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The ORIENTAL was one of the ships wrecked during the Royal Charter gale, 25-26 October 1859. Luckily, the crew were saved by the Rhyl Lifeboat.

The ORIENTAL was a schooner, built by Andrew Stevens at Pugwash, Nova Scotia, in 1852. A technical description of the vessels is recorded in the schooner's Port of Lancaster Shipping Register entry (an image of which is shown above):

Official number 3064. 83.14 tons burthen. 1 deck, 2 masts, length from inner part of main stem to the forepart of the sternpost aloft is 66.1ft. Breadth in midships is 17.7ft. Depth in midships is 10.1ft. Schooner, carvel built, rigged with a standing bowsprit, square stern, billet head, framework and planking are wood and that she is a sailing vessel.

The schooner was sold to Bryan Padgett Gregson of Lancaster, whose profession is given as ship owner in April 1853. He later sold part of the 64 shares in the vessel to Edward Crewdson of Kendle; George Braithwaite Crewdson of Kendle; and Hatton Rollinson Forde of Morecambe.

The changes of masters and where they handed over their responsibilities suggests that the vessel worked frequently between Lancaster and the Clyde:

Samuel McIntyre vice William Harrison at Glasgow 16 September 1853
James Straten vice Samuel McIntyre of Greenock 10 January 1854
John Williamson vice James Straten at Lancaster 29 November 1854
Robert McKinnell vice John Williamson at Greenock 3rd February 1855
Joshua Mason vice Robert McKinnell at Lancaster 7 July 1855

The crew onboard at the time of the October 1859 gale were rescued by the Rhyl lifeboat. A letter printed in the Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald is touching in its gratitude to the lifeboatmen. Also to the local people who provided temporary accommodation and helped to recover the ship's stores and cargo.

'We, the undersigned, Robert Cumming and John Curries, the master and mate of the ORIENTAL of Lancaster, lately wrecked near Rhyl, do hereby certify that we were taken off the vessel, with four others, by the Rhyl Tubular Lifeboat, and that, in our opinion, the coxswain and crew acted with the greatest possible energy and expedition in bringing us relief and we have never in our experience seen a better boat for the saving of life than the Rhyl Tubular Lifeboat - no lifeboat can equal her. We have resided since our misfortune in the farm house of Mr. and Mrs. William Evans, Voryd-bach, from whom we have received the greatest possible kindness. We have to thank Mr. Kerfoot and Mr. Evan Jones for their civility in sending teams to cart our stores and cargo.
Dated this 4th day of November, 1859.

Robert Cumming. John Currie.'

Sources include:
Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald, 12 November 1859, Welsh Newspapers Online
Port of Lancaster Shipping Register 1837-1855, Lancashire Archives SS 5/4, folio 172
Port of Lancashire Shipping Register, Register of Transactions 1855 - 1872, Lancashire Archives SS 6/1, folio 16
Pembrokeshire Herald, 11 November 1859, Welsh Newspapers Online (

Can you find the farmhouse where captain Robert Cumming and his crew stayed on the historic Ordnance Survey mapping provided by the People's Collection Wales www site?

What was special about the tubular construction of the Rhyl lifeboat?

Can you find any traces of the ORIENTAL's voyages to and from the Clyde in the Shipping Intelligence columns of Glasgow and Greenock newspaper (

Contributor: Lowri Roberts, Moelfre.

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