as 11 December 1900, but the ship was only conclusively recorded as lost several weeks later – in 1901.
I also found the records of two of my great grandfather’s brothers – teenage apprentices. One was presumed drowned when his vessel the Innisfallen foundered in the Irish Sea, the other was washed overboard from the Star of Germany near the Cape of Good Hope. Fortunately, my great grandfather didn’t follow his family trade, or I might not be here! Elizabeth Carrey, by email
EDITOR REPLIES: We’re so glad that Simon’s article helped you to discover the fate of your seafaring forebears. Look out for more invaluable advice from Simon in our ‘Q&A’ section over the coming months…