The Loss of the Halsewell

A view of the 'Halsewell' sinking as she strikes the rocks, with seamen cast on to the rocky shore on the left. Throughout the scene there are men struggling to prevail against the turbulent waves, men latching on to the ship’s rigging, others climbing on to shore and pulling each other to safety. On the upper left can be found several men attempting to climb up some rocks; one of them has been caught plummeting to his eventual death.

The wreck of the East Indiaman 'Halsewell' was an event that shocked the country. On 1 January 1786, she began her voyage to Madras (Chennai) from London carrying a company of more than 240 crew and passengers. For four days, the ship was caught in a violent Channel storm, sprang a leak and on 6 January, drove ashore under cliffs near Seacombe, west of Swanage in Dorset. Overall, only 74 people survived, most of whom were rescued from the cliffs. Captain Pierce perished with the ship, alongside his two daughters, nieces and nephew.

Inscription: 'To the Directors of the Honble East India Company this Print representing the Loss of their Ship Halsewell in the Night between the 5th & 6th of January 1786 with precarious situation of the Survivors in a Cavern of the Rock, is most respectfully Inscribed by their Obedt servants'.

Object Details

ID: PAH7421
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Dodd, Robert; Dickinson, William
Vessels: Halsewell (1778)
Date made: circa 1786
People: Pierce, Richard
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 415 x 555 mm; Mount: 605 mm x 831 mm

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