The Coastguard Cutter Vol5 No9


The Coastguard Cutter
September Edition
Vol 5 No. 9.

"The Lady Margaret"

 Hello Friend,

Many family history researchers wonder how Coastguard families coped with the death of a loved one, far from home Of course funerals differed, but the following ones may give a little snap-shot into the the past. One thing, that would have been constant at all Coastguard funerals, would have been the deep sorrow, anguish and grief of the family, friends, and fellow Coastguards.


They have no grave but the cruel sea.
No flowers at their head.
Their only tribute the seagulls sweep.
And the teardrops that a sweetheart weeps.

Funeral of Coastguard’s Roncliff and Mumford. 1899.

The funeral took place at 1.30 on Wednesday and was a most impressive ceremony, the deceased being interred with full service honours. Each coffin, covered with a Union Jack , upon which was the deceased’s cap, and numerous beautiful wreaths, was carried to Newcastle Railway Station and placed in a hearse. On either side of each hearse was a single file of coastguards, under Chief Officer Mehigan, Wicklow ; Garrett, Ballinacarrig : and Curling, Greystones ; and in front was the band of the Wicklow Artillery, under Sergeant-Trumpeter Viotti, the band being preceded by a firing party of twelve coastguards under Chief officer Easterbrooke. Following the hearses came the widows and relatives in closed vehicles, and immediately behind these, in the centre of two long files of military and police walked Commander Wellings, RN.; County Inspector W.G. Williamson, and Captain M.J.C. Dennis R.A. all in full dress.

The military included – Regt. Sergeant Major Smith and twenty-five of the staff. The police included – Head Constable Cotter with sergeants and men from Wicklow, Kilcoole, Delgany, Newtown, Ashford and Rathnew stations. The coastguards numbered about thirty, in addition to the officers named. The band played the “Dead March in Saul” at intervals along the road to Newcastle churchyard. At the church the Rev. Henry Gayer, Rector and Mr. A.W.I rwin led the procession into the sacred building. The usual burial service was then read, and included the 574th hymn. At the graveside the scene was most touching. First one coffin was lowered into the grave and portion of the funeral service read by Rev. Mr. Gayer. Then the second coffin was placed on top, the hymn “Brief life is here our portion” being sung by the choir, joined by some of the sailors. After the prayers were concluded, the firing party fired three volleys and the trumpeters sounded the “Last Post” The widows of the poor fellows then took a last look at the grave which contained the dearest they had on this earth, and the scene was very affecting indeed. Mrs Mumford, supported by two friends, swooned right off, and had to be carried to the carriage. The sadness of the occasion seemed to draw tears to many eyes.

Ref Wicklow News-Letter April 1 1899.

See in our Articles section, under "Life and Times", details of the 'Five Mile Point Boating Catastrophe 1899'

Naval Funeral at Wicklow 1903.

On Thursday afternoon the remains of Mr. Wm. Henry Darte, Chief Boatman in charge of Ballinacarrig Coastguard Station, were interred in Three-Mile-Water Cemetery with naval honours. Mr. Darte had been in failing health since his appointment to Ballinacarrig, having contracted a severe cold while on a manoeuvring cruise. Dr. Halpin had been in frequent attendance on him, and did everything that medical could devise to pull him through, but the end came on Monday evening. Deceased was extremely liked by the men in his charge, and was well known along the coast. His demise is very much regretted, particularly as he leaves a widow and nine small children. Deceased who was a native of Devonshire, was 46 years of are, and had served 30 years in the Navy.

The funeral, notwithstanding the thin population of the district, was largely attended. A firing party under the command of Mr. Fleming, Chief Officer, Arklow, was in attendance, and comprised five from Wicklow, four from Arklow, three from Five-Mile-Point, four from Ballinacarrig, and two from Mizen Head. The remains which were encased in a handsome coffin, were removed from the station shortly after three o’clock, the ensign having been lowered a minute or so previously. The firing party had been drawn up beside the hearse, and as the coffin was raised on the shoulders of the six pall bearers the order “Present arms” was given. After the coffin which was covered with the Union Jack and a number of beautiful floral wreaths from the children of the different stations, had bee placed in the hearse, the order “reverse arms” was given. The procession then started for the cemetery which lies about a mile distant from the station, on the road to Wicklow, and in a picturesque little spot on the banks of the Three-Mile-Water river, and quite adjacent to the sea. The firing party marched slowly in front of the hearse, and though rather small, the spectacle was an imposing one. Reaching the cemetery a halt was made, and the firing party formed two lines facing each other, with the arms at the “present” while the hearse passed between the lines. The coffin was then borne from the hearse by the six mourners to the last resting place. When the burial service, which was conducted by Rev. Mr. Buckley had concluded the coffin was lowered into the grave. The order being given, three volleys were fired by the firing party, and the closing of the grave commenced. In a few minutes time all that was mortal was wrapped up in mother earth, and the bystanders having breathed a prayer as the last sod was placed on the grave, they departed from the melancholic scene.

The following Coastguards attended :-

Wicklow – Commissioned Boatman Lind and Ratheram; Divisional Carpenter Francis; Boatmen Tamlin and Ayre.

Five-Mile-Point - C.C rick C.B.; Conroy and Kent, boatmen.

Ballinacarrig - Futter, C.B.; Rodgers, Boatman.

Mizen-Head – Travers, C.B.;

Arklow – Mr.G.Fleming, Chief Officer, ; Marshell and Emery, C.B.; Brennan and Pierce, boatmen.


Reference; Wicklow News-Letter 11th.July 1903

Keening was the 18th- and 19th- century Irish practice of crying over a dead body at a wake. Older women were paid up to five shillings to shriek dramatically. It was not done until the wake, when the soul had left the body, so the hounds of hell could not steal it when they heard the cries. Keeners were condemned by the Church.


The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame’s eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with silent round,
The bivouac of the dead.


Nautical  Terms

Above Board.

Anything on or above the open deck. If something is open and in plain view, it is above board.

Give (someone) a Wide Berth.

To anchor a ship far enough away from another ship so that they did not hit each other when they swung with the wind or the tide.

Irish Humour and Wit.
On a rough trip to the Aran Islands the tourists lay over the rail and suffered. 'Cheer up, mo cairde (my friend), said a member of the crew, 'sure no one ever died of sea-sickness yet.'

'Ah sure,' gasped the victim, 'isn't it the hope of dying that keeps me alive.'


Revenue Fleet NewsThe late awful Hurricane, further particulars. 1839.

From Coastguard, Galway.

"Sir, I beg leave to acquaint you that the town was visited last night by a severe gale from the westward, almost amounting to a hurricane, which has done considerable damage to the town and shipping. Several lives have been lost in the town in consequence of the roofs, chimneys having fallen in from the violence of the wind, and I fear much damage has been done in the neighbourhood".

"I am happy to say that the Dolphin, Revenue Cruiser, at anchor in the roads, rode out the gale although she parted one of her chain cables, and narrowly escaped being in contact with a brig that was drifting, and as it was carried away her cuthead. The St. Patrick barque, with valuable cargo, was driven from the docks, and now lies on shore with all her masts gone. Several fishing boats have also been sunk in the harbour, but I do not hear of any lives been lost amongst the shipping".

I have the honour to be, Sir, your humble servant. (no signature)

Ref; Dublin Evening Mail. Wednesday 9th.January 1839.

Smuggling. (extract) 1852.

Three members of the brig “Ellen Forrestal” were sentenced at the courthouse at Kilrush and the vessel confiscated. In default of payment of the penalties adjudged by the court the three defendants were put on board the ‘Desmond’ Revenue Cutter at Kilrush and conveyed by her to Clare under escort of the Coastguards and thence transmitted to Ennis gaol. The stevedores were also taken on board for protection, as the crowd assembled outside the court-house at Kilkeel, threatened violence for having deposed in support of the informant. (Limerick Chronicle)

Ref; Saunders News Letter Monday 13 September 1852.

UK Coastguard NewsCoastguard News from England

 Smuggling. 1849.

Smuggling – Her Majesty’s revenue cutter, Vigilant, Captain Richard Gowlland, captured on Friday night last, in Sea reach, in the Thames a spritsail barge, about 60 ton burden, having on board a crew of five persons, and a contraband cargo of 280 bales of tobacco almost 50 lbs. each, concealed under straw stacked on her deck. The barge was proceeding up the river in the usual manner as a coaster with straw for the London market; and had the smugglers been successful in escaping the protective force, between 6 and 7 tons of tobacco would have been run, and the Exchequer thereby lose the amount of duty. We believe this to be the largest seizure of tobacco that has been made in the Thames for the past 30 years.




Smuggling on the Thames – At the county magistrate’s-office, Rochester, on Friday, William Woolf, John Stanley, William Warren, and two boys named French and Howe, were brought up in custody of Bines, at the instance of the board of Customs, having on the 18th inst. Been found at Cliff on board a certain vessel liable to forfeiture, having on board 14,402 lbs. of contraband tobacco. From the evidence of Captain Gowlland, Commander of the “Vigilant” revenue cutter, and James Clarke, the gunner, it appeared that about nine o’clock on the night of the 13th inst, while cruising off Sea Reach, in the lower Hope, near Grovesend, they observed a vessel coming up the river on the Kent side, and on hailing her were told she was the Charlotte,of maldon, from the Burnham river. On boarding her they found straw loosely laid about abaft the mast, and on removing it and opening the hatches, they discovered in the hold of the vessel 20 casks containing no less than 278 bales of tobacco packed in canvass and along with cords ready for running, averaging about 50 lb. weight each. The crew were then made prisoners and put on board the cutter for safety, and with the vessel and cargo were afterwards brought to Rochester. The court convicted the whole of them in the penalty of £100 each. Recommending the two boys to the mercy of the Crown, but the penalties were not paid, and the prisoners were accordingly committed to Mainstone Gaol.

Ref: The Times, London  6 February 1832.


National Maritime Museum London.

Print, Her Majesty’s revenue Cutter Vigilant, towing her Prize the barge CHARLOTTE captured 1849, having on board nearly 7 tons of Contraband Tobacco, concealed under straw.Reference; The Times. December 17, 1849.
Item kindly sent to us by Rosemary Milton-Thompson.

Coming in October Edition.

Early Coastguard stations.





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