Search billions of records on

Part of the Acorn Archive

Hearts of Oak

SS Amazon


Destruction of the Steamship by Fire with Great Loss of Life


The reason that I first became interested in the story of the loss of the SS Amazon,

was that I found an entry (many years ago)

in George Clement Boase’ Collectanea Cornubiensia of 1890.

This was under Shipwrecks and was included in the book by virtue of there having been

six Cornishmen in the crew,

together with another Cornishman, under passage to take up his appointed position

on HMS Devastation, a rather unfortunate coincidence of a name.


The gentleman was Lieutenant Charles G Grylls RN, who had distinguished himself in the saving of lives on that fateful day. The reports were such that it had been announced in the Cornwall Gazette on the 8th January 1852, that 25 year old Lt Charles Grylls had perished, and that would have been the third son lost in the year. The message that Lt Grylls sent that Friday morning by special messenger to his father clearly was received with much joy; and celebrations upon his return to St Neot ensued, the village swollen by hundreds from other villages.


Lieutenant Commander Charles Gerveys Grylls was the 3rd Son (one of ten children)

of the Reverend Henry Grylls (d 1862) and Ellen Mary Boulderson of St Neot, Cornwall.

Born at St Neot  1st July 1826; christened 15th August 1826

He was Inspecting Commander of Coast Guard, Chester until his death.

Died Cheltenham 7th February 1860; buried 14th February 1860 in St. Neot.


His younger brother, was Henry Gerveys Grylls (Midshipman RN), born 14 September 1824 and died on HMS Ganges, at Lisbon 11th September 1839, “age 13”.

His elder brother, Horatio Glynn Grylls born 1828, became Lieutenant 64th Regiment, died and was buried 8th January 1852.

Another brother born 1831, Shadwell Morley Grylls became Lt Colonel RA, Sherrif of Cornwall.


Lieutenant Commander Charles Gerveys Grylls was later in command of

HMS FANCY, a Dapper Class Gunboat, launched 31st March 1855; a 232 ton wooden hull, screw propeller ship, with three guns Tender to Cornwallis; and from 11th May 1855 on the Black Sea (Tender to Royal Albert) during the Russian War.




Captain William Symons was born in 8th May 1801, in Falmouth, Cornwall.

He had already given a well appreciated service, as well as that rendered in Panama,

in command of the Royal Tar.

ROYAL TAR  [King William IV, was in the RN 1779-1790].

Launched 1832, built by John Duffus & Co, Aberdeen. 681grt; 154 x 27.6 x 6.5 ft.

2 cyl paddle wooden steamer; 260 ihp; 8 knots.

ROYAL TAR was one of the two ships chartered by P&O in 1833 from The Dublin and London Steam Packet Company. The other was the WILLIAM FAWCETT.

Royal Tar made four full voyages to the Peninsula May - November 1834, through Willcox & Anderson of London.

In 1835, In association with HMS CASTOR and HMS RINGDOVE, ROYAL TAR relieved the siege of Bilbao, and landed the 1st Regiment of the British Legion, recruited in England. For Captain William Symons’ service in commanding the ship during this period of support for the Queen of Spain, he was conferred the Knight Cross of the Royal American Order of Isabella, the highest order that could be conferred on a foreign civilian.

In 1836, some of the recruits for her majesty’s service in Spain, upon arrival in Falmouth for coal and water, escaped and took over the collier JOHN, and got her under way, however, Captain Symons took the situation in hand and took Royal Tar alongside, forced her off shore, and then ordered a chain to be passed around the foremast, then towed the John out into the Outer Roads, armed his crew and forced the rebels back on board the Royal Tar, and then proceeded on his appointed voyage.

Royal Tar was eventually sold in 1847 to the Portuguese Government and was reconditioned by the same company that built the Amazon, Greens of Blackwall.



The young man, William Vincent, who had also distinguished himself in taking command of an appalling situation and in saving lives, was born 3rd May 1834, also in Falmouth.





Raymond Forward