The Clovelly Storm of 1838, One Place Hanging Out, C17th London and Other Matters

With hurricanes forecast for the night of 27th/28th October, it is a good time to ask for help with one of my (many) research projects. Exactly 175 years ago there was a bad storm off Clovelly. In a direct response to the loss of life in this tragedy, in 1839, the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society, better known as the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society was founded. This was set up by Charles Gee Jones and John Rye, in order to raise funds to assist the fishermen’s widows, orphans and parents. I am attempting to identify those involved, both victims and survivors and trace living descendants of any of these men. There is plenty of information available about the storm of 1821 but much less about that of 1838. Newspaper reports are inconsistent about the number of boats and men who were caught in the storm and the number of victims.

One version of the list of those who were lost includes the following:-

From Clovelly:-  James Britton senior; James Britton junior son of the above; John Britton, son of James senior; John Shersel, a married man; William Shersel, brother of the above, a married man; John Lewis who left a widow and family; Thomas Jenn and Richard Lane.

From Bucks Mills:- John Braund, left a widow and 3 children; James Veale; John Bagelhole, left a widow and child.

From Hartland:- Hugh Bayley; Thomas Trick, left a widow and 2 children; Philip Cowell, left a widow and family.

Also:- James Radford from Ilfracombe, left a widow and family; Mr Carpenter from Ilfracombe, left a widow and family. James Kelly from Appledore, left a widow and 6 children; Richard Lock from Appledore, left a widow and 3 children; Henry Pooley from Bideford, left a widow, his body was recovered; Richard Parker from Bude; An unknown Cornishman.

Unfortunately, for those whose bodies were not recovered, there can be no death or burial records. So tracing these men and their descendants is difficult.

Last night I had my first experience of participating in a Google+ Hangout on air, on the topic of One Place Studies. The result is now available on YouTube. I have no idea why I sound so out of breath and hesitant – it was past my bedtime – that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it! Good fun though and a very productive discussion.

Not too sure about the variations on ‘Scarborough Fair’ as a musical accompaniment but as someone who lives in the seventeenth century, this new game (at least I think it is going to be a game) was of interest. All about the Streets of London – now wouldn’t that have been a better track? – great fan of Ralph McTell me. Do play the video. It could even persuade me to start computer gaming. Mistress Agnes would have put it on her Christmas list but I have pointed out that not only have computers not yet been invented but Cromwell is about to ban Christmas.

Some very interesting documents have been loaned to me lately. I am currently guarding with my life some old school registers and the archive for the local WI. The latter includes a wonderful survey of the village in 1965 and contains a very unusual picture of my house.

Coles Manning 1965 Lloyd Prance - WI

This is particularly strange as my house was thought to be make of cob, as the walls are two feet thick. This clearly suggests that there are bricks involved.

Anyone worried about Halloween needs this seventeenth century preventative:- The thumb of a hanged man in your left shoe wards off witchcraft.


5 comments on “The Clovelly Storm of 1838, One Place Hanging Out, C17th London and Other Matters

  1. Matt Stevens says:

    Thanks for this post! I had always wondered how this had happened and only found this today.

    My Great Great Great Grandfather was Lancy Trick. Married to Elizabeth Green (Church of St. Thomas, Portsmouth 12/03/1827) as Thomas Lancey. They had two daughters, Sarah, who died aged nineteen in 1854; and Mary Ann Trick who married William Chubb and had eight children including my Great Grandmother Eleanor Lancy Trick Chubb. Most of the children had Lancy Trick as their middle names. (I do believe there is a living relative with the name Lancy but I’ve yet to make contact with him).

    Also known as Thomas Lancy and Thomas Trick. (Taken from actual death certificate)
    Found drowned in Clovelly Bay 17/11/1838 aged 54 years. (Taken from actual death certificate)
    Death registered in Hartland 18/11/1838. (Taken from actual death certificate)
    Parish burial records for Hartland list Thomas Trick or Lancey (sic) of Hartland, age 54, date 12/11/1838 ??? (5 days before he washed ashore)

    If this helps you or anyone else I’d be glad to know.

    Kind regards


    • Thanks very much Matt. I had potentially identified this wife and children but I was missing the marriage to confirm this – shame we didn’t make contact sooner – you could have come to meet Princess Anne!

      • Matt Stevens says:

        Thanks for your prompt reply!

        It would have been lovely to meet the Princess on that day! Unfortunately I dip in and out family tree research and only found the link to Lancy in 2013, did some research and left it until later. My mistake as I only picked it up again 3 days ago.

        Always thought about visiting Clovelly and Hartland since obtaining his death certificate as it looks such a beautiful place, and was hoping to find out what had happened to him. Now I know!

        I am going to see the memorial in Clovelly and try to locate his burial place in Hartland next year. That’s a promise!!

        Thanks for your brilliant research. You have done an amazing job! If I can ever help you with further information and research just let me know.

        Kind regards


  2. I have been asked to write a song (!) about the formation of the SMFS and the Clovelly storm of 1838, for the 175 anniversary .. could you get in touch with me please – I need all the help I can get !

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