The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 19, 1851

Full Text

p.2 The funeral of the late Mrs. Gaskin, will take place this day (Tuesday) at 5 o'clock P.M., from the residence of Capt. R. Gaskin, in Wellington Street. (drowned in yachting accident)


Yesterday at half-past nine o'clock, A.M., the Coroner's Inquest was resumed at the City Hall. A great many witnesses were examined, and at 12 o'clock, the Jury was charged by the Coroner. After some deliberation, the following verdict was recorded, viz.: "That the deceased (Edward Proby and Mary Youldon) came to their death by drowning, caused by the foundering of the boat Jeanette, on the 14th August, instant, on which they were aboard; and the Jury are further of opinion, unanimously, that Yachts of the description of the Jeanette are unfit for pleasure excursions." There was but little discrepancy in the evidence; a great many witnesses were examined, but the public will be satisfied with the record of the testimony of four only.

Henry Johnston, Sworn - Was a Musician on board the sailing boat Jeanette, on the 14th August; left Kingston 1/4 past ten o'clock; Hiram Hitchcock was the Sailing Master; there were about thirty ladies and gentlemen on board; among others was a little boy named Proby, and a young woman named Youlden; about 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the boat was proceeding to French Creek, about half a mile or three quarters below Long Island; at this time a squall struck the boat, she careened over, became unmanageable and then went down stern foremost in about three or four minutes after the squall struck her; this happened in about twenty feet of water; saved himself by clinging to the mast; the sail on the vessel at the time was a single reefed mainsail and a jib; the sails were large, and in the opinion of the witness, too large; six or seven other persons clung to the same mast as the witness; two boats came from Long Island to the rescue of those in the water, and saved all the persons who were saved; none swam ashore; about 15 or 20 minutes elapsed between the time of the capsize, and the approach of the boats; one boat, the smaller, came first; Mr. Hitchcock had the management of the boat at the time of the accident; the persons on board the boat were sober at the time of the accident; is not much acquainted with the sailing of boats; at the time of the accident, the boat was sailing with a free sheet, and took the wind abeam from the south channel of the St. Lawrence when the shore of Long Island was left, the wind coming strongly down the river struck the vessel abeam, and before her head could be got round the vessel capsized; could the mainsail have been lowered in time the vessel would have righted; does not know how the bodies of the drowned were recovered; they were brought up to Kingston in the United States Steamer Niagara, and witness helped to bring the body of the boy to his home; remained on shore at the foot of Long Island till the steamer arrived; it was quite dark at the time.

Adjourned until Monday, August 18th, at the same place, at 9 o'clock A.M.

Monday, 9 o'clock A.M.

Alex. Phillips, sworn - Knew the deceased, Edward Proby, and Mary Youlden; was present at the time of the accident, on the afternoon of the 14th of August; was on board the Jeanette - was of opinion that the not righting of the vessel was occasioned by the shifting of the ballast; is acquainted with the management of sailing vessels; was of opinion that the vessel was overmasted, over sparred and over sailed, sails too large; was of opinion that there was no negligence on the part of those who managed the vessel at the time of the accident; when the vessel was attempted to be luffed up, she did not answer her helm; the jib sheet could not be let go, the cleat being under water - the easing away of the main sheet was proper in the opinion of witness; there were six persons on board the boat besides Mr. Hiram Hitchcock, who had experience in the management of sailing of vessels, and capable of sailing a vessel; all the persons on board the vessel were sober at the time of the accident. The loss of life of the ladies on board was occasioned by their all being in the cockpit at the time the vessel went over and sunk; did not see any of them rise; the stem of the vessel sunk a few minutes after the stern, and the mast remained about five or six feet above the water; nobody was paying any particular attention to the management of the vessel at the time of the accident save Mr. Hitchcock; recollects seeing Mr. Jenkins attending to the main sheet; considers the Jeanette a safe vessel and capable of carrying all the persons she had on board; was properly ballasted for a party of pleasure.

Simon Johnson, Sworn - Built the Jeannette; is a little over 19 tons burden; considers her as safe a vessel - a yacht, as any vessel on the river; was not over masted, over sparred, or over sailed, considering for what she was intended; saw her on the morning of the 14th, considers the ballast on board proper; considers that 35 people on board would be too great a number, would render her unmanageable; as a sailing yacht carrying 5 or 6 persons, she would be perfectly safe; is acquainted with sailing vessels; the ballast in her was about half a ton of iron, and the rest about 8 tons of gravel.

Daniel Lynch, Sworn - Knows the Jeanette and saw her on the afternoon of the day she left Kingston, with the company on board; considers her a safe vessel, and thinks her capable of carrying thirty-five persons on board in moderate weather, such as the weather of that day; was over masted and over sparred for heavy weather, unless the sails were reefed; was properly masted and sparred for a yacht in good weather, and in bad weather her sails could be reefed; was on board the Prince of Wales next morning, when she went down to the wreck; the vessel lay in her direct and proper course in the channel to French Creek; assisted to recover the bodies and picked up four ladies under the lee bow of the vessel; the loss of life was occasioned by the confusion caused by the number of women on board, & their crowding together; the weather was fine when the vessel left Kingston; does not think that weather or wind was too rough on the day of the accident, not sufficient to cause her loss; attributes it to the women being scared and rendering the men unable to manage her; does not think it imprudent to have ventured down the river in the Jeanette, with 35 people on board, on such a day as that of the 14th inst.

It would appear that much credit is due to Mr. McSurly for the promptitude of his conduct on this melancholy occasion. On learning the extent of the accident, he took the deck load off his schooner, the Tom Dick, and went down in her, accompanied by Messrs. Channonhouse, Mr. McMillan and others, to the place where the accident occurred, and worked with a will for many hours. Four soldiers of the Garrison in the Commissariat Boat - also rendered great assistance, as did the Master and Crew of an American Schooner, then lying at the foot of Long Island. The extent of the services rendered by these kind people, and also by many others, whose names we have not learned, we hope will be enquired into by the City Authorities, and proper notice taken thereof. Of the persons drowned, two bodies only remain unrecovered, viz. those of Messrs. Grist and Thorne.

The Funeral of the late Mrs. Gaskin, will take place this day (Tuesday) at five o'clock p.m., from the residence of Capt. R. Gaskin, in Wellington street.

Welland Canal Break - The Welland Canal has not been navigable since Friday last - the American schooner Monsoon having carried away three gates of lock no. 7. About 80 vessels are now lying above this lock awaiting its repair. - It is all right now.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Aug. 19, 1851
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Rick Neilson
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 19, 1851