Wednesday, 29 November 2017

EDWARD MELLISH & THE SAKATA WRECK OF 1905

In Windsor's historic St Matthew’s Anglican cemetery is a monument to Edward James Mellish a young man who lost his life in a shipwreck at the turn of the twentieth century. Who was he and what were the circumstances of his death? 

Edward Mellish plaque on the Upton family vault in St Matthew's Anglican Cemetery
Photo: M. Nichols, 2017

According to the newspapers of the day, a British schooner called the “Sakata” was on a voyage from Anapolis in Brazil, to Havana in ballast in December 1905.  The “Sakata” was a three-masted schooner and “was struck by a terrific wave during a heavy gale” and turned her on “her beam ends, and before the crew had time to cut away the masts to right her she capsized, throwing Captain Donlon and the whole of the crew into the water.”

Some of the crew were able to climb to safety on the “upturned vessel, but owing to cold and exposure they gradually lost consciousness” and eventually vanished into the ocean. Out of the seven members of the crew, there was only one survivor, John F. Williams, one of the mates. He was on the brink of death when rescued by the crew of the “Helen Thomas” and was almost unconsciousness. He had kept alive for four days, by nibbling on his oilskin jacket.  

Sadly a local resident, Edward James Mellish drowned in the accident. Edward was the son of Edward Mellish 1850-1913 and Susannah nee Upton 1850-1885. Edward junior left Riverstone a number of years ago and sought work on “Sakata” a trading boat. Edward was twenty years and six months old when died and apparently had a “fine physique and splendid disposition.” 

The Windsor and Richmond Gazette article 21 September 1907 stated that Edward’s sister, Mrs Ethel Lorger, received afterwards, an article about the accident which was titled, “Loss of the Sakata and Crew.”  Apparently, there was not a lot of information about the accident however after the event the following letter appeared in the newspaper:  
Having read your inquiry in the Halifax paper in regards to your son Edward, I am taking the liberty of writing you, as ''Ned ' was a personal friend of mine while he was at this port. I spent the evening with him the night he left on that fated voyage on the schooner “Sakata”. Strange to say he asked me to write to you if he did not return, and I had forgotten the address until I came across the piece in the paper by chance. There is no doubt in my mind that poor Ned was lost as the only one who was saved was the mate, and his name is Williams, from St John, New Brunswick, I saw a letter that was written. To the lady that Ned boarded with while he was in town. It was from the mate after he came back to St John. He told how the vessel was struck by a squall and capsized, and he managed to climb on the bottom, and was rescued after much suffering, and obliged to eat a portion of his oilskins to keep alive. It was all so sudden that all the rest must have gone down immediately, except one poor fellow, he saw struggling in the water, but he could not help him, and finally he threw up his bands and was seen no more. It was Ned's watch below at the time of the accident, so you can imagine what kind of a chance he would have. The lady Ned boarded with was Mrs Lear Hardwick, who has since left here and gone to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The schooner Skata loaded lumber at the port, shipped by Pickels and Mills, and not Parsboro as stated in the clipping enclosed but was in Pars. And hoping these few lines will be of some assistance to you, I will come to a close, and kindly accept my sincere sympathy for the loss of your son as well as a very dear friend to me. I remain, yours truly, Herbert H. Hearne, Annapol, Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. 
The circumstances of his death are few and far between however following the sad death of Edward, the family erected a monument on his mother’s family grave, the Upton’s. The vault is situated in St Matthew’s historic cemetery, Windsor to commemorate Edward, who lost his life on the other side of the world.

3 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you posted this... I took a photo of this stone last year and intended to research the name, as my Dad had a friend, long gone, of that name...I never did remember to do it.
    I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2017/12/friday-fossicking-dec-1st-2017.html

    Thank you, Chris

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