ABERDEEN BUILT SHIPS


Name
CATHERINE ADAMSON
Construction
WOOD
Type
SHIP
Date
1855
Official Number
6900
Description
Rig: SHIP
Type: Sailing
Shipbuilder: Alexander Duthie & Co.; Owner: H. Adamson, Aberdeen

Aberdeen Register of Shipping (Aberdeen City Archives):
Registered 17/09/1855
Description: 1 deck, 3 masts, ship rigged, round stern, carvel built, no galleries, full length woman figurehead.
Original Owners: Henry Adamson, Shipowner, Aberdeen (40 shares); George Milne of Kinaldie, Gentleman (8); William Adamson, Sharebroker, Aberdeen (4); James Saunders, Aberdeen, Master in R.N. (4); David MacAllan, Shipowner, Aberdeen (4); George Stuart, Aberdeen, Shipmaster (4)

Lloyd's Register of Shipping:
1856, 1857: Owner H. Adamson; Master G. Stewart

Aberdeen Journal, 26/09/1855:
The fine new ship CATHERINE ADAMSON, launched here recently, sailed from the bay on Saturday evening at 7 o'clock and a telegraphic dispatch has been received notifying her arrival in the West India Docks, London, yesterday forenoon (Tuesday) at 11 o'clock, a splendid run.

The Era, 13/07/1856:
The ship CATHERINE ADAMSON, Captain Stewart, sailed from Sydney 16 April and arrived in the Downs on 9th inst., thus making the passage in the short space of 83 days.

Hocking, Dictionary of Disasters at Sea:
The clipper ship CATHERINE ADAMSON was bound from Aberdeen to Sydney, N.S.W., with a general cargo. On October 24, 1857 in rough weather she took shelter off the Inner North Head, Sydney, but dragged her anchors and drifted ashore and sank. 21 persons were drowned. The ship was in the care of a pilot at the time.

Wreck, North Heads, Sydney, 24/10/1857:
Conflicting reports given in newspaper report of wreck and in report of inquest (NLA Australian Newspapers BETA):

'The Empire' Newspaper Report:
Chief Officer (un-named) stated pilot Hawkes stood across several times to get to an anchorage, but owing to violence of gale and heavy sea was compelled to bring up in a dangerous position. He claimed that pilot turned down offer of tow by Capt. Creagh of steamer 'WILLIAMS' on grounds she had not enough power and requested Creagh to go into Sydney and send out tug. However, Creagh stood by. A squall threw 'CATHERINE ADAMSON' onto rocks, she being anchored too close to shore, and she became total wreck in one hour. Boats were lowered and took passengers and crew to 'WILLIAMS' , which kept as close alongside as possible. Nevertheless, 3 cabin passengers, pilot, 2nd mate and about 15 others drowned.
Capt. Stuart of 'CATHERINE ADAMSON' issued statement which gave quite different account. He claimed anchorage would have been safe if weather had remained moderate and that the 'WILLIAMS' had tried unsuccessfully to take 'CATHERINE ADAMSON' in tow. The ships gig and lifeboat got successfully to the 'WILLIAMS' (Capt. Stuart being in the latter to ask the steamer to come closer to the wreck and with the intention of returning. However, gig and lifeboat were swamped alongside the steamer).
At the Inquest (29/10/1857): One of the seamen stated that the blocks were defective before leaving England and that the ship worked badly in consequence. The Chief Officer repeated his view that the ship had been "ridiculously handled" by the pilot, but a seaman of 21 years' experience thought the pilot worked the ship in a proper manner. A passenger thought that all could have been saved if a united effort had been made. The evidence of the seafaring witnesses mainly exculpated the Captain from blame, but a pilot thought the Captain should have been the last to leave the ship. The Jury decided by a majority of 8 to 5 that the conduct of Capt. Stuart was blameless.
Shipbuilder
DUTHIE
Dimensions
length 179 8/10' x breadth 32 2/10' x depth 19 7/10'
gross tonnage 768 tons

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