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Hearts of Oak

SS Amazon


Destruction of the Steamship by Fire with Great Loss of Life



Friday Evening - 9th January 1852


The excitement in reference to the disastrous and appalling loss of the magnificent steam-ship Amazon so far from subsiding in Southampton appears to be on the increase. The relations and friends of those on board are but just beginning to appreciate the reality and severity of the losses they have sustained by the dreadful fate

that has snatched away their husbands, brothers, sons, or acquaintances, as the case may be. Most of the crew, although not natives of Southampton, had fixed their residence in or near the town, and their families consequently reside here, dependent upon their efforts for subsistence and for a position in life.


Some idea of the terrible results of this frightful catastrophe may perhaps be formed when we mention that it is supposed that nearly 60 widows in Southampton have to mourn the loss of their husbands, and nearly 150 children are left as orphans to miss a father's care and protection.


The intelligence received in London on Thursday by submarine telegraph from Paris to the effect that 25 of the passengers and crew of the unfortunate ship had been taken into Brest by a Dutch galliot was speedily transmitted to Southampton and spread with the greatest rapidity. The news was circulated in handbills, and the

utmost anxiety was manifested to learn the names of those 25 persons who have been so providentially, rescued from the horrible alternative of perishing by fire or in the sea. The London papers of this morning were eagerly sought for by a great crowd in waiting for the arrival of the train.


Great was the disappointment, amounting in many instances to poignant anguish and grief, when it was discovered that no names could be given, and it was felt that several hours would have to elapse ere the list of the saved ones could be received.


Shortly before 3 o'clock this afternoon a telegraphic message was received, communicating the names of the survivors. This was instantly printed and distributed gratuitously. It would be difficult to picture the sensations of joy and gratitude that were experienced by those who found the name of a friend or relative amongst the long-expected and at the same time dreaded list, or, on the other hand, to picture the despondency and grief into which the more numerous persons were plunged, the names of whose connexions do not appear in it.


It is now hoped—although the hope is almost a despairing one—that some other boat may eventually be heard of, and that several others of the officers, passengers, or crew of the mighty ship may yet survive to swell the number of those mercifully saved from a disaster almost unparalleled in the suddenness of its occurrence, and

surrpassing in horror most of the disasters which, since the burning of the KENT East Indiaman in the Bay of Biscay, have been made known to the world.


It is a matter of considerable importance to distinguish among the list of the survivors landed at Brest on Monday last the name of Jacob Allen, the foreman of Messrs. Seaward and Capel, the makers of the engines of the Amazon and who was sent out by the firm to superintend the working of the machinery during the first voyage. The evidence that can be given by Mr Allen will be most valuable as it will no doubt tend to dissapate the absurd rumours that have been originated relevant to the oriogin of the fire, connecting it with the heating of the bearings. Such an idea could hardly be seriously entertained by persons practically acquainted with the engineering profession, and with the mode adopted on all occasions of cooling the journals and bearings of new engines, which it would be remarked, are scarcely ever within several feet of woodwork of any description, but are surrounded by, and attached, to the most massive parts of the framework of the engines.


We have much pleasure to announce that the directors of the Royal Mail Steam-packet Company have contributed 100 guineas to the subscription for relieving the unfortunate sufferers by the wreck of the Amazon, and for rendering substantial aid to the widows and orphans left by the crew. Mr Thomas Baring MP, chairman of the RMSCo, has given the sum of 100 guineas; these, together with other subscriptions from the inhabitants of Southampton, bring the fund to now stand at around 400 pounds sterling.






Raymond Forward