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Broadside entitled 'Horrible Shipwreck!'


Horrible Shipwreck !

A Full, True and Particular Account of the Melancholy Loss of the British Convict Ship AMPHI-
TRITE, on the evening of Saturday last, the 31st August, 1833, off Boulogne, when 108 Female
Convicts, 12 Children, and 13 Seamen met with a watery grave, in sight of thousands, none
being saved out of 136 Souls but Three !?Taken from this day's Observer.

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, 1st Sep. 1833.?

The horrible event which is announced
by the title to this letter has, I assure
you, filled the town with dismay, and
must lead to a most narrow and rigid
investigation.    I cannot attempt to de-
scribe the affliction not only of the En-
glish, but the French, at this most dis-
tressing event, and I only express the
general opinion when I say that the
British public demands that an inquiry
be instituted   into the   conduct of all
parties concerned in this deplorable af-
fair.   The Amphitrite convict ship sail-
ed for New South Wales from Wool-
wich on the 25th August (this day week.)
Captain Hunter was the commander ;
Mr Forester, the surgeon;   and there
were 108 female convicts, 12 children,
and a crew of 16 persons.    The captain
was part owner of the vessel.    When
the ship arrived off Dungeness, the gale
of the 29th began.   On Friday morning,
the captain hove the ship to, the gale be-
ing too heavy to sail.   The vessel was a-
bout three miles to the east from Bou-
logne harbour on Saturday at noon, when
they made land.    The captain   set the
topsail and mainsail, in hopes of keep-
ing her off shore.    From 3 o'clock she
was in sight off Boulogne, and certainly
the sea was most heavy and the wind
extremely strong ;   but no pilot boat
went out to her, and no life boats or
other assistance were despatched.   I ob-
served her from 3 o'clock till half-past 4
in the afternoon, when she came round
into Boulogne harbour and struck on
sands.    By 4 o'clock it was known to
be a British ship ; but some said it was
a brig, others said it was a merchant
vessel, though all said it was English.
It appears that three men who have been
saved out of the crew?all the rest hav-
ing perished?that the captain ordered
the anchor to be let go, in hopes of
swinging round with the tide.   In a few
minutes after the vessel had gone a-
ground, multitudes rushed to the beach,
and a brave French sailor, named Pierre
Henin, who had already received the
thanks of the Humane Society of Lon-
don, addressed himself to the captain of
the port, and said he was resolved to go
alone, and to reach the vessel, in order
to tell the captain that he had not a mo-
ment to lose, but must, as it was low
water, send all his crew and passengers
on shore.    You will recollect, that up to
the time of her running aground, no
measure was adopted, and the captain
was not warned from shore of her dan-
ger.    As soon as she had struck, who-
ever, a pilot boat commanded by Fran-
cois Heuret, who had, on many occa-
sions, as pilot of your Standard's express
boats, shown much courage and talent,
was despatched, and by a little after 5
came under her bows. The captain of the
vessel refused to avail himself of the as-
sistance of Heuret and his brave com-
panions, and when a portion of the crew
proposed going ashore the captain pre-
vented them.    Two of the men saved
stated they knew the boat was under

the bows, but the rest were below mak-
ing up their bundles. The crew then
could have got on shore, and all the un-
fortunate women and children. When
the French boat had gone, the surgeon
sent for Owen, one of the crew, and or-
dered him to get out the long-boat.?
This was about half-past 5. The sur-
geon discussed the matter with his wife
and the captain. They were afraid to al-
low the prisoners to go on shore. The
wife of the surgeon is said to have pro-
posed to leave the convicts there, and to
go on shore without them. In conse-
quence of this discussion, no long-boat
was sent out. Three of the convict wo-
men told Owen that they heard the sur-
geon persuade the captain not to accept
the assistance of the French boat, on ac-
count of the prisoners who were on
board. Let us now return to Pierre

The French pilot-boat had been re-
fused by the surgeon and captain?the
long-boat had not been put out, through
a disscussion as to saving the convicts?
and it was now nearly 6 o'clock. At
that time Henin went to the beach?
stripped himself?took a line?swam
naked for three quarters of an hour or
an hour, and arrived at the vessel a little
after seven. On touching the right side
of the vessel, he hailed the crew, and
said, " Give me a line to conduct you
on land, or you are lost, as the sea is
coming in. " He spoke English plain
enough to be understood. He touched
the vessel and told them to speak to the
captain. They threw (that is, some of
the crew, but not the captain or surgeon)
two lines, one from the stern and the
other from the bow. The one from the
stern he could not seize?the one from
the bow he did. He then went towards
the shore, but the rope was stopped.
This was, it is believed, the act of the
surgeon and captain. He (Henin) then
swam back, and told them to give him
more rope to get on shore. The captain
and surgeon would not. They then
tried to haul him in, but his strength
failed, and he got on shore. You per-
ceive, then, that up to this moment also,
the same obstacle existed in the minds
of the captain and of the surgeon. They
did not dare, without authority, to land
the convicts, and rather than leave them
on board, or land them without such
authority, they perished with them. But
who could have given this authority ?
The British Consul is of course the re-
ply. Did he do so ? No. Why not ?
We shall see hereafter.

To return to the narrative of events.
The female convicts who were battened
down under the hatches, on the vessel
running aground, broke away the half
deck hatch, and frantic, rushed on the
deck. Of course they entreated the cap-
tain and surgeon to let them get ashore
in the long-boat, but they were not lis-
tened to, as the captain and surgeon did
not feel themselves authorised to liberate
prisoners committed to their care. About
seven o'clock the flood tide began, The

crew, seeing that there were no hopes,
clung to the rigging. The poor 108
women and 12 children remained on
deck, uttering the most piteous cries.
The vessel was about three quarters of a
mile English from shore, and no more.
Owen, one of the men saved, thinks that
the women remained on deck in this
state about an hour and a half! Owen
and four others were on the spars, and
thinks they remained there three quar-
ters of an hour ; but seeing no hope of
being saved, he took to swimming, and
was brought in a state of insensibility
to the hotel. Towsey, another man sav-
ed, was on a plank with the captain, he
asked who he was ? He said, " I am the
captain," but the next moment he was
gone. Rice, the third man, floated ashore
on a ladder. He was in the aft when
the other men took to the raft. When
the French pilot-boat rowed away, after
being rejected by the captain, he (Rice)
saw a man waving his hat on the beach,
and remarked to the captain that a gen-
tleman was waving to them to come on
shore. The captain turned away and
made no answer. At the moment the
women disappeared, the ship broke in
two. These are the facts of this awful
case. The French Marine Humane So-
ciety immediately placed hundreds of
men on the beach; and the office or
lodging being close to the shore, as soon
as the corpses were picked up they were
brought to the rooms, where I assisted
many of my countrymen in endeavour-
ing to restore them to life. Our efforts
were fruitless, except in the case of the
three men, Owen, Rice, and Towsey. I
never saw so many fine and beautiful
bodies in my life. Some of the women
were most perfectly made ; and French
and English wept together at such a
horrible loss of life in sight of?aye,
and even close to, the port and town.
Body after body has been brought in.
More than 60 have been found; they
will be buried to-morrow. But, alas !
after all our efforts only three lives are
saved out of 136 ! ! !

Sunday, 1 o'clock.?The wind is some-
what abated, though not much. The sea
is running mountains high. We have
begun a subscription for the three fel-
lows who survive?I think we must add,
and for the widows and orphans of the
rest of the crew who expired. I send
you a copy of what has been done al-
ready. An old and steady friend of the
Standard (Mr Hawes) is doing all he

This day week there will be charity
sermons for the poor creatures living,
and for the widows and orphans of the
dead. A portion of the subscription
will be applied towards rewarding the
pilot Heuret and Pierre Henin, who
did all they could towards saving the
vessel. The subscription will be super-
intended by a committee to be named
by the mayor of the town from the sub-

Menzies, Printer, Lawnmarket.

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Date of publication: 1833   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(126)
Broadside entitled 'Horrible Shipwreck!'
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