The Coastguard Cutter Vol5 No5

The Coastguard Cutter
"The Lady Margaret"

May 2007
Vol. 5 - No. 5

Dear Friend,


It was long believed in Naval services that strict discipline was essential to keeping crews in order. Nowadays former punishments seem to have been extreme and un-necessary.

A  V.C. Medal at a cost.     1854

During the Crimean War, a Royal Navy Quartermaster, William Thomas Rickard, volunteered to go ashore with the Captain of HMS Weser, plus three other volunteers to set fire to stores of grain destined for the garrison at Sebestopol. They boated and walked through enemy territory and set the stores ablaze. They hurried back to thie boat under intense fire from pursuing Cossacks. One of the men became exhausted in deep mud. William went back, extricated the man from the mud and carried him on his back to the boat. They made their escape and returned to HMS Weser. William Rickard, already the holder of a Good Conduct Medal, imbibed too freely after the announcement was made that he and his Commander had been awarded the V.C., lost his G.C.M. and was demoted to Able-seaman. Such was discipline at the time. He later became Chief Coastguard Officer at Ryde Station on the Isle of Wight.

The Victoria Cross (V.C.) for valour, was the first medal that was awarded to all ranks, until then, only Officers were nominated for Medal awards.


There is a more detailed account of the above story on the site, which will become available after the site relaunch (see site News>>)


Coastguard Officers Misconduct. 1841.

Brighton – An investigation has just taken place at the Black Rock Coast Guard station, near Brighton, into some alleged misconduct on the part of Lieutenant Newnham, of the Black Rock station, and Lieutenant Prior, of the Greenway station. We understand the circumstances to be as follows :-

The two Lieutenants have lately received orders to remove to Ireland – a proceeding which, owing to the more onerous duties required in the sister country, is looked upon in the service in the light of a punishment. The reason for the change was therefore saught, and the two officers learned that they had been reported by Captain Marsh, Inspecting Commander of the district, for absence from duty and insubordination. They immediately demanded of the Coast Guard authorities an investigation into their conduct; and, in consequence, a commission was issued by the Comptroller-General of Customs, according to the rules of the service, directing Commander Pilkington, Inspecting-Commander of the Littlehampton district, with two lieutenants from the same station, to investigate the case. A court was accordingly opened for the purpose on Wednesday, and the investigation lasted five days, terminating on Monday evening, but the decision will not be known till it has been approved by the higher authorities. (1)

Flogging in the Navy.  1864.

The flogging returns for the Navy show that out of a total of 55,782 men and boys liable to corporal punishment, there was during the year 941 punishments of that description. The total number of lashes inflicted was 31,692. The number of men and boys flogged pursuant to sentence of court martial was 71 : the number of lashes inflicted being 3,366 – the highest number of lashes being 48, the lowest 6. In some ships the number of persons flogged during the year seems very high. Thus in the ‘Odin’ 27 individuals received 774 lashes. In the ‘Neptune’ 25 received 796 lashes, in the ‘Mars’ 22 received 762 lashes, in the ‘Bacchante’ 20 received 816 lashes, in the ‘Imperious’ 16 received 762 lashes, in the ‘Queen’ 16 received 676 lashes, in the ‘Pioneer’ 15 received 582 lashes, in the ‘Majestic’ 15 received 468 lashes, and in the ‘London’ 15 received 540 lashes.

In most cases offence was drunkenness and theft or both combined. Desertion, insubordination and smuggling appear numerous in the return. (3)


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.

A Warning. 1862.

Regulations left no doubt about the responsibilities of District Commanders who were ‘distinctly to understand that they were held responsible for any smuggling transactions which took place within the limits of their guards’.

‘The Comptroller-General directs that Officers and men be publicly informed that a list will in future be kept of every person serving at a station within which a run took place and that no such officer or man will be considered eligible for promotion or entitled to any mark of indulgence or favour’.

Records of the Cornish Coastguard show that this was no slight threat. All promotion was stopped in the Fowey division after a number of smuggling runs.

Ill-treatment of Sailors.  1870.

A few days since  a ship named ‘Hanah’ from St.John’s, Newfoundland, entered Carlingford bay and  was boarded at Greenock by the Chief Officer of the Coastguard there and his party who found on board a young fellow about 18 years, named John Cameron, a native of Scotland who presented all the appearance of having 

been subjected to most inhuman treatment during the voyage. The Coastguard reported the matter to the Police at Carlingford, and to Mr.Darcy J.P. who at once issued an order to the Constabulary to go on board the vessel and afford protection to Cameron, if he so desired. He most willingly accepted it, the poor fellow being in a most pitiable condition. Having sworn an information embodying particulars of the ill-usage he sustained Mr. Darcy issued a warrant for the arrest of the captain and mate of the ship. They were both arrested in Newry, where the captain was admitted to bail. But the mate in default of bail was sent to Dundalk Jail. They were both brought up on remand at a special petty session held by the magistrates of Carlingford, and were formerly sent for trial at the approaching assizes at Dundalk, but heavy bail was accepted for their appearance.

Nautical  Terms


Under the Weather.

If a crewman is standing watch on the weather side of the bow, he will be subject to the constant beating of the sea and the ocean spray. He will be under the weather.

The Bitter End.

The end of an anchor cable is fastened to the bitts at the ship's bow. If all of the anchor chain has been payed out you have come to the bitter end.    


Revenue Fleet NewsRevenue Trials in Cork. 1826


Tuesday an investigation was held at Haulbowline Island respecting the crew of the brig  'Elizabeth and Grace', which was captured on the 14th.inst. off Ardmore Head, Co.Waterford, by the 'Netley' tender, commanded by Lt. Gilly. The crew consisting of  seven persons were severally charged upon information with having been found on board the above vessel, it having a quantity of Tobacco in unstatuable packages, not having the weight or tare marked on them as is required by law.

The first person arraigned was George Palmer, a British subject, against whom the evidence of Lt. Gilly and two others was given. The Court adjudged him to serve in His Majesty's Navy for a term of five years. The next trial was of Thomas Hogan, also a British subject, another of the crew, who was also convicted.

The Master, May, and T.Smith, another of the crew, both British subjects were then tried and sentenced to serve in His Majesty's Navy for a term of 5 years, but May, the Master, not being fit and able to serve was fined £100 and committed to the gaol  of the County, Cork, here to be confined until such fines shall be paid.

The remainder of the crew, being foreigners were acquitted. (5)


Coastguard News from England

Assaulting Coastguards.  1843.

Chelmsford, Wednesday March 8.  (Summerised)

Frederick carter, aged 30, ostler, was indicted for a misdemeanour in unlawfully assaulting William Jones, an Officer of Her majesty’s Customs, and obstructing him in his endeavours to seize smuggled goods. On the 11 th February Lieutenant Bennett, an officer in the Coast Guard at the Cliff station, Kent, and two of his men, one being Jones and the other Holland, saw a steam-ship drop packages at sea which were then picked up by small boats. The boats then made for Essex. At Mucking-creek the Coast Guard caught up with them but they had already landed the goods. The Coast Guards then landed and followed of about 10 or 15 men for about 5 miles to the village of Orsett, where they found two light carts. Holland tried to stop one cart but was beaten with a whip by the driver. However he managed to jump into one of the carts and found it loaded with tobacco, but was thrown out of the cart. Jones stopped the other cart but was challenged by the prisoner who was walking along the road. He siezed Jones’ musket and asked him what right he had to stop the cart. He and Jones struggled and the carts got away. Only Lieutenant Bennett was in uniform, and the prisoner claimed that he did not know that Jones and Holland were Coast Guards or he would not have interfered. He thought he was preventing a robbery. Before the defence could present their case, Lord Denman, the judge, said that he could not see how the defence could prevent the Crown from winning the case but he did not think that Carter should be punished, so he suggested that the prisoner should be convicted but bound over, in his own recognizances not to interfere again. The defence accepted this compromise. (6) 


Lieutenants Newenham and Prior of the Brighton Coast Guard have undergone a court of inquiry for absence of duty and insubordination. They had been reported by Captain Marsh, Inspecting Commander, and were ordered to the Coast Guard Service in Ireland which is considered a punishment, as the duty is more severe. (2)

C.G. Suicide

One of the Coast Guards , named Edwards, of Cooley Point, near Carlingford committed suicide by shooting himself on Friday. The facts are as follows;- On Friday morning, Captain Siball collected the Coast Guard for inspection, and after drill he told Edwards that in consequence of his intemperate habits, he must either retire from the force, or be removed to another district. Edwards immediately went into his house, telling his wife that it was all over with him and desiring her to go for a brother Coast Guard.

She, however, had scarcely turned her back when he took the pistol, which had previously loaded with ball, and shot himself, the ball entering under the breast and passing out through the back. Shortly after the Rev. M’Cormick, the Protestant curate, and Dr. Massey, were in attendance, when the latter pronounced his case hopeless. He lingered in agony for 18 hours. He has left a wife and large family to deplore his untimely end. An inquest was held on his body on Sunday, before Mr. Byrne coroner for the County of Louth, the results of which we have not ascertained. (4)



Irish Wit and Wisdom

"Don't let your tongue cut your throat!"


Coming in June edition

Use of Breeches Buoy

  1. The Times, London  25 February 1841.
  2. Evening Freeman Thursday 11th.March 1841
  3. The Irish Times  22 February 1864.
  4. Saunder’s Newsletter  Wednesday 14th.May 1851.
  5. Dublin Evening Post  Thursday 4th.May 1826.
  6. The Times, London. 9 March 1843.

Site News;

As many of you may be aware the CoY site is currently 'off the air' due to an extensive upgrade. The site will be re-launched within the next few days. However, it will not fully fully operational for a week or two as the last of the articles are repopulated and the forum is brought up to date. All subscribers will be receiving an email soon explaining the main features as well as your new login details.

For operational reasons, we regret to announce that the text version of this newsletter will no longer be available, all text version subscribers will be contacted as to whether they want to receive the full colour version and those who chose to receive both will from now on only receive this version.

We hope this does not spoil your enjoyment of "The Cutter".


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0 Comments · 4944 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


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