DESCRIPTION: Crosspatrick leaves "for New Zealand, with their families and their wives." Five days out the ship is wrecked by fire. The captain and his wife try to save others. "Out of four hundred passengers and forty of a crew, There were only four of them left."
EARLIEST DATE: 1911 (GreigDuncan1)
KEYWORDS: drowning sea ship wreck sailor
Nov 18, 1874 - "The most terrible catastrophe of the old year was the destruction by fire of the emigrant-ship Cospatrick, and the consequent loss of over 450 lives, in the early morning of Nov. 18." (source: Illustrated London News, January 2, 1875, as quoted on The Ships List site)
FOUND IN: Ireland Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Greig #167, p. 2, "The Loss of the Kilpatrick" (1 text)
GreigDuncan1 32, "The Loss of the Cospatrick" (1 text)
Ranson, pp. 99-100, "The Crosspatrick" (1 text)
The Loss of the Scotch Patrick
NOTES: There are Bodleian broadsides for at least two other ballads about this disaster. While neither is dated, both broadsides quote news dispatches making it seem that they should be dated 1874.
Bodleian, Firth c.12(104), "The Burning of the Emigrant Ship, 'Cospatrick'" ("To this most heartrending and sorrowful tale"), unknown, n.d.; the chorus begins "The 'Cospatrick' took fire when at sea."
Bodleian, Firth c.12(107), "The Burning of the Emigrant Ship, 'Cospatrick'" ("In '74 we've had some shocking disasters"), unknown, n.d.; the chorus begins "Far out on the ocean, in the darkness of midnight."
Another broadside seems to be a third different ballad but could not be downloaded and verified: Bodleian, Harding B 40(4), "The Burning of the 'Cospatrick'" ("You feeling-hearted Christians wherever that you be"), J.F. Nugent and Co.? (Dublin?), 1850-1899 ; also Harding B 19(115a), "The Burning of the 'Cospatrick'" - BS
David Ritchie, Shipwrecks: An Encyclopedia of the World's Worst Disasters at Sea, 1996 (I use the 1999 Checkmark paperback edition), pp. 52-53, devotes many hundreds of words to this disaster. Cospatrick was built in Burma and seems to have spend many years working mostly in the Indian Ocean. Eventually it was taken over by the Shaw Savill Line and used to take emigrants from Britain to New Zealand.
Ritchie reports 429 emigrants were aboard for the final voyage, plus the crew, including the captain's wife and son.
The ship was approaching Auckland, New Zealand, on November 17 or 18 ("accounts differ" on the date, according to Ritchie). Flammables in the forward part of the ship caught fire, the fire pumps could not be worked because they were in the midst of the blaze, and the passengers got in the way of the crew.
It was difficult even to abandon ship; some boats had burned, others overloaded. Only two boats apparently made it away, with 80 people on board. But they lacked food and water, and had no sails. One boat vanished. On the other, it seems, the people aboard were forced into cannibalism. When the boat was finally found by the British Sceptre on November 26, only three men -- the second officer, a quartermaster, and a seaman -- were still alive. Thus the casualty rate was over 98%. - RBW
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