4th December 1897

A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall

When Onesimus Dorey bought the 365-ton Rose of Devon in late November 1897, he dispatched a crew of eight from Guernsey to bring it home. They took on another crew member once they reached Plymouth, bringing the total to nine, intending to sail it to Dorey’s mooring at North Pier. But they never arrived.

They had set out on 26 November, when the Channel Islands, much of the mainland’s south coast, and the channel itself, were being lashed by high winds. It was too much for the crew to cope with, and the Rose of Devon was driven onto the rocks at Port Reath, Cornwall. Everyone onboard was drowned.

The first Dorey knew of it was on the 29th November when he received two telegrams. The first told of bodies washed up on the shore, and a suspicion that they might have come from his ship. The second was the confirmation he no doubt hoped would never arrive.

Six bodies washed ashore at St Agnes and Illogan, but seemingly nobody knew what to do with them. They were stored in sheds without being chilled, so by the time of the funeral on 4 December, nine days after they’d died, they would have been in a poor state.

Cornwall burial

One of the bodies, William Loveridge, was returned to Guernsey for burial, but the other five were interred in Cornwall. The service took place at Mount Hawke, a village that stands just over two and a half miles from where two of the bodies had washed ashore at St Agnes.

Two hundred mourners attended and sang O God, Our Help in Ages Past as the five coffins were lowered into the ground. The fact that the church was on high ground and gave everyone a clear view of the sea would no doubt have focused their minds on the mens’ fate. The other three crew members’ bodies were never recovered.

However, there was good news for two Guernsey families – or partial good news, at least. Two of the Guernsey crew had absconded before the Rose of Devon had set sail and been replaced by two men hired locally. Thus, they survived its sinking, although only one chose to return to Guernsey following his lucky escape.

Dorey, the owner of the Rose of Devon, also owned SS Rossgull, a steamship that sank exactly three years and one day later.

 

FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.

 

Other events that occured in December

French fishing boats prepare to invade 1st
Two cargo ships collide on their way to Guernsey 2nd
Guernseyman Herbert Le Patourel wrongly thought killed 3rd
A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall 4th
Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked 5th
The Guernsey Tapestry is completed 6th
Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway 7th
Naftel’s paintings go on display 8th
Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge 9th
Sark holds its first election 10th
Beau Sejour opens for business 11th
Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon 12th
Explorer Edmund Kennedy is speared to death 13th
Author Mary Ann Shaffer is born
Herm bribery case comes to court 14th
Alderney’s evacuees return to their island 15th
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva 16th
Castle Cornet surrenders to Guernsey 17th
Telex, phones and telegram cables go quiet 18th
Guernsey shipwreck results in starvation 19th
Channel Islands Securities Exchange founded 20th
G-COBO has a bumpy flight 21st
Guernsey struck by an earthquake 22nd
William Hedley Cliff buys Jethou 23rd
Wombles author Liza Beresford dies 24th
Asterix is discovered in St Peter Port harbour 25th
Guille and Alles lease the Assembly Rooms 26th
The Red Cross saves Guernsey from starvation 27th
Operation Hardtack targets the Channel Islands 28th
Ebenezer Le Page author GB Edwards dies 29th
Castle Cornet is struck by lightning 30th
Guernsey Police makes the world’s first underwater arrest 31st