Death at sea was a danger for every seaman and for those who crewed a sailing ship the dangers were greatest.
John Doyle and John Clifton, Cutty Sark able seamen, were tragically lost overboard in 1883. It is well documented in Basil Lubbock’s book, The Log Of The “Cutty Sark”, with Captain Woodget’s log entry reprinted in full. With the discovery of the entry in Captain Moore’s log of the thirteenth voyage I can now acknowledge the passing of William Abram in the same manner.
Cutty Sark lost six men overboard, one to murder, one to suicide, five who died in Shanghai including three who died in the same outbreak of cholera, and two who died on-board suffering from disease. One of them was William Abram.
William Abram (who Captain Moore refers to as Abraham) was a man of thirty one years, born in Lancashire. He was first recorded as ‘laid up’, Captain Moore’s term for unable to work, on the 22nd September with repeat mentions over the following days and weeks which included visits to the doctor. It appears he never fully regained his health and he died on the 5th of November and was buried at sea.
As a final item it seems fitting to include the entire log entry, as written, for the day William Abram was buried at sea. An entry in the accounts for the wages due to him converts to about £12.50p and was presumably paid to his family. The burial set within the normalcy of the day brings out its poignancy as you imagine his shipmates, their heads bowed, as the plank on which his body is lain is raised and it slips into the sea.
Monday November the 6th 1882
Throughout the day light winds and fair weather with passing clouds all sail set Tacking to windward
4. Madras bore S by W ½ W & Palical Shoal S by W ½ W dist about 7 miles
9/30 William A Braham died during the last 24 hours one man & boy attending on him. Having been 8 weeks ill.
7am. Got Mr A Braham sewn up in canvas –
8am. Captain reading burial service and committed his Body to the deep also [h]is Bedding and several of his clothes – crew painting and cleaning Fore house Carpenter repairing boat Sailmaker repairing spanker
Noon ditto weather
The ‘Captain Moore’s logbook’ blog series is written by volunteer Roger Hodge: “I chose Abram’s burial for the final blog as a sort of mini memorial to him for two reasons. First because his burial at sea was without friends or family to mourn his passing, and second, the log entry has a slightly incongruous feel to it as it begins the day as a million other logs before reporting the death of Abram and the solemnness of the burial and immediately follows this by returning to the mundane. Noon ditto weather.”