Loss of the Eliza, The (The Herons)
DESCRIPTION: The crew of the Eliza are cheerfully approaching home (?) when a sudden storm blows up. Driven before the storm, the ship is blown to pieces. The people ashore, including the sister of two of the sailors, await word, but the ship is never found
EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (MUNFLA/Leach)
KEYWORDS: sea ship disaster storm death
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Fowke/Johnston, pp. 47-50, "The Loss of the Eliza (The Herons)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 944-947, "The Loss of the Eliza" (1 text, 2 tunes)
ST FJ047 (Partial)
Mrs. T. Ghaney, "The Loss of the Eliza" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Ken Peacock, "The Loss of the Eliza" (on NFKPeacock)
Patrick Rossiter, "The Loss of the Eliza" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
NOTES [328 words]: Fowke writes, "No information is available about the loss of the Eliza, but the story is very similar to that of the Southern Cross which was lost in April, 1914, with one hundred and seventy men aboard." (It might be noted, however, that the ballad claims the Eliza sank in October.) For the loss of the Southern Cross see "The Southern Cross (I)." To this day, no one knows what happened to her, and no bodies were ever found.
"It is... one of the very few native ballads carrying supernatural portents (the herons) in the manner of the older traditional ballads... the spectres... the herons... Death's Angel" (Peacock).
Many [ships named Eliza] lost but no record both in October and off Cape Race/St Mary's Bay; the route would seem to have started at St John's [near Fort Amherst]. The best bet may be March 18, 1862, crushed in the ice off Bay Bulls -- on the route just south of St John's -- en route to St Mary's Riverhead, owned by Welsh & Co at St Mary's Riverhead with a captain possible named Welsh [who, in the ballad, sees the failing ship] (Northern Shipwrecks Database) - BS
There were quite a few Newfoundland sealers named Eliza, but each was too small for the ship of the song. In Shannon Ryan, The Ice Hunters: A History of Newfoundland Sealing to 1914, Breakwater Books, 1994, p. 471, we find the Eliza, of 97 tons, under Captain James Hearne, sailing from Saint John's in 1834 with a company of 27; p. 458, for the year 1853 lists the Eliza, Captain Scott, fitted out by Baine, Johnston & Co., still of 97 tons, but now with 37 men. Ryan, p. 475, lists an Eliza sailing from Conception Bay in 1833 under Captain Long; she was 83 tons and had 28 aboard. On p. 479, we read of an Eliza under Clement Noel (91 tons, 29 men) sailing from Carbonear in 1836; on p. 481, an Eliza from St. John's, sailing in 1838; 105 tons, 38 men under S. French (Ryan, p. 481), and another under W. Mullins; 121 tons, 29 men (Ryan, p. 482). - RBW
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