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Description

The story of the SYPLH is one of long service, despite being reported wrecked in the Royal Charter Gale, 25-26 October 1859. The vessel was described as a brigantine and was completed at Newquay by Owen Owens on 21 April 1855.

Technical specifications are given in its Port of Aberystwyth Shipping Register entries (an example is shown in the image above):

Official number 9806. 145 2396/3500 tons burthen. 1 deck, 2 masts, that her length from the inner part of the main stem to the forepart of the stern post aloft is 80.9ft, her breadth in midships is 20.2ft, her depth in hold at midships is 11.8ft, that she is a brigantine rigged with a standing bowsprit is square sterned, carvel built, no galleries, and a woman full figurehead, and that the framework and planking are of wood, and that she is a sailing vessel.

The SYLPH's ownership is typical of that seen amongst many vessels belonging to the harbours around Cardigan Bay - the 64 shares in the vessel were divided amongst a large number of local people. The number of shares owned by each individual is shown in brackets below:

John Evans of Newquay, master mariner (10)
Jones Jones of Penddenas (8) and John Owen of Cilie (4) both of the parish of Llandysuliogogo, farmers;
Morgan Evans (2), Evan Evans (2), Francis Evans (2), and Evan Jones (2) master mariners, of Newquay;
John Jones, sailmaker (2); William Jones, ironmonger (2) and Thomas Owen, smith (2) all of Newquay;
Thomas Evans of Panlglynhir (4) and John Evans of Morfagwyn (2) all of the parish of Llandysiliogogo, farmer;
John Thomas of Hengyrynt, parish of Henfenyw, farmer (4);
David Jones of Aberaeron, ironmonger (2);
Griffith Morris of Pwllglas, parish of Penbryn, farmer (2);
Rees Thomas of Pimlico, London, milkman (4);
John Strong (4) and William Reed (4) both of Liverpool, shipbrokers;
Evan Evans of Gogobofawr, parish of Llandysiliogogo, farmer (2).

The SYPLH was driven ashore near Conway during the Royal Charter Gale of 25-26 October 1859. The newspaper Baner Amerau Cymru reported '...the crew and the captain's wife having clung to the rigging for hours, the remainder of the vessel being under water, and the sea so violent that none could reach them, though in the afternoon the coastguards succeeded in bringing them all safely to shore and they were taken to the Erskine Arms to recover...'. John Evans, the principal shareholder, was the master at that time.

The SYLPH's ship registration documentation at Aberystwyth notes that the vessel was remeasured in late February 1860 and registered anew because of a change in dimensions. This suggests that it underwent major repair/rebuild after the gale, before continuing in service. The
SYLPH was finally lost when it had to be abandoned in a sinking condition in latitude 52 36N, longitude 2 51 E (in North Sea) on the 12 October 1881.

Sources include:
Passmore, S, 1982, Farmers and Figureheads: The Port of New Quay and its Hinterland, pg69-70
Port of Aberystwyth Shipping Register 1853-1855, Ceredigion Archives AT/SHIP/4, folio 78
Port of Aberystwyth Shipping Register 1855 - 1862, Ceredigion Archive Service AT/SHIP/5 folio 142
Wynne-Jones, I, 2001, Shipwrecks of North Wales, 4 ed, pg99


The handwriting of the registrar sometimes makes people's names and where they lived difficult to decipher. Use your mouse to hover over the placenames - do you think that we've transcribed them correctly? Can you locate the places mentioned on the historic Ordnance Survey mapping provided by the People's Collection Wales WWW site?

The reference to Rees Thomas of Pimlico, London, a milkman, owning shares provides us with a link to the large community of Welsh people living in London in the 19th century. In the early part of the century, milkmen were a rarity and a far more common sight in the city's streets was the milk-maid. A contemporary writer gives a graphic description of the hard life they led:

'The milk is conveyed from the cowhouse in tin pails, which are principally carried by strong, robust Welsh girls, but a considerable number of Irish are also employed for this purpose. These are the same that retail the milk in the streets of the metropolis, and it is amazing to witness the labour and fatigue these females will undergo, and the hilarity and cheerfulness that prevails among them, and which tends, in a surprising manner to lighten their laborious employment ... The weight they are accustomed to carry on their yokes, for example, for a distance of two or three miles is sometimes from 100 to 130 lbs. By mid-day they had returned to the cowkeepers for more milk, after which they were back on the street until six o'clock. For this they were paid nine shillings a week with breakfast thrown in.'

Source: Peter Jackson, 1987, George Scharfe's London

Sir David Davies (20 December 1870 - 25 April 1958), was a Welsh Conservative politician. He was born in Tregaron, Ceredigion, where his father was a smallholder. Like many of his contemporaries, he left the Teifi Valley to work in the London as a deliverer of milk. He became the first leader of the London Retail Dairymen's Association. What additional information can you find relating to the large community of Welsh living in London, particularly the dairymen?

How many other trades or professions are represented in the occupations specified for each of the SYLPH's owner?

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