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Coffin Ship: Wreck Of The Brig St. John

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The tragic tale of the sinking of the famine ship, the St. John in Massachusetts Bay in 1849. The Great Irish Famine drove huge numbers of Irish men and women to leave the island and pursue their survival in foreign lands. In 1847, some 200,000 people sailed for Boston alone. Of this massive group, 2,000 never made it to their destination, killed by disease and hunger duri The tragic tale of the sinking of the famine ship, the St. John in Massachusetts Bay in 1849. The Great Irish Famine drove huge numbers of Irish men and women to leave the island and pursue their survival in foreign lands. In 1847, some 200,000 people sailed for Boston alone. Of this massive group, 2,000 never made it to their destination, killed by disease and hunger during the voyages, their remains consigned to a watery grave. The sinking of the brig St. John off the coast of Massachusetts in October 1849, was only one of many tragic events to occur during this mass exodus. The ship had sailed from Galway, loaded with passengers so desperate to escape the effects of famine that some had walked from as far afield as Clare to reach the ship. The passengers on the St. John made it to within sight of the New World before their ship went down and they were abandoned by their captain, who denied that there had been any survivors when he and some of his crew made it ashore. For those who died in the seas off Massachusetts, there was nothing to mark their last resting place; no name, no memory of them ever having existed, just another statistic in a terrible tragedy.


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The tragic tale of the sinking of the famine ship, the St. John in Massachusetts Bay in 1849. The Great Irish Famine drove huge numbers of Irish men and women to leave the island and pursue their survival in foreign lands. In 1847, some 200,000 people sailed for Boston alone. Of this massive group, 2,000 never made it to their destination, killed by disease and hunger duri The tragic tale of the sinking of the famine ship, the St. John in Massachusetts Bay in 1849. The Great Irish Famine drove huge numbers of Irish men and women to leave the island and pursue their survival in foreign lands. In 1847, some 200,000 people sailed for Boston alone. Of this massive group, 2,000 never made it to their destination, killed by disease and hunger during the voyages, their remains consigned to a watery grave. The sinking of the brig St. John off the coast of Massachusetts in October 1849, was only one of many tragic events to occur during this mass exodus. The ship had sailed from Galway, loaded with passengers so desperate to escape the effects of famine that some had walked from as far afield as Clare to reach the ship. The passengers on the St. John made it to within sight of the New World before their ship went down and they were abandoned by their captain, who denied that there had been any survivors when he and some of his crew made it ashore. For those who died in the seas off Massachusetts, there was nothing to mark their last resting place; no name, no memory of them ever having existed, just another statistic in a terrible tragedy.

35 review for Coffin Ship: Wreck Of The Brig St. John

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cecelia Hightower

    This book is another one about conditions in Ireland in the mid 1800's that forced people to flee Ireland for a chance of survival. Even though thousands were dying of starvation the English that ruled the island were exporting food grown in Ireland to England and Europe. The voyage of these ships carrying immigrants was not only long but very perilous. In the year the St. John made it's last and fatal voyage, October 1847, some 100,000 people set sail for North America with approximately 20,00 This book is another one about conditions in Ireland in the mid 1800's that forced people to flee Ireland for a chance of survival. Even though thousands were dying of starvation the English that ruled the island were exporting food grown in Ireland to England and Europe. The voyage of these ships carrying immigrants was not only long but very perilous. In the year the St. John made it's last and fatal voyage, October 1847, some 100,000 people set sail for North America with approximately 20,000 of them dying en route. The plight of the average person suffering during the "Famine of Ireland" was known world wide and many people tried to help them. Even the people of the Choctaw Nation, the people that the U.S. government forced to march from the South to reservations located further West where 50 percent of the people died and became known as the "Trail of Tears", raised $710 for the starving Irish. In today's money this would be approximately $136,000. The ship was within a mile of a safe harbor when the captain made the decision to anchor off shore and try to ride the storm out, which turned out to be a bad decision. There were 17 crew members and 126 passengers onboard the ship, as per the manifest for the ship, for a total of 143 people. During the investigation by the Canadian government there could have been as many 164 people. Some of the passengers saved and identification of some of the ones that were killed were not listed on the manifests. It was not uncommon for the captains of these ships to make a stop after officially leaving port to stop at another location and pick up passengers, with the whole fee going into the captain's pocket. Of the survivors, 10 were crew members and with only 17 passengers surviving. After the investigation it was determined that the St. John was totally unfit for sea voyages due to rot and damage by teredo worms. The conclusion of the Board of Inquiry was the captain was not at fault in this tragedy, but there might have been some under laying reason for this decision by the Board.

  2. 4 out of 5

    MS Meagher

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris Connor

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  5. 4 out of 5

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  6. 5 out of 5

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  11. 4 out of 5

    Roisín

  12. 4 out of 5

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  13. 4 out of 5

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  14. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Curran

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  21. 5 out of 5

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  22. 4 out of 5

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  26. 4 out of 5

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  27. 5 out of 5

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  28. 4 out of 5

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  29. 5 out of 5

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  30. 5 out of 5

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  31. 4 out of 5

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  32. 5 out of 5

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  33. 4 out of 5

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  34. 5 out of 5

    Michael lamy

  35. 4 out of 5

    Shauna

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