This set of pages gives references to descriptions, list of dead etc. of the various disasters, natural and man-made that have occurred up to c.1900. By disaster I generally mean some accidental situation in which ten or more persons were killed.

Herring Fleet, 20/21 Sept 1787

Nicholson's illustration of morning sceneThursday 20th Sept was a fine day which tempted the fleet out that night; a strong SSE gale developed during early hours of Friday morning - most of fleet ran for Douglas harbour - however the previous year the old pier had collapsed and a temporary harbour light was set up on a pole, on the ruins, to guide the entrance. One of the first boats struck this light, extinguishing it and many of rest of fleet foundered on rocks in sight of the harbour. Kinley estimates some 20 dead -14 are identified in Rushen burials (only 4 are quoted by Harrison) plus another 4 in Braddan, 1 each in Santon and Arbory though others may not be recorded.

Burials include

Thomas COWLEY aged 21, buried at Santon.
John COSTAIN aged 31, buried at Arbory.
Nicholas MOORE aged 22 buried at Rushen.
John WATERSON aged 30 buried at Rushen.
Thomas CORRIN aged 32, of Ballakilpatrick buried at Rushen.
John MOORE aged 38, of Croit e Caley buried at Rushen.

Wilkins gives the additional 14 names - others include:

John Crebbin, John Cubbon, Henry Gill, Thomas Grimshaw, Henry Hutchin, John Keig, John Kelly, Robert Kelly, Thomas Kinley, Thomas Oates, John Radcliffe, John Shimmin, Henry Taylor and a 2nd John Waterson.


W. B. Kinley The Development of Douglas Harbour: A Mariner's View Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol X no 2 pp65/85 1994 (ISSN0-9519141-0-3) (copies still available via Manx Museum).

W Harrison Loss of the Manx Herring Fleet, 1787 Manx Soc Vol 16 p80 et seq who quotes account as given by Robertson, also see ballad

F Wilkins 2000 Manx Mariners Kidderminster: Wyre Forest Press 2000 (ISBN 1-897725-14-0

see 'Dead from the water FHS vol 4 #2 pp26/7

Sailing Packet Lord Hill, 16 Jan 1819

Regular packet between Douglas and Whitehaven - Lost off the mouth of the Ribble with loss of 29 lives.

Manx Advertiser 4 Feb 1819 ran the following:

By a letter from Liverpool, dated 30th ult, we are sorry to state that the intelligence respecting the wreck of the Lord Hill is beyond all doubt confirmed. Part of the stern with the word "LORD" in white letters, and part of the tafferal rail, were cast up near Southport; a piece of plank with "MAN PACKET" on it, the water cask and cabin scuttle, the four lights, the companion doors, part of the tiller, the boat seats, and part of the gunwale, and small pieces of the cabin, all recognized to be parts of the Lord Hill. There was also a mat containing six flitches of bacon. From every information we conclude that she had struck one of the banks a great distance out, opposite the mouth of the Ribble. None of the bodies have been found. Particular orders have been given to make search, and if any be found, they will be taken care of and buried. Two or three boxes were found broken open, and a trunk marked M, supposed to be Mr M'Bride's as it contained a handkerchief marked with his name. There were also found a bible with two tide tables, three licences for tea and rum, with the names of Robt Murray, John M'Bride, and Jane Milburn; also a trunk marked No 1 in which were a waistcoat, a pair of brown pantaloons, two or three white shirts and a few handkerchiefs. We subjoin a list of the unfortunate passengers, who all to a man, not excluding the crew, perished.

John M'Bride, Mercht
Major Crebbin Marines
servant to do
Jane Robinson, Fort St
Mrs Clucas
Mrs Clucas's son
Mr Farrant, Peel
James Robins, England
Daniel Kneale, master joiner, with his niece and nephew
Edward Roberts
B. Milburn, Laxey
Mrs S. Jones and Thos. Cornberth, from N. Wales
Wm Cuninghame
Robert Oates
John Walker, Peel
Sylvester Teare, Peel
Mr Mercer, England
2 carpenters
2 sailors, passengers
5 do - the crew.

In all 29 souls.

The distress which the above awful catastrophe has occasioned among the connections of the unfortunate suffers, may be better conceived than described; several of them having left large families to deplore their untimely end.

Lieutenant Philip Cosnahan was reported as being on the vessel - presumably one of the two sailors ? Major Crebbin was son of Rev Charles Crebbin, vicar of Santon.

Mrs Clucas and son are commemorated in a M.I. at Malew:

In memory of Thomas Clucas, son of David Clucas Late of Douglas, who departed this life 25th November 1846, aged 42 years. Ann, relict of the above Thomas Clucas and eldest daughter of Matthias Christian of Ballagrinnea in this parish who with her son William Sinclair aged 11 perished on board the Lord Hill on her passage to Liverpool on the 16 January 1819, aged 35 years. Also Thomas, eldest son of the above Thomas Clucas and Ann, his wife, who departed this life the 25 Dec 1806, aged 2 years. Also Jane Christian, youngest daughter of the above named Matthias and Margery Christian, who departed this life 6th of May 1868, aged 84 years.

Brig Lily, 29 Dec 1852

Explosion of gunpowder cargo in hold of shipwrecked Brig on rocks at Kitterland (island in Calf sound). Cause believed to be due to forgotten candle stub left by plunderers of vessel causing explosion whilst the cargo was being unloaded.

Memorial to Kitterland Disaster5 Crew died in wreck plus 29 in explosion, most of whose bodies were blasted beyond recognition in an explosion that was heard up to 18 miles away.

Memorial stone at Kirk Christ Rushen -"In Memory of the Twenty Nine Men who lost their lives by an explosion of Gunpowder while saving the cargo of the wrecked brig LILY at Kitterland Island 28 December 1852 leaving 22 widows and 77 orphans."

Enos LACE aged 51
William COWLEY 42
William KERMODE 55
Edward GALE 42
Henry GALE 37
Thomas WITTED 26
John CUBBON 57
William LAWSON 52

John FELL 27
William TAUBMAN 42
Thomas TURNBULL 32
George COSTAIN 32
William WATTERSON 31
Thomas NELSON 46
Charles CLUGTON 43

John GALE 45
William WATTERSON 29
William CONE 22

John CRAIG 32
John WRIGHT 26

John Craig(e) was Chief Constable (equivalent then to today's sergeant) of Castletown and John Wright a police constable .


Illustrated London News 8 Jan 1853

Snaefell Mine Disaster, 10 May 1897

Deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning due to slow fire of mine support timbers. List of dead taken from Newspaper reports etc. quoted in Kermeen, three such lists are given and all differ in minor details - this list conflates information from all three.

CALLIN, Sandy, North Baldhrine, 21, married, one child. A waggoner.
CALLOW, William, of Agneash, aged 29, leaves widow and two young children. Was a miner.
CANNELL, Robert, of Baldhoon, aged 41, a married man with a family of eight, most of them young. A waggoner.
CHRISTIAN, Frank, of the Glen Moar (Sulby Glen), aged about 30, single. Waggoner.
CHRISTIAN, Walter, aged about 21, brother of William Christian, single. Was a labourer.
CHRISTIAN, William, of the Abbeylands, Lonan, about 26, single. Was a labourer.
CORKILL, James  Henry, aged 44 married large family, Agneash
FAYLE, John, Baldhoon, Lonan, aged 40 and married, and with family of five, most of whom are grown up. Fayle was a waggoner underground.
KELLY, Robert, aged 21, single, Laxey Glen
KEWIN, John Robert, of Baldhoon, single, aged about 29. He supported his widowed mother.
KEWIN , William, of Baldhoon, was a brother of John Robert Kewin, aged about 24, single. He was the supporter of his widowed mother. He was a labourer.
KEWLEY, Edward. of the half-way house between Laxey and Snaefell, 22, single. Was a labourer.
KEWLEY, John, of Baldhoon, single, 32 years old, a filler of the kibbles.
KINRADE, Edward, of Laxey Glen, aged 27, married leaves a widow and four young children. Was a labourer.
KINRADE, Louis (In Newspaper report gave name as 'or Lord'), of Laxey Glen, single, aged 38. Was a miner.
LEWNEY, Robert, aged 24, single. Old Laxey, Was a labourer.
MOUGHTIN, Joseph, of Laxey, aged 28, married, and leaves wife and one child. Was a miner.
OLIVER, John, of Agneash, aged 57, married, who had a family of five - one of whom is a victim of the disaster. Was a miner.
OLIVER, John James, son of John Oliver, aged 22, single. and lived with his father (both Oliver's were Methodist Local Preachers).
SENOGLES, William, of Laxey, aged about 46, leaves wife and one child which was an adopted child. Was a miner.


R.J. Kermeen (ed) The Snaefell Mine Disaster [Laxey] [nd but 1997] - may still be available via Island Bookshops.

C LeNeve Foster The Investigation of Mine Air (Appendix dealing with Snaefell Mine Disaster, 1897), 1905

Wreck of Ellan Vannin, 3/4 Dec 1909

Ellan Vannin

Ellan Vannin was originally an iron paddle steamer, "Mona's Isle (II)" built 1860 rebuilt as a twin screw vessel in 1883. Mainly used on Ramsey to Whitehaven & Liverpool routes. Left Ramsey on 3 Dec 1909 bound for Liverpool with 15 passengers (plus mails & cargo) with crew of 21. As approached Mersey was caught in a force 12 NW gale and sank around 7 am with loss of all lives. She was supposed swept by heavy seas, filled and sank stern first.

The name Ellan Vannin was never again used by IoM Steam Packet Co.

Lost (a few names are missing):

BELLISS E 1st Engineer
BLEVIN E J Passenger
COLLISTER Mrs Stewardess
CORKE J Seaman
CRAINE F 2nd Engineer
CRAINE J 1st Mate
CROWLEY J Seaman (name usually given [incorrectly] as Crawley)
CRIX Mrs Passenger
FISHER Miss Passenger
HOLLAND Bert Steward
JOUGHIN Mark H Passenger
JOHNSON Mrs Heaton Passenger
JOHNSON Heaton Passenger
KELLY Wm. Seaman
KINLEY J 2nd Mate
QUAYLE Thos. Passenger
RYDINGS S Donkeyman
SHIMMIN W Donkeyman
TEARE James Captain

(Donkeyman = operator of small 'donkey' steam engine used for pumping or loading)
Acknowledgement to Paul Smith for list of passengers.

Mark Joughin was on his way to Liverpool to emigate to USA - was PM LP.


Manx Quarterly #8 pp699/710 April 1910 (also had photographs of all on board)

Richard Stafford The Ellan Vannin Story Douglas: Manx Heritage Foundation (ISBN 0-952-4019-6-4) 1999

 [Genealogy Index]


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001