This article was written by E. Ni Lamhna for a booklet commemorating the Irish Sub-aqua Club's twenty-fifth anniversary. We have reproduced it just as it was originally published. There are certain irregularities in the grammar and syntax but it is not clear if they were due to the original source of the passages quoted or whether they were introduced in the transcription.
The 'John Tayleur' left Liverpool on 19th January, 1854, with 579 passengers and crew, most of them Irish on her maiden voyage to Australia. She was a fine ship approximately 4,000 tons with one of the new iron hulls so recently perfected. Two days later she was wrecked off the nose of Lambay blown far off her course by a gale of typhoon strength (written about by Dickens in his storm at Yarmouth in David Copperfield).
One hundred and five years later, she was found by the Irish Sub-Aqua Club and the tale of the discovery was told dramatically by Billy Crowley in the club's 21st magazine.
It has held a great fascination for many people and archivist Frank Corr extracted the following reports made at the time by various persons in authority.
Report on Inquest held on Edward Kewley aged about 30 years, 2nd mate of the "Tayleur" and Henry C. Cunningham, infant.
Copy of the Verdict
"That they were drowned by the sinking of the ship Tayleur off Lambay Island on the 21st January, 1854 and that the deplorable accident occured in consequence of the highly culpable neglect of the owners in permitting the vessel to leave port without her compass being properly adjusted or a sufficient trial having taken, to learn whether she was under the control of her helm, or not, and that Captain Noble did not take sufficient precaution to ensure the safety of the Vessel by sounding after he found his Compasses were in error, but we consider from the time the vessel came in sight of land, he acted with coolness and courage, and used every exertion in his power to save the lives of the passengers not having left the ship until she was completely underwater."
"We are of opinion that the authorities should insist on the same precaution being adopted and the same number of men required in emigrant ships as are required in vessels chartered by Government for the purposes of emigration or the conveyance of government stores."
Signed January 30/54, Henry Davis Coroner.
The second piece is an amusing reply to correspondance about a missing box.
Swords, February 14/54.
In reply I beg to state that having been aware that Lieutenant Senior of the Coast Guard had seized a box on the second day after the wreck, which was brought over to Rush from Lambay Island, I sent Head Constable Drum by the earliest train to Rush on yesterday morning to compare the box with the description given by Mr. Wilson, the Head Constable states that this box does not exactly correspond with the description but as Mr. Wilson is uncertain as to the exact description and also from the minute information obtained by the Head Constable who proceeded from Rush to Lambay and which I shall here write I am almost satisfied that it is the same box and also, that the person who claimed the box is the identical John Thomas Gibson although he gave his name as Hesketh, as he fully answers the description given by Mr. Wilson.
It appears that this box was found the day after the wreck by three females belonging to the Coast Guard, on the shore close to their station about two miles from the wreck - the box was brought into the Coast Guard house, when it was immediately claimed by one of the Passengers calling himself "Hesketh" who produced a key and opened the box took out a purse containing nine soverigns, three of which he gave to the women who found the box, he also took out of the box a bank document of rather a yellow colour, remarking to the women at the same time "I am now satisfied as I have got this."
He then locked the box and sent it to Rush to be forwarded to Dublin when it was seized by Lieutenant Senior on its arrival at Rush, where it will be detained until a proper order is issued for its delivery, it is extremely heavy - it measures two feet four inches in length, height one foot 2.5 inches, breadth one foot and 4.5 inches covered with black leather and bound with iron clasps, on his return to Liverpool, he wrote to one of the Guards at Lambay requesting him to forward this box to him at Liverpool and giving his address "T. Hesketh Esq, 51 Grove Street, near Abercromby Square, Liverpool". The letter was given to Mr. Walsh, agent to Lloyds. A person named John Thomas Gibson had been heard of during the wreck, - it appears curious that the name John Gibso appeared on the list of those saved, but not that of Hesketh.
All property saved is in the possession of Mr. Walsh, Lloyd agent, except a few articles of wearing apparel which is in possession of the Constabulary party at Lambay - At the time the box was found and opened all the coast guard party were on duty at the wreck.
Signed: Mike Shell.
E. Ni Lamhna, 1981