Lytton Study Group - 1892 Drowning of Halcombe Lytton

The Lytton Study Group
The Drowning of Halcombe Lytton - 1892

Yarmouth Past and Present - Vol. I-II - by J Murray Lawson
Published: Yarmouth, Nova Scotia: Yarmouth Herald, Printers, 1902

Yarmouth Newspapers 1892 pg 265

"The iron ship Peter Stuart, Henry Hughes master, of and for Liverpool, G. B., from St. John, N. B., deal laden, struck on what was afterwards discovered to be the south rock, a short distance south east of Gannet Rock, at 8 o'clock on Sunday evening, July 3d, and went to pieces in a very short time. Fifteen souls were launched into eternity. Those who were saved told a pitiful tale of suffering and danger that has rarely been surpassed in its brief intensity by the annals of the most terrible shipwrecks. Charles Robbins, of Chebogue Point, brought the first authentic information of the disaster to town, and at once teams were hurrying to the Point to render assistance and to gain details of the terrible story. When the Stuart struck, the wind was blowing a gale and the fog was so thick that the length of the ship was scarcely discernible. Breakers were seen dead ahead, and in half a minute the ship struck the rocks. No land was visible, but the surf was piling up on all sides. In less than half an hour the ship began to break up and went to pieces rapidly. All on board secured themselves to life preservers. The sea was too high to launch a boat, the ship having a bad list to port, and the waves rolling over her from stern to bow. All the masts went overboard in about fifteen minutes, except the mizzen lowermast, which kept standing an hour. All the crew, with the captain's wife and child, took refuge in the mizzen rigging until it began to totter. Just before it fell they all got off the mast, except the carpenter, whose legs were broken, and who fell into the sea with the mast. The remainder seized what they could reach, the most of them securing a temporary refuge on the forward house. The captain, with his wife and child, and three or four men, got into the lifeboat, which was hanging to the davits, where it remained for some time. A heavy sea now broke over the ship, sweeping the boat, with its living occupants, into the sea and turning it bottom up. For some minutes the three men who were thrown out of the boat attempted to right her, in which they succeeded, finding the captain and one man in her as she righted the captain's wife and child having been lost in the interval and the captain and the man being in an exhausted condition. Captain Hughes held on to his wife and child as long as he retained consciousness. The men all secured themselves in the boat, the sea washing over them continually. The crew on the forward house remained there as long as it held together, and then seeing that there was no chance of escape, got on the floating cargo and made such rafts as they were able, and were carried out to sea. The ship was now broken up and submerged. There were two large rafts and some small ones, each of the last supporting one man. The second mate and seven men got on a large portion of the ship, which in some manner was secured together. The next morning the boat in which were the captain and the four men descried the raft with the second mate and two men on it, the rest having been lost during the night. The fog lifted a little at this time, and all the men in sight got on board the lifeboat. She was very leaky and badly damaged, the seas breaking over her and filling her. An unusually heavy sea capsized her and threw them all into the water. The second mate and one man failed to get on board again and were drowned. After she was righted her nearly drowned crew were compelled to sit on the boat with her gunwales under water, she drifting with the wind and sea and taxing their powers of endurance to the utmost to keep her upright. Two boys and one man died from exhaustion and exposure in the boat before they reached the shore, and their bodies went overboard. The boat drifted ashore below Hilton's Head. As she struck all jumped for their lives, and with the greatest difficulty reached the shore through the surf, the captain, mate and several others requiring assistance from their stronger comrades. Soon after they landed they were met by the residents and were at once looked after and treated with the utmost kindness and attention. Of the whole number on board the ship, 27 in all, 15 were lost. They included: Mrs. Hughes, wife of the captain, belonging to London, and her only son Harold, three years and three months old; the second mate, James Dahlrymple, belonging to Paisley, single; Arthur Toop and Robert Rose, apprentices; carpenter James Hendersen, of Sweden, about 65 years old, married; the cook, Lucien Poudra, of France, single, and steward Bennett, of Cornwall; Charles Lebar, seaman, of France; Halcombe Lytton, seaman, English; John Ferguson, a Finn; Wm. McCulloch, Irish; Frank Lendon, Finn; Peter Kemblick, Russia. The Peter Stuart was an iron ship of 1447 tons register, was built in 1868, and hailed from Liverpool, G. B., and was owned by Thomas Stevens & Son, London. She was not insured. The bodies of Lytton, Toop, Ferguson, McCulloch, Lendon, Lebar and Kemblick were recovered and buried. The body of Mrs. Hughes was found on Wednesday morning, July 6th, floating on the water near Green Island. It was brought to Yarmouth and buried in the old Episcopal cemetery. A purse of $150 was raised and presented to Capt. Hughes, it being the spontaneous and generous gift of a number of Yarmouth captains and friends. The presentation was made by J. W. H. Rowley, Esq., who in a brief and sympathetic address, alluded to the sad and distressing circumstances which had brought Capt. Hughes to Yarmouth.

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