The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Montreal Gazette (Montreal, QC), July 13, 1842

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p.2 On Monday, the Coroner of the District held an Inquisition at Lachine, but over whose body or bodies we have not been able to discover from the proceedings reported in the Herald of yesterday, though it must have been over one or more of the unfortunate persons who lost their lives by the explosion of the engine of the Shamrock, on Saturday, and of which we have given ample details, in as far as they have reached us. One of the witnesses examined before the Coroner and Jury, was Thomas Halliman, Captain of the Shamrock, who, in addition to the particulars we gave on Monday, deposed that, when the accident took place, there was no more than the usual quantity of steam on the engine, which was estimated by two weights, which rose when the steam escaped. He had gone from the deck to the cabin only ten or fifteen minutes minutes before the accident took place, and had that morning paid more attention than usual to the engine room. He saw the boiler tried about fifteen minutes before the explosion, and the first intimation he had of it was by the breaking of the sky-light, and the rushing in of the water. On going on deck, he saw the barge with passengers full of water, and gave all the assistance in his power to save the passengers. The machinery of the Shamrock was in good order, to the best of his, Captain Halliman's, belief, being new, and never condemned, that he heard of. The boiler leaked a little when the steam was off, but not to any extent; but the leak could in no way affect its safety. The bursting of the boiler was, in his opinion, purely accidental; the first engineer, who is a steady sober man, being on the watch at the time. Indeed negligence could not be imputed to any one on board. The deponent only saved the waistcoat, shirt, and trousers which he had on at the time of the accident.

Thomas B. Benedict, the engineer, confirmed the evidence of Captain Halliman. He had a boy under him, but never entrusted him to any extent with the working of the engine. On the first trip which the boat made, he perceived a defect in the guide of the safety-valve-lever, which he remedied. About two minutes before the accident took place, he examined the boiler and found the water to be above the third cock, at which time the engine was working satisfactorily. He was standing near the cylinder when the accident took place, with his back towards the boiler. When the explosion took place, he turned round, and saw smoke and fragments of the vessel, which began to settle at the bow, whereupon he rushed to the promenade deck. He has been an engineer for four years, and he considered that the engine of the Shamrock was a good one. The accident was purely accidental, in his opinion. According to the directions of the builders of the engine, he was allowed to carry eighty-five pounds of steam; and at the time of the accident, there were not more than seventy pounds of steam.

James Phelan, a sailor on board, deposed that he had been on board of a Government steamer for four years, and he had never seen a more attentive engineer than the one on board of the Shamrock, nor did he ever see a better regulated boat. He could not account for the cause of the accident.

Mr. James Ross gave the following testimony:- "I am one of the proprietors of the steamer Shamrock, which we purchased from the Niagara Dock Company this spring for 2250 Pds. currency - so far as regards the safety of the engine, we considered the boat good, though she did not make so much speed as we wished, in consequence of the engine leaking. The Dock Company warranted the boat and engine for three months, and the warranty has not yet expired. They approved of the engineer, and we were perfectly satisfied with him. The hands on board appeared respectable persons."

Several other witnesses were examined, after which the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death." We are glad to learn, that the Coroner and the proprietors of the Shamrock are making every exertion to procure the bodies of the deceased passengers, who will be decently buried after an inquest is held over them.

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July 13, 1842
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Montreal Gazette (Montreal, QC), July 13, 1842