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Canadian News and British American Intelligencer 1860 Mar.14 pp. 1,2,3,4,6 & Mar.28 pp. 10,11

Hungarian, Allan Line 1859-1860

The Allan Line steamship Hungarian, Captain Thomas Jones, from Liverpool and Queenstown, destined to Portland, Maine, with an etimated 130-140 passengers and crew (sometimes estimated at 205), departed Liverpool February 8th 1860 & Queenstown February 9th 1860. On the night of February 19th 1860, she wrecked on Cape Ledge, the west side of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, with total loss of life.

Mar.14 p.1

The loss of the Hungarian, following so soon upon that of the Indian, has thrown gloom over the whole of British America, for although there could be no absolute certainty on the subject, it was feared that among her ill-fated passengers there were several well-know colonists, whose families and friends were overwhelmed with anxiety for their fate. Nothing had been seen of the ships' life-boats, of which there were six very superior ones on board, and, excepting a few spars and a portion of the mail bags, nothing had been washed ashore from the wreck. Among the passengers, it was first reported in Montreal, were the following:—Mr. Bramah, of the firm of A. Robertson and Co., and his young bride, a sister of Mr. Andrew Robertson; Mr. Baillie, of the firm James Ballie and Co.; Mr. Neil Morrison, of the firm Morrison and Impey; Mr. Roy, of the firm Roy and Dutort. There were some reasons for fearing that Mr. Grant, the Secretary of the Grand Trunk Company, would be among the passengers, but it was soon ascertained that he was not. Mr. Blackwell too, the Managing Director of the Company, it was first rumoured, had intended sailing in her. Mr. Marcus Talbot and lady, the Hon. Mr. Merritt, and others were also reported as on board, and at New York is was even circulated that the number of persons on board was 360.

Mar.14 p.2

The Canadian Royal Mail steam ship Hungarian, which left Liverpool on the 8th ult., was totally lost on the night of the 19th on on Cape Ledge, the west side of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. Up to the 26th no communication with the wreck was possible owing to the weather. The weather was very stormy at the time of the wreck and no assistance could be rendered from the shore. At daybreak on the 20th one mast was standing, with men on it, but soon after it went over. Pieces of wood-work, with samll portions of the mail and the bodies of a man and a child, have drifted ashore, but no fragments of the boats have been found. A despatch from Ragged Island, dated the 24th ultimo, to the Postmaster-General, says the supplementary mail bags for Canada and New York were picked up in a safe but damaged state, and were awaiting orders. The latest intelligence is dated Halifax, Feb.27, which says:—"The steam ship Hungarian lies one mile from shore, in twelve feet of water, visable at low water. The bay is covered with portions of the ship and cargo, a large amount of which will be saved."
The Hungarian was the newest steamer, except the Bohemian, at present on the line, and she was considered in many respects the finest vessel and had made some of the quickest passages. She had been running about 18 months, and her value is estimated at from £40,000 to £50,000.
Her crew numbered 80, and she took out on the 9th ult., from Queenstown, about 15 cabin and 40 steerage passengers and a general cargo. The total number of souls on board is, therefore estimated at from 130 to 140.

We append a list of the passengers (and part of the crew):—

Cabin Passengers  
  Mr. Wilson ; Mr. & Mrs. Balmer (Bramah ?); Rev. James Stuart ; Mrs. Woods ; Mr. & Mrs. E. Evans ; Mr. Allan Cameron ; Mr. W. Crocker, Mrs. J.W. Crocker ; Mr. Leslie ; Mr. & Mrs. Talbot ; Dr. & Mrs. Samaniego ; Mr. Barry ; A.B. Corten (Gorton ?) ; Mrs. Wyatt ; Mr. Boultonhouse (J. Boltonhouse, Sackville, NB) ; Mrs. Delaine and child ; Dr. Barratt. (Dr. C.B. Barrett)  
Steerage Passengers: from Liverpool  
  Hugh M'Caffery, aged 26 ; Abraham Lagg, aged 23 ; William Vogle, aged 36 ; John Richardson, aged 45 ; Henry Richardson, aged 20 ; T. Allen, aged 24 ; Frederick Child, aged 33 ; Mrs. Child, aged 27 ; Frederick Child, aged 2 ; Neil Morrison, aged 18 ; Richard Madden, aged 89 ; Robert Martin, aged 24 ; Mr. E.D. Bartlett, aged 30 ; George Shank (intermediate), aged 50.  
Received at Cork  
  George M'Dermott ; John Daley ; John Delaney ; William Kerby ; William Wright ; Michael Lucey [?] ; Martin Downes ; Francis Richardson ; Ellen Shehan ; Patrick M. Govern (intermediate)  
  Thomas Jones, master, Everton ; Mr. Nash, of the General Post-office ; William Henry Hardie, aged 31, Leith, first mate ; John Ferguson, 27, Argyle, surgeon ; Thomas Robertson, 23, Edinburgh, purser ; Thomas Shirley Green, 21, Staffordshire, assistant purser ; Charles Pentith Macdonald, 42, Lairg, steward ; William Allen, 33, Glasgow, second mate ; Richard Porter, 29 [?], York, third mate ; William Cain, 32, Douglas, fourth mate; Robert Dick, 43, carpenter, Fifeshire (formerly of the Jura) ; James Macmillen, 26, carpenter's mate, Ayrshire ; Isaac Sildy, 40, boatswain ; James Bayley, 33, boatswain's mate, Bideford.  
  William Stewart, 27, Greenock, 1st engineer ; John M'Kean, 39, Greenock, 2nd engineer ; Alexander Smith, 26, Glasgow, 3rd engineer ; John Clarke, 24, Ayr, 4th engineer ; Hugh M'Garr, 21, Ayrshire, 5th engineer.  

Mar.14 p.3-4

It is with deep regret that I have to announce the loss of another of our Canadian steamers—the Hungarian having been wrecked on her last passage out, of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, on the morning of Monday, 20th inst. It is to be feared that not a soul of her unfortunate crew or passengers has escaped to tell us the tale of her mishap. All that is known is that at three o'clock in the morning a steamer's lights were seen from the land, these shortly after became stationary, and that at daylight a large steamer was seen on the rocks of Cape Ledges, about half a mile from the land, with one mast and funnel standing, with people clinging to the former and the sea making a clean breach over all. At ten o'clock not a vestige had remained. The sea was running so high that no boat could live in it, to be despatched to the assistance of the doomed vessel. At low waterpart of the stern of the steamer is visable, and part of the mails, very much damaged, have been recovered. Portions of her cargo and two bodies have come ashore, that of a man and child. The mystery of her fate is still obscured, and probably will remain so until that day when the cruel sea will reveal its secrets. The anxiety felt here as to the fate of the many believed to be on board in intense, and cannot be relieved until we hear from England as to her passengers.

Mar.14 p.6


(from our own correspondent) Toronto, Feb. 27, 1860
Another of the Canadian Ocean Steam Ship line has been lost. Although it has now a week since this most melancholy disaster occurred, the information that has been received from the wreck is very meagre indeed. It is briefly this:—On Sunday night, the 18th inst., she struck—as is supposed from the information of a person who says he saw the steamer's light during the night of the accident—upon a ledge of rocks about two miles from Cape Sable, on the southern extremity of Nova Scotia. Later in the morning he saw her on the Cape, when he thinks he noticed some persons on board, and shortly afterwards she went down. Two bodies have been since been washed ashore, and some mails for Canada. The probability is that every soul on board has perished. The steamer had six good boats on board, of which no tidings have yet been heard. is it possible that the passengers have escaped by them ? If so, where are they ? Your Lower Province correspondents may be able, before the mail leaves for England, to throw some light on the matter. There is reason to fear that Mr. Marcus Talbot, M.P.P. for Easy Middlesex, and his bride, whom he married a few months since in London, were on board, as well as a few other Canadians.

Mar.28 pp.10,11


The particulars of the mournful disaster, so far as we have been able to gather from the lips of residents in the vicinity of the scene and from the best available sources, are as follow. The ill-fated steam ship is reported to have been seen by a coasting vessel, off Liverpool (NS), about six p.m. on Sunday, apparently steering W.N.W., which unless she were at a distance of at least 25 miles from the coast, must have been nearly four points off her true course. At eight o'clock on the following morning, a man named Barry Nickerson, residing in Cape Sable, described, exactly in the direction of the reef known as the "Horse Race," what he took to be the lights of a steamer. These lights, when first seen, were stationary, and remained immoveably in the same position, as our informant thinks, for rather more than half an hour, when they appeared to move very swiftly in a north-westerly direction, and in the course of ten or fifteeen minutes became once more stationary. Mr. Henry Nickerson, who resides on Fish Island, states that he first saw the light in the position which the wreck now occupies, at four o'clock, and, comprehending that some unknown vessel was in distress, aroused his son and a neighbour, crossed in a fishing skiff the inlet which divides the island from Cape Sable, and, in the hope of attracting attention of the crew, exhibited a lighted lantern from the highest point of land that could be found.
The lights of the unknown vessel continued to be visable until day-break, when they disappeared, probably in consequence of the fall of the mast to which they were attached. As day dawned, the hull of a large steam ship was plainly discernable on the "Great Rip" (a dangerous ledge about two miles S.W. of Cape Sable) ; the foremast gone, the mainmast, mizenmast, and smoke-pipe only standing, and the sea making a constant breach over the ship. The rigging of the mainmast had the appearance, according to the statements of our informants, of being crowded with human beings, to the number of between 50 and 60—a suppostition we see no reason to discredit. About half an hour after sunrise, the mainmast was seen to go over-board—the smoke-pipe disappeared soon afterwards—and the mizenmast followed about 10 a.m. The spectacle is described by those who witnessed it as one of terrific grandeur—the sea around white with breakers, the doomed ship rolling heavily, as surge after surge broke against her iron-sides, the spray dashing in volumes to the height of her mast-head, and the billows pouring in ceaseless cataracts over her decks.
The violence of the sea during the morning and the early part of the day was so great that no attempt could be made to approach the ship. Not even a lifeboat, it is affirmed, could have been got with safety through the line of breakers which environed the coast.
About nine o'clock a.m. the wreck began to break up, and the surface of the deep was soon strewn with packages of light goods, the lading of her upper decks. The ebb tide, aided by a strong westerly wind, carried these articles, for the first few hours, in the direction of Baccaro, and into the bays and inlets beyond. The flood tide, for the next few hours, carried whatever was washed from the wreck in the opposite direction. On Tuesday, the wind having moderated and the sea being comparatively smooth, a great number of boats and several small vessels put off in search of the drifting merchandise. Between four and five hundred boats, it is computed, were for the first three or four days engaged in this manner. The bales being generally of a size which precluded their being taken into a boat, were broken open with a few blows of an axe, the contents lifted on board, and the box allowed to go adrift. The quantity of goods thus saved must have been immense ; but their wide dispersion will render the task of collecting them for sale rather a formidable undertaking.
Several of the mail bags of the Hungarian were picked up Tuesday, and one or two others on the following day. These were taken charge of by the magistrates, and have ere now been forwarded to Halifax. A boat of about 15 feet keel, with the oars lashed, drifted into Port Latour (Port La Tour), bottom up. Other boats, shattered to pieces, have been seen floating in the vicinity. The gunwale of one of them was picked up by Capt. Cook, of the schooner Melrose, on Saturday. One of the masts came ashore at Shag Harbour and another at Fish Island. The latter spar has still attached in it a portion of the plate iron by which it was connected with the decks. The only bodies yet found were that of a man, supposed to have been one of the firemen of the ship, which was found at Shag Harbour, and that of a female child about two years old, which was washed ashore at Stoney Island. Inquests were held on both these bodies, and both were decently interred. The report that the body of the man had been discovered at Cat Point, near Baccaro, is without foundation ; as is also, we hope, the statement that the corpse of an infant, picked up at sea, was consigned again to the deep by the owner of the boat, in his eagerness to secure the tempting prizes with which the surface of the water at that time was covered.
The intelligence of the disaster was made public in Yarmouth about mid-afternoon on Wednesday, and excited a profound and general sensation. Anxious to lay before our readers and the public the fullest particulars that could be gathered of a catastophe which is without a parallel in the annals of steam navigation, we determined to proceed at once to the scene of the wreck, and gather them from the lips of the immediate witnesses. Accordingly, on Thursday morning, we took passage in the mail coach for Barrington, where we arrived a little after nine the same evening. The following morning we proceeded to the Passage, crossed over to Cape Island, and reached the residence of Nehemiah Crowell, at Clark's Harbour, a little before sun-down. Here we occupied the evening in listening to the varied statements of the neighbours, as they successively dropped in, and obtaining something like an accurate idea of the geography of the neighbouring coast. With the aid of a glass, the wreck is distinctly visable from the windows of Mr. Crowell's house. The evidence of a wreck in the vicinity had begun to increase in frequency from the time we set foot on Cape Island. At the wharf where we landed, a box had just been picked up, containing half a dozen Morocco wallets, and along the beach children were searching, not unsuccessfully for cotton reels. Three miles further on, we heard of a person who had found several pieces of goods at a little distance from the shore ; and when we reached the southern coast of the island, we encountered a group of schoolboys, with caps fantastically surmounted with head-dresses evidently just plucked from the waves. Now and then, women, young and old, might be met carrying suspicious looking bundles beneath their arms ; and here and there pieces of stuffs were stretched out to dry in the sunshine. After a refreshing night's sleep, we secured a passage with two young men who were just pushing off to visit the wreck, which was nearly reached after a pull of three-quarters of an hour, when the imminent prospect of an off-shore gale and the combining effects of one or two stray seas into the bow of the boat, warned the youthful adventurers to return, and the boat was accordingly put about. Before returning to Clark's Harbour, however, we availed ourselves of the landing of the boat at Fish Island, to examine with some interest, the innumerable fragments of wreck which strewed the beach, and to gather from the inhabitants such information in reference to the recent disaster as was in their power to impart. Floating near the shore, we found a copy of a newspaper called the "Irishman" and two copies of the London Times, dated respectively the 7th and 8th inst., and addressed to Messrs. Jno. Clark and Son, Boston Courier, Boston, Mass.
Returning to the main island we were shown, at the residence of Mr. George Swim, a large osier basket, found by himself and son a day or two before. This basket, the capacity of which was about a bushel and a half, contained the wardrobe of a woman, evidently in humble circumstances—the most notable portion of which was a blue coburg dress and a new pair of cloth boots. A white envelope found in the pocket of one of the dresses is inscribed "Thomas Rice, Esq., Solicitor, Fermoy," and a scrap of paper found in another pocket bears the following address—"Catherine Mahoney, No. 8 Sturgis place, Boston,"—probably the address of some friend of the unfortunate owner of the basket.
Retracing our steps along the southern coast of Cape Island, we heard of one individual who had picked up a case containing a handsome carved ivory crucifix and various ornaments for the interior of a Catholic Chapel.
At Barrington Passage we were shown a hat-box, marked "J. Boltonhouse, Sackville, N.B." and a carpet bag, containing sundry articles of apparel, a set of artificial teeth, and a package of letters, adressed to Dr. C.B. Barrett.
At the "Head," we had the opportunity of examining the "crew list," from which it appears that the crew numbered 72, exclusive of the captain, of whom 16 were seamen, 5 engineers, 20 firemen, and 12 waiters. The captain's name was Thomas Jones, and the registered tonnage was 1,487.
The most prompt measures have been taken by the local authorities to provide for the preservation and security of the property saved, and agents have been appointed at different points along the coast, whose duty it will be to assist them in the carrying out of their praiseworthy endeavours. We learn also that with the view of furthering their exertations, the Government has commissioned W.T. Townsend, Esq., to proceed to the spot, and make such arrangements as may be deemed advisable, and that that gentleman arrived at Barrington on Friday morning. The Government schooner Daring was also despatched to the scene, where she arrived on Saturday evening. Our townsman, E.W.B. Moody, Esq., who is Lloyd's agent for Yarmouth, proceeded toBarrington, at the desire of the authorities there, on Thursday last, where he still remains.
Parties who recently visited and boarded the wreck, describe her as lying with her bow on the reef and her stern in deeper water. Very little of the bow is visable at high water, and at low tide the depth of water alongside is about 12 feet. The waist of the ship is almost wholly gone, the bow has canted to starboard and the stern in the opposite direction, the upper deck is completely gone, and the larboard side has the appearance of being crushed in upon the starboard. The boiler is just visable above the surface of the water at low tide ; and when the wreck was last seen, one of the anchors was still fast to the bow. The heaviest portion of the ship's lading is thought to be still in the lower hold or lying in the hollows of the ledge beneath.
How the disaster occurred will of course never be known, though there seems little reason to doubt that it had its origin in that reckless mania for accomplishing quick passages which has already led to the loss of so many fine steam ships and so many valuable lives. Either to incredible folly or incredible rashness the loss of the Hungarian may be safely ascribed. By some it is supposed that the officers of the steamer mistook Baccaro light for that on Seal Island—though how that could be does not very clearly appear, the one being a revolving and the other a flash light. By others it is supposed that the captain, under the impression that the ship had got to the westward of the Cape, was shaping his course for Portland ; but surely where such an amount of human life was at stake, something better than guess-work ought to have been relied on. — Yarmouth Tribune, Feb. 24.

note: quote from Ravenscrag The Allan Royal Mail Line, by Thomas E. Appleton, page 91:—In fact the critics were all wrong. As it turned out years later, the light on Cape Sable Island may have been out on that terrible night when the Hungarian was lost with all on board. James Croil, in his book Steam Navigation published in 1898, wrote that the lightkeeper was said to have confessed on his deathbed that he had been sick and had failed in his duty.

note: There is evidence that no light existed in 1860 and that it was only constructed after the loss of the Hungarian. Read the history of the light and the light-house keepers here . .


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