The Ketch ‘Zuriel’

Written by S. Ablott
First Published


The fishing smack Zuriel was launched from John Wray & Sons yard at Burton Stather in 1878.1 The name Zuriel is Hebrew, meaning My rock is God, in The Bible Zuriel was the son of Abihail and was the chief prince of Merarites at the time of Exodus. The smack was 76 tons and ketch rigged, built for Thomas Ramster of Hull.1 She was registered in Hull as H1177.2


The first incident that we have found relating to the smack Zuriel, did not in fact take place on board the vessel, but in the Albert Dock in Hull on the 19th of August 1881.

A fisherman named Carl Segerlund was on a carpenters caulking boat in the dock with four youths. Their intention was to tow a boat which was full of water to the Zuriel and empty it. As they towed the small boat, it was sunk below the water. A sudden breeze sprang up bringing a wave over the side of the caulking boat, causing her to tilt. As the boat filled, Segerlund jumped overboard and swam 50 yards to the boat of a keel which he got in. The man on the keel cast him off as he went to help the others who were by now floating in the dock, the boats gunwale down to water level. He and another man who went to help got two of the lads into the keels boat, but the other two had sunk before they could be helped. The two bodies were later recovered by grappling irons.

The inquest returned a verdict of accidental death. Segerlund eas warmly commended for saving the two lives and attempting to save the others.3


In 1882 the Zuriel was bought by Mr Cook of Hull for £1,007.4 On the 20th of May 1886 she was reported to have collided with the smack Lochness (H1037) at a quarter past five in the afternoon, while 270 miles off Spurn Point. The Zuriel, under the command of owner/skipper Thomas John Cook was laying with the fleet when the Lochness, under Alfred Vine, has her tiller up and ran into them, tearing the mainsail. The Lochness broke her bowsprit.2

On the 31st of December in 1888, they were in another collision with another of Cook's smacks, one bearing his name, the Thomas Cook (H1337).2

The Loss of the Zuriel

The Zuriel left Hull for the last time on the 20th of July 1889 with a crew of five hands bound for the fishing grounds of the North Sea. On the 26th the third hand went into the engine room to get some paraffin to light the fire with. He forgot to turn the tap off which led to about four or five gallons of the oil to run out onto the engine room floor.

On the 29th they were about 180 miles off Spurn under all sail except for the foresail, with their head to wind. At 10pm Cook went below to get steam up ready for the haul. At 10:30 he called all hands on deck, started the engine and began the haul. With the fore quarter of the net got up, he sent the cook to stop the engine. While in the engine room, he noticed a lot of smoke in the cabin. The skipper went to investigate and called the second hand down. The vessel was on fire on the starboard side. The second hand went into the ice room and poured water on the fire through a hole in the bulkhead. After he believed that the fire was out, the skipper remained below for a short while before going back on deck and finishing getting the trawl in.

At about 11pm the fire had started again. The second hand went to put more water on it, but was unable to get the better of the fire. Cook was in fear of the heat causing the boiler to explode. The second hand wanted to open the hatch and get the pumps on to it, but Cook would not allow him.

By midnight they had got into the smacks boat and lay astern of her. There they remained until about four or five in the morning when they were picked up by the cooper ship Dolphin of Bremerhaven. They remained on the Dolphin for about two hours, they then transferred onto the smack Julia of Hull (H1150). From here they watched their burning vessel sink at about 10am on the 30th of July. Next the crew were transferred onto another Stather built smack, the Severn (H53) which brought them back home to Hull.4

At the Board of Trade inquiry in to the abandonment and loss of the Zuriel, it was said the vessel was in good seaworthy order on leaving the port. They could not identify the cause of the fire, but thought it may possibly have been a hot coal falling from the furnace onto the floor.

The court placed the blame on the skipper, for trusting the word of the second hand that the fire was fully extinguished without fully checking it himself. It was also considered that he lost his head to some degree through his fear of the boiler blowing up. Although Cook was considered to be to blame for the loss, he was not found in default. The Second hand was found to be no way in default.5

Vessel Details for Zuriel

Official Number:79437
Fishing Number:H1177
Vessel Name:Zuriel
  • Thomas Ramster of Hull 1889
  • Ann Ramster of Hull 1880
  • Henry Cook 1882
  • John Thomas Cook 1885
  • John Thomas Cook
  • William Sheppick 1887
  • Hull
Trade:North Sea Fishing.
Incidents:1886 While laying with the fleet the smack Lochness had up his tiller and run into the smack Zuriel and tore our mainsail and did himself some damage so that he had to go home. 11pm 6th November J T Cook skipper, found my 2nd Hand asleep, whose duty it was to keep watch. He refused duty went below, through which I had to bring the ship home. 31st Dec 1888 North Sea. Collision with smack Thomas Cook of Hull.
Fate:Abandoned after a fire in the North Sea on the 30th July 1889. The crew escaped to the boat and were picked up by a the cooper ship Dolphin.


  1. The Mercantile Navy Lists.
  2. Hull History Centre - Fishing Vessel Crew Agreements Yearly Returns
  3. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - 22nd August 1881
  4. Hull Daily Mail - 27th August 1889
  5. York Herald - 2nd September 1889

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© Background Photograph by Steve Smith.