NL GenWeb - Newfoundlans storm 1846

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Avalon South Region ~ St. John's District

Newspaper account of the Newfoundland storm of 1846

Transcribed as written (no corrections) by Tammy Hammond, March 2021 from the Wellington Independent, Volume lll, Issue 170, May 29, 1847, Page 3. National Library of New Zealand. While I have endeavored to be accurate, there may be errors.

The ill-fated island has been visited, before it had time to recover from the later conflagration, by a storm, apparently the same in which the Great Western was caught, which appears to have been felt all along the American coast. The capital of the colony has again been strewed with ruins, and, as far as could be learned, the destruction of the shipping and loss of human life throughout the settled districts had been great. The Bishop of Newfoundland had sailed in the Church ship, the Hawk, for England, the day before the storm, The The Newfoundland St. John's Morning Post of the 22nd September says :--

“The gale which took place on Saturday last has not been exceeded in violence, we are told, by any that occurred here within the recollection of the oldest inhabitants. The destruction which everywhere attended its march, so far as we have yet been enabled to ascertain has been fearfully great. We have it not yet in our power to give anything like a full or an accurate account of the extent of the injury and damage which has been done, but the following, as far as it goes, appears to be a correct statement of some of the accidents which have occurred. The first and greatest, and which immediately under our notice, was the almost instantaneous and entire prostration of the Natives' Hall, a building containing one hundred and forty tons of timber, which ad been boarded in, and since the fire had afforded a place of habitation to several families among the poorer classes whom the calamity had rendered totally destitute. A fine boy about five and his sister about twenty years of age, were killed by the fall of the building, and we believe their mother and one or two others of the persons injured at the time are are yet in a precarious state. In the harbour several boats were sunken, and a great part of the shipping received considerable injury. Rumour says that a boat was swamped in the Narrows with six or seven persons in it, all of whom must have been lost. The several bridges in the neighbourhood of the town have been partially destroyed, a large fissure in Job's Bridge near River Head renders it impassable and boats are in attendance to carry passengers to and from the sough side; the arch of King's Bridge, a piece of solid masonry has been entirely swept away, and Baine's bridge is partly broken up. The fine new brick house, in the course of erection for E. M. A Chilbald Esq, sustained very serious injury, a great portion of it having blown down. St. Thomas's Church was removed from its foundation; and indeed, wherever the eye is turned towards the outskirts of the town, fragments of fences, trees, or other wrecked materials meet its view. In the neighbouring outports of Portugal Cove, Torbay, and Pouch Cove, scarce a flake or stage has escaped the violence of the gale—at the former of those places, the Brigus packet was lost, and other boats had to have their masts cut away to save them from being swamped—and the whole line of road is rendered impassible to the stage coach in consequence of the wreck that is spread along it. A vessel belonging to Mr. Cayle, the Sister, laden with fish and oil, from Twillingate, was stranded at Freshwater Bay and one of the men from on board was drowned. Mr Howley's Native Lass, in one of the bays, as also been lost; Messrs. Hounsel, Shenk? and Hounsells' Lavinia, which had 3000 quintals of fish in, being loaded my Messrs. Punton and Munn, of Harbour Grace, was lost at Pouch Cove; and the Dartford from the Labrador, belonging to Mr. W. Dillon?, was stranded at Petty Harbour

The Post continues the lamentable details in its number of the 24 h:-- “In our last we gave an account of the consequences of the late storm, as we c ould gather them, and we much wish that we could state its destructive effects had been confined to St. John's, and it is greatly to be feared that beside a vast amount of damage done to wharfs, stages, &c., belonging to numerous fishing establishments, along the coast, the loss of shipping will be to a very serious extent. We believe we may safely say that a more violent storm, or one more destructive in its effects, was never before experienced – it was quite appalling. The rain descending in torrents, very soon occasioned the overflowing of the rivers, by which most of the bridges in the neighbourhood of St. John's were either swept away or sustained such damage as will occasion a very considerable expense to the colony. Nor is this all, for the damage done to the poorer classes of the inhabitants will doubtless tend greatly to augment the previously existing claims upon the funds at the disposal of the relief committee. The year 1846 will be rendered memorable in the history of this colony by, first, an unsuccessful seal fishery; second, a most disastrous fire, by which this city was laid in ashes; third, the appearance of potatoe disease in several important districts; fourth the destructive effects of the recent gale; and though last not leas, a cod fishery, the staple of the island, considerable below an average catch. These misfortunes almost sufficient to annihilate a colony possessing within herself less of natural resources or having a less flourishing trade, than Newfoundland; but it is, notwithstanding, not to be disguised that the prospects of the approaching winter are not only not all cheering but that they are gloomy in the extreme.

The Newfoundland Times of the 23rd of Sept., mentions that Misses Peyton (daughters of the stipendiary magistrate at Twillingate) and Mr. L. Emerson (son of Mr. Henry Emerson, barrister) wer passengers in the Sisters, but escaped. The Times mentions the following additional casualties:--”Yesterday a fishing-boat came into the wharf of Messrs. Robinson, Brooking, and Co., having on board the remains of four persons belonging to Port-de-grave-- J. Butler and his two sons, and an Englishman named J. Daniel, who sought shelter from the storm in the harbour of Renews, but unfortunately perished in the endeavouring to reach shore. The barracks at Sangilhill are materially injured.”

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St. John's