|On Maundy Thursday, 30th. March 1899, the ill-fated S.S. Sella left Southampton for a Channel crossing to Guernsey. Fifteen miles from St. Peter Port in deep fog, travelling at nearly top speed, she struck the Casquets reef, and sank within 10 minutes. Of the 190 on board, at least 77 passengers and crew were drowned.
|The loss of the Stella generated more press coverage and greater public interest than any other shipwreck of the period. The Press was unanimous in reporting that the conduct of the passengers and crew, on the sinking ship, had been exemplary. 'Not one man had left the line' until every women and child was safely in the lifeboats.
|Yet, the Inquiry later confirmed that at least 18 women and children went down with the ship, and one lifeboat was rescued containing 24 men and one women. Furthermore, rumours persisted that the Stella had been racing the Great Western steamer out of Weymouth.
|A stewardess, Mary Ann Rogers, emerged as the heroine of the sinking ship, and memorials were raised in her honour. However, amid the numerous newspaper accounts, it was not until 10 days after the event that a lucid account of Mrs Rogers heroic death first appeared.
|Great Britain was at the height of Empire. On the surface late Victorian society appeared confident. However, at the dawning of a new century the future, far from looking radiant with promise, was murky and uncertain. There were end of century jitters, and double standards abounded.
|The Story of the Loss of the SS. Stella
|In the closing years of the 19th. Century the rival companies of the London & South Western Railway, and the Great Western Railway, operated prestigious Channel Island Services. The London & South Western Railway Company out of Southampton and the Great Western Railway Company from Weymouth.
In March 1899 both companies offered a special Easter Excursion scheduled to arrive at St. Peter Port at the same time 5.30 p.m. This was the last Easter of the nineteenth century, and all eyes were on this special holiday excursion, which was the first daylight crossing of the season.
|The boat train left Waterloo with 110 passengers, and another 37 were either picked up along the line or boarded at the dock side. Many were going to the Islands for Easter, and others were returning home for the holiday period. The Stella set off from number 4 berth Eastern Docks at 11.25 a.m. approximately 10 minutes late.
The weather was set fair as the Stella made her way down Southampton water, and out into the English Channel leaving the Needles astern. At about 2 p.m. the weather became hazy, and soon afterwards the vessel entered a bank of fog when the engines were eased. Soon after they proceeded at full speed, until about 3 p.m., when the engines were eased again as the Stella passed into another bank of fog. Then again full speed was resumed and continued up to the time of impact by which time the vessel had entered another bank of thick fog.
The course of the ship necessitated the ship going close to the notorious Casquets rocks. At 3.30 p.m. the second mate joined Captain Reeks, and the chief mate, on the open bridge where all three remained until the impact occurred.
|As the fog ahead thickened a careful listen was kept for the Casquets lighthouse fog signal, but none was heard. A few minutes later before 4.00 p.m. a loud blast was heard from directly above and suddenly through the fog the Casquets, on which the lighthouse was sighted, became visible directly ahead. Captain Reeks instantly telegraphed Full Steed Astern, and spun the wheel. The Stella veered and scrapped her side along a massive rock. She swung to starboard scrapping another large rock, and then all 1058 tons, at 18 knots, ran across a submerged granite reef ripping the ship along half her hull.
|What happened next became part of British folk history. Later newspaper reports were
unanimous; during the eight minutes it took the ship to sink, there was no panic, and numerous acts of heroism. The crew successfully launched four lifeboats, although the fifth, the fully laden portside boat capsized. The men were then lined up on deck, and quietly watched as the women and children were being transferred to the boats.
'Not until the last woman and child had entered the boats did a man move, and only then at the word from the captain'
As Captain Reeks organised operations from the bridge above, below the crew worked hard to help the passengers. The Reverend Clutterbuck fell on his knees and led a group of men and women in prayer.
But never was there put on record a nobler deed than that of Mrs. Rogers, the stewardess.
The Times later reported that she helped 'her ladies' from the cabin into the lifeboats. Next she gave up her own lifejacket, and then when urged to get into the lifeboat refused for fear of capsizing it. She was told it was her only chance, but she persisted that she could not save her own life at the cost of a fellow creature's. She waved the lifeboat 'farewell' and bid the survivors to be of 'good cheer'.
Captain Reeks on the bridge raising his arms skyward.
|Then as the ship went down she raised her hands to heaven, and saying the prayer, "Lord have me", sunk beneath the water.
The captain died at his post, as the ship's bow lifted Captain Reeks
gripped the railing behind, looked skyward and went down backwards with
Survivors climb onto the up-turned
port-side life boat.
Courtesy of Illustrated London News Picture Library
|The Stella was fitted with two lifeboats, two cutters, and a dinghy, and she had two Berthon collapsible boats. She had 754 lifebelts, 36 lifebuoys, and some deck raft seats.
Although the Stella had a capacity to carry 712 passengers, alarmingly she only had enough lifeboat capacity for 148 persons.
Survivor's reports in the Press said that there was no panic or confusion during the period that the Stella sank, which was estimated by the Board of Trade Inquiry to be eight minutes.
|During this time the crew did well to lower five boats, although one from the port side capsized after launching. There was only time to partly launch one of the Berthon collapsibles, which floated clear and sank.
Fourteen people managed to cling to the upturned port side life boat. Some hours later, a freak wave righted the lifeboat and 12 of the original survivors managed to climb in; four of these died of exposure during the night and the remaining eight were rescued by a French naval tug (Marsouin).
They had spent 27 hours either in the sea or in the flooded lifeboat. Amongst them was 14 year old Benin Arnold who had clung to a football.
The other four lifeboats spent a dreadful night being swept by the currents. First eastwards towards the coast of Alderney, and then back again towards the Casquets Rocks.
|The starboard lifeboat, with 38 on board, had in tow the port cutter, with 29 survivors on board. In the lifeboat was Mrs. Marie Bailey who later wrote the book, 'A Terrible Experience', giving a dramatic account of the disaster. Amongst the survivors in the cutter was Miss Greta Williams, a professional singer, who boosted morale by singing the hymn, "Oh Rest in the Lord"...
At 7.00 a.m. 31st. March the two boats were sighted by the L.S.W.R. steamer, Vera, and the survivors were eventually landed at St. Helier, in Jersey.
The other two lifeboats boats managed to stay together throughout the night. The starboard cutter, with 24 on board, taking in tow the little dingy with 13 aboard.
These survivors were picked up by the G.W.R. steamer Lynx, en route from Weymouth to St. Peter Port.
The remarkable photographs on the right are by courtesy of the Illustrared London news Picture Library.
Passengers and Crew Lists, Saved and Drowned Passengers
|Saved:- as recorded in the Board of
Trade Inquiry Report. Addresses gathered from the Southampton Times.
|Willis Mr.& Mrs 44 Oxford St. Southampton
Stuart Mrs 49 Charles Square, Nottinghill, London
Mrs Attwood (Rosa) and child ( John)130 High St,. Southampton
Smith Miss & Mrs. Globe Ave. Woodford Green
Baker Miss Nightingale House, St. Thoman's Hospital
Bush Mr. Sydenham
Rolf E. H., Fore St. Wareham
Birch J. A. K. 54 Tourney Rd. Walham
Iliffe, Mr G. N. C. Coventry
Little. Mr. & Mrs. 19 Clifton Hill, St. John's Wood
Dr. Cullis, Hartley College, Southampton
Mr H. Walker, Sheffield
G. Wonham , Northampton
J. T. O'Callaghan (Mr.), South Tottenham
Mr. & Mrs. Parton, American Line, London
Mr E. A. Staines, Shepperton
Mr Gallie, Jersey
Mr W. Pick, Richmond
Mr. P. Young, Twickenham
Mr I. Heilbron, 9 Mercer's Road, London
Mr. J.A.Greener, 75 Golden Lane, London
Mrs. Gooran and two children, 24 Gloucester Road, Manor Park, London
Mr. Carter, Southampton
Mrs. Greener, London
Mrs. Aylett, Clapham
Mr & Mrs. Allen, London
Mr. Wheatman, London
Colonel And Mrs. Dixon, son and daughter, Sutton, Surrey
Mr. & Mrs. Chamberlain, Chapman's Hotel, Aldergate Street, London
Mrs Lemare, London
Mrs. Agnew, Guernsey
Miss. Oliver, Guernsey
Mrs. Drake, Bow, London
Mrs. Welsh, Hampstead, London
Mrs. Barnes, Kensington
Misses Williams (2), Shepherd's Bush
Mr & Miss Bell, London
J. & D. W. Bell, London
Mr. C. Jackson, Sidcup, London
Mr. Barker, Kent
Mr. King, 3 Snow Hill
Mr. E. Abinger
Mr. W. Butt (or Bull)
Mr. A. Bierer
Mr. C. Horfield
Mr. D. H. Robertson
Rev. C. R. & Mrs. Bailey
Mr & Mrs. Bell and two children
Mr. F. K. Barr
Mr W.E. Iliffe
Mr. W.J. Iliffe
Leonard Reuss, of Denton
Charles Long Phillips, of Brighton
Rolland Ellis De Visian
Mr. F.H. Beer
Mr. Lawson Reuss
In addition listed on B of T 2nd. June list (Ref: Ovenden & Shayer)
Miss (Ethel) Moon (travelling with the Godalming group)
Mr J H Thomas
|A list of passengers lost or supposed to have been lost
compiled from The Board of Trade Inquiry Report.
There was no official list of passengers on the Stella.
The list below was compiled from inquiries made
to the company following the disaster.
|Mrs. Arnold and son.
Mr. J. G. Barnes.
Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Black.
Mr. Bingham Tupper.
Mr. J. H. T. Barrymore.
Mr. John Buston.
Mr. J. Blenkinsop.
Rev. G. Clutterbuck.
Mr. E. Collier and son.
Mr. and Mrs. Callomeyer.
Mr. Joshua Downing.
Mr. N. Dixon.
Dr. P. H. Davies.
Mr. H. Edser.
Mr. G. Edwards.
Mr. G. H. Eldridge.
Mr. S. Fenton.
Mr. P. Finch.
Mr. C. Graham.
Mr., Mrs. and Miss. Hirst.
Mr. F. W. Hatch.
Mr. and Mrs. Henney.
Mr. A. Irish.
Mr. A. James.
Mr. J. Keppie.
Mr. and Mrs. Knight.
Mr. de Montmorency.
Mr. H. Moon.
Mrs. Marshall. and child.
Mr. W. Plummer.
Mr. H. Peters.
Mr. Morris Roche. and son.
Mr. E. Stenning.
Mr. and Mrs. Spicer.
Mr. and Mrs. F. Scott.
Mrs. M. Thomas.
Mr. E. Wolfe-Murray.
Mr. and Mrs. Westmoreland
Mr. and Mrs. Webb.
Mr. George J. Watts.
Mr. G. W. Welch.
Mr. A. J. Baker.
W. L. Parker.
Mr. Roome. Mr. Attwood.
Total … 86
|Crew List The following list
was taken from the Board of Trade Inquiry Report The names coloured red
were recorded as survivors
|OFFICERS: H. Reeks, Master, R.B. Wade, Chief Officer, G. Reynolds, Second Officer,
T. Gallichan, T. Carpenter: ABLE SEAMAN: A. Etheridge,
W.Davey, J. Johnston, T. Glover, C. Webb,
C. Bennet. ENGINEERS: L. Love, Chief, J. Robertson, 2nd.
E. Tanner, 3rd.
FIREMAN: F. Carter,
J. Balsom, C. Osman,
E. Hubberd, J. Palmer,
F. Truby, H. Lassitar, G. Bagley, STEWARDS
A. Langford, Chief, R. Lamerton, 2nd., F. Meaney, 3rd. F. Bartlett., 4th.
W. Martin, 5th.
A. Bowers, 6th.
A. Vick, Fore cabin steward, H. Martin,
J. Northam, Cook, Mary Ann Rogers
Miss J.Preston Lost 19: Saved 24
|Mary Ann Rogers (nee Foxwell) was born in Frome, Somerset on 14 February 1855, at Dyehouse Close. Her father, James, was a slaughterman. In 1876 she married a seaman Richard Rogers, living at Chantry Road, Southampton.
Little is known of Mary Ann Rogers. Her daughter Mary Ellen was born 29 December 1878, and her son Frederick Richard on 4 January 1881. Her husband, Richard, was drowned 21 Oct 1880, while on board the SS Honfleur.
This is three years earlier than stated in Annie Bryan's letter to (The Times,13 April 1899).
At the time of her death Mary Ann Rogers' address was Frome Villa, Clovelly Road, Southampton. Her two children were aged 20 and 18 years.
Mary Ann Rogers' parents, James and Sophia, are burried in Southampton’s Hill Lane Cemetery, which is strong evidence that they lived with her in Southampton. Her mother died in 1894 and her father in September 1899, six months after the Stella disaster. There is an inscription on the family headstone to Mary Ann Rogers, although her body was never found.
|Photograph of Rogers' family grave by courtesy of
There are four memorials dedicated to Mary Ann Rogers. One is on the harbour wall at St. Peter Port. The others are: the Memorial of Heroic Deeds, Postman's Park, London: the Stella Memorial, Southampton: and the Stain Glass Window, Liverpool.
The St. Peter Port, Guernsey, memorial was unveiled in 1997. It can be found on the outer harbour wall where White Rock spur and North Beach Marina merge. The bronze-coloured plaque reads:
In memory of those who perished on the S.S. Stella, March 30th.
1899, particularly stewardess Mary Roger who sacrificed her life to save
|The Stella Memorial, Southampton
|IN MEMORY OF
THE HEROIC DEATH OF
MARY ANN ROGERS
STEWARDESS OF THE "STELLA"
ON THE NIGHT OF THE 30TH. MARCH, 1899
AMID THE TERROR OF SHIPWRECK
AIDED ALL THE WOMEN UNDER HER CHARGE
TO QUIT THE VESSEL IN SAFETY
GIVING UP HER OWN LIFE-BELT TO ONE WHO WAS UNPROTECTED.
URGED BY THE SAILORS TO MAKE SURE HER
LEST SHE MIGHT
ENDANGER THE HEAVILY-LADEN BOAT.
CHEERING THE DEPARTING CREW
WITH THE FRIENDLY CRY OF
SHE WAS SEEN A FEW MOMENTS LATER
AS THE "STELLA" WENT DOWN
LIFTING HER ARMS UPWARDS WITH THE PRAYER
"LORD HAVE ME"
THEN SANK IN THE WATERS WITH THE SINKING SHIP.
ACTIONS SUCH AS THESE - REVEALING STEADFAST PERFORMANCE
OF DUTY IN THE FACE OF DEATH,
READY SELF-SACRIFICE FOR
THE SAKE OF OTHERS, RELIANCE ON GOD - CONSTITUTE
THE GLORIOUS HERITAGE OF OUR ENGLISH RACE.
THEY DESERVE PERPETUAL
COMMEMORATION, BECAUSE AMONG THE TRIVIAL PLEASURES
AND SORDID STRIFE OF THE WORLD,
THEY RECALL TO US FOR EVER THE NOBILITY
AND LOVE -WORTHINESS OF HUMAN NATURE.
The Stella Memorial, Southampton
|The inscription on the metal plaque was written by Frances Power Cobbe (see letters and sermons). It was Cobbe, in a letter to The Times,who suggested building a lasting memorial to Mary Ann Rogers . In the event it was Annie Bryans of Woollett Hall, North Cray, Kent, who organised the memorial. Her reply to Miss Power Cobbe's letter was printed in The Times on 17 April 1899.
|The Stella Memorial, built from Portland stone, was designed by Mr. Herbert Bryans and consists of a central and six outer columns supporting a canopy and enclosing a drinking fountain. A ball surmounts the weathered stone canopy. The six outer columns were designed in the style of the late Norman work to be found on Southampton's nearby Old Walls. The cornice blocks beneath the roof are carved with 24 roses of a similar style found on the Southampton 'coat of arms'. It was paid for by public subscription and unveiled by Lady Emma Crichton on 27 July 1901.
|The Memorial Booklet contains a list of subscribers. Of the 519 entries the vast majority were from individuals and the total collected was £570. Many of the contributions were donated in guineas. There were numerous donations from military officers and churchmen. There were donations from Lady Montague of Beaulieu; the Duke of Westminister; and Earl Grey, who was the vice- president of the British Empire League. Another entry was from a Major J, Burn Murdock in India who collected £15 18s. 10d.
|Of the £570 raised, £250 went
to helping the Rogers family, with the remainder being spent on building
|Postman's Park Memorial; 1900, City of London
|The idea was proposed in 1887 by the artist George Frederick Watts RA. He suggested, in a letter to The Times, the inauguration of a memorial to commemorate the heroic deeds and bravery performed by ordinary people, as part of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The Memorial is made from glazed Dalton tiles, each tablet giving the name, occupation, date and acheivement of an individual humble working-class hero.
The conservative Pre-Raphaelite design is in contrast to the avant-guarde 'arts for arts sake' style of the period. The artist George Frederick Watts advised Annie Bryans and her group on the design of the Southampton Memorial
The Staircase Window in the Lady Chapel at
Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. Mary Ann Rogers depicted in the
company of other heroic women..
The Staircase Window depicts Mary Ann Rogers in the company of seven other women (listed below). The window was given by the Girl's Friendly Society. The selection of noble women was made in conjunction with the Cathedral Committee. In the words of Bishop Chavasse, second Bishop of Liverpool:
"It was fitting that it should be clearly shown that the saintly succession did not abruptly terminate in the past: but it has continued to this day...All these women in one way or another helped the world".
Anne Cecile (1862- 1905) The daughter of an army captain who volunteered for missionary work in South Africa. In 1894 she founded the Grahamstown College for Women Teachers and two years later a Native Girl's Industrial School.
Born in Londonderry of poor parents who
sailed for Liverpool when she was a small child. She worked fearlessly
with cholera victims during the outbreak of 1832. And eventually was
appointed superintendent of the new Public Baths and Washhouses
Grace Darling (1815-1842)
Daughter of the Longstone lighthouse keeper. In 1838 along with her father she rowed through a violent storm to rescue nine crewmembers of a stricken ship. Her heroism captured the imagination of the nation, and she was presented to the recently crowned Queen Victoria. Four years later she died of tuberculosis.
Agnes Jones (1832- 1868)
Was born in Cambridge the daughter of an army colonel. She trained as a nurse and was appointed superintendent of the notorious Brownlow Hill Workhouse. She had transformed the place within three years but a year later fell victim to typhus.
Louisa Stewart (1852-1895)
Was born into a philanthropic family and married the Rev. Robert Stewart. Together they set sail to work as missionaries in China. 'They were not trying to impose foreign ways but trying to make Christianity a Chinese way of life.' They were massacred in 1895.
Alice Marvel (1865-1904)
Studied Medicine at Edinburgh before travelling to India as a missionary. She worked tirelessly in Cawnpore before dying of plague in 1904.
Anna Hinderer (1827-1870)
Born in Norfolk. In 1852 she married a German evangelist and six weeks later they sailed for West Africa. They worked under primitive conditions and both suffered from bad health.
The Rev. William McNeill, B.A. wrote a sermon describing the life and final actions of Mary Ann Rogers (see letters sermons ).
In 1999, in recognition of the 100th. anniversary of the sinking of the Stella, commemorative stamps were issued.
|The case of crewman Thomas Glover (Circa 1857 - 30th. March 1899)
Sue Little, nee Glover (Great Granddaughter)
As the LSWR Steamship Stella prepared to leave Southampton that Thursday, 30th. March 1899, most of the thoughts of those on board were about the forth coming Easter holiday to be spent with their families in the Channel Islands.
Thomas Glover would no doubt have had his children in mind and his second wife, to whom he had been married for just over a year.
As the ship pulled out of Southampton at just before noon, no one could have imaged the fate that awaited them almost four hours later on the fog shrouded Casquets
Thomas' early life is somewhat sketchy. His date of birth varies from document to document. According to his marriage certificate he was 27 in 1887, in the 1891 census he gave his age as 32.
On the crew list of the Stella the year of his birth is 1861. And so on and so forth. I have found a Thomas Glover born in Alverstoke in the county of Southampton on 19th. October 1857, with the father's name given as George Glover, which is the name of Thomas' father given on his marriage certificate. The difference being that on the birth certificate George Glover is an illiterate labourer in the Gosport Dockyard and on the marriage certificate George Glover is an engineer. It would appear that Thomas was not averse to being economical with the truth.
The first positive information there is about Thomas is his marriage to Rosina Bella Rickman, which took place on 17th. March 1887 in the St. James' (Docks) Church, Southampton. On the 2nd. July 1887, Olive Laura was born, at 32 Orchard Place, Southampton. Thomas' occupation was given as a seaman. Two years later on 7th. November 1889, Thomas Richard was born, followed on 25th. December 1890 by another daughter called Elsie Gertrude, who only lived for five days.
Two years later on 13th. May 1892 William George was born. He was destined to be my grandfather. Frederick Arthur was born on 7th. July 1894 and baptised on 5th. April 1894 at St. Michael's Church, Southampton, and then Elsie Lilian was baptised on 3rd. August 1896. It would seem that neither Frederick or Elsie were registered at birth...at least not in Southampton.
During this time, Thomas had begun his long association with the Channel Island Steamers. He is on the crew list of the Stella in March 1891, almost as soon as she was delivered from the shipyard where she had been built. In January 1897, Thomas was aboard the Frederica, a sister ship of the Stella. He was a crew member of the Stella again on 3rd. July 1897.
This was the day that Thomas' wife Rosina was run over and killed by a horse and cart belonging to Misslebrook and Weston, in Shirley High Street. For Thomas this could have been most upsetting, but it also solved a problem...for while his daughter Elsie Lilian was being baptised on the 3rd. August 1896 in Southampton, I was to discover that another daughter, Mary Celina, was born on 10th. August 1896 in Jersey.
Almost immediately after Rosina's funeral, Thomas took his five children to Jersey. There was no reason why...until last year, I found a reference to Thomas' widow and six children in a copy of the Southampton Times and Advertiser dated 22nd. April 1899.
Further research showed that Thomas had married a Selina Louisa Boivin on the 6th. March 1898 in St. Saviour's Church, Jersey. Thomas gave his age as 33, whereas he was nearer 40 at this time.
On 24th. March during the opening evening of the Guernsey Museum's Annual exhibition dedicated to the Centenary of the Stella Disaster, I found myself wondering if any of Thomas' descendants would be there.
During the evening I wandered around, mixing with the hundred or so people who in one way or another were related to those who sailed with the Stella on that fateful day. As I walked past the ships bell, recently brought up from the wreck, I overheard a lady saying that she had been named after the ship. The person talking to her asked if she had had any relation on board. She replied, "Yes." For some unknown reason, I felt compelled to ask her who her relation had been. She turned to me and said, "Thomas Glover - my grandfather". It is difficult to describe my feelings at that moment. But needless to say I managed to blurt who I was and we started hugging each other and crying our eyes out. My father, who had accompanied me to Guernsey, was wondering what the problem was, and between us, Stella and I managed to tell him.
There were quite a few people around us with tears in their eyes.
After a few minutes, we managed to compose ourselves and Stella was able to tell me all that she knew. Her mother was the daughter of Thomas Glover and Selina Louisa Boivin. Stella said that her mum had been born Celina Mary on 12th. August 1896, we know from her birth certificate that it was the 10th. August and she had been registeredas Mary Selina. As far as Stella knew, Thomas' other family had been in Southampton at the time, so imagine her surprise when I told her that the five children by Thomas' first marriage had been living in Jersey with Selina and her daughter Celina Mary at 8, Great Union Street at the time of the disaster.
For some reason Selina had told reporters from the newspapers at the time that her daughter was only 18 months old, when in fact she was two and a half.
I can only imagine that this was to disguise the fact that Thomas's youngest daughter by Rosina was the same age and that Celina Mary was in fact illegitimate.
Despite a continuing search of the newspapers of the time and the checking of records, I have been unable to discover exactly what happened after the disaster. All I do know is that the papers said that every effort would be made to get Thomas's children into orphanages.
It would appear that Selina was unable to bring up all six children by herself, especially as they were not hers anyway and I expect the first she had known of them was when Thomas turned up in Jersey soon after Rosina's death with five children aged from eleven years old to one year old in tow.
With some regret I expect she asked if the Stella fund could take care of them. Which they did but not in the way that she had thought.
On 10th. June 1899, five frightened and lonely children were taken into Southampton Workhouse. Olive Laura, now called Laura Mary seems to have been sent to the LSWR Servants Orphanage, Clapham, before being sent onto a nursing home in Parkstone, Poole, where she died from TB on 13th. November 1900. Her body was returned to Southampton and she was interred with her mother Rosina in Hill Lane Cemetery.
The others were quickly farmed out to various other charities. The records seem to indicate that the Workhouse Guardians were keen not to incur too much expense and agreed to supply uniforms for whichever orphanage could be found to take the children.
To my knowledge, the five children never received any money from the Fund. And Stella told me that Selina never received any either. I can only assume that the Stella Fund provided funds for the orphanages to take the children, and as far as they were concerned had done their civil duty.
My grandfather, William George, never saw his siblings again, apart from a brief meeting with Thomas Richard a few years later. He never spoke of the disaster and it was only after he died that we started to find out information about the Stella and the fact that Granddad had brothers and sisters.
Granddad was sent to the Church of England Waifs and Strays, in Bournemouth, but it didn't work out as by the time of the 1901 census he was back in the Workhouse, listed as William Glover, aged 8 born in Jersey. ( The 'powers that be' had obviously forgotten all about his past.) He must have left soon after because he was admitted again on 12th. May 1903 and then finally discharged on 13th.
December 1903 when he went to live with his Granny Rickman, Rosina's mother.
A letter to the Echo on 5th. April 1899 from Rosina's sister, Henrietta Doel, would seem to indicate that none of that family had any idea about Thomas's second marriage.
And nothing seems to have been done to place the children with the immediate family in Southampton, which was quite extensive. It's possible that Rosina's family though the same as Selina in Jersey, that the fund would take care of them.
As for Selina, she married again and went to London with Celina. Celina married in 1917 and she named her daughter Stella in memory of the shipping disaster which would eventually be overshadowed by the Titanic and then forgotten.
It took 100 years, a lot of research and some incredible coincidences, but at least two branches of Thomas Glover's family, have been brought together again, almost to the day that he set off on the Stella's final journey into oblivion.
The 1901 census lists a Thomas Glover, aged 11, from Southampton, as being an inmate at an institution at 29 Guildford Road, Kennington, Lambeth.
I have yet to find Frederick or Elsie on the 1901 census. Selina and daughter, 'Fresina' are on the 1901 census still living in Jersey, the exact address to be obtained.
And as Jake has discovered, Selina did get some money from the Southampton Mayor's Stella Fund.
Benjamin Tanner, Third Engineer
|by Tessa Davis
My gt-gt-uncle was Edward Benjamin Tanner who was third engineer on the Stella. He is remembered on his wife's tombstone in Hill Lane Cemetery. He was actually buried in St Valery, France. His wife Henrietta predeceased him by one year, thus leaving their three daughters orphaned. I believe it was his eldest daughter's 12th birthday the weekend of the tragedy - she signed my great-aunt's 'birthday book'.
Edward was born 1857 in Melbourne St, but the family lived for many years in Northumberland Road. He married Henrietta Jane Curtis in 1886. She was the daughter of a marine engineer. Edward's father Benjamin was a boilermaker, becoming a foreman, and was very active in the Freemasons. Edward was also a freemason, but I don't know if that was an important activity to him. Their three daughters were Henrietta (Hetty) born 1887, Rose 1890, and Florence 1894.
|In 1881 he was on a ship at Jersey, so I presume he knew the route to the Channel Islands well. A number of things are unclear to me, without some considerable research. Firstly I'm not sure of his role in the disaster, for instance whether he was he even on duty. I also wonder how it was that his body could be identified, perhaps he was in uniform when found. I'm also curious what became of the daughters. In 1901 they were living with his sister. We have found a possible marriage of Rose Tanner and Walter Penny in 1914. I don't know what happened to the other girls Henrietta and Florence.
Top: Edward Tanner
Opposite: his daughter Rose
Photographs courtesy Tessa Davis
|An Alternative View
The Stella Memorial is situated opposite Southampton’s Royal Pier. It is built of Portland stone, and from a distance looks like a lantern.
Attached to the central column is a metal plaque inscribed with the following words:-
In memory of the heroic death of Mary Ann Rogers, stewardess of the S.S. Stella, who on the night of 30 March 1899, amid the terror of shipwreck aided all the women under her charge to quit the vessel in safety, giving up her own lifebelt to one who was unprotected. Urged by the sailors to make sure her own escape she refused lest she might endanger the heavily laden boat. Cheering the departing crew with a friendly cry of “Goodbye, goodbye.”
She was seen a few moments later as the Stella went down lifting her arms upward with the prayer, “Lord Have me”, then sank in the waters with the sinking ship.
|My feelings towards the Stella Memorial are mixed. The emotional side of my character is captivated by the stewardess’s heroic death. In our cynical age of celebrity and reality TV, Mary Ann Rogers satisfies my yearning for the non-problematic character types of yesteryear. However, my logical side harbours lingering doubts as to the authenticity of the story. It is difficult to visualise so serene a death; don’t ships go down at acute angles, with bursting decks, and deafening steam escaping from the boilers?
I needed to know more, and so began my investigation into the loss of the Stella and the mysterious death of Mary Ann Rogers.
The story is often told, and the essential details remain remarkably consistent. The Stella was a London & South Western Railway Company steamer running out of Southampton. On 30 March 1899 the ill-fated ship embarked on a Channel crossing to Guernsey.
Fifteen miles from St. Peter Port, in deep fog, travelling at top speed, she struck the Casquets reef and sank within 10 minutes.
|Of the 190 on board, at least 77 passengers and crew were lost. The captain went down with his ship. Newspaper editorials were unanimous, that amid the confusion of shipwreck, the behaviour of the British passengers and crew had been exemplary. According to The Times, 3 April 1899, "not until the last women and child had left the boat did a man move."
How do we know this is true, and why was the ship travelling at top speed in thick fog? My investigation drew from three primary sources; the Board of Trade Inquiry Report; a book written by survivor Marie Bailey entitled, A Terrible Experience; and survivor accounts reported in the newspapers of the day. A different picture soon began to emerge. Although the Board of Trade Inquiry, in its concluding remarks, expressed the "greatest admiration" for both stewardesses, Mary Rogers and Ada Preston, significantly it did not differentiate between the two.
|Undoubtedly, Mary Ann Rogers carried out her duty to the end, and lost her life in the process, What more can a human being give? However, there is no specific mention of her remarkable death as described on the Southampton Memorial plaque.
Moreover, Marie Bailey, in her book, A Terrible Experience, although praiseworthy of all the crew, did not mention Mary Rogers individually. Furthermore, little solid evidence can be extracted from the harrowing survivor accounts. The surviving crew, speaking the day after the disaster, believed that both stewardesses had gone down with the port side lifeboat which turned turtle upon launching.
|Surprisingly, it was not until 10 days after the disaster that a lucid account of Mary Rogers’ heroic death first appeared. It came in the form of an un-attributed third hand account reported in the editorial columns of The Times, Monday, 10 April 1899. In graphic detail it describes the stewardess’s final heroic actions, using for the first time the phrases which would be regurgitated time and again as the story is retold over the subsequent years.
Miss Francis Power Cobbe was deeply affected by such a self-sacrificing death, and responded by letter to The Times describing Mary Ann Rogers as ‘one of the most sublime figures in our Island story’.Frances Cobbe further offered to contribute £25 to a memorial fund if anyone would be prepared to initiate one. In the event it was Annie Bryans, from Kent, who took up the call and thus began the Stella Memorial Fund. Annie Bryans had been tended by Mary Rogers during four previous Channel crossings, when she had been struck by the stewardess’s ‘cherry, bright and capable ways’.
Clearly, The Times was instrumental in promoting Mary Ann Rogers. Frances Cobbe and Annie Bryans took it from there. The story could be perfectly true, we will never know. Many at the time thought it was; it certainly attracted middle and upper class support. The Stella Memorial Booklet contains the names of 519 subscribers, including Lady Montague, the Duke of Westminster, Earl Grey, and military officers and churchmen. However, if the story was a fabrication, what was the purpose behind such editorial spin-doctoring?
Certainly, in the days following the disaster letters appeared in The Times criticising both Captain Reeks and his employers the L&SWR Company.
On 4 April a yachtsman described how he was almost run down by the Stella the previous year. The following day a Rear Admiral told of his ‘astonishment’ when he witnessed the ‘wild steering’ of the Stella, and on the 6 April a letter stated that the captain demonstrated ‘astounding negligence’. A scathing letter from the Reverend Penfold, appeared the next day. He had lost his sister aboard the Stella and claimed that ‘in spite of newspaper bunkum about chivalry, pride of race and so forth, women and children were left on the deck while at least one boat full of men pulled away from the ship’.
The Board of Trade Inquiry later confirmed that the starboard-cutter had 24 men and only one woman. Moreover, 18 women and children went down with the ship. Another letter protested against subscribing to the public relief fund asking, ‘why the L&SWR Company should be relieved from their obvious duty?’
These unpalatable letters would no doubt have caused great concern to the powerful directors and shareholders of the L&SWR Company, who if found guilty of negligence, would be financially liable.
Moreover, a damning outcome could result in the implementation of safety regulations, with subsequent ramifications for the great shipping lines. The L&SWR Company had much to fear. The Stella had a capacity to carry 712 passengers, but with only a lifeboat capacity for only 148 persons. The 62 dependants of the lost crew had no statutory right to compensation.
Most damning of all were the widely voiced accusations that the Stella had been racing the Great Western Railway Company’s steamer out of Weymouth. Competition was fierce, and on this special Easter excursion both companies had scheduled the same departure time from London and the same arrival time at St Peter Port.
|At the Inquiry, company officials attempted to deny racing, but their cover-up must have been obvious. Astonishingly however, when the court delivered its judgement it was not prepared to conclude that the Stella had been racing the Weymouth boat. Indeed, the blame was squarely placed on the Captain. Immediately, forty actions were brought against the Company by bereaved families seeking compensation. The L&SWR ingeniously issued a writ for limitation to liability, thus the cost to the Company was much less than it might have been. The Stella had been insured, and the Westminster Gazette, June 1899, reported that, ‘In short the loss will not be materially felt by the stockholders’.
Some years later two survivors, Gretta Williams and James Parton, claimed to have witnessed the remarkable death of Mary Ann Rogers. Greta Williams, a professional opera singer, was interviewed by the BBC in 1955 when she was in her eighties.
|Seven years later her account of the stewardess’ death was featured in Women of the Sea (E. Rowe, 1962). James Parton’s eye witness account appeared much earlier when it featured in the Bravest Deed I Ever Saw (Alfred H. Miles, 1906). However, records show that it was impossible for Greta Williams and James Parton to have both witnessed Mary Ann Rogers’s death. Their lifeboats were launched from different sides of the ship. James Parton was rescued in the starboard-cutter, whereas Grete Williams was in the port side-cutter. Greta Williams’s testimony is further weakened by the fact that the Reverend Bailey, who was in the same lifeboat, did not recall Mary Rogers’ death.
This can safely be assumed because the Reverend’s wife, Marie Bailey, did not mention it in her book, A Terrible Experience, 1899.
James Parton’s testimony is also questionable, not least by the fact that he said nothing to the press during his interview directly following the incident. Also, his eye-witness account is difficult to visualise when considering the fact that his lifeboat contained 24 men, and one women. The image of Mary Rogers (who left behind two orphaned children) speaking such sentiments to a lifeboat full of men throws a dubious light upon the event.
If the story of Mary Ann Rogers was a smoke screen thrown up by The Times with the aim of clouding the negligence of the L&SWR with emotion, then James Parton had every reason to be compliant. He ran the London office of the American Line, which was part of a large north Atlantic shipping syndicate.
In 1899 the great shipping and railway companies resisted regulations in areas of safety and employment. Ships did not carry adequate lifeboats, and the crew had little safeguards. If the Inquiry found the L&SWR directors negligent, and demanded the implementation of new safety regulations, the financial implications for the great Atlantic shipping lines were considerable.
|Thirteen years later, in 1912, the Southampton & District Pictorial, paid special tribute to the heroism of Mary Ann Rogers by featuring a commemorative picture of the Stella Memorial. Astonishingly, positioned directly underneath is a photograph of one of RMS. Titanic’s enormous funnels, which then dominated the Southampton skyline. Within days the Titanic, travelling at nearly top speed, struck an Atlantic iceberg. Disturbingly, and similarly to the Stella disaster, there were not enough lifeboats on board, but this time 1505 passengers and crew were lost. And, once again the captain, who went down with his ship, was found negligent.
As I look at these remarkable photographs, I realise that my investigation has come full circle. Undoubtedly, the logical side of my character had been right to question the authenticity of Mary Ann Rogers’ death. However, my emotional side is still captivated by the enigmatic stewardess, who even after death seemed to have had the power to send a warning. Unfortunately, it had not been heeded resulting in a disaster many times greater than that of the Stella's.
|The Times Editorial Column
|The story of the heroic stewardess first appeared in The Times Editorial Column on 10 April 1899 (ten days after the event). The account described was third hand and not attributed to any named survivor:
According to the Editor...The following story was related to one of the officers of the Vera by a gentleman who went to Southampton to interview the family of Mrs. Rogers, the Stewardess, who was instrumental in saving the life of a lady friend.
The latter stated that Mrs. Rogers, with great presence of mind, got all the ladies from her cabin to the side of the ship, and after placing lifebelts on as many women as were without them she assisted them into the small boats. Then turning around, she noticed that the narrator was without a belt whereupon she insisted upon placing her own belt upon the lady and led her to the fast filling boat. The sailors called out, "Jump in, Mrs. Rogers," but the latter replied, "No, no: if I get in the boat will sink. "Good-bye, good-bye." With uplifted hands she said, "Lord, have me" and immediately the Stella sank beneath her feet (The Times, Monday, 10 April 1899).
The Times editorial inspired Miss Frances Power Cobbe of Dolgelly, to write the following reply, which appeared in The Times two days later:
Sir, It seems to me that a short paragraph even in The Times is far from being a sufficient tribute of honour to a woman whose calm devotion and self-sacrificing death were chronicled in your columns.
An honour is accorded to the captain of a ship who sinks with his vessel. This poor stewardess, pursuing her humbler duties, and courageously to the very last aiding the lady passengers to secure their lifebelts and take their places in the boat, and then refusing to overcrowd that boat by entering it herself, and going down to death with the prayer 'God have me', seems to me one of the most sublime figures in our Island story. Such conduct never sprang from a hasty impulse of courage or generosity. The life which went before it must have been a life of duty and self-control.
If any of your readers feel with me on this matter and will undertake (as I cannot do) to collect enough money to raise a simple monument to Mrs. Rogers' memory, and for the perpetuation of the honour she deserves, I will gladly contribute £25 towards its erection at Southampton, or elsewhere.
|Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904)
Frances Power Cobbe was an Irish writer, social reformer, feminist, pioneer animal rights activist, and religious Unitarian. She was raised in a privileged Anglo-Irish family distinguished by service in the British military and the Anglican Church.
She spent three years working on The Theory of Intuitive Morals, 1855, in which she expounded the Kantian view that morals are within one's self, and independent of outward authority and tradition. This human condition was in fact proof of the existence of a just God. The book went through four editions during the next fifty years.
Cobbe was active in several social reform movements devoting much of her energy to the nineteenth century British women's movement. She also supported higher education for women and the reform of poor laws. Her strongest efforts were directed to alleviating violence against women, especially violence by men against their wives.
She was critical of the later militant feminists whose sole immediate objective was obtaining the vote and if necessary using illegal and violent means to get it. Cobbe described such people as 'abrupt speaking, courtesy-neglecting, slouching, slangy young damsels who may now carry off the glories of a university degree' (Cobbe, 1904: cited Harris, p.28).
In the event it was Annie Bryans of Woollett Hall, North Cray, Kent, who organised the memorial. And her reply to Miss Power Cobbe's letter was printed in The Times on 17 April:
I have read with great pleasure Miss Cobbe's letter, and perhaps may be permitted to add my own personal experiences of Mrs. Rogers.
Sad circumstances necessitated my travelling twice to Guernsey within the last month. All four journeys were made in the Stella, and I was fortunate to be tended by Mrs. Rogers. From the first I was struck by her cheery, bright capable ways: and on my last voyage with her I was in great sorrow, and her kindness was so cheering that I could not help specially thanking her, and this drew from her her own sad story. Some 16 years ago her husband was drowned at sea. She had then one girl and her boy was born soon after.
To bring them up and educate them well became her first object in life and she obtained the situation of stewardess. She told me that it was five years before she lost her own sea-sickness, and during all that time she struggled on attending to others and sticking to her post for her children's sake.
She found that on foggy nights that people were sometimes nervous, and then she would look round to reassure those who were not sleeping. In speaking of her children she drew herself up, happily saying, "Any mother might be proud of them, they are so good. I hope soon, when my son has finished his apprenticeship, to retire from sea life".
I have received a heartbroken letter from her daughter, who writes: "She has been such a good, kind mother to us, and has worked so hard to bring us up, and she has been both mother and father to us.
She was hoping to give up sea life and live with me when I was married, which was to have taken place this summer. She could not have given up work entirely until my brother was out of his apprenticeship, which is in three years time."
I shall be pleased to contribute to any fund that is raised in her memory, and failing anyone more capable to do so, will gladly accept contributions to the fund or co-operate with anyone willing to help, in the hope that sufficient will be collected to erect a suitable memorial to her memory and leave the balance over to form a nucleus to start her boy in life.
I am, Sir, etc.,
Annie J. Bryans, Woollet Hall, North Cray, Kent, April 13 1899.
The McNeill Sermon
Mary Ann Rogers is remembered in the Staircase Window of the Lady Chapel in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, and the following extracts describing her life were taken from a sermon written by The Rev. William McNeill, B.A. relating to the window.
'Mary Ann Rogers achieved fame not by the labour of a lifetime but by one heroic deed. In the last five minutes of her life with a dying hand she grasped it, rescuing herself from oblivion, and winning for herself a place among this goodly company of the Staircase Window. It is true of her, literally true, that nothing in her life became her like the leaving of it.
She was married when quite a girl, and a few years after marriage her husband died, leaving her with two children to provide for. He had been a sailor and possibly that fact led her to seek a situation as a stewardess on a channel steamer.
Through the influence of friends, she received an appointment on one of the boats, which plied between Southampton and the Channel Islands. For a number of years she was a familiar figure to regular passengers, and her attention and kindliness won for her many friends. She knew how to administer comfort and good cheer, this humble servant of the public.
In the Spring of 1899, the London and South Western Railway Company announced a special day trip from Southampton to the Islands by the Stella. The date advertised was Thursday, March 30th., the Thursday before Easter.
A good number of passengers were on board when the Stella sailed, and despite a dense fog she made a good passage for some distance across the Channel. Whatever uneasiness may have been felt by those on board was dissipated by the comforting reflection that Captain Reeks was a man to be relied on. He had made the journey so often that he knew his way in the dark. But in the dense fog that day the Stella was carried eastward of her course, and the first warning came when she struck on a group of granite rocks known as the Casquets, on the coast of Alderney.
Immediately the order was issued to stand by the boats, and the seamen responded without panic. Life belts were distributed, and women and children were hurried forward into the boats as they were lowered. Many a deed of heroism probably passed unnoticed in those ten to twelve minutes which elapsed before the Stella sank. But what Mary Ann Rogers did could not be hid, and deserves to be remembered for ever.
With great presence of mind she collected the ladies from their cabins on one side of the vessel, taking complete and undisputed command of the situation; the servant of all becoming the master of all. She provided each women with a life belt, fastening it herself on several whose trembling fingers refused to obey their will. Then thinking that all had left the cabin, she fastened a belt on herself, and was about to leave when she remembered a young woman who had been sleeping in an inner berth. She turned, and having found her and provided her with a belt she hurried her on deck, when another rushed up in terror. Mrs. Rogers wasted no time in seeking another belt, but untying her own she fastened it round the shrinking figure, and passed her down the ladder. Then as the inscription on the drinking fountain erected to her memory opposite Southampton Pier tells, 'urged by the sailors to make sure of her own safety she refused, lest she might endanger the heavily laden boat, cheering the departing crew with a friendly cry, "goodbye, goodbye". She was seen a few minutes later as the Stella went down, lifting her arms upward with the cry', "Lord, have me"; she sank in the waters with the sinking ship.
|The Passengers, The Period, and End of Century Jitters
|Evidence gained from reading newspaper obituary columns and survivor testimonies indicates that a large number of Stella passengers were middle-class London suburbanites. For example, they lived in Kensington, Baker Street, Wimbledon, Peckham, Wandsworth, Notting Hill, Fulham, Cheswick, Tottenham, and Finsbury. Others came from the Home Counties, Godalming, Leatherhead, Guilford, Bromley and Sidcup. The Times, 4 April 1899, described occupations, Mr. Pocock of the Stock Exchange; and Leonard Reuss who was described as having 'duties in the City'. Moreover, The Times correspondent added that 'handbills are out offering £50 for Major Baker and £25 for Mr. Rosoman' a well-known Southampton businessman. In the same newspaper passengers reported lost included; Mr. & Mrs. Maurice Black an accountant from London; Mr. E. J. Morgan a printer from London; and Mr. J. T. Bushton of Cricklewood local estate agent of the Midland Railway Company.
At the turn of the century Greater London contained one fifth of the entire population of England and Wales and during the 1890's it had absorbed one quarter of all population increase. The suburbs of London grew dramatically along side the expanding commuter transportation systems. The middle class were not only more numerous but better off than ever before.
Shopping became a middle class leisure pursuit. This new consumerism resulted in the establishment of multiple chain stores on every High Street.
Competition resulted in aggressive advertising and the rapidly growing press, dependant on advertising vied for readership.
Ah, make the most of what we may spend
Before we too into Dust descend:
Dust unto Dust, and under Dust to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and - sans End.
(Edward Fitzgerald's free translation of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam- a favourite poem of the time).
End of century tension is not new. The pace and stress of urban life, in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, convinced middle class people that they were under more pressure than people of earlier times. Social and political problems seemed intractable: Irish demand for home rule: increasing foreign competition, new fangled notions of socialism and feminism.
Moreover, developments in scientific and engineering achievements were unprecedented. The closing decade witnessed the arrival of telephones, moving pictures, wireless telegraphy, motor cars, the electrification port, and moving escalators. Scientists discovered the existence of the atom, radium and X-rays. But to many people this period of rapid progress and increasing urban sprawl had produced a fin de siecle mood of disenchantment and nostalgia. A poem in A. E. Housman's, A Shropshire Lad (1896) evokes such feelings:
|'That is the land of lost content
I see it shining plain
The happy highways where I went
And cannot go again'
|Authors of the period attempted to capture the mood. H.G.Wells When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), describes the inevitability of progress, but paid for at a terrible price. Central to the writing of Thomas Hardy is the notion that modernity effectively removes people from their roots leaving them detached from their rustic world.
Feelings of nostalgia were widespread, a belief that modernity devalues everyday life, and the breathtaking developments in science were widely felt in terms of loss rather than gain. Nostalgia manifests itself in the yearning for character types of the sort that existed in earlier times.
The press coverage of the Stella disaster clearly satisfied this yearning by stereotyping characters as non-problematic individuals: the heroic captain; crewmen exercising iron discipline; the chivalry of the passengers; and the heroic stewardess. From the outset the correspondents, and the newspaper editors, were determined to write the Stella story through the particular myths which helped people to bring their world into order to make sense.
|The Board of Trade formal investigation opened on 27th.April 1899 at Westminster Guildhall, and sat for six days before a judgement was delivered. The Judge was R.H.B. Marsham, assisted by Capt. Knox, R.N., A. Ronaldson and Commander Caborne, C.B., R.N.R..
Did the steamers engage in actual racing? It was unthinkable that racing would have been acceptable. Therefore officially the answer was always no. The question came up in the inquiry when Captain Lewis, Assistant Marine Superintendent of LSWR at Southampton, was asked:
Had it ever been reported that these boats had raced one against another?
Think Captain Lewis?
I am quite certain.
Have you ever heard from anyone any suggestion of the kind?
Well, I have heard people suppose such a thing.
Did it ever occur to you as necessary to take any notice of what people had supposed?
He and other witnesses also denied knowing that the GWR and LSWR had scheduled their Easter excursion to the same departure and arrival times.
Their attempts to deny racing must have been obvious. Lewis was pressed further:
You know perfectly well, Sir, do you not, that your boats are running in constant competition with the boats of the Great Western Rail Company?
I know nothing of the sort, Sir.
And have never heard it suggested?
Not in competition with them.
Never heard it suggested until you came into Court today: you will not swear to that?
Yes, I think I can.
Very well, if it relieves you to swear it, do.
When the Court delivered its judgement it was not prepared to conclude that the Stella had been racing. But no other reason could be given to explain the reckless actions of Captain Reeks.
The Court concluded that, "When different lines compete to the same port, rivalry will naturally exist", but did not conclude that the Stella had been racing the Great Western boat from Weymouth.
The Court concluded; "…she had not made the course set and that her master had continued at full speed in thick weather when he must have known his vessel was in the immediate neighbourhood of the Casquets, without taking any steps to verify his position". The blame being firmly placed with Captain William Reeks.
|The Stella was one of three ships ordered by The London and South Western Railway Company, and built on the Clyde by the firm of J. G. Thomson. Her sister ships were the Fredericka and Lydia. It was the first time that L.S.W.R. had ordered sister ships as opposed to 'one offs'; and these were the first twin-screwed vessels in their fleet.
|The Stella was launched by a Miss Chisholm on September 16th. 1890. From her keel laying to her trials took a period of just over 9 months. She was a single funnelled steamer, and her triple-expansion engines developed 3774 h.p., giving a top speed of 18 knots. Her length was 253 ft. ,breadth 35 ft. and 1059 gross tonnage. She cost £62,000, and was insured for £30,000 the owners taking the remainder of the risk.
|Over the last eight years John Ovenden, a local sub-aqua filmmaker, has dived the Stella many times. He was part of the team that raised the original steering binnacle. It was a huge project that involved local divers and a marine engineering ship from Trinity House.
The salvage operation, which needed hundreds of hour's work, was run on good will.
The binnacle will be restored and become the centrepiece of an exhibition at the Guernsey Museum.
The wreck of the Stella lies 185 feet down, approximately one mile west of the Casquets rocks. After lying undisturbed on the seabed for 73 years the wreck was discovered by local divers Richard Keen and Fred Shaw.
|Literary Search and Bibliography
|Literary search of sources relating to the Stella disaster
|The newspapers surveyed for
this study were: The Times, the Daily Mail, and the weekly The
Southampton Times and Hampshire Express. Other primary sources
studied were: the Board of Trade Inquiry Report; the Stella Memorial
Souvenir Booklet; the Southampton Borough Treasurers Confidential Report
into the Stella Fund; the London & South Western Railway Company Crew
Lists; texts found in the religious sermons; and the account of a
survivor Marie Bailey, who wrote a short book entitled A Terrible
Experience- significantly Mary Ann Rogers did not feature in this book.
|Most secondary sources on the
Stella disaster are discovered in books with multiple chapters on
shipwrecks. Almost without exception the secondary sources are a
regurgitation of the same 'story', with the same phrases being repeated
and invariably the heroic deeds of Mary Ann Rogers are singled out for
|Richard Mayne's Mail Ships of the Channel Islands (1971, p. 67) outlines the disaster with the added information that Mary Ann Rogers 'gave her lifebelt to a passenger, and refused a place in the lifeboat'. K. C. Barnaby's Some Ship Disasters and the Causes (1968, pp. 194-196) contains good technical information on the causes of the disaster. It also records the 'magnificent discipline' of the crew and makes special mention of stewardess Mrs. Rogers, 'who took off her own life jacket to give to a woman passenger'. Sea Breezes (1983, pp. 534-537) by Rodney Baker and Ian Flemming
is a well-researched book and contains useful information on lifeboat
|Mary Ann Rogers was again
singled out for 'giving up her lifebelt and refusing to enter one of the
boats for fear of swamping it'. One of only two eyewitness
accounts of the 'heroic deeds' is found in Women of the Sea (1962, pp.
221-226) and in chapter 17, 'Greta's Adventure', survivor Greta Williams
tells the harrowing story in her own words. Her lucid account of
Mary Ann Rogers contains details of the stewardess's final words and
actions. The second eye-witness account was that of James
Parton described in The Bravest Deed I Ever Saw (1905) by Alfred H.
|The most recent book is The Wreck of the Stella, Titanic of the Channel Islands (1999) by John Ovenden and David Shayer. This is a serious, thoroughly well researched book published by Guernsey Museums & Galleries. It contains an excellent chapter on the discovery of the wreck with superb underwater photographs.
The heroic deeds of Mary Ann Rogers are covered in detail. Shayer's supporting evidence rests largely on the weight of existing secondary sources. According to Ovenden and Shayer (1999, pp.44-49) 'so many accounts of her actions were given, and all with such consistency that we can visualise her behaviour exactly....'.
But the only quoted primary source is the eyewitness account of survivor James Parton. Nevertheless, this is an excellent book and a must-read for anybody with an interest in the Stella Disaster.
|Newspaper and magazine articles are numerous and tend to recall the more spectacular aspects of the disaster. Typical are The Evening Standard, July 1936 (Great Sea Dramas series); The Sunday Express, 28 June 1964; the Hampshire County Magazine, May 1983 featuring 'Southampton's Easter Tragedy' by Joyce Moore; the Southern Daily Echo, 8 May 1998; and the Jersey Evening Post, 31 March 1998.
Very good articles on the discovery of the wreck appeared in the Jersey Evening Post, 21 Aug 1998 and 17 June 1995; and in Seascape (the Journal of Friends of the Maritime Museum for Jersey). An interesting article in the Southern Daily Echo, 30 March 1985, recalled local businessman Mr. R. Loane Rosoman, who died on the Stella and Southampton roads are named after him.
The Methodist Recorder, 1 April 1999, retold the story of the Reverend Clutterbuck, who led a prayer service on the shelving deck of the Stella quoting survivor James Parton who witnessed the event.
The Liverpool Echo, 13 April 1999, featured an article on the Cathedral's Staircase Window headlined 'Light still shines on disaster heroine'. The Southern Daily Echo, 14 June 1985 included another Stella story under the headline 'Stewardess will be Remembered'.
The Bitterne Historical Society Magazine has featured three recent articles; The Stella Memorial, by Jean Holt; 'A Race to Disaster' by Dr. Graham Wood; and an article on the Postman's Park Memorial by Jim Brown. On 24 January 1992, Commander Cecil Crill, RN, gave a lecture entitled 'The Loss of the Mailboat Stella' to the Friends of the Maritme
Museum. His lecture included the 'full story' of Mary Ann Rogers
and he added that the behaviour of the captain and crew was 'exemplary'.
|Astonishingly, from amongst
the secondary sources mentioned there are only two references to primary
sources as evidence supporting to the heroic deeds of the stewardess:
these originated from two survivors, James Parton and Greta Williams.
|At the time of writing in the
year 2000, the previously listed secondary sources largely make up the
recorded history of the loss of the Stella.
|Bailey, M. (undated) A
Terrible Experience. Riddle, Taylor and Smith, London.
|Barnaby, K. C. (1968) Some Ship Disasters and their Causes. Hutchinson & Co.
|Baxter, R. & Flemming, I. (1983) Sea Breases.
|Couling, D. (1982) Wrecked on the Channel Islands. Stanford Maritime, London.
|Dendy Marshal, C. F. (1936) A History of the Southern Railway. Published by the Southern Railway Company.
|Harris, J. (1993) Private Lives Public Spirit; a Social History of Britain 1870-1914. Oxford University Press.
|Lucking, J. H. (1971) The Great Western at Weymouth. David & Charles, Newton Abbot.
|Mayne, R. (1971) Mail Ships of the Channel Islands. Picton Publishing.
|Miles, A. H. (1905) The Bravest Dead I Ever Saw. Hutchenson & Co.
|Ovendon, J. & Shayer, D. (1999) The Wreck of the Stella: Titanic of the Channel Islands. Guernsey Museums & Galleries, St. Peter Port.
|Rowe, E. (1962) Women of the Sea. Alvin Redman, London.
|(Southampton Borough Treasurers Confidential Report into the Stella Fund 8 May 1905, Southampton City Archives, TC Box 41)
|London & South Western Railway Company Crew Lists. Southampton City Archives.
|Board of Trade Inquiry Report (No. 5894). Southampton Special Collections.
|McNeill, Rev. W. (date unknown) Sermons on 'The Noble Women of the Staircase and Atrium Windows'. Published and Printed by Daily Post Printers, Liverpool. Education Office at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.
|The Stella Memorial Souvenir Booklet. Produced by Annie Bryans. Southampton Special Collections.
|The Times: 31 March 1899- 12 April 1899. Southampton Special Collections.
|The Daily Mail: 31 March 1899- 12 April 1899. Colindale Collection.
|Southampton Times and Hampshire Express- Town and Country Paper. 31 March 1899- 12 April 1899. Southampton Special Collections.
|Jersey Evening Post
|With acknowledgement and thanks to Southampton Library Services; Societe Jersiaise; Marine & Coastguard Agency, Southampton; Jill Nealle, Southampton Cultural Services; Pete Simpkin; Geoff Watts (Friend of Southampton Old Cemetery); Brian King, Merseyguide; Elizabeth Peacey; and special thanks to Mrs. Sue Little, Tessa Davis, and Maurice Allen.
Chronology 1891-1899 General Chronology 1891-1899
|(source- Chronicle of Britain)
|1891 Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles is published.
1891 Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherloch Holmes published in Strand Magazine.
1891 Submarine cable links London to Paris by telephone.
1892 Kier Hardie is the first 'labour' MP.
1893 15 week coal strike; annual strike figures estimated 30 million days lost.
1893 Independent Labour Party founded.
1893 Gladstone's Home Rule Bill defeated.
1893 George Cadbury plans Bourneville model village.
1894 Uganda becomes British protectorate.
1894 Blackpool Tower, Tower Bridge and Manchester ship canal opened.
1894 Kipling's Jungle Book published.
1894 New gases, Argon and Helium discovered.
1895 The Time Machine by H.G. Wells -a great success.
1895 Hardy's Jude the Obscure published and described by the Pall Mall Gazette as 'dirt, drivel, and damnation'.
1895 Oscar Wilde imprisoned.
1895 Wolsely Motors begins car manufacture in Birmingham.
1895 Split in rugby football as some players go professional.
1895 Henry Wood establishes Promenade Concerts
1895 Conservatives sweep to general election victory and joined by 71 Liberal Unionists. Joseph Chamberlain appointed colonial secretary.
1895 National Trust founded to save heritage.
1896 Marconi demonstrates wireless telegraphy on Salisbury Plain.
1896 First moving pictures using the Edison 'Vitascope'.
1896 'Daily Mail' proves to be instant popular success. 'brash and breezy'
(Alfred Harmsworth) modelled along American lines. Unashamed mouthpiece of imperialism.
1896 A. E. Houseman's Shropshire Lad published.
1896 Repeal of the 'Red Flag Act'; speed limit raised from 4 to 20 mph.
1896 Discovery of X-rays.
1897 Automobile Association founded.
1897 The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells published.
1897 Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
1897 Discovery of the electron
1898 Moving Escalator installed at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London.
Electrification of transport
1898 H. G. Well's War of the Worlds published.
1898 Kitchener avenges Gordon at battle of Omdurman
1898 Wilde's Ballard of Reading Goal sold out its first three prints.
1899 Edward Elgar musical celebrant, 'Caractacus' Empire as Chivalric and romantic
1899 Start of Boer War
|A group of rocky islands 8 miles off Alderney. The name is derived from the French cascade, which fittingly describes the tidal races and surges flowing around them. They are a notorious hazard to shipping and the scene of many wrecks.
In 1724 a lighthouse was built consisting of three towers, St Peter, St Thomas and Dungeon lit by coal fires. A conversion to metal reflectors and Argand oil lamps in 1785 was followed in 1818 by the fitting of revolving apparatus. In 1854 the three towers were raised by 30 feet.
Today the main navigational light is 120 feet above sea level, flashes five times every 30 seconds, and can be seen for 17 miles in clear weather. The fog signal gives two blasts every 60 seconds
In the Second World War, when 7 German Keepers manned the lighthouse, the British raided it. The Keepers offered no resistance and were taken back to England.
14 year old Benin Arnold was travelling on the Stella with his mother, Emilie, and 11 year old brother Claude.
As the ship went down his mother fixed Benin's football onto his coat lapel, in addition to a lifebelt. The family became part of a group stranded on the rapidly sinking ship. Benin went into the water, and was sucked down by the sinking ship. Being a good swimmer and aided by his football he was able to swim to the surface, and eventually craw onto the upturned port-side lifeboat, where he joined 13 other survivors.
He did not see his mother or brother again.
Some hours later, a freak wave righted the lifeboat and 12 of the original survivors managed to climb in; four of these died of exposure during the night. The remaining eight, including Benin, were rescued by a French naval tug (Marsouin). They had spent 27 hours either in the sea or in the flooded lifeboat.
Benin later studied engineering at Jesus College, Cambridge; served in WW1;
worked as an engineer; and then as a teacher at Bradford College near
Reading. He eventually moved to Alderney, where he died in 1955
|At the time of his death the Rev Clutterbuck was serving at the church at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. He had recently returned from missionary work in Bombay, and was travelling to Guernsey to speak at the annual missionary meeting at Delisle chapel.
As the Stella went down, the Rev Clutterbuck without thought of saving himself did all in his power to assist others to escape, and in the final moments was seen kneeling on deck with many passengers around him leading them in prayer.
Following the disaster an appeal was organised by the 'Methodist Recorder', supported by Rev. Hugh Price Hughes to raise money for Mrs Clutterbuck, and her two children.
At the same time the Wesleyan Book Room offered its entire stock of Mr Clutterbucks published works at a discount, hoping to sell them without any deduction whatsoever to increase the fund for the Clutterbuck family.
In 1999, Shoreham-by-sea church designated the 28th. March as Clutterbuck Sunday.
|Mr & Mrs Leon Audoin and their two children were reported in The Times (7 April 1899) to have drowned, but they are not mentioned in the Official List of Passengers Lost. According to The Times, the family were noticed on board the Stella, and also seen to enter a small collapsible boat, but nothing was subsequently heard of them. Mr Audoin was foreman of the fondant department of Tom Smith and Co. confectioery works, Finsbury, and a much respected servant of the firm. He was a native of Jersey, and left London on Thursday morning to spend Easter with his relatives. Their bodies were never found. However, there is an inscription on the family headstone located at Almorah Cemetery, St Helier.
The inscription reads: To the memory of Leon A. Audoin and of Rosina M. Gaillie his wife and their two young children who were lost on the Stella March 30th. 1899.
|The Rosoman family Memorial is located in the cemetery of Peartree Church, Southampton. It bears the inscription:-
Richard Robert Loane Rosoman
Who was drowned
In the "Stella" disaster
Off the Casquet Rocks
March 30th. 1899
Aged 72 years
Richard Rosoman was travelling to Guernsey to visit his son Henry, who ran a local horticultural business.
En-route he was acting as chaperon to a Miss Elizebeth Vokes, who was also drowned in the disaster.
|Henry offered £25 reward for the recovery of his father's body. Describing Mr Rosoman as 5 feet 4 inches tall; grey beard; mole on right cheek; dressed in blue cloth; and under linen marked R. Rosoman. The body was never found.
Rosoman lived at Highlands, Woolston, and today two local roads bear his name, Loane Road, and Rosoman Road.
During his life he had held important posts including Chairman of both the District Council, and the South Stoneham Union Board of Guardians, responsible for the Workhouse. He had served the South Stoneham Board for 16 years, and the previous May they had staged a retirement dinner for him at the South Western Hotel, Southampton.
|The Southampton Times and Hampshire Express, 15 April 1899, reported that the Mayor's fund had risen to £2,500 and the South Western directors had made a generous grant of £3000. Locally funds were raised in a variety of ways. These included staging plays; producing lantern shows; giving lectures at the Hartley; and a performance by Lilly Langtree.
According to The Times, 5 April 1899, the Globe Photographic Company of
Southampton raised money for the appeal by selling 500 portrait copies
of the 'heroic Captain Reeks'. On 8 April, The Times reported that the
total number of descendants stood at 14 widows, 40 orphans, 8
dependants. The Mayor's Fund was not without controversy. Within six
years, the disaster fund had dwindled to around £1000. A private and
confidential report was compiled by the Southampton Borough Treasurer
and presented to the Finance Committee on 6 March 1905. Total receipts
had amounted to £13,480 and to date £12,401 had been paid out. The
report was critical of the fund's administration. It found that the
vouchers for payment had been destroyed and proper records had not been
|There was confusion over
cheques, some of which had been paid to names not in the Particulars
book. Vacation allowances and postage expenses could not be verified.
There was lack of clarity over payments made to orphanages including
those of the Glover children. However, details confirmed that Glover's
second wife in Jersey was drawing a payment of £3-5-0 per month
(Southampton Borough Treasurers Confidential Report into the Stella Fund
8 May 1905, Southampton City Archives, TC Box 41).
According to an article by John Hoskins in the Echo 5 June 2008, Alfred Dyer, who administered the fund, was charged with embezzlement, and appeared before the bench at the Hampshire Assizes in 1905.
The barrister accused Dyer of shamefully manipulating the system by altering cheques by changing 'order' to 'bearer' and adding a list of fictitious people. He subsequently cashed the cheques to pay himself. Dyer, a father of eight pleaded that being Mayor's secretary had been an intolerable financial burden. "It gave me considerable promise", he lamented, "but it also involved me in expenditure which I could not really attribute to business".
|Two photographs of a clock and plaque. According to the plaque the clock was salved from the SS Stella.
|From Maurice Allen
Thanks for your talk on the SS Stella the other day; it was well worth listening to. I do agree that to understand historical events you sometimes have to try to look at it from the values and circumstances of the time. This is especially true of this shipwreck and the part played by Mary Ann Rogers. They needed a heroine to ease the pain of such a tragedy that perhaps could have been avoided with a little more care.
My great-grandfather, John Allen, drowned when the cross channel vessel 'Normandy' sank in 1870; which is one of the reasons that I have been interested in the 'Stella'.
I hope I'm not telling you something that you already know, but I think it is likely that Ada Preston and Mary Rogers had known each other for some time, as they lived nearby when the Preston family were at 74 Derby Road, (1891+) before moving to 37 Radcliffe Road.
This may have been part of the reason that Ada was recruited for the crew. They probably accompanied each other to the ship on that day. Incidentally, Captain Reeks lived about two minutes walk away, round the corner from Mary Ann Rodgers in Oxford Avenue. Charles Reeks who I'm pretty sure is his brother and who also worked for the L&SWR, lived almost opposite Mary Rodgers at 68 Clovelly Road has gone. The name of Frome Cottage (no 45 Clovelly Road) may have been painted over; I wish I could scrape it away to make sure!
Wear, 21 May 03
|As a musician I am always on
the lookout for old music. I found several pieces that were sung by and
indeed the lyrics of which were written by Florence Attenborough who had
the pseudonym Chrystabel. As a poet she wrote a poem, entitled The
Splendid Lost, about the loss of the Stella and sent it to the Mayor of
Southampton so he could publish it and gain some money for the Stella
Fund. The Mayor had the poem published and sent a letter headed the
Stella Fund and a copy of the paper that published the poem. I found the
letter and the poem in amongst the music I brought. I was interested to
find out more hence I found your site.
Dixon, 30 March 03
|I've just been reading your
fascinating account of the shipwreck of the Stella on the internet. My
great grandfather Nathaniel Dixon was one of the passengers who died. He
was an accountant founder of the city firm of Dixon Wilson and Tubbs.
Family legend has it that he didn't try to save himself, also that one
of his daughters Ruth was saved from the wreck- she isn't on the list of
passengers saved passengers I see. If you have any further information
on this or could direct me to resources I would be grateful. sadly there
are no family records to consult though I do remember my aunt possessed
newspaper obituaries of Nathaniel Dixon,
|From Marcos, 21
|My name is Marcos, and I am a
Spanish of 30 years old. I live in the town of Marín, in the region of
Galicia, in the northwestern corner of Spain. My interest in the sinking
of the Stella is related to one of the passengers lost, W. Plummer of
Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He was the father of one of the Evangelical
missionaries, from the Open Brethren or Christian Brethren assemblies,
who worked in my own town for years, Miss Jessie Plummer, later Mrs.
Rhodes. I have read your acount of the sinking and I remember having
found advertised in an evangelical magazine of 1899 or maybe 1900 a
booklet called "The Lose of the Stella". I will try to get you a righter
name in a next e mail if you are interested. Marcos
Peacey, 21 September 03
I have just read your "Alternative View" on the Stella website. Mary Ann
Rogers was my great grandmother's sister. The family story handed down
is that she did give up her lifebelt to one of the passengers. This, of
course, may have been started by the newspaper reports. Whether the
words she is supposed to have said are true I don't know. But as a
family member I like to believe she was a very heroic lady. I can still
remember my great grandmother, who died in 1941, and so I still feel
quite close to that generation. I must say it rather hurt to read your
cynical review of the death of my Aunt and it seemed belittling of her
heroism, although I can see where you're coming from.
Regards Elizabeth Peacey
|From Tara Doel,
Southampton. 9 November 2003
|Please excuse the intrusion
however I have just stumbled on your wonderful website after doing a
blanket search on Henerietta Doel (my husbands Grandmother) - I was very
interested in the story of Thomas Glover as he falls into the family
tree I have compiled as Henrietta's brother in law. It seems that the
whole family were involved in the maritime industry as Henrietta's and
Rosina Bella's father was also a master mariner. Henrietta Doel's sons,
Charles Olive (from her 1st marriage) and Frederick Doel were both on
the Titanic - Charles perished however Frederick survived -so it seems
that tragedy seemed to follow this family.
I also had a relative who was a crew member on the Stella - William
Philip Harwood (my great grandfathers brother) from Guernsey, apparently
as story goes after he was rescued he went to his brother Arthur's house
and when he took off his hat, all his hair fell out through the shock!
Kind regards, Tara Doel
Share, 28 January 2004
|There is a commemorative
tablet in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Colaba, Mumbai (Bombay) which
reads: To the memory of the Rev. G W Clutterbuck, first Minister of this
church 1886-1890 who laboured with uniting energy & devotion for the
establishment of Wesleyan Methodism in Bombay. The courage &
self-sacrifice which marked his life were conspicuous in his dying hour.
He perished in the wreck of the SS Stella near the Channel Islands March
30th 1899. Perhaps this is of interest. I attended the church in the
1950's. Thank you for your web site.
Regards, Thomas Share
Callaghan, 9 February 2004
|I was most interested to read
the letter from Tara Doel dated 9th November 2003 I too am a distant
relative of both Thomas Glover & Frederick Doel. Would it be possible
for Tara to email me, I may be able to provide her with additional
information, as would Sue Little who is the granddaughter of Thomas
Glover. We are all related in one way or another.
My kind regards to you from
Nigel Callaghan 1st Cousin twice removed of Thomas Glover
Audoin, 30 April 2004
|Dear Mr Simpkin,
According to my father, all of his father's family perished in the
Stella tragedy. My granfather was spared as illness prevented him from
travelling with his parents and siblings. Your excellent site makes no
mention of this. I would be interested in your comments.
Yours sincerely David Audoin
Thank you for your email and your kind comments on my Stella Website.
It's wonderful to hear from you. You are right there is no mention of
the Audoin family. It's strange that although the family were reported
as lost, they are not mentioned in the Board of Trade Inquiry List of
Lost Passengers. I have tried to work form primary sources, therefore
quoted the official list. Isn't life strange to think that because your
grandfather was ill at Easter 1899 you are alive today! If you return to
the Passengers Lost Page, I have entered some information on the Audoin
Milner, 4 July 2004
In the1901 census I was surprised to find two of my grandmother’s
brothers in the Commercial Travellers School for Orphans and Necessitous
Children. I have wondered since, why I couldn’t find a death record for
their father. The London Metropolitan Archives actually have the old
school registers and matron’s ‘monthly reports’. I was allowed to
inspect these sad, detailed ledgers of orphans now long gone, and there
were my two Westwick boys, complete with reason for father’s death:
‘drowned in “Stella” 1899’. I hurried home and couldn’t believe how
easily I found your excellent SS Stella website. My great grandfather,
Thomas Browne Westwick, was aged 43. He was a ‘distiller’s agent’
presumably travelling on business, and left a wife and seven orphans,
including a nine week old baby. Was there any compensation? Apart from
the baby (who perhaps did not reach adulthood, or I should have known
him) and another brother who was gassed in WW1, they all lived to a good
age. Mrs Westwick remarried in 1900. Can’t understand why I never heard
this interesting story from my grandmother (who brought me up, after my
own father died when I was 4). In ‘family history’ one can go for many
months finding no answers to puzzles, but then a great day like this,
that more than makes up for it! Thanks very much.
Best wishes to you and all your readers.
| Follow-up from Pauline Milner 3 April 2013
| Dear Jake, since mailing you 2004 re.SS Stella and my great grandad Thomas Westwick, I learned that he and young Claude Arnold were the first bodies to be found - by Alderney breakwater(The Standard, April 3rd 1899) Also, the baby at home did live to adulthood, joining the army 1914,aged 15, stating he was 17+10 months. Sent home for hospital treatment, August,1915, his family claimed his discharge with birth cert!Good to see ongoing interest in your Stella web page.
Dixon, 13 September 2004
|I hope you don't mind but I
noticed that on your website (which is very well constructed by the way)
that one of the passengers killed was an N Dixon and that his
great-Grandson (Adrian Dixon) had been in contact. I know this is a long
shot but I am researching my family history and my great great
grandfather is from Guernsey (his name was Arthur E Dixon) and I'm
trying to track any family from there. If at all possible do you have
Adrian Dixon's e-mail or if he reads this could he tell me if he knows
anything of his familys roots and if they were from the Channel islands.
Regards Steve Dixon
Marlow, 23 July 04
|I am a great grandson of The
Rev G W Clutterbuck, who went down with the Stella and who is mentioned
in your site. From the point of view of my families' history I would be
interested to know whether his widow and offspring were in receipt of
any of the compensation fund.
You might be in a position to clear up a family legend, which suggested
that the captain's actions were confused by excessive alcohol
consumption and that the loss of life would not have been so great had
he not gone astern after original strike left the vessel impaled. Had
the vessel remained where she originally struck they could probably have
successfully launched all the boats.
Regards, Robin Marlow
The compensation fund raised by Southampton's Town Mayor was for the
dependants of the crew. Regarding the passengers, it was probably up to
their families to sue the LSWR. Indeed, forty such actions were brought
against the Company by bereaved families seeking compensation.
In the case of Mrs Clutterbuck, and her two children, an appeal was
organised by the 'Methodist Recorder', supported by Rev. Hugh Price
Hughes. At the same time the Wesleyan Book Room offered its entire stock
of Mr Clutterbucks published works at a discount, hoping to sell them
without any deduction whatsoever to raise money for the Clutterbuck
As for the captain's actions being confused by excessive alcohol
consumption, I have not found evidence to support this. Reasons for
sinking are explained on the Stella website.
Davis, 2 January 2005
|My gt-gt-uncle was Edward
Benjamin Tanner who was third engineer on the Stella. He is remembered
on his wife's tombstone in Hill Lane Cemetery. He was actually buried in
St Valery, France. His wife Henrietta predeceased him by one year, thus
leaving their three daughters orphaned. I believe it was his eldest
daughter's 12th birthday the weekend of the tragedy - she signed my
great-aunt's 'birthday book'.
Edward was born 1857 in Melbourne St, but the family lived for many
years in Northumberland Road. He married Henrietta Jane Curtis in 1886.
She was the daughter of a marine engineer. Edward's father Benjamin was
a boilermaker, becoming a foreman, and was very active in the
Freemasons. Edward was also a freemason, but I don't know if that was an
important activity to him. Their three daughters were Henrietta (Hetty)
born 1887, Rose 1890, and Florence 1894.
In 1881 he was on a ship at Jersey, so I presume he knew the route to
the Channel Islands well. A number of things are unclear to me, without
some considerable research. Firstly I'm not sure of his role in the
disaster, for instance whether he was he even on duty. I also wonder how
it was that his body could be identified, perhaps he was in uniform when
found. I'm also curious what became of the daughters. In 1901 they were
living with his sister. We have found a possible marriage of Rose Tanner
and Walter Penny in 1914. I don't know what happened to the other girls
Henrietta and Florence.
Regards, Tessa Davis
Thank you for this interesting letter regarding your gt-gt-uncle Edward
Benjamin Tanner. I have featured your information on a new webpage,
including the photographs you sent me of Edward and his daughter Rose.
Maskell, 5 January 2005
|My wife Mother says that Her
Mother Lizzie Linda Howe was on the Stella when it went down. She was a
Ladies Maid to a Lady Monkton who was already in Guernsey and she was
going over to join her but there is no mention of her on any list. Can
Regards, Graham Maskell
I have not found the name Lizzie Linda Howe on any passenger list
either. However, not all names are listed, because the Passenger List
went down with the ship, and was lost.
Keppie, 13 February 2005
I have just looked at the 'Stella' website, and found that a Mr. J.
Keppie was one of the passengers lost. Do you know anything more about
him please? Most of my family came from Edinburgh, and one of my
cousins, Jim Keppie, has done extensive research. We would be very
grateful for any information you may have.
Let's hope somebody out there reads this, and can throw some light on
Mr. J. Keppie.
Staines, 6 October 2005
|Dear Jake - it may be of
interest to record the Christian names of one of the survivors:
E.A.Staines of Shepperton, who gave eye witness reports to the press; he
was Edward Arundel Staines and subsequently ran an estate agency in
Bexhill-on-sea, from which he retired in 1938, dying in 1944; he was my
grandfather. I suspect he was one of those in the ship's dinghy when
rescued by the Lynx. Best wishes, Michael Staines
Jones, Sidcup, Kent, 28 August 2006
|My interest in the sinking of
the 'Stella' has been triggered off by a Victorian Scrapbook, I recently
found at a Boot Fair.
In it, there is a magazine picture of a well dressed young man aged, I
would guess, around 14 years, seated and holding a football. The caption
reads 'The Boy who was saved from the Stella wreck by a football'. The
photograph was taken by Grut. Copyright by Banks and Co.
Who was he and did a football really save his life?
The boy you are referring to is 14 year old Bening Arnold. He was
travelling on the 'Stella' with his mother, Emilie, and 11 year old
As the ship went down his mother fixed Bening's football onto his coat
lapel, in addition to a lifebelt. The family became part of a group
stranded on the rapidly sinking ship. Bening went into the water, and
was sucked down by the sinking ship. Being a good swimmer and aided by
his football he was able to swim to the surface, and eventually craw
onto the upturned port-side lifeboat, where he joined 13 other
survivors. He did not see his mother or brother again.
Some hours later, a freak wave righted the lifeboat and 12 of the
original survivors managed to climb in; four of these died of exposure
during the night. The remaining eight, including Bening, were rescued by
a French naval tug (Marsouin). They had spent 27 hours either in the sea
or in the flooded lifeboat.
Bening later studied engineering at Jesus College, Cambridge; served in
WW1; worked as an engineer; and then as a teacher at Bradford College
near Reading. He eventually moved to Alderney, where he died in 1955.
Phillips, 27 Septenber 2006
I thought you might like to know that descendants of Bening Arnold are
still around, and tracing the family history.
I would be interested in a copy of the photo from the Victorian
Scrapbook if it could be arranged.
Firmin, Peartree, Southampton. 27 September 2006
|Dear Mr. Simpkin
I am the Vicar of Pear Tree and stumbled upon your (excellent) web site
whilst looking up one Richard Robert Loane Rosoman late of Highlands in
this Parish who perished in the SS Stella.
I am sure you are aware we have two memorials to Mr. Rosoman, one
inside the church being a brass plate and one as part of the Grade 2
listed Rosoman memorial in the churchyard – both bear testimony to the
At present I am putting together a proposal to the PCC to apply to a
Landfill Tax trust to the end of obtaining a grant to set up a Maritime
History and Nature trail around this very special churchyard.
Our links with Stella, Titanic, Nelson, Napoleon, Oglethorpe
Expedition, Vospers, Supermarine, Clausentum, Jane Austen, Richard
Parker etc etc etc are clear testimony to Pear Tree & Itchen’s links to
|Dear Rev Firmin,
Thank you for your email. As a result I have added a Rosoman page to the
As a local historian I am aware of Peartree churchyard, and its
remarkable historic connections especially with the sea. I think your
proposal is first class. Such a history and nature trail would be a
wonderful asset for local schools and prove a great resource to
community. I wish you every success.
Lyon-Maris 06 March 2007
Just to add more information, the passenger Mr Morgan who died on the
Stella was called Frederick Morgan born 25.11.1859; who's wifeAmelia
died two weeks earlier. Their son (my Great-Grandfather) was threemonths
old when his Father died. Frederick was travelling to Guernsey to see a
cousin who was a fruit grower on the Island. Hope that is useful.
|From Peter J W
Blackwood, 07 August 2007
|"S S Stella Disaster" I was
interested to come across your website on the above. My family history
records that my grand mother Ethel Maude Blackwood nee Moon (Born 1874)
survived the sinking of the S.S Stella when the ship ran aground on
rocks between the Auquiere and the Black Rocks (The Casquets) in 1899.
She was travelling with Alderman John Collier, a former Mayor of
Godalming, his son Edward and her brother Reginald Moon. She was the
only survivor of her party. Although her name does not appear amongst
the list of survivors the rest of her party are recorded as being lost.
(Initials of Mr Collier and her Brother Reginald are different. i.e. E
Collier and H Moon). Is it possible for her name to be added to the list
of survivors ? I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely Peter
J W Blackwood.
|Dear Mr Blackwood,
You are absolutely right. The Board of Trade issued another list on 2nd.
June 1899. I have amended the list accordingly. Thank you for pointing
this out to me. Ovenden & Shayer's (see bibliography) have done some
valuable research on the Godalming group see pg 41.
Stacey, 10 January 2008
|Would it be possible to be put
in touch with Robin Marlow who has an email (04) on this site re his
Grandfather Rev Clutterbuck? I am a Methodist historian in Rutland,
where Clutterbuck ministered 1891-3. Many thanks for the excellent
history Margaret Stacey
I'm afraid I don't have Robin Marlow's contact details. About 2 years
ago I installed a new computer, and was over zealous clearing the hard
drive of my old computer, and consequently, lost Robin's details. I have
posted a note on his email of 23 July 04. Hopefully, he refers back to
site sometimes and will pick it up.
Murray, 3 February 2008
|Information re Edward Wolfe
Murray is found on a memorial plaque on the North Wall of the Antichapel
at Balliol College, University of Oxford, " Edward Wolfe Murray Second
son of the late TJ Murray and of Lady Elliott Lost in the wreck of the
Stella (off the Casquets), nobly striving to save others rather than
himself. 30 March 1899, aged 22." It appears that Edward's father Thomas
James Murray, was the eldest son of Rev. John Edward Murray of the
Edenderry parish. I believe Rev. John Edward Murray was a brother to
Thomas Richard Murray.
Regards, David Murray
Walker 4 January 2009
|Hello, I'm afraid this is
somewhat a round about request. I live in an old Victorian house in
Springfield Road in Kingston upon Thames, which was owned by Nathaniel
Dixon and lived in by him, his family, mother in law and servant. I
adore my home and have been trying to piece together the story of its
previous owners and how it ultimately came to be mine. I have become
stuck after Nathaniel Dixon died in the SS Stella disaster, I have no
idea what happened to the family, if they stayed in the house or if it
was sold on. I noticed that a member of Nathaniel Dixon's family posted
on this site and I was hoping and wondering if anyone knew what happened
to the Dixon family and if they stayed on in Kingston. I have some
information on Nathaniel's daughter Ruth and son James, and know that
they were still in London, but not associated with the Kingston address
in the 1901 census. Completely co-incidentally I actually lived for some
years very near to the Mary Ann Rogers memorial in Southampton, and i'm
surprised and touched to find that very different periods of my life are
in fact now linked. Thank you and very kind regards,
Holmes 31 January 2009
I have been reading with fascination the information on your site about
the SS Stella. The Miss Weetman on the saved passengers list was my
great great aunt. How she came to be taking the trip, aged 28, is a
mystery at present. A young woman of great independance, she was
training to be a doctor we understand, and was an associate of many
notable women of the time, including some involved in the suffragette
movement. After the ship sank, we know that she spent some considerable
time in the water which resulted in lasting damage to her mental
faculties. She lived out her days being cared for by her sister and
brother in law in an annexe of their house in Suffolk constructed
especially for her. Any information about her or any other passengers
who suffered long term problems as a result of the experience would be
Regards and thank you Jenny Holmes
Taylor 20 September 2009
|Re Stella Disaster
I would be so pleased if you could enlighten me. In some old paper
documents from my deceased parents, we have found a certificate from the
British Key and Property Registry Ltd. It states that £2,500 (cashed)
was paid to the representatives of PH Davies, GH Eldridge, Arthur
Thompson, Frederick Agnew, and RH Moon. in payment of claims in
connection with the disaster. We are a Wiltshire based family, but I
cannot remember this event ever being mentioned by anyone, and none of
the names is familiar, so I can't think how this document came to us. I
wonder if you have any thoughts on the matter, so that I can start
searching for a connection.
Regards Brenda Taylor
That's fascinating, and many thanks for the information. The 5 people
mentioned drowned as a result of the SS Stella disaster. One can assume
£500 was paid out for each death. Five hundred pounds was a
considerable sum of money in those days, when workers earned around £1
per week. Although, at the time, the difference between rich and poor
was enormous. On the surface it sounds like insurance payouts. Is it
possible that one of your family had a connection with the British Key
and Property Registry Ltd?
Plummer 03 November 2009
|I am a great-grandson of
William Plummer who was a passenger who drowned on this ship. No one in
the family is sure why he was travelling on this ship and whether he was
travelling alone. I am interested to know if anyone else has come across
his name in their own research. I notice that Marco from Spain contacted
you in 2003 about William Plummer. I was wondering if you are still in
contact with him, and if you could put him in touch with me.
Yours, Richard Plummer
Thank you for your email. It's wonderful to make contact with the
great-grandson of William Plummer. Unfortunately, I no longer have
Marco's email address. However, let's hope somebody out there can throw
some light this.
|From a reader
30th December 2010
I have a clock which, according to the plaque beneath it, was salved
from the SS Stella. I can't date the clock but the plaque is positively
late Victorian. Do you know whether anyone went to the bother of faking
such a thing?
My personal opinion is that the ship went down far too quickly for
anyone to save anything from it – let alone unscrew a clock and lug it
through the crashing waves. However the plaque itself is undoubtedly
Victorian so could not have been contemporary with the more recent dives
to the ship. Could it be that the clock was intended for the ship but
it sunk before it could be fitted? Or was it at the menders when the
It’s a bit of a mystery. Let's hope someone out there knows the answer.
Best regards, Jake
|From Neil 22
I came across your site while researching a crewman who survived the
sinking of the SS Stella. His name was Isaac Balmunen (formerly Isakki
Ruselovi, also known as Isakki Balmunen). He was a naturalised British
citizen originally from the province of Karelia which was then Russia,
but is now split between Russia and Finland. You have him listed as J.
Balmunen. He went on to serve with the Mercantile Marine during WW1.
My interest stems from the fact that MANY years ago I bought a British
campaign medal that was awarded to him after the war. Thanks for
posting such a well-researched (and very readable!) article on the
Stella. Would you happen to know what sources might mention Balmunen?
Would you know whether he provided any evidence to the Court of
Thanks in advance,
Thank you for this interesting story. It never ceases to amaze me where
th Stella trail leads.
To find out if he gave evidence in the Inquiry you will have to
read the Inquiry Report held at the Public Record Office.