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
Historic Notices of the Borough
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.
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
Rhyl Journal - 13th June 1896
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.
The Marriage of The Rector of Flint
and Miss Florence Muspratt
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
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
|Crew||Age||Birthplace||Last Ship||Date Signed||Place Signed||Capacity Engaged||Date Left||Place Left||Cause 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|
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
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
Map showing the approximate location where the vessel was thought to have been lost, or the last known position.
Vessel Details for Florence Muspratt
- Lloyd's Register of Ships. - 1869 to 1899.
- Flint Town Council
- Historic Notices of the Borough and County Town of Flint
- Rhyl Journal - 13th June 1896
- Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
- The Marlborough Express - 16th January 1909, National Library of New Zealand.
- www.uboat.net - Ships hit during WWI.
- Customs House Registration Documents.
- Ship Official Log Book - National Maritime Museum
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission