On This Day: 3 December 1703

On this day in 1703, Samuel Rowley the chief mate of the Rising Sun wrote to Thomas Bowrey from on board the ship at Zeeland. The letter does not start well: Worthy Sir This comes to acquaint you of the misfortunes yet has happened to the ship which I am heartily sorry for. However, Rowley continues by assuring Bowrey that the ship is safe and as tight as a Cup (was not leaking).

The Rising Sun had been caught up in the Great Storm the previous month and damaged, like hundreds of other ships. Despite this, Rowley appears to be blaming the ropemaker for what has happen. The ropes had given way.

In view of the colossal damage caused by the storm that is still remembered today, it seem to be unduly harsh to blame the ropemaker. 2,000 chimney stacks were lost in London and 4,000 mature oak trees destroyed in the New Forest. It was estimated that 8,000 people were killed during the storm, many of them ships’ crews. It was one of the worst storms in British history. Even the Eddystone was lost during the storm.

Blaming Bowrey’s ropemaker appears totally unreasonable. It is my opinion that Rowley and Wybergh, the ship’s master, were concerned to deflect any possible blame from themselves for the damage to the Rising Sun. Perhaps, only a week after the storm finding their bearing and finally making port, they had not yet learned how widespread the damage had been.


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