“Ship on Fire” 1849

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This letter was sent from a small town across the bay from Ardglass in County Down. Here it received a fine dumb mark KILLOUGH with two arcs in green, probably on 20th December, the date of the letter. This type of undated postmark did not have authority for its use from the PMG, except later in Scotland.

The letter was charged at the penny rate per ½oz. indicated by the large manuscript “1” in red (prepaid) on the face.  The letter was carried to Clough, also County Down where a dated double arc mark was struck in blue, both to the face and to the reverse: CLOUGH / DE21 / 1849 / E.  Addressed to London, the letter would have continued by road to Belfast for the journey by the Packet to Liverpool. A single ring London arrival mark was applied to the face in red G / PAID / DE22 / 1849 / A, probably at the Chief Office in St Martin’s Le Grand. Apparently the office of the addressee, the “Life Preservation Society” could not be located and the letter was returned as undeliverable to the delivery office where a London Tombstone mark was applied in red J /PAID / 23 DE 23 / 1849. A very indistinct Inspectors Mark was applied to the face of the letter in the form of a large "L" in a circle all in red ink (located just above the "d" in "London"). The envelope received a timed and dated delivery tracking  mark once the address of the recipient had been established, and this is in the shape of a small hamburger struck in red on the reverse on Christmas Eve:                                

10 FN 10 / DE24 / 1849

unusually with Code M in the bottom frame line.

Codes in the range A to E are more common but clearly other letters are in use, and seem to be assigned to an individual post man.  

10 FN 10 = 10 o’clock in the fore noon.

The presumed loss of the Garland of Lynn was not reported by Hopkins nor Hoggarth and Gwynne, so it can be assumed that no mail was recovered from the wreck.


Transcription of Contents

                                                                                                                                                20th December 1849


                  I beg leave through you to state to the humane Society that on the night of Wednesday the 19th Inst, about 9 O’clock P.M. Captain Thomas Gilpan, Master of the Don Juan of Dundalk, when about six miles N. West from Ardglass in the County Down, he and his crew discovered a light by computation about a Mile & ½ distant.  The Don Juan being under single reefed sails bore down on the light, discovered it to be a Ship on fire, he shook reefe out of the topsails  and made all the prefs of sail he could to the burning Vefsell, He ran along the starboard side of the burning Vefsell, but seeing no person on board, but the Vefsell all on flames, he then hauled his Vefsell by the Wind.  With a light hoisted expecting that the Crew of the burning Vefsell would be making towards the land , hearing distrefsing Cries he bore down and saw a Boat right a head, which proved to be the Crew of the burning Vefsell.  Captain Gilpan’s Vefsell was then in a perilous Condition from her ballast shifting and her lying on her beam ends, but at great risque succeeded in getting all of the Crew of the burning Vefsell on board of his, consisting of six in number, the burning Vefsell proved to be the Brig Garland of Lynn, Norfolk laden with a general cargo from Liverpool to Venice & Alexandria, Thomas W. Thompson, Master & Robt Walker, Mate.