10. Something with a Christmas flavour

‘Twas the night before Christmas . . .  not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .

We wouldn’t expect to receive newspapers on Christmas Day nowadays, but it was not uncommon in the past for Lloyd’s List to be published on 25th December. I shall focus on 25th December 1753. Two wrecks were reported in this issue in the south-west of England. One was the Union, from Cork for Bristol, on the Bristol Channel coast.

There was also the Jeffrow Edia Maria [sic].  Lloyd’s List reported a ‘Dutch Dogger from Galipoly to Amsterdam lost off the Ram he[. .]’ with the loss of the master and four men. The Sherborne Mercury also said: ‘They write from Plymouth that on the 23rd inst. a Dutch dogger from Gallipoli for Amsterdam is wrecked at Ramhead. The captain and men drowned, and the vessel and cargo lost. The Jeffrow Edia Maria, of and from Amsterdam for Gallipoli, Jacob Sume master, is lost on Ramhead. The master and four men drowned.’

This is a perfect example of the confusion which occurred in contemporary newspapers with information being ‘split down the middle’ between variant accounts, often in the same paragraph as correspondence from different sources arrived to hand. The vessel also turns up in a Dutch paper, where: ‘they write from Ramsey, an Island and Haven in the Irish Sea, that the richly laden merchant vessel the Juffrauw Ida Maria was lost on the cliffs at that harbour with man and mouse’. (The latter is Dutch idiom for ‘with all hands’.)

There are no cliffs at the entrance to Ramsey, Isle of Man, but this description fits the profile of Rame Head, which is near Plymouth. The Dutch version suggests that Lloyd’s List was the medium of transmission, Dutch editors struggling to make sense of the missing letters in Lloyd’s List. They evidently settled on Ramsey rather than Rame Head, but the loss of all hands in that account suggests that the Dutch dogger and the Edia/Ida Maria were one and the same.

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