20.10.1998 Contribution by Nick Hough, Birkenhead:
"Several years ago I did a little research into the ship which my great-grandfather was master of around the late 1880s. The ship was the Embleton. I looked up the Lloyd's registers for the late 1880s in Liverpool Central Library and found the following information.
The Embleton was owned by P Iredale & Son of Mersey Chambers, Old Church Yard, Liverpool
My notes are rather less clear when it comes to the masters of the Embleton, but I believe my great-grandfather, Frank Parker Bennett, was the master of this vessel sometime between 1885 and 1890. He was certainly credited as the master in the Lloyd's Register covering 1889-1890. We are pretty sure he was the master in 1889 as he had taken my great grandmother with him and she gave birth to my grandfather James Stanley Bennett in 1889, the birth being registered at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.
Frank Parker Bennett is listed in the Gore's Directories of 1887-1889 as a master mariner living in the West Derby area of Liverpool. He was reputedly to have been the youngest master of a sailing vessel at that time. We are not sure whether this was just in Liverpool or wider.
The Embleton had several masters after that, and the ship was owned then by P Iredale & Porter.
1892 - 1893 : P Feegan 1893 - 1894 : V Murphy 1896 - 1897 : D P Gronow 1899 - 1900 : A Hasler
Only recently did we discover the fate of the Embleton. My parents had bought a book, "An Illustrated Everyday History Of Liverpool & Merseyside" which reproduced sections of the Gore's directories "Annals", a collection of interesting news type items from the 1700s to the second world war. My father spotted an entry for July 21st 1900 which read as follows. "During a dense fog, when about 26 miles north-east of Tuskar, the inward bound Campania collided with the Liverpool Barque Embleton in which the Embleton sank, eleven lives being lost".
Extract from the Cunard Archives, held at Liverpool University, update of 13th August 1996
"The Campania was launched on 8 September 1892 by Lady Burns, wife of the Chairman of Cunard. After trials in off Skelmorlie it made its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 22 April 1893. The return voyage saw the Campania set a new record passage from New York to Queenstown in a time of 5 days 17 hours and 27 minutes. In June 1893 the record passage from Liverpool to New York was also beaten. It was not until 1898 that the Norddeutscher Lloyd ship, Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, took all the Atlantic records and the Blue Riband.
In July 1900 the Campania was involved in a serious collision at sea. Whilst returning from New York it ran into thick fog 207 miles west of Queenstown. It reached Roches Point, outside Queenstown, but had to wait for the fog to lift before attempting to enter the harbour. On the morning of 21 July the Campania collided with a Liverpool registered barque, the Embleton, and sliced clean through it. The forward half of the sailing ship sank instantly and the aft part swung around and damaged the Campania's starboard side. Lifeboats were only able to save 7 of the Embleton's crew of 18. The Campania reached the Mersey without any further incident and set sail for New York again on 28 July."
THE LOSS OF THE EMBLETON by T. W. HERDMAN PORTER, B.M., B.Ch. (Nephew of John Porter)
Shiplovers’ Society of Victoria.
No. 19, the 1962 edition of the Dog Watch, carried on page 40 a small annotation In the effect that on 23rd July 1900, the iron barque Embleton, 1233 tons, owned by Iredale & Porter, of Liverpool, was struck amidships and cut clean in two by the Cunard liner Campania during a thick fog in the Irish Channel The Embleton sank immediately and seven only were saved.
"This disaster occurred some years before I was born, but was still a talking-point for my family when I was old enough to listen and remember the full story, told with many embellishments by my uncle, John Porter, of Greenisland, Belfast, Northern Ireland, who was the son-in-law of Peter Iredale and his partner in the firm.
About the end of the last century the barque sailed from Liverpool with a general cargo for Auckland, and when she was inward bound from New York she ran into a thick fog off Point Lynas and was cut in two by the liner. The Cunard Co. was sued for damages for negligence and judgement was given against them in the Admiralty Court. They appealed, the defence being that the Campania was sailing at the very lowest speed at which she could maintain steerage way. The case went to the House of Lords, where the Appeals Court upheld the judgement of the lower court, and it was there laid down that sailing ships had used and had the right of the seas from time immemorial and if people built vessels which could not navigate in safety without endangering other vessels in fog, they must stop or take the consequences.
Such were the facts, and it is here that unvouched-for ‘trimmings’ have crept in as the story was passed on in the family. It was said that the case for the Embleton was almost lost until my uncle received an anonymous letter advising him to instruct his counsel to ask the captain of the Campania to inform the Court who was the look-out man at the forepeak of the liner at the time of the collision. The captain asked, and obtained the Court’s permission to consult the log for the relevant time, and was then horrified to have to admit that a long-shore-man, who had been signed on at the last minute to replace a member of the crew who had become sick in New York had unfortunately been given this very responsible duty. Needless to say he was not considered a person suitably qualified to act as look-out on any ship in a fog. let alone a Cunard liner!
At this point, the Cunard Co. decided to dispute responsibility no longer and offered settlement in full. One of those saved was the Negro cook of the Embleton and this gentleman promptly put in a claim for two gold watches and eight pairs of braces, stating that the gold watches were the property of his two grandfathers and the braces were to have been presents for his rapidly expanding family of boys! The claims were allowed in full on the advice of the presiding Registrar, who remarked that if they were to start enquiring into the ancestry and family of a Negro cook they would sitting for a month! I do not know the exact figure for the final settlement, but I believe it was considered a very high one I those days."