Wreck of the Royal Charter, Coastal Features Moelfre, Anglesey - Wales where to go, what to see and where to stay in Wales


Llanallgo Moelfre Anglesey Wales
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On the 25th October 1859 the Royal Charter, a 2,719 ton steel-hulled steam clipper bound for Liverpool from Melbourne Australia, was lost off the village of Moelfre on the east coast of the island of Anglesey. The Royal Charter was capable of carrying over 600 passengers and crew [though the exact number for the trip is unknown as the passenger list was lost in the wreck]. What is known is that the ship also carried a cargo of gold from the Australian goldfield valued at £320,000, a fortune at the time. It sailed into the worst storm that had occured in the Irish Sea during the century. Indeed in total about 200 ships were wrecked that terrible night and it became known as the night of the Royal Charter Storm.| Having successfully completed much of its journey the Royal Charter ran into a storm on its last leg across the Irish Sea. On reaching Point Lynas on the north east point of Anglesey the storm had increased to such an extent that the captain of the Royal Charter was unable to take the pilot on board for the final Liverpool section of the journey and sought shelter on the east coast of Anglesey. Finding themselves between Lligwy Bay on the one hand and Red Wharf Bay on the other the crew's attempts to slow her inexorable movement failed - the anchor lines broke, attempts at chopping off sails, rigging and masts were not enough, and eventually the propellor stopped and the outcome was that the vessel was shipwrecked on the coast of Anglesey just off Moelfre. The waves were so tumultuous that the ship struck the rocks fifty yards from the shore. One member of the crew, Guze Ruggier a Maltese seaman, whose name is often anglicised to Joseph Rogers, volunteered to swim ashore with a line. Guze succeeded in reaching the rocks, probably through a blend of courage, strength, skill and knowledge of the behaviour of the sea and on reaching the rocks he was caught and hauled (badly injured) by men from Moelfre who also braved the terrible conditions. This effort permitted a bosun's chair to be rigged, and slowly this provided a veritable lifeline for passengers and crew. However the ship rapidly broke up by the force of the storm, and the hawser broke (as had the ship's anchors before it). Every person on board was thrown into the sea. |Through the efforts of Rogers and the "28 men of Moelfre", who formed a human chain into the raging seas, 18 of some 376 passengers, 5 of 11 riggers working their passage, and 18 of more than 100 crew were saved, all were men, with no women or children saved. | According to a newspaper at the time the names of 31 of the survivors were: Christopher Anderson, William Ferris, Thomas Gundry, James M'Capper, Henry Carew Taylor, James Dean, John Bradbury, Samuel Grenfell, Samuel Gapper, John Judge, James Russell, William Draper, Edward Wilson, George Gibson, David Strongman, Tom Tims, Patrick Devine, James White, George Pritchard, Thomas Cunningham, William Barton, Thomas Cormack, John O'Brien, Joseph Rogers, George Suiacar, Walter Hughes, William Foster, Owen Williams, Henry Evans, Thomas Griffiths and William M'Carthy.| Mr Guze Ruggier was recognised for his bravery and as far as is known 'Joseph Rogers' is the only person who was not a lifeboatman or member of the RNLI to have been awarded its gold medal. |The names of the 28 Moelfre men are not to be found on any monument and they are recorded by the Llanallgo Church with pride. The Moelfre Twenty Eight: Thomas Roberts, Owen Roberts, Owen Roberts jr., David Williams, Mesech Williams, Robert Lewis, Thomas Hughes, John Hughes, William Owen, Richard Hughes, Evan Williams, John Parry, John Owens, Thomas Parry, John Lewis, Joseph Williams, Thomas Owen, William Williams, Richard Mathew, Israel Mathew, William Pritchard, Owen Hughes, Richard Evans, David Owen, John Lewis jr, William Owen, Lewis Francis, John Francis. "Some there by who have left behind them a name to be commemorated in story. Others are unremembered, they are perished as though they had never existed. Ecclesiasticus 43 v. 8 and 9"|The precise number of dead is uncertain as the passenger list was lost in the wreck, but about 459 lives were lost, the highest death toll of any shipwreck on the Welsh coast. Many of the passengers were men returning from the Australian goldfields and some had attempted to leave the ship and swim to shore with their pockets filled with gold dust. For weeks after the tragedy bodies were washed up on the beaches, and on the clifftop there is a memorial with the words "where the Royal Charter met its end, and the memory of those who died".| Of those who perished 140 lie in the graveyard at Llanallgo Church on the outskirts of Moelfre (where there is also a memorial obelisk), 64 are buried in Llaneugrad, and 45 in Penrhosllugwy. Others lie in the graveyards of the parishes on the beaches of which they were washed up. Acknowledgements: Llanallgo Church Website: Wikipaedia.com : www.agius.com/maltese/ruggier.htm
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