Coastguard Monetary Awards


Coastguard monetary awards for lifesaving

Roger Willoughby, PhD

During on-going research into awards of medals for lifesaving in Ireland, it has been interesting to come across other non-medal awards to people for similar bravery, such awards including certificates, watches, telescopes, silver plate and perhaps most often various amounts of money. The Board of Trade Wreck Returns during several years of the nineteenth-century recorded such awards around the coasts, including quite a few to Coastguards. The following are some of those gained by coastguards around Ireland:

Dennis Connor and Nicholas Sinnott, coastguards at Curracloe, awarded £2 each from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund for bravery on 5 April 1858 in saving the life of one of the crew of the Iris and attempting to save another who was endeavouring to swim ashore. The Iris had stranded near the Curracloe Coastguard Station. (Parliamentary Papers, 1859, Vol. 25, p. 585).

James McCarthy and Thomas Morgan (Coastguards) and Felix, John, Francis and Henry Redmond (Fishermen) were each awarded £2 from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund, while John Skinner (Coastguard), James Cunningham, William Mason and James Scott (Labourers) received 10s each for services connected with the wreck of the Bellone [sometimes noted as the Bellona]. The schooner Bellone, of Belfast, was driven ashore on the Bar of Dundrum, Co Down, in a heavy gale. The first six men mentioned put off in a fishing boat on 17 January 1862 to render assistance, but when within a few yards of the vessel the boat was struck by a heavy sea and was swamped. The men only escaped drowning by the boat drifting into calmer water, where they were rescued by the four last mentioned men, who put off in another boat for that purpose. The crew of the schooner was lost, excepting one man, who was taken off by the Tyrella lifeboat. (Parliamentary Papers, 1863, Vol. 63, p. 223).

Philip Smith and ten other men (Coastguard and villagers) were awarded 10s from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund for putting off in a yawl on 20 October 1862 and rescuing by means of lines three men who had gone off to the wreck of the Industry, of Padstow, (stranded in Ballycroneen Bay the previous day) for the purpose of stripping her, and who in consequence of their boat having become entangled in the rigging and sunk, were without means of reaching the shore. (Parliamentary Papers, 1863, Vol. 63, p. 235).

On 3 December 1863 the Providence, of Coleraine, was off Warren Point, Co Antrim, in a disabled state having lost spars, etc. While there, four coastguards and five fishermen went out to assist and succeeded in boarding her. After they had done this, a storm arose and the vessel drifted on shore and broke up. Three of the crew, two fishermen and Coastguard John Winter were drowned. Coastguards Henry Naunder, Daniel Hallahan and James Prout each received £2 and the widow of Winter was awarded £30 from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund, while fishermen Jacob Robb, James Martin and (another) James Martin received £2 each, with £30 going to the widow and three children of John Hamill. (Parliamentary Papers, 1864, Vol. 55, p. 484).

Coastguards Peter Jenkins, John Stockley, George Sullivan and Thomas Coghlan, from Ballyhalbert Coastguard Station, were awarded £2 each from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund for putting off in their boat on 9 January 1864 and rescuing the crew of the stranded vessel Countess of Morley. (Parliamentary Papers, 1864, Vol. 55, p. 493). These same coastguards later received a further 10s each from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund for launching at great risk a small boat on 6 March 1864 and going to the rescue of the crew of the smack Emily, of Llanelli, who had taken refuge on Burr Island, their vessel having foundered. (Parliamentary Papers, 1864, Vol. 55, p. 494).

On 11 January 1864 during a heavy gale a fishing boat belonging to Portstewart, failing to gain the harbour, was being driven out to sea, when she was observed by Chief Boatman John Aiken (Portstewart CG Station) and several fishermen on the shore. Together they manned a boat and went to the rescue and succeeded in bringing back the vessel and crew in safety. Aiken was awarded £2 and Alex Frizzle, Randal McDonald, William McKirgan, and James and John Turbott (fishermen) each received £1 from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund. (Parliamentary Papers, 1864, Vol. 55, p. 493).

Joseph Mountstephens and Frederick Gray (Coastguards), together with John Morrison and eight other fishermen of Ballywalter, Co Down were awarded £1 each from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund for putting off in two shore boats on 17 January 1864 and rescuing the crew of six from the rigging of the Daniel Webster, of Belfast, which had been driven onto the rocks off Ballywalter during a strong gale. (Parliamentary Papers, 1864, Vol. 55, p. 493).

Coastguard Boatmen James Clancey and John Renowden, of Poor Head CG Station, were awarded £2 each for service on 14 May 1864 when the barque Orient, of Liverpool, went on shore about 25 miles from Cork Harbour. The crew were landed by the rocket apparatus, with the exception of two who preferred landing in one of the barque’s boats. On nearing the shore the boat was swamped and driving onto the rocks, broke up. The two men it it would have drowned but for Clancey and Renowden, who at the risk of their own lives, succeeded in rescuing them. (Parliamentary Papers, 1864, Vol. 55, p. 494).

William Davis (Chief Boatman in Charge), Timothy McHyam (Commissioned Boatman), Richard Desmond (Commissioned Boatman) and James Boyle (fisherman) were each awarded £2 from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund for putting off in a boat in 17 December 1863 at great risk and rescuing the passengers and crew (126 in number) of the Grassmere, of Liverpool, wrecked one mile east of Ballyferis Point. (Parliamentary Papers, 1865, Vol. 50, p. 1092).

James Fitzpatrick (Chief Boatman), James Peters (Commissioned Boatman), Michael Markey (Commissioned Boatman), Thomas Connor, Thomas Woodley and John White (Boatmen), of Balbriggan CG Station were awarded £1 each for rescuing on 29 October 1865 the crew of five men from the smack Royal Highlander, of Campletown, which stranded during a heavy gale from the south-east. The coastguards made three attempts and were driven back each time to leeward of the smack, but were successful at the fourth attempt. The Royal Highlander broke up soon afterwards. (Parliamentary Papers, 1867, Vol. 64, p. 431).

David Ahearn, William McNamara, William Brooks, William Roberts, and Thomas Sweeney (Coastguards from Kinsale CG Station) were awarded 10s each for putting off in their galley on 29 December 1865 during a heavy gale and rescuing the master and crew of the barque Lidia F, of Genoa, which was stranded at the entrance to Roberts Cove, Co Cork. (Parliamentary Papers, 1867, Vol. 64, p. 436).

On 11 September 1867, William Blissenden, Chief Officer at Roddens Coastguard Station, assisted in saving the survivors of the yacht Tanya. She was owned and sailed by Captain Knowles, 63rd Regiment, and while en route from Greenock to Dublin, ran into stormy weather and struck the Skullmartin Rock, off Ballywalter, and afterwards sunk. The passengers and crew clung to the rigging but during the night Knowles, his wife, child and a maid were washed off and drowned. The three crew had managed to cling to the mast during the night and were seen at daylight by the lookout at Roddens Coastguard Station. Blissenden and his men launched their boat and succeeded in bringing the three survivors to shore. Blissenden, Com Boatman W Betts, Com Boatman John Alcorn, Boatman James Colter, Boatman Joseph Harris, Boatman Patrick Cooper, and Boatman William Widdecombe were awarded £1 each for their conduct by the Board of Trade. (Parliamentary Papers, 1867-68, Vol. 63, p. 510).

William Terrible (Chief Boatman in Charge) and Michael Regan (Commissioned Boatman) were each awarded £2 10s from the Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund, with £2 each going to Charles Thompson, James Tiltman and William Tritten (Boatmen), of Castletown CG Station, Co Cork, for their gallantry on 12 February 1874 in putting off in their boat during a heavy sea and saving the two survivors of the crew of the wrecked ship Cardross, of Greenock. (Parliamentary Papers, 1875, Vol. 70, p. 489).

On 8 September 1868 the Curracloe lifeboat put off to a vessel in distress and was capsized. Four men out of the crew of six were drowned. The Board of Trade Mercantile Marine Fund made awards of £2 to each of the survivors, John Regan and Edward Conway; while the widow of Chief Officer of the Curracloe Coastguard Richard Flynn was awarded £30, with a further £40 being divided between his eight children; £30 was granted to the widow of Chief Boatman Joseph Randall and a further £15 to be divided between his three children; £25 went to the widow of Commissioned Boatman William Smith, with £20 to be divided between his four children; and £25 went to the widow of Boatman Samuel Jenkins and £20 was to be divided between his four children. (Parliamentary Papers, 1868-69, Vol. 65, p. 750).

Dr Willoughby can be contacted through his website:

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