Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Nancy's Last Freight: Schooner Days MCCLXXIV (1274)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 23 Jun 1956
Full Text
Nancy's Last Freight
Schooner Days MCCLXXIV (1274)

by C. H. J. Snider

The NANCY's Story - 12

THE NANCY'S owners received £3,948 5s or almost $20,000 for the ship and her war services in her last three seasons. Two round trips from Detroit to Fort Erie in 1812 brought them £500. They had £2,200 for the loss of the vessel. And for service as a transport and man-of-war they received £1,243.5s. They had paid all expenses and wages. The Nancy was 25 years old when destroyed, and still sound. She had cost about £1,200 to build and equip. The compensation for the ship her services was not exorbitant. The same admiralty which paid it appraised the Scorpion and the Tigress, two smaller vessels at $16,000.

The schooner's last cargo - which went up in smoke and down in hissing embers in the Nottawasaga River on August 14, 1814 - consisted of 157 barrels of flour, 143 barrels of pork, and six 280 lb. barrels of salt. The flour barrels held 196 lbs. each, the pork barrels 200 to 208 lbs., seventy-five of them the heavier weight. All this was for the garrison of Glengarries and Royal Newfoundlanders holding the beleaguered fort at Mackinac, the the key to the west.

Sixteen hundred and eighty pounds of salt are a lot of grains to take this with, but it was a very precious item in the cargo. The garrison may have got too much of it in the salt pork, but they needed more to preserve the fish and game with which they eked out their rations. Fresh meat will not "keep" in August.

Flour was worth $25 a barrel at Mackinac. Salt was worth $25 a bushel in the black market, for it was savagely controlled in Canada, though there was then and there is now enough salt under the town of Goderich to serve the continent.


When we got the Nancy up in 1927, the bottom of the hold was filled with charred pig bones and fragments of barrelstaves, heads and hoops. There were also metal catches in great numbers, which could not be identified until we we found in the invoice "200 stocks and clasps," part of the garrison uniform. These metal catches were the clasps which fastened the neck cloth.

In her last cargo were also 210 pairs of shoes for the garrison, three large cases, and 24 sides of leather for uppers and 16 sides of sole leather, and 350 lbs. of tallow candles in seven boxes. In our time of pushbutton light we have forgotten what candlepower means. A hundred and fifty years ago the tallow candle was both lamp and lantern for sailor and soldier.

These hits of information about the Nancy's last cargo come from a receipt and invoice signed by Lieut. Miller Worsley, R.N., Aug. 2, 1814, when he arrived at the Nottawasaga River and took the schooner over as a man-of-war. Among the other items lost, with the Nancy when she was destroyed just twelve days later were these for which F. Sampson, Assistant Surgeon to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, had brought is his official equipment in addition to his personal belongings and baggage: Surgical instruments, £10: medical books valued at £20: liquors, £27 /3s; groceries, £24/10s. He indented it for £81/10s. for the loss of these alleviations of the hardships of wilderness service.

This proportion of liquor to groceries in the assistant surgeon's comforts recalls the alleged dying words of a tough old veteran as the surgeon bent over him to catch his last message: "Closer, closer still with yir mooth, dochter! Yir breath's very refreshin'"

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
23 Jun 1956
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
Richard Palmer
Creative Commons licence
by [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
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.


Nancy's Last Freight: Schooner Days MCCLXXIV (1274)