Poppy

The Schooner ‘Florence Muspratt’

Written by S. Ablott
First Published
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Introduction

The schooner Florence Muspratt was launched at Burton Stather in July of 1872. The original owner was Alfred Dyson of Flint in Wales who registered the ship at Chester.1 Dyson was an Alderman of Flint and became the Mayor six times.2

Who Was Florence?

We believe that the ship was named after Florence Fincham Nicholas (nee Muspratt). Apparently a pillar of the community in Flint.3 She was the only daughter of Richard Muspratt, Alderman and seventeen times Mayor of Flint, he was also founder of the Alkali trade in Flint and his name was given to the Muspratt Memorial School. Florence's two brothers, James Liebig and Sydney Knowles Muspratt were also Alderman and became Mayors of Flint.2

Mr Richard Muspratt is the senior partner of the firm of Messrs Muspratt Brothers and Huntley, and a Justice of the Peace for the County. Mr Richard Muspratt's residence, Trelawny House, is situate in the very centre of the town. He has taken for many years the utmost interest in the Municipal Government of the Borough, and he is ably assisted in his efforts for the welfare of the Town by Mrs Muspratt, their sons and daughter; the latter, Miss Florence Muspratt, is always willing to promote any object having for its end the welfare of the town.

Historic Notices of the Borough
and County Town of Flint

On Wednesday the 10th of June 1896 Florence married Rev W L L Nicholas, the Rector of Flint. She was given away by eldest brother James, father Richard having died in August 1885. The wedding was a huge event for the town of Flint, involving the whole community.4

She has lived in Flint nearly all her life, and of late years has taken a lively interest, and an active part in dispensing her charity and benevolence to those in need of sympathy or help. The name Muspratt seems to have a charm in it to the people of Flint, and Miss Muspratt has done nothing to break the spell, but, on the contrary, has always been a joy to her parents and an adornment to her home.

Rhyl Journal - 13th June 1896
The Marriage of The Rector of Flint
and Miss Florence Muspratt

The Schooner

The schooner that took Florence's name had less good fortune, she actually sank twice. The first time was on the 16th of May 1877. While on route from Runcorn to Scarborough with a cargo of salt, she struck rocks in the Sound of Islay.5 The ship went over and filled with water, but was later raised and taken to safety.

In November 1908 she was damaged again in collision with the 4300 ton steamer Drumlanrig. The Drumlanrig was having a bad day. She hit both Florence Muspratt and the Plymouth ketch Britannia while making a run for Dover after sustaining serious damage in collision with the New Zealand steam liner Tongariro in thick fog.6

World War One

With wooden sailing vessels falling out of fashion with the British over the turn of the century in favour of steam ships, there few ships from Wray's yard still sailing the seas and oceans by the time World War One broke out. There were still some barges working the Humber region and most fishing smacks that survived that long were sold abroad. But while sailing was still as perilous as ever, this war brought about a new and deadly terror to sailors in the form a the German U-boats. In a bid to cripple trade and supplies they would scour the seas to seek and destroy merchant ships.7

In this registration document dated before the war on 16th of April 1913, we see the ship owned 22 shares by a shopkeeper, Robert Manley of Portlock Weir in Somerset and 42 shares by Harry Manley, a sailor from Portlock Weir.8

The log book from 1915 shows Harry Manley still as Managing owner, with John W Redd of Minehead as Master and August L Johansson from Sweden as Mate, along with other crew members and ports visited that year. The ports are mainly in the South and West regions ranging from Runcorn, Cork, Swansea, Penzance and London, among others.9

PortFromUntil
Port Talbot --- 23/01/1915
Cork 25/01/1915 04/02/1915
Cardiff 12/02/1915 08/03/1915
Newlyn 10/03/1915 19/03/1915
Penzance 19/03/1915 30/03/1915
Runcorn 06/04/1915 05/05/1915
Falmouth 12/05/1915 01/06/1915
London 07/06/1915 18/06/1915
Newport 26/06/1915 09/07/1915
Penryn 12/07/1915 27/07/1915
London 01/08/1915 14/08/1915
Swansea 27/08/1915 11/09/1915
New Ross 13/09/1915 01/10/1915
Newport 06/10/1915 13/10/1915
Falmouth 17/10/1915 03/11/1915
Weston Point 24/11/1915 30/11/1915
Runcorn 30/11/1915 18/12/1915
Voyages of the Florence Muspratt in 1915.9
CrewAgeBirthplaceLast ShipDate SignedPlace SignedCapacity Engaged Date LeftPlace LeftCause Left
John W Redd 53 Watchet Same Ship 01/01/1915 Port Talbot Master 31/12/1915 Liverpool Remains
August L Johansson 25 Sweden Same Ship 01/01/1915 Port Talbot Mate 31/12/1915 Liverpool Remains
W A Allen 33 Watchet Elinor Treginnis 13/01/1915 Port Talbot Able Seaman 18/02/1915 Cardiff Discharged
Charles Buckley 20 Cork Crown of Granada 04/02/1915 Cork Able Seaman 30/04/1915 Runcorn Discharged
John Wilton 35 Lowerstoft Bidsie & Bell 25/02/1915 Cardiff Able Seaman 07/04/1915 Runcorn Discharged
Albert Taylor 41 Poole Snowflake 02/05/1915 Runcorn Able Seaman 14/05/1915 Penryn Discharged
William Butterfield 17 Glasgow Royston Grange 02/05/1915 Runcorn Able Seaman 14/05/1915 Penryn Discharged
Alfred Baker 42 Rye Snowflake 31/05/1915 Penryn Able Seaman 08/06/1915 London Discharged
Francis Newman 16 London First Ship 31/05/1915 Penryn Boy 31/12/1915 Liverpool Remains
William Gregory 62 Derby Invicta 16/06/1915 London Able Seaman 07/10/1915 Newport Remains
James Collins 39 Courtmacsherry Iole 11/10/1915 Newport Able Seaman 26/11/1915 Weston Point Discharged
Albert Daris 16 Warrington First Ship 13/12/1915 Runcorn Ordinary Seaman 31/12/1915 Liverpool Remains
The Crew of the Florence Muspratt in the first half of 1915.9

This document dated the 24th of September 1917 is for the closure of the register, in which the vessel is reported as having been sunk by enemy submarine. Harry Manley has had to reply to the registrar to confirm the fate of the ship, he writes The Florence Muspratt has sunk on the 5th of Sept somewhere between St Malo & Parros Guirec by submarine one man being killed.8

Florence Muspratt in WWI
A pair of Type UCII Submarines

The dead man was the Mate August Leonard Johanssen who was said to have drowned as a result of the attack. The 29 year old was born in Teda Parish in Sweden, the son of farm labourer Karl Johan Johansson and Kristina Johansson (nee Nilsson). He is commemorated at the Tower Hill War Memorial in London.10

The schooner was travelling from St Malo to Newport in ballast when she was captured by UC-50 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Rudolf Seuffer, and sunk with gunfire, 10nm North of Sept Iles, in the English Channel.7

She was the second of two Stather ships to become the victim of German submarines in 1917 during World War One. The other was the Harriet Williams in February of that year.7

Map

Map showing the approximate location where the vessel was thought to have been lost, or the last known position.

Vessel Details for Florence Muspratt

Official Number:67961
Code Flags:PLHWCode flag - PapaCode flag - LimaCode flag - HotelCode flag - Whiskey
Vessel Name:Florence Muspratt
Type:SchoonerInfo
Built:
Tons:96
Length:80.7
Beam:21.5
Depth:10.5
Owners:
  • Alfred Dyson of Flint 1890
  • Harry Manley of Chester 1900 1917
Masters:
  • J Coppack
  • John W Redd 1915
Ports:
  • Chester
Notes:Named after Florence Fincham Nicholas nee Muspratt of Flint.
Trade:Hull coaster.
Incidents:16th of May 1877, struck rocks in the Sound of Islay and sank. Was later raised and recovered. November 1908, damaged in collision with the 4300 ton steamer Drumlanrig near Dover.
Fate:Capured by submarine and sunk by gunfire on the 5th of September 1917 off Sept Iles, one life lost.

Sources

  1. Lloyd's Register of Ships. - 1869 to 1899.
  2. Flint Town Council
  3. Historic Notices of the Borough and County Town of Flint
  4. Rhyl Journal - 13th June 1896
  5. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
  6. The Marlborough Express - 16th January 1909, National Library of New Zealand.
  7. www.uboat.net - Ships hit during WWI.
  8. Customs House Registration Documents.
  9. Ship Official Log Book - National Maritime Museum
  10. Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Last updated

© 2017 Burton upon Stather Heritage Group

Creative Commons. Background Photograph by Bruno Girin. Used with modifications under license.