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The MERLIN was a wooden sloop or smack (sources differ) built in 1839 at Bideford by Thomas Evans. Technical and configuration specifications are given as:

16 1908/3500 tons burthen; 34.5ft length x 10.9ft breadth x 6.1ft depth in hold; 1 deck, 1 mast, smack rigged with a running bowsprit, square sterned, carvel built; official number 15330.

The smack was registered at Newport for part of its early life, but was transferred to the port of Bideford in 1846 when it was sold by Thomas Cam Giddy of Newport and William Newcombe of Bulkworthy, Devon, to Francis Drake the Younger of Heanton, Devon, mariner.

Francis Drake retained owership until August 1848, when the MERLIN was sold to Thomas Watts and John Chugg, both mariners of Heanton Punchardon and John Watts of Ashford, a labourer. Thomas Watts became the sole owner in 1849. He sold the MERLIN to Thomas and George Bushen of Pilton, both mariners, on 29 October 1855.

Less than a year later on 4 August 1856, the Bushens sold the vessel to John Jones of Cardiff, mariner.

In the aftermath of the Royal Charter Gale, 25-26 October 1859, the Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian printed a report that the 'little smack called the Merlin, which was employed in carrying lime stones from Barry to Cardiff was lost, and the captain and his brother, and a man who used to help them on the beach, were drowned... The three bodies were conveyed to Barry Church'.

The MERLIN had been wrecked off Cold Knapp Point, near Barry.

The burial records for St Mary the Virgin, Cardiff, for 1859 contain references to the internments of James Jones of Lowdown Square, aged 17 years, and John Jones also of Lowdown Square, aged 31 years, on 29 October 1859.

Sources include:
Board of Trade Harbours of Refuge 1859, pg 121(563) and Table 19, pg 25(529)
Board of Trade Wreck Return 1859, pg 25, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers Online document 2623
Burials records for St Mary the Virgin 1859, pg220-1, Glamorgan Archives online database
Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette, 29 October 1859, pg5, col 4,
Larn and Larn Shipwreck Database 2002
Port of Barnstaple Shipping Register 1837-1855, North Devon Record Office, 3318/2, folios 84, 108 and 123
Port of Barnstaple Shipping Register Transactions Register 1831-1940, North Devon Record Office, 3318/4 , folio 39
Port of Newport Shipping Register 1837-1855, Gwent Archives D1847/2, folio 228

Contemporary reporting suggests that the smack was engaged on a regular basis to bring limestone from Barry to Cardiff. What large construction project was going on within the docks in 1859 for which the limestone and lime mortar made from it might have been used?

The listed owners include a descendant of a famous Elizabethan seafarer. What is the connection of this seafarer to Devon?

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