The Maritime History of the Great Lakes

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The following is as accurate an account of the loss of the schooner Speedy in his Majesty's service on Lake Ontario, as we have been able to collect: -.

The Speedy, Captain Paxton, left this port (York) on Sunday evening the 7th of October last, with a moderate breeze from the N.W. for Presque Isle, and was descried off that island on the Monday following before dark, where preparations were made for the reception of the passengers, but the wind coming around from the N.E. blew with such violence as to render it impossible for her to enter the harbor, and very shortly after she disappeared. A large fire was then kindled on shore, as a guide to the vessel during the night, but she has not since been seen or heard of, and it is with the most painful sensations, we have to say, we fear it is totally lost. Enquiry we understand, has been made at almost every port on the Lake, but without effect; and no intelligence respecting the fate of this unfortunate vessel could be obtained; it is therefore generally concluded that she has either upset or foundered.

It is also reported by respectable authority, that several articles, such as the compass box, hen-coop and mast, known to have belonged to this vessel, have been picked up on the opposite side of the lake.

The passengers on board the ill-fated Speedy, as near as we can recollect, were Mr. Justice Cochrane; Robert J.D. Gray, Esq., Solicitor General, and Member of the House of Assembly; Angus M'Donell, Esq., Advocate, also a Member of the House of Assembly; Mr. Jacob Herchmer, merchant; Mr. John Stegmann, surveyor; Mr. George Cowan, Indian interpreter; James Ruggles, Esq.; Mr. Anderson, Student in the Law; Mr. John Fisk, High Constable, all of this place. The above named gentlemen were proceeding to the District of Newcastle, in order to hold the Circuit, and for the trial of an Indian (also on board the Speedy) indicted for the murder of John Sharp, late of the Queen's Rangers. It is also reported, but we cannot vouch for its authenticity, that exclusive of the above passengers, there were on board two other persons, one in the service of Mr. Justice Cochrane, and the other in that of the Solicitor General; as also two children of parents whose indigent circumstances necessitated them to travel by land.

The crew of the Speedy, it is said, consisted of five seamen (three of whom have left large families), exclusive of Capt. Paxton, who also had a very large family. The total number of souls on board the Speedy is computed to be about twenty.

A more distressing and melancholy event has not occurred to this place for many years - nor does it often happen that such a number of persons of respectibility are collected in the same vessel. - Not less than nine widows and we know not how many children, have to lament the loss of their husbands and fathers, who alas, have, perhaps in the course of a few minutes, met with a watery grave!

It is somewhat remarkable, that this is the third or fourth accident of a similar nature within these few years - the cause of which appears worthy the attention and investigation of persons conversant in the art of shipbuilding.

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3 Nov 1804
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  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.4995 Longitude: -81.69541
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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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