The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 20 Jan 1902

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British Frigate Sunk In Kingston Harbor.

Some time ago, reference was made to the British frigate St. Lawrence, the remains of which lie in the harbor near the malt house, and about Capt. T.J. Craig having procured from the hull of the wreck a couple of pieces of oak which he sent to Dr. James H. Richardson, Toronto, whose father acted as pilot on the frigate, which was commanded by Sir James Yeo.

In a letter to Capt. Craig, Dr. Richardson says: "My grandfather sailed under Rodney in 1782, in the Rammilies, at the depot of the French fleet under De Grasse, and was wrecked in the terrible gale which destroyed so many British vessels of war and merchandise. He was captured and sent a prisoner of war to France, and, when released, came to Canada in 1785. He was stationed at Carleton Island, opposite Cape Vincent, N.Y., then the rendezvous of both naval and military British forces. When Carleton Island was surrendered to the Americans, he removed to Kingston, where my father was born in 1791. At the breaking out of the war in1812, my father was a lieutenant in the Provincial navy. On the arrival of Sir James Yeo, of the royal navy, with 500 officers and men, the provincial navy was superceded, but as none of Sir James Yeo's men knew the navigation of Lake Ontario, two provincial officers, Lieut. Smith and my father, were retained with rank of masters, but really to act as pilots to the fleet. In the spring of 1814 my father had to lead the fleet in the "Wolfe" into the harbor of Oswego, and there lost his arm by a cannon ball, afterwards having it amputated at the shoulder joint. When the frigate St. Lawrence was about to cruise up the lake he volunteered to pilot her and was accepted by Sir James Yeo with eagerness.

The St. Lawrence was built at the dockyard at Point Frederick, my grandfather being master builder. In the memorandum left by my father, he says that the St. Lawrence when she first sailed out with her complement of men, arms and stores, cost the British nation upwards of 800,000 Pds. (four million dollars). She made two trips to Niagara in the fall of 1814, but never met the enemy, as the American commodore Chauncey prudently avoided an encounter. When the war terminated, the frigate was dismantled, roofed over with rough boards and moored off Point Frederick where I saw her when I was a boy. Ultimately she was sold, under the hammer, for a trifle, and after having been stripped, the hull was towed out to where you found it. My father's memo states that the frigate had 110 guns and drew twenty-three feet of water.

The memorandum also refers to other vessels, built at Kingston, as follows: Though the fighting terminated with the war, the shipbuilding did not, for the British government were so considerate as to frame the English dockyards, and forward in the frame (perhaps deeming ship timber a rare material in Canada) two frigates, of thirty-six guns each, one of which, the Psyche, was sent to Kingston, set up, finished, and fitted out in the spring of 1815, besides two other large ships, of 120 guns each, which were framed and partly planked during the summer, and afterwards left to rot on the stocks."

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20 Jan 1902
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 20 Jan 1902