Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Royal Charter


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Good people all, attend, I pray,
Now I'll relate a sad calamity,
Of a dreadful shipwreck near Belmore Town
Of the Royal Charter while homeward bound.

From fair Australia with a pleasant gale
The Royal Charter for old England sailed
With a human cargo, her fate did rule
We ne'er but one reached Liverpool.

On Tuesday morning, I'm grieved to say,
Our fore and mainmast were cut away,
When our mizzen-top fell with a heavy crush,
And in the raging sea our ship did dash.

Brave Captain Taylor with his men so brave
Made all their efforts the ship to save
But notwithstanding all they could do
The Royal Charter she broke in two.

Now broadside on she drove on shore.
The lightning flashed and the sea did roar,
Brave Captain Taylor drowned it is true,
With ninety-seven of his gallant crew.

Now the total number that lost their lives
Was four hundred and fifty-five;
Of women and child we are assured
Not one escaped out of all on board.

Off the riggings lost their names I'll tell;
Was Williams, Thomson and James Bell,
There was Elfie and Philips and W.Jones
There was another, but his name's unknown.

And drowned in agony and anguish wild
The mother cried, "Do save my child!"
And the father strived in vain -
They were all engulfed in the raging main.

O God, 'tis frightful to think what crowds
Of drowned passengers clung to the shrouds
To hear their shrieks on the stormy sea,
As from the ship they were washed away.

So may the Lord look down on the deep distress
Of the widowed mothers and fatherless
Likewise the parents of the seamen brave
Who in the Royal Charter met a watery grave.

The Royal Charter was the most prominent victim of over 200 ships wrecked in what became known as the "Royal Charter Storm" off the Welsh coast on 26 October, 1859.

Another from Warren Fahey's Australian Folk Songs and Bush Ballads, published with the following notes:

On 25 October 1859, the Royal Charter, a combined steam and sailing ship from Melbourne bound for Liverpool, was lost off Moelfre on the island of Anglesey, Wales....

Almost at the end of its long voyage from Melbourne to England, the Royal Charter was carrying 452 passengers and crew and gold from the Australian goldfield valued at £320 000.

... EJ Moeran collected a ballad about the wreck from Mr JAmes Strong at Winterton, England, in July 1915.  It was published in his Songs Sung in Norfolk, 1923...