The Coastguard Cutter Vol2 No1

January 2004
Vol. 2 - No.1.

The "Lady Margaret"

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Buncrana C.G. Station
Officers house and 4 cottages erected by the Crown in 1871. Ground for flagstaff, lease 1865

Lease surrendered 1920.


Best Wishes to the IRCG


I would be glad to receive any coastguard information, stories or general snippets and pass it on in to our readers.



Soldiers Punishment. Many officers believed that flogging was necessary to enforce discipline. Flogging in peacetime was abolished in 1868 and, in war 1880.

At the time of the Indian Mutiny, 1857, British troops were nicknamed 'bloody backs' by the Sepoys from the prevalence of this punishment.


Six cottages of 4 rooms each. Store-room with watch-room over and boat-house built by the Crown in 1871.



On the 23-10-1838 the Liverpool brig LADY CHARLOTTE was wrecked on the Dromadda rocks at the west entrance to Long Island. The captain and eight crew were lost. One man was saved by the coastguard under Henry Baldwin when he was washed onto the rocks and became attached by his handkerchief to some sharp points on the rocks.The wreck was extensively salvaged. The coastguard salved $36,000 in silver plate.


Dear Friend,

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to the January '04 edition of  "The Coastguard Cutter".

Twelve months ago the Coastguard Cutter, 'The Lady Margaret', started her tour around the coasts of Ireland to bring snippets of Coastguard interest to our readers. We start a New Year hoping to continue our quest .Many thanks to our readers who have contributed welcome items of interest to add to our knowledge of those bygone years.

Also, very pleasing and surprising, was the interest shown in this site by serving members around the coast of the new Irish Coast Guard Service. Wishing all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.


Time spent at a Station

The average time for a man to remain on one Station was between three or four years, the strict rule of the service being that it should not exceed five in any circumstances. Where it was possible, and provided the man’s conduct did not call for a particularly disadvantageous spot for his appointment , every effort was made to interchange men from "forward" to "backward" stations - that is good and bad – and vice versa in order to give the men some chance of comfort and also to provide for the education of the children. The general test of a good station in fact was what chance it gave to the kiddies to go to school. (1)


Two reprimands would entail dismissal from the service but there would be few punishments for minor offences. There could be 'discharge by purchase' but, as the cost of maintaining the service and training the men was expensive, this could also be made expensive and would cost the Coastguard £50. One loophole in this was that a Coastguard who wanted to leave could commit offences sufficient to get two reprimands and thus got out of the service without paying £50.In order to prevent collusion with the smuggling fraternity, coastguards were forbidden to engage in any form of trade. They were not allowed to own or possess a share in any public house or shop or to possess a boat. (2)

Minor offences committed by coastguards were met with the following punishments.

A; confinement to quarters when not on duty.

B; extra duty or reprimand.

C; Fined. Fines were appropriated to the support of the compassionate fund.

Serious offences such as drunkenness, sleeping on board, absence from guard, absence without leave. Normally the punishment issued for such offences were.

A; deprivation of good conduct badges.

B; reduction in pay,

C; stoppage of pay.

But offences of a grave nature ie; working with smugglers resulted in,

A; discharge from coastguard service,

B; imprisonment,

C; removal to another station.

In 1857, at the age of 15, with parents consent, he agreed to enter 'Her Majesty's Navy for a period of 'Ten Years Continuous and General Service'. The muster of his first ship, the Princess Royal, on which he was to spend the next 3 years in the Mediterranean as a Boy 1st.Class, describes him as being 5ft.3ins.tall, with green eyes, a fresh complexion and reddish hair. Although conditions of service were being steadily improved and men were no longer pressed into service, desertions were still causing concern (some 1,200 in 1875, were not deterred by the prospect of 4 dozen lashes and a term of imprisonment if caught) the continuing harsh discipline may well have been one of the reasons why many deserted.

Despite the run-down of the Navy following the Crimean War, the Princess Royal was three months getting a crew together of doubtful quality which resulted in more punishment floggings than on any other ship. The captain was asked to resign and a more lenient one appointed, but flogging continued to be reported in the log at regular intervals. When the ship was caught in a storm the seamen refused to go aloft and had it not been for the officers may well have floundered. As a punishment, the Commander-in-Chief relegated the ship to trooping duties which kept it at sea when other ships were in harbour. No doubt John Henry would rather have started his Naval career on a happier ship, but it would not appear to have done him any harm as his conduct was Very Good throughout his service and Not Stained at its conclusion.

After an eventful number of years at sea he transferred to Coastguard duty in Ireland.

'Napoleon and the English smugglers, Part 2' 

In the
Christmas edition we gave you Napoleon's favourable comments on English smugglers.

Here is a different view.

In spite of Napoleons comments to their honesty there were a number of cases in which they fell very short of these ideals. There were reported instances of smugglers taking a fee to effect the escape of a French prisoner-of-war and then , when they had reached the coast, handing him over to the authorities and claiming a reward. One smuggler, entrusted with a cargo of English guineas to take to France, reported that he had been chased by a Revenue cruiser and had been forced to jettison the bags of guineas into the sea. The owner was suspicious and employed divers to go down to the area where the guineas had been jettisoned. They found the bags on the sea-bed but when they were brought up and opened they contained only pebbles. As it was an illegal operation in the first place the owner was powerless to take any further action except to warn others against the smuggler. This apparently did not worry him unduly for he had suddenly come into money with which he bought property and became a respectable land-owner and lord of the manor. Of his sons, one became a magistrate and another a parson.

References :
  1. ‘His Majesty’s Coastguard’ by Frank Bowen
  2. "Coastguard" by William Webb.
  3. George Paul 26/2/2003.
  4. "The Victorian Soldier" by David Nalson
  5. "Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast"Vol.1 by Edward J.Bourke

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