Wrecks List
Total Records: 1
Name Nationality Location Date Lost
Stephen Whitney   American  Skull Co Cork  1847 

Stephen Whitney : 
Owner Red Star Line 
Flag American  Builder Built at New York 
Port New York  Build Date 1840 
Official No   Material Wood 
    Tonnage nrt/grt 1034 
Ship type Sail Vessel  Dimensions  |  | 
Ships Role  Cargo / Passenger  Rigging Style Full Rigged Ship  
Super Structure
Wreck Location West Calf Island between Cape Clear and Skull Co Cork 
Date Lost 10/10/1847  Captain C.W. Popham 
Cause Ran a Ground  Crew Lost 15 
Position 51.28 N / 09.31 W  Passengers Lost  76 
Google Map Location
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The following copy of a letter from J.Allen, chief mate of the Stephen Whitney, was received by her consignees, Messrs F.& J Sands, and is dated
Skull, Nov. 12.

It is my painful duty to inform you of the loss of the Stephen Whitney with her noble commander on the night of the 10th inst We had no observation on that day Wind strong from SW weather thick. At six o'clock p.m. we close reefed the topsails and reefed the course intending to haul off the land at eight p.m But at eight precisely we made the land off Crookhaven which we judged by the lighthouse to be the Old Head of Kinsale.
We immediately made all possible sail and hauled off shore. At nine kept away Channel course judging we were clear of all danger but at ten made the land ahead within pistol shot. In the act of staying (owing to the tremendous sea) the ship went ashore stern first nearly broadside on.

The island proved to be the Western calf inside Cape Clear. The scene that followed baffles description. Out of 110 persons ( passengers and crew ) only nineteen are saved. Captain Popham was washed away from alongside me and I have no doubt was killed instantly. In less than 15 minutes from the time the ship struck she went to atoms.The survivors are all landed here half naked and all more or less hurt on the wreck and rocks.

The authorities here are very busy saving the wreck but it is in such a dreadful state that it will never pay the labour Several bodies have been found to day seamen and steerage passengers and were buried on the island. I have written to the Consul at Cork stating our loss and distress and hope to hear from him shortly, as we should have perished had it not been for the kindness of some gentlemen here Lieutenant Short of the coast guard, the Rev Mr Triphook, and the magistrate. Mr Limerick to whose kind offices we are deeply indebted.

We shall leave here for Liverpool as soon as we can arrange it. I send you a list of the cabin passengers as I do not know the names of the others. I am with respect Sir your most obedient servant
Thomas Allen .

Lost Captain Popham, Mr Gill second mate.
Cabin passengers -- Mr Roberts New York, Mr Cabe Ohio, Mr Fordyce Scotland, Dr Sweeny Ireland, Mr Robinson Liverpool, Mrs Shaw, England and two children, the third mate Mr Mackay and I being the only ones saved from aft.

The Cork Examiner adds some particulars of the loss of this vessel. The master had got out of his reckoning on the Irish coast during very hazy weather. The light on Rock Island was mistaken for that of the Old Head of Kinsale and the vessel was steered accordingly till about ten o'clock on Wednesday se'night the land was signaled immediately a- head and orders were promptly given to bring her round but the tremendous surf which beat upon the rocks issued a sterner command and it was evident the ill-fated ship was doomed. A brief moment only ensued and one terrific crash followed, which instantly consigned numbers to eternity.

This single encounter stove in the entire side of the vessel and in less than half an hour there were not two planks together nor a single article of any description that could afford the means of escape to either passenger or sailor. Unlike the greater number of those disastrous occurrences where a respite of even a few hours affords the unhappy sufferers some means or probability of escape the victims on this occasion were instantly hurled into eternity without a moment's thought or preparation. In less than ten minutes out of 110 human beings full of life and hope enjoying the glad anticipations of meeting friends relative and homes 92 had ceased to exist.

Through the mercy of Providence 12 individuals were rescued from the destruction which Overwhelmed their associates and in many instances their escape was effected with little assistance from there own strength or activity. Such was the suddenness of the calamity such the fearful havoc which a few minutes created that almost all on board were stupefied with horror and amazement and rendered totally inactive by the appalling catastrophe.

The survivors bruised and naked without shoe or stocking jacket or waistcoat scrambled up the rock which overhung the sea to the height of nearly 60 feet and after searching about for some time arrived at two miserable huts the only human tenement on the island.

Here they learned for the first time that they had struck on the western point of West Calf Island situated in the channel between the village of Skull and Cape Clear Island and lying about four miles inside the Cape. The two families who reside upon the island were totally ignorant of the melancholy circumstance until the distressed and worn out mariners entered their wretched cabins for the purpose of craving shelter for the night.

From some of the sailors the reporter ascertained the names of the survivors both passengers and crew and an im-perfect list of some twenty or twenty five of the cabin and steerage passengers.

The survivors amongst the crew are
Thomas Allen a native of Connecticut first mate of the vessel -- James D. Mackay third mate -- William Johnston, native of Yorkshire -- Joseph Miller an American steward of the vessel -- John Hatheway an American -- David Ferguson native of Glasgow -- William Smith of Baltimore U.S -- Henry Hum Fife Scotland -- Daniel Greaves Johnstown Scotland -- Thomas Jackson Boston U.S.--John Pearson New York -- George Prince do.James Saunders an American -- Adolphus Jackson NewYork.
The passengers who escaped were
Edward Ekin a native of Movil county Donegal -- James M'Glasky of Fenny Derry -- Joseph Butler Dublin and Patrick Peterson Roscrea county Tipperary.

Caledonian Mercury, Monday, November 22, 1847
Record Created on  03/05/2009
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