After their trials at the Aberdeen Court of Justiciary in April 1844, five women were loaded onto the City of Aberdeen steamer for the journey down to London and Millbank Prison, in preparation for the voyage to Van Diemen’s Land.    The City of Aberdeen steamer left Aberdeen on Sunday 6 May 1844 only to flounder off Flamborough Head on Monday 6 May.  The women finally made it to Millbank Prison on 7 May 1844.  Interestingly the colonial scribes mis-recorded all the women’s trials as taking place at Ayr and not Aberdeen.  The women who endured this frightening voyage were Grace McIntosh, Christian Farquhar, Margaret Robb, Ann Craig and Eliza Graham. 
City of Aberdeen  (July 1836)

Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Flamborough Head is on the Yorkshire Coast, the chalk cliffs are some of the highest in Britain, over 300ft high, with treacherous rocks and powerful currents there have been frequent and numerous shipwrecks over the centuries. The unfortunate steamer en-route from Aberdeen still had quite a distance to travel in a damaged state. 


Below are newspaper reports of the incident.

Accident to the CITY of ABERDEEN STEAMER.

An unfortunate accident happened to this splendid vessel, on her last journey from Aberdeen to London, and which might have been attended with fatal consequences, had it not been for the indefatigable exertions of the crew in keeping the pumps going.  It appears from the statement of the captain on Monday last the vessel struck when nearly of Flamborough Head, and with such violence as to cause her to spring a leak.  The pumps were kept continually working until the vessel arrived in the river, when it was found that the leak was increasing very rapidly, and three additional pumps were procured form the shore. With assistance, the cargo was got out of the forehold, where the water was rushing in, on to the starboard bow, close to the stern. The pumps, six in number, were kept at full work until Wednesday, by which time the valuable cargo was removed out of the forehold, and the leaks partly stopped by caulking them, and during the early part of the evening the vessel was towed by one of the dugs to dry-dock to undergo a thorough repair.   Source - Shipping and Mercantile Gazette [Thurs 9 May 1844]

Maritime Extracts.

The damage done to the City of Aberdeen (s), off Flamborough Head, on Monday night, (reported in the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette of Thursday), was of a more serious nature than was at first apprehended.  Since she was placed in the dry dock, at Limehouse on Wednesday afternoon, she has been surveyed, and it has been ascertained that part of the stern was knocked off, the whole of her forefoot, and nearly twenty feet of her keel carried away; her bottom planking and bolts on the starboard bow were started, and a great portion of the copper was chafed off.  The vessel is insured by the London and Aberdeen Marine Insurance Companies.  The shipwrights are employed upon her, but her repairs will not be completed before the middle of the next week.  The weather at the time she struck on the rocks, off Flamborough Head, was thick – at least this was the cause assigned to our reporter for the accident.  Source: Shipping and Mercantile Gazette [Sat 11 May 1844]

D Hoole and C McAlpine


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