The Wreck of the John 3 May 1855

The middle of the nineteenth century was a popular time for emigration to the colonies, particularly Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. Canada traditionally had been a popular destination for the inhabitants of Plymouth and North Devon who were mainly driven by the prospect of a better life. In May 1855 the barque “John” set sail from Plymouth for Quebec with about 270 passengers, mainly from Devon and Cornwall. Several of these were from mid Devon. The ship took a course too close to the shore and ran aground just a few hours later on the Manacles Rocks, just off the coast at St Keverne in Cornwall. About 194 passengers died, mostly women and young children. All 19 crew survived.

 

Extensive research on the “John” Disaster has been done by Mark Sandford

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The adult fare was four pounds. Immediately after the disaster, survivors were offered a refund of one pound. Many had lost all their possessions.

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Artist's Impression of the "John" aground near The Manacles

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Another image of the dismasted "John".

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It is not clear how much compensation the relatives received