The Ilfracombe Disaster - Survivors
Twelve survived The Monarch disaster and I have attempted to find out some brief background for each of them. Those who died have ages attributed to them in the articles / at the inquests but those who survived don't. There is therefore an element of doubt if I have the right person but they are correct on the balance of probabilities.
HAROLD A. BAKER – Woolwich, London - you can read his graphic eyewitness account of the tragedy including how he described how "the women commenced to scream and the men to holla, and then we found the yacht going down and we were all in the water. My mackintosh became entangled with the rigging and I was pulled under the boat”.
Mr F.W.GOUGH – Lewisham, London
Mr AUGUSTUS SPENCER JOHNSON – Twickenham, London
LEONARD KNAPMAN - born in Exeter, aged 17. His father was a successful draper, employing 31 assistants and Leonard was one of 9 children. On the 1901 census, Leonard is described as a "sheep farmer" but he is "Head" of house living in, I believe, a large property, Endsleigh House (now Endsleigh House Hotel).
Mr WYATT FREDERICK – Newport. His father wrote a letter of thanks to his rescuers in the newspaper.
Mr H. BARKER - London (confusion over the names Baker and Barker, so could be Woolwich)
W.E.KEBLE – Guy’s Hospital
Mr W. TAVERNER – Burton on Trent – at the original inquest it was reported he had done all he could whilst coming in on the rescue boat to restore animation to HANNAH ANNIE ASH. The jury on the first inquest were of the opinion that he deserved thanks for his efforts.
Mr FIELD EVANS – probably born in Old Ford, Bethnal Green, London, aged 24 – a witness at the original inquest and a friend of HARRY RAYNER who was lost. Various occupations according to census : Porter (1881), druggist (1891) and grocer & provision dealer (1901).
THOMAS FENN GODFREY aged 19 of Westbourne Villa, London, was an engineers apprentice and gave evidence at the original inquest. When he saw the boat was going down he jumped off and swam and was amongst the first picked up by Major Yeales. Said he “was with his cousin THOMAS KEMP SMITH of 46 Buckingham Palace Road in the yacht but he is now missing”. Details of his life, including becoming a Missionary after serving in the Royal Navy as Chief Engine Room Artificer, can be found on his great grandson's website.
Miss LILLY HARTNOLL (little girl) – She was staying with relatives in Ilfracombe. According to a report in the North Devon Journal, she “was brought up the pier steps with her clothes dishevelled and her hair wet. She had gone out under the care of Buckingham who had drowned but by great presence of mind. She kept her hands under the water and was rescued before much harm was done. She was put into a pony carriage and drove away with her grandfather, who was somewhat excited, running behind.”
WILLIAM RICE RUMSON born 1837 in Ilfracome of 2 Brittannia Row, Ilfracombe. The captain of the boat, brother of the boat owner, John Rumson. William had 30 years experience at sea and had been taking similar boats out of Ilfracombe for the last 10 years. His life was saved by the "Lorna Doone" which was criticisede by the Board of Trade Report as perhaps lacking in promptness at getting to the scene. Rumson was at the helm on this fateful day and the Report said "he no doubt is to blame for having made fast the main sheet. Unfortunately, however, it is a habit too common amongst sailors, and which has often led to the most lamentable accidents. Except in this respect we see nothing to find fault with in Rumson's conduct." On the 1881 and 1891 census his occupation was "mariner" and "mariner boatman" respectively, but on the 1901 census he was a "painter". William Rumson died aged 65 in 1904.
In the book (1943) "The Story of Ilfracombe Harbour" it says "William Rumson, who could not swim, and a little girl who also could not swim, had the presence of mind to lie perfectly still in the water, were saved. I understand that the little girl has recently re-visited Ilfracombe to view the scene where her life might so easily have ended many years ago."
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