Daily Event for November 18, 2010

The City of Bristol was a sidewheel steamer built in 1827 by Hotwells in Bristol, England. She made regular crossings between Bristol and several Irish ports including Cork, Dublin and Waterford, in 1840 she was under the command of captain John Stacey. Most descriptions of the ship call her one of the finest packets running, and capt. Stacey seemed to have been a well respected seaman.

On the morning of November 17, 1840 the City of Bristol was in Waterford and was due to leave for Bristol, but the weather was bad and captain Stacey refused to leave, after the weather abated some he took her out of port. It was not long before he decided that the conditions were too bad and he turned the ship around and went back to Waterford. Finally at 11 p.m. Stacey and the City of Bristol left for Bristol.

The weather was still stormy and the crossing must have been most unpleasant for the people on the 210 ton ship. Part of the cargo on the ship were a couple hundred pigs and a couple dozen cattle or more, the voyage for them must have been terrifying and it must have been most difficult for the crew to have kept them in order.

The blizzard which crossed Ireland and England and marched on to the continent was reported to have been one of the worst in recent memory, Bristol, Dublin, Southampton, Devonport, Manchester, Limerick, Dorchester, Canterbury, Plymouth and many other towns and cities reported damage and deaths from the fierce storms, snow, winds and freezing cold.

In the afternoon of Nov. 18, 1840 the City of Bristol passed Caldy Island off the Welsh coast, but the storm suddenly got much worse. It was decided to make for Worm's Head near Swansea for protection, but by the time they were nearing the area the snow was blinding and it was pitch dark. Stacey, now in the dark with no visibility and fighting wind and seas was driven off course and around 6 p.m. ran aground about half way between Worm's Head and Burry Holmes in Rhosilly Bay. The stern stuck first and for over two hours Stacey and his crew did everything they could to free the ship, but to no avail.

Between 8 and 9 p.m. three devastating waves pounded the ship breaking her into three pieces and dooming all but two crewman who made it to shore and only just survived to tell the tale. It was a few days before William Poole and Thomas Anstice were well enough to tell the full story of what had happened to the ship, which is the only account of the event that we have. They said that there were only six passengers on board, including one woman and that most of the livestock had perished, but a fair number of pigs and cattle had made it ashore and were being tended to by a local farmer. Over the next few days over a dozen bodies wash up, including the bodies of captain Stacey and his nephew James Stacey, sadly not everyone on the ship was ever accounted for.

Parts of the wreck are still today visible north of Diles Lake on Rhossili beach, but the City of Bristol was not the only vessel to come to grief during that storm, several other vessels were damaged and sunk including the brig Grecian, which was lost with all hands. There were also reports of another steamer, unidentified, which had gone down and the fear was that it was the President, inbound from New York. This ship was only delayed, but the following March she would also become a casualty.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in SS City of Bristol
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Collier, George
2nd Engineer
Cork, James
Crump, Robert
2nd Steward
Fennell, James
Frazer, Roland
1st Engineer
Gollewick, Thomas
3rd Steward
Grace, William
Coal Trimmer
Hayne, Patrick
Coal Trimmer
Hill, James
Jordan, Sarah
McCormack, Thomas
Cabin Boy
Moore, William
O'Brien, Terence
Pinnel, James
Reed, John
Rogers, Edward
Stacey, James
Nephew of master
Stacey, John
Turner, Stephen
Wright, John
Wright, Richard
2nd Mate
Body recovered
This list contains the names of 21 known victims, all crew members. The names of the passengers are
not known to me.

Some other bodied were recovered, but remained unidentified. Many were buried at the churchyard in
Llangennith, Wales.

To submit a photo, biographical information or correction please email the webmaster.

The grave of captain John Stacey which is located at St. George's Church, Easton-in-Gordano seen in 2010. The inscription reads:
Sacred To The Memory John Stacey Who Departed This Life Nov 18 1840 Aged 53 Years
Them Whom Sleep In Jesus Will God Bring With Him
Also In Memory Of Alice Windham Prosser
Who Died April 25 1875 Her End Was Peaceful. 
Also In Memory of George Prosser Who Died June 1 1877 Aged 71 Years.

The grave of Captain John Stacey.
(Photos courtesy of Geoffrey John Stacey May,
Great Great Grandson of Captain John Stacey)
© Geoffrey J. S. May all rights reserved

2007 Daily Event
2009 Daily Event