The Royal Charter


The Royal Charter w&m M Burns July 2016 ‘D’

I was told the story of the Royal Charter by some of the helpers & parents at ‘Folk on the Farm’, Tyddn Mon, Anglesey in 2015. The loss was the worst in British merchant maritime history, until the sinking of the Titanic.

Launched on the River Dee
Sandycroft works made me
I’m iron and steam and mast,
no other ship so fast,
in my you’ll sail with ease,
from the Antipodes
I am the Royal Charter,
I am the Royal Charter.

August left Australia’s shore
for the Mersey in two months, no more
my strong room filled with gold
prospected by the brave and bold
The Cape soon at my stern
sails billow, pistons churn
I flew the Royal Charter
I flew, the Royal Charter

Will Gardiner’s my name
From Melbourne I set sail
At Cork I left the ship
to make a business trip
I took the pilot boat
while my wife stayed afloat
safe on the Royal Charter
safe on the Royal Charter

I’m captain of this ship
anxious to end the trip
put into Holyhead,
or Mersey run instead
I think we’ll beat this gale
god help us if we fail
Tom Taylor of the Royal Charter
Tom Taylor of the Royal Charter
I was a howling gale
now I’m a hurricane
grounded her on the sand
and then with help at hand,
hurled her onto that rock
where with a shivering shock
I smashed the Royal Charter
I smashed the Royal Charter

Guzzi Rugier*’s my name
from Valetta port I came
I knelt and said a prayer
with all my shipmates there
tied rope around my waist
and as the breakers chased
swam from the Royal Charter
swam from the Royal Charter

We risked our lives to save
near 40 from a watery grave
branded a thieving gang
some wrote that we should hang
the Moelfre 28 (Moilvre)
our courage met with hate
heroes of the Royal Charter
Heroes of the Royal Charter

I’m Rev Steven Hughes
I conveyed the tragic news
I buried 7 score
my colleagues many more
elsewhere along the shore
300 maybe more
lost on the Royal Charter
lost on the Royal Charter

* The Kendal Mercury of 5 Nov 1859 gives the sailor’s name as Joseph Rodgieurs, he is also referred to as Joseph Rodgers in some accounts. The Kendal Mercury also reported that a Mrs Barratt identified a battered corpse as that of her husband by recognising the waistcoat she had made him.
Among the passengers of the Royal Charter was the musician Mr TS Witchett. He was one of the most talented violin players in the North of England and his melancholy fate is deeply felt amongst his professional brethren, both of Sunderland & Newcastle. He left England in the latter part of last year and was returning again to settle in the old country and amongst his old friends. (Newcastle Chronicle – quoted in the Kendal Mercury.)

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