|Windermere from Sour Howes|
|Windermere from the western side.|
I have conducted a lot of research on subjects that have been forgotten with reference to Lake District history, most of these have been tragedies on the fells and lakes. It really commenced through my interest of a drowning that occurred in Derwentwater, where 5 young ladies of Nelson, East Lancashire (all aged 20 and 21), were drowned on 12th August 1898, and at the time of the burgeoning group holiday experience of the Co-Operative Holiday Association (CHA), commenced by the man regarded as the father of the Outdoor Holiday Movement, Thomas Arthur Leonard. I then began researching other drownings, and was able to do a full account on the origins of White Cross Bay, where a cross was placed to mark the place where two young Wigan men drowned on 13th September 1853. I also was able to compile a fuller account on a tragedy of a training exercise just after WWII, where trainees from Warcop drowned while practicing landings on the islands.
I don't recall at what point in all my research it was, but imagine my surprise when I discovered sparse references to an even larger drowning tragedy than the Derwentwater incident, and my shock to discover that the number of victims was forty-seven! The incident has become known as The Great Boat Tragedy of Windermere or Winandermere of 19th October 1635, hence the matter appearing closer to legend, than fact; but fact it is.
Who were they, and how did such a tragedy come to be? One can understand that after 1635, with a lack of print or people of the mass population's ability to read and write, that it came to slip from the consciousness, but not entirely, though different references came to quote date variations and how people came to be on the boat, or ferry. There was a 'great boat' ferry that plied between the western and eastern shores of the lake, connecting the Bowness and Ambleside communities with Hawkshead, and that was the vessel that the sad occurrence happened upon. Variations of the tragedy say that it was a wedding party, another that it was people returning from a Market Day at Hawkshead; perhaps the truth was a combination of these two groups of travellers. Later accounts stated that the married couple themselves were drowned, but evidence later uncovered showed this not to be the case, though family members did drown. Folklore has it that the tragic victims were buried at the back of the church at Bowness, yet they are recorded in the Grasmere register, which I cannot explain, nor it seems could anyone else; the Bowness church has since been extended at the back, so perhaps all evidence is lost.
There is one other source of information that is crucial to the story, and it is a poem, albeit an abstract account, but the preamble contains significant detail. The poem was all but lost to the knowledge of historians, but there was discovered to be one original printed version which is now stored in The Bodleian Library, at Oxford University. The poem is 'The Fatall Nuptiall, or Mournefull Marriage. The heavy and lamentable Accident lately occurring, by the drowning of 47 persons, and some of those of especiall quality, in the water of Windermere, in the NORTH. October 19, 1635.
Contained within the Preamble, or Introduction, are references to those that drowned, and the association of some as family members, namely the mother and brother of the bride. When the list of the dead is inspected it is clear that the only persons these could be were, 'Geruies Strickland's wife of Stavelay' and 'Rolland Strickland'. The married couple were the groom, William Sawrey and the bride, Thomasin Strickland. Sadly the couple were to have a child through the marriage but it was stillborn and buried at Hawkshead on 12th July 1636; Thomasin was to follow the child to the grave, most likely dying through a complication connected to the birth, and buried on 25th July. Had it been immediately after the birth then death could have been through haemorrhage, or some other quick and merciful end, but to have been approaching 13 days later suggests she died a lingering and pain racked death with mercy paying little part. William went on to re-marry a Hester Sands on 10th June 1638.
Saint Martin's church at Bowness-on-Windermere was extended in 1870 and in the 'Bowness Long Ago' article in the Lakes Chronicle, 12th August 1908 edition, it quoted another local paper from 1888, which spoke of the extension, stating, '..... There were also the graves of, "Long Will Robinson," whom I saw drowned, of, "poor Tom." and the, "eight and forty row" of the ferry boat wedding party when forty-eight persons were laid in one trench, now cut in two by the new chancel. ....." What happened to the removed bones is not stated, but that they were so buried at St. Martin's there now seems no doubt. The church records I believe no longer exist, but, for some reason yet unexplained (perhaps a clerical archivist may have some explanation), but they are listed in the Grasmere Parish Records. These were quoted in the, 'Lakes Chronicle' of 26th August 1908. The article was a response to clarify the position of the earlier stated. 'Bowness Long Ago' article of 12th August; it stated:
“BOWNESS LONG AGO."
An article, with the above heading. which appeared in our columns of August 12th, has aroused no small amount of interest among readers of the Chronicle: and, in connection with the same topic. we are now favoured with the following supplementary remarks by Mr Bailey- Kempling.
The article in question makes reference to the Ferry-boat disaster on Windermere, when, through the carelessness or want of judgment of those on board - a sudden flocking to one side - the boat heeled over and some 47 [or 48?] lives were lost. There are four sources of contemporaneous evidence of this catastrophe. The first is the Grasmere Parish Register, and the entry, in its rugged quaintness, is as follows :_
“The XXth of Octob: 1635, theis were all drowned in Windermer water in one boate comeigne over from Hawkshead:-
Mr. George Wilson, of Kendall.
John Beck, his wife, his son, and a servant maide, of Kendall
Thomas Powe, of Kendall.
Randall Noble, of Kendall.
John Kitchin's son of Strickland field.
John Pearson and his wife, of Skelsmere.
Christopher Phillipson, of Ashes.
Geruies Strickland's wife of Stavelay.
Mary, daughter of John Phillipson.
Thomas Milner, boateman and his 2 daughters.
Henry Pearson and Dorothie, his sister.
Tho: Bateman, of Crooke.
James Warriner, of the same.
John Satterthwayte, of the same.
Christopher Willan's wife.
Thomas Parke, son of Rolland.
Willm : Park, of Colgarth.
Myles Byrkehead, son of Myles.
Willm : Roberts, son of Thomas.
Christoph : Parke, of Colgarth, Willm's brother.
Willm : Rowes.
Thomas Wood's wife.
Nicholas Bell wife.
George Baxter and his wife.
Willm : Sewart’s wife.
Richard Seill's daughter.
Marke Harrinson's wife.
and 2 more or 3, and 7 horses, and one that escaped.'
This closing sentence has a subtlety of humour not often found in the staid pages of Parish Records.
The second authority is Wharton, the old chronicler, who has the following notice:-
"Eighteenth of October, 1635, the river Kent came into the vestry [Kendal Parish Church]. And 19th Thomas Miller, boatman, and 47 men and women were drown'd in Windermere water, with 9 or 10 horses, having been at a wedding."
Thirdly, there was published a volume, a few months after the accident, which gave a detailed account of the sad affair. It was entitled
" Fatal Nuptial ; Or, Mournful Marriage, relating to the Heavy and lamentable Accident lately occurring by the Drowning of 47 Persons (and some of them of especial Quality) in the Water of Windermere 19th Oct., 1635. —1636-2/-.
Last of all, but not the least interesting, is the versified reference by Hoggart, a local poetaster. It is as follows :
"Upon the 19th day of October, 1635 the Great Boat upon Windermere Water sunck about Sun Setting, when was drowned fforty-seaven persons and eleaven horses : ffrom Sudden Death Libera Nos.
Weepe not, sweet friends, but wipe away all teares
We are delivered from all human feares;
Let no man rashly judge of this our fall,
But rather let't a warning be to all;
And let none censure what we did,
Our thoughts were known to God, to mortals hid;
And though our bodyes sunk into the deepe,
Our soules did mounte, and therefore do not weepe."
So much for the "especial quality" of wedding guests—horses and men.
Thomas Hoggart, " Ald Hoggart" as he was commonly named, was one of those rhymsters (we must not too seriously call them poets) of the neighbourhood to whom attention was called in our previous article. He was a Troutbeck man, not a native of Bowness, though well known here; and, perhaps, not a little of his reputation was due to the fact that William Hoggarth, the famous artist, was his nephew. Cunningham, in his Life of the painter, says of Hoggart: He " was a rustic poet and satirist, whose rude and witty productions (in the opinion of Adam Walker, the natural philosopher) reformed the manners of the people as much, at least, as the services of the clergyman." The late Dr. Craig Gibson also remarks of Hoggart’s verses : “considering that the author was a poor denizen of a rude and remote fell-dale, who died at the commencement of last century, they are altogether surprising." Hoggart died in 1709. Two brief examples of his pen, in addition to the one already quoted, may be given. The first is:_
UPON THE PRESENT CLERK OF WINDERMERE.
Under these monumental stones,
A Parish Clerk doth lye,
A hogshead doth enclose his bones,
For he was always dry.
His lips unto the tap he laz'd,
His back to the bung-hole brink,
Who knows (although that he be dead)
But he may dream of drink.
To spare the fare of Charon's boats,
When he to Styx shall come,
This barrel may save him a groat.
To drink in Elysium.
The second is:
ON BOWNESS AND HER KIRK.
An old Kirk with a new steeple,
A poor towne and proud people.
Much more might be said concerning Hoggart did space but permit. A full account of his life and work was given, some time ago, in a booklet issued by G. Middleton, of Ambleside, and from which the above excerpts are mainly culled. He was, possibly, the best of his class, one of a type in which the true vein of humour was obvious mid uppermost, an artless unaffected soul—the very antipodes to such wretched drivellers as the “Poet Close."
******* A further piece of evidence I found at the Lancashire Archives where the renowned writer Thomas West (1720 - 1799) viewed the Grasmere register and noted the names of the deceased from the Great Boat Disaster of Windermere. West made famous his 'Viewing Stations' which were specific sites of great beauty, around the English Lakes, that he recommended to be viewed through a Claude Glass. This is basically a slightly convex portable mirror, which could be of various colours or hues, and with your back to the scene to be viewed you looked into the mirror which had caught (and coloured) the whole scene behind you. West had also viewed the Grasmere register and listed the names in letters to others.
A PREAMBLE, OR
to this Funerall
FOR the quality of griefe, none knowes it, but he who hath experimentally and personally felt it. That Place, which hath hitherto been secured from the last perill, you shall now see personated a spectacle of Sorrow: where those who vowed in a Sacred and Christian manner, their vowes to Hymen, the Soveraigne of Nuptialls, are now with Thetis To close in wat’ry Funeralls. The occasion of these sad Obits proceded from a Marriage and a Market day, which begot to the Attendants a mournefull night; yet from that Night (such was their assured expectance, and our undoubted affiance) a happy day. The place, where these drenched Soules were to take Boate, was that famous and renowned Mere of Windermere, a Mere no less eminent and generously knowne for her Sole-breeding, and peculiar kinde of fishes (commonly called Chares) as for those windy and labyrinthian mazes, with those curiously shaded , beauteously tufted, naturally fortifide, and impregnably seated Hands in every part of the Mere interveined. To relate the several windings of it, or more historically to describe it, were fruitless, being already explained by a genuine and learned Relater. To divert then from the Place, to the sad occasion of this Action, thus I proceed.
Windermere, or Winandermere, streaming, or rather staying in a continuate Tract or Channell, without any visible of apparent Current, and dividing the Counties of Westmerland and Lancashire, hath ever constantly kept a Boat for Passengers; especially those Inhabitants who remaine or reside in the Barrony of Kendall, (a place to her honour, antiently famous for her Commerce and industrious Manufacture) as all others, who may have occasion to addresse their course by that passage, to the Market of *Hawkside, or other places adjoining. To this Boat, upon a nuptiall but fatall occasion, sundry Passengers, and these all Inhabitants within the Barrony of Kendall, (a Burrough as I formerly observed, highly eminent, by having such neare relation and generall correspondence with most places of trade or trafficke in this Kingdome) repaired; hoping with a safe and secure gale to arrive, where no perill had ever yet approach’d. The Boat they enter’d, securely confident, with 47. in number, besides other carriages and horses, which (together with the roughnes of the water & extremity of weather) occasioned this inevitable danger.
Lanch’d had these scarcely to the medth of the water, being scantily a mile broad, but the Boat, either through the pressure and weight which surcharg’d her, or some violent and impetuous windes and waves that surpriz’d her, with all her people, became drench’d in the depths. No succour, no reliefe afforded, for Gods definite Will had so decreed: So as, not one person of all the number was saved: Amongst which, the Brides Mother, and her Brother in this liquid regiment, equally perished.
To aggravate the quality of this Accident, I need not; an imaginary representment of sorrow is sufficient to it selfe. Onely, let me reare before your eyes this Theatre; on which you are not to expect ought from this Tyringhouse of heaviness, but Scenes of passion and disconsolate anguish.
Many of these left Wives without Husbands, others Husbands without Wives; most of these, Children without Fathers or Mothers. Estates they had, but indisposed; because in such a moment of time prevented, as wherein they stood most secured, soonest abridged.
What a fatall Nuptiall was this? when those Nuptiall ribbons and sprigges of Rosemary, which were given as favours for a Nuptiall, became Rosemary sprigges to adorne their Funerall?
What an Embleme of Mortality may men see in himselfe, in this image of himselfe? A Navigator is not to be secure in three inches, nor man of his life, which is but a spanne. How secure were these in their temperate mirth; and with what a calme Convoy they expected to arrive at their Port? If we should consider those billowes, wherewith we are daily and hourly encountered: those perilous passages, whereto we are exposed: with that difficulty of the Haven, at which we are to be landed, wee would constantly tremble, and stand in feare, least every wave, every worldly care, should endanger our shipwracke.
What loving associates were these to Hymen? what Conjugall consorts to a festive Nuptiall? yet see the close of their marriage melody, drowns it selfe in a wat’ry Lachrymae! What then on Earth is heere constant? or where in ought may we be confident? A merry Evening makes an heavy morning: and a glad going out, a sad returning. Sad to their friends, but cheerfull to their dearest soules, which have call’d from the Depths, and are assuredly heard.
**It is a good Prayer, to deliver us from sudden Death, yet there is no sudden Death to them that die well. Gods mercy is betixt the bridge and the brinke; Nor are we to despaire of these helpe, who in God repose their sole hope. Abyssus abyssum invocate: These in the depth of their misery, call’d upon the depth of Gods mercy; and though they could not reach to land with the hand of their body; they reach’d with the hand of faith to the Haven of Glory. As no man values the place of his Birth, so is hee not to disvalue the place of his Death. Wee have a sacred President; to whom neither place of Birth nor Death became an Ornament.
Wee are here to pass the waters of tribulation; our Barkes are weake, our passage dangerous: Shelves wee have full of perill: presumption to transport us, despaire to deject us. If wee surcharge our vessel, what may wee expect but drowning? if wee ballase it not enough, what may we looke for but floating? We have an Anchor; it is our Saviour: wee cannot faile, if through him wee suffer. Hee, who can command the Windes and the Seas, will waft us o’re these troublesome Seas, and conduct us to the Port of rest.
It is time, that while wee are heere imbarked, there is no security; Marchant venturers wee are all, hazarding our state, stocke and store in crazy and leeking vessels. Wee bicker with waves, stormes and tempests: even our own dissorting passions; which like so many billowes, mutine in us, and threaten shipwracke. Neptunum procul a terra; wee eye, and eying, sigh for our Haven.
Poor Sea-fairing Soules, what a doe wee make with our distempered Motions, (which to use the words of that Divine Father) swarme like so many Bees about us; and while they sting us, wee hold them deare unto us!
Invironed wee are with danger on the Maine; and perilous Sands and Shelv’s oppose us in our landing. Though the Course of our Navigation be passing short; the continued Current of our dangerous passage appears long.
We account him foolishly merry, and insensible of perill, who, when the Windes rage, the Waves rise, & nothing but feare and horrour become Objects to the weakned Ship, carrouseth and drinkes healths to the Winde, as One secure of his approaching fate. And what lesse doe wee, when in these weake Barkes of our Bodies, wee expose our selves to all sensuall pleasures, as if wee were a shore and secure from danger, when wee are surrounded with perill, and farre divided from our Harbour?
The Philosophers question impli’d a Divine Morall: Quanta spissitudo navium? 4. digitorum. And that Sacred Light of the Orientall Church might seeme to answer this, no lesse positively than pithily: Tres cubiti terrae te expectant.
That surviving glory of Stagyrus reports, that about the River Hypanis, which runneth through a part of Europe into the Sea Pontus, are bred certaine Beastes which live but one day; and surely, if wee should compare thus straite confined limit or period of our own age with immortality, (the Soules sole-harbour after her disbarking from the Sea of misery) we shall be found in regard to our frailty every way as transitory, as these day-dying Beasts.
Death is such a discursive Serjeant, and so serious in the discharge of his Errand, as there is no place of priviledge to exclude him, or rescue the party arrested by him. Hee ha’s a Mace for the Sea, as well as Land. Which may be instanced in no patterne more clearly, no Object more truely, then in this Tragicke Scene of Sorrow, which we have now in action: Where, of 47. as we have formerly related, not one secured, not one from Death rescued: and this happened the 19. Of October.
But as waves follow waves, so it oftimes falleth on the progress of woes, for no lesse remarkable is it, that upon the 6. November, a Graves-end Barge was by report cast away, seconding this former very nearly, if not wholly, in number: but the apparancy of their danger begot this report (as wee have since heard) without any other actuall disaster.
The use of these should necessarily conduce to our selv’s: on Water and Land to recommend us in our passage and conduct to his Sacred direction and protection, by whom wee breath and have our being. In aquis & terries de Deo meditari, & ceolesti ejus custodies now – Ipsos ***comendare, est neque ab aquis nee a terries, motu vel metu discriminus imminentis, periclitari. And Withall, to reteine a charitable opinion of such, as by these premature and adventitious ends, are translated from us. Pauli nanfragium animae salus fiut: Let us apply this, though in another sense addressed, to these hopefull Soules now departed. Hee, who is the LORD of the Depths, can extend his unbounded mercy to the Depths; and put an hooke in the nose-thrills of that Leviathan, who raigneth, ruleth and rageth in the Depths.
This Preamble hath enlarged it selfe to so extensive a measure, as it may seeme to some, to resemble a Mindain Structure: but as arguments give light to Subjects; so Preambles, by way of Introduction, have ever given light to refinedst Poems.
(*In the margin starting next to the word ‘Hawkside’ – The Charter of which Market was procured by that industrious Agent for his Countrey [or is it Countey?], Mr. Allen Nicholson.)
**So as this night bee their proper impreze: Mergimur immerse rapida sub guzgite tuti: “Per maze per terzas, Semita rects bonis.
*** Malum est mori in naufragio, & bonumest mori felize? – Aug in Psal c.48
“THE FATALL NVPTIALL.”
THE FATALL NVPPTIALL:
OR, MOVRNEFVLL MARRIAGE.
Hymen, put out thy lights, thy selfe confound
With griefe, to see thy teare-swolne cosorts drownd,
Thy late Attendants: See of forty seven
None rescued from death, but wholly driven
From hope, helpe, harbour! Recollect it thus,
And joyne in mournefull Eligies with us.
Husbands of Wives, Wives of their Husbands reft,
Parents of Babes, Babes of their Parents left.
Heere Widdows tears, and there poor Orphans cryes,
These fill the Cesterns of distilling eyes
With confluence of teares. What a sad Night
Hath damp’t the beauty of a Nuptiall light
With Universal sorrow? – Pray thee stay
And sayle along with me in this same way,
This wat’ry Region, where the curled waves
Afford us teares, and to their bodies graves:
- See, see the leeking Vessell how it strives
And combats with the waves, to save their lives!
It sighs and seeks for Land, but press’d with weather,
And her surcharged burden both together,
While surging billowes mount above the brinke,
Shee’s forc’d to yield, and with her fraught to sinke.
To sinke! O silence that perplexing word,
It will a Deluge of new griefe afford
To the relenting Reader, who with teares
Will rinse each comme and period that he heares:
And wooe th’ inraged waves, and chide them too,
When he in milder tearmes shall cease to woo;
And in such home bred Dialect as this,
Taxe them and tell them, that they did amisse.
(Hand) O should you now see how Child clings on Mother,
Husband on Wife, Wife Husband, one on other,
Grasping the yeelding Streames, who in remorce
With Wat’ry veils shroud their inchanneld coarse;
Should you conceit these Objects, you with me
Would cloze in one-united Lachrymae.
O WINDERMERE, who art renown’d afarre
For thy sole-breeding there unvalued Charre,
And with thy spacious channell doest divide
Two antient Counties seated on each side;
(Hand) May thy fresh waters salt and brackish turne,
And in their chang’d condition henceforth mourne;
May those distilling conduits of thine,
Loosing their native sweetnesse flow with brine:
Tuning each accent of this accident
To Swanlike Odes of dying dreriment.
What did incense thee thus? What furious fate?
Thethis and Hymen were they at debate?
Did any impious one this shipwracke cause,
Some high Delinquent to Heav’ns sacred Lawes,
Whose deepe-dyde sinne did so the State infest
As it became a Scourge unto the rest
That were his haplesse Consorts? or some wretch,
Some hideous hagge, or late-reprived Witch
Sprung from those desart Concaves, forlorne Cells,
Raising these stormes with their infernall Spells?
No; No; nor this, nor that, nor any these
Gave life to these expiring miseries.
It was that fixt decree, to which ‘tis fit
That wee who are his Creatures should submit.
The sacred Scriptures they will plainly tell
How those, on whom the Tower of Shilo fell,
Were not the greatest sinners, Nor ought we,
To judge, but by the rule of Charitie
To measure all our Censures: for who ar’t,
That liv’st so free from act, so pure in hart,
Who canst in judgement with th’Almighty stand,
Or prove good weight when balanc’d by his hand?
If he doe spare then, ‘tis his mercy to us,
And if hee scourge, hee doth but justice doe us.
But let me now divert my dolefull Scene,
And pencyle these who now have drowned bene,
In their owne native feature! “These were such
Who, to relieve their Meniey, labour’d much
In their industrious Wool-worke; justly fam’d,
And for their Manuall labour Sheare-men nam’d.
An usefull mystery! Which though it make
Course cloaths, and such as ne’re did Alnage take,
Yet tis commodious to the Common-weale,
And fit for Sale, although unfit for Seale.
For if th’ poore work-man scarcely can supply
With late and earely toile his Family
Now when his Trading is exempt and freed,
In paying Alnage how should hee succeede?
But Heav’ns be blest for our dread Soveraigne,
Who cheers with freedome such an honest gaine.
Most then of these wract Passengers were such
Whom never yet ambition did tutch,
Grinding oppression, griping avarice,
“Conscience their praise, and competence their prize.
Much comfort (sure) crowns such wheres’ere they dye,
Though drencht below, their thoughts are fixt on hye.
But amongst these, both love and blood doe urge
An higher straine of passion for my *GEORGE.
*Mr. George Wilson, Atturney in the Common Law: one of pregnant conceit and sincere in the course of his practise.
Of pregnant ripe conceit, firme to his friends,
And ne’re soak’t Clients purse with endlesse ends;
Young, yet well read in hours; fixing his love
On Lawes Divine and on the Land above.
Such dispositions make a good Atturney,
And wing his passage for an heav’nly journey:
Where he this fee may for his labour erne,
Peacefull Eternity without a Terme.
(Hand) A just weeke after, and same houre o’th day,
His Corpes were found, that hee was throwne away,
Untouch’t and undisfigur’d; to imply
Mans face i’th Depths retieines a Majesty.
Next Him, those nursing fosters of my Three,
Three little ones, whom they so carefullie
Tender’d, exact of me their funeral teares,
With such a Monument as Vertue reares
On her true-meaning followers: for to show
How their industrious Master and these two
Exprest their love and zeale to me and mine,
Would aske a lasting-living-loving-line:
And Gratitude keepes somewhat to requite;
“To Him my love, to Them my last good-night.
Yet recollect those latest words She said,
When she that fatall vessel entered,
While thrice she lanched forward to the Maine,
Thrice she step’d in, and thrice retyr’d againe,
As one divining what would after fall,
With trickling teares thus on the Oares did call;
Oh stay thy Boat, secure me and my Mate!
“One may foresee, but not prevent their fate.
Next these, His losse, who at my Table fed,
And as one of mine owne, was sometimes bred,
I mone; One may their duty farre forgit,
Yet God forbid, wee should not this remit,
As wee hope for remission: Hee is dead,
And with him my disasts are buried.
To waft him o’re (no doubt) it did Heav’ns please,
From th’waters of Contention unto Peace.
For th’ rest, I knew them only by report,
Of honest fame, though of obscurer sort.
And these with those I confidently trust
Are now enrowl’d ith’ number of the just.
Now to our selves let something be applied,
And then these papers shall be laid aside,
“J’st so, that we in hourely danger stand,
Whether wee saile by Sea, or go by Land?
“That we to th’ World, but one entrance have,
But thousand meanes of passage to our grave?
“That all our ways are hedg’d about with feare,
While wee are Pilgrims in this Desart heere?
“That none shall be exempted, but must goe
Unto the place where they’r confined to?
“And that the wise shall no more fruit receave
Of all his labours, then the foole shall have?
And that their end’s alike, for both shall die
To prove them Coheirs of Mortality?
“For th’ politick Him must yield to swelling Humber,
As well as th’ least of his inferior number,
“And Archie that rich foole, when he least dreames,
For purchast lands, must be possest of streams:
“What can wee practice, project or devise,
When ther’s no priviledge for Foole or Wise?
Let’s like wise Merchants then, make it our care
To looke unto our Faith, our Fraught, our Fare;
Like Prudent Pilots, on our guard let’s stand,
That with safe prize wee may returne to Land.
For ev’n methinks, before they yield to Fate,
Their case they seeme thus to expostulate.
Spare me, insulting waves, the Father cryes,
Take pitty, of my poore parentall eyes,
In me yee shall drowne many; for my life
Supports a Family, Children, and Wife.
These perish if I fall; then pity take
If not for me, yet for mine Infants sake.
I have industrious beene, and given relief
Out of my little store, to ease the griefe
Of hungry Soules; Nor doe I boast of this,
For Heav’ns you know, I’ve done too much amisse:
Not in those works of mercy that were wrought,
Have I perform’d my duty as I ought.
Give me some longer respite, that I may
Redeeme the time wherein I went astray.
Thou who command’st the winds and waves, and went
Upon the waters, calme this element;
Steere our weake Barke, for it is in thine hand,
To still this Storme, and bring us safe a land:
But let not our will, but thy Will be done,
And as hee ends, another streight begun.
I am a Mother, O deliver mee
From these inclosing dangers which I see;
A tender Infant hangs upon my brest,
And only in my bosome takes sweet rest;
How will it cry, if it his mother lacke!
Then for the Babes sake shield me from this wracke.
If shuddering horrour now surprize mine heart,
Oh what an anguish will it be to part
A mother from the fruit of her owne wombe,
And in the wat’ry depths, to have a Tombe?
Excuse my feare, deare Lord, it is not common
For vizile Spouts to be in a Woman.
Where my Lord is, my thoughts are fixed there,
Yet flesh and blood their dissolution feare.
To thee then I direct my sole request,
In whom I put my trust, in whom I rest:
Incline thine eare to a poore Womans crye,
And be thou mine, whether I live or dye.
The feare-surpirized Childe, who sighs for shore,
And ne’re knew well what danger went before;
Sends forth a shrieke or two, yet knows not why,
For ‘las hee knowes not what it is to dye.
Oh save me, Mother! When shall we get home?
I have desire that wee to land may come,
I’l goe no more by Water, by your leave,
Nor shall a Cock-boat e’re your boy receave.
What meane these swelling bubbles that arise,
And with these sprinklings wash mine head and eyes?
I cannot tell, but they affright me sore,
Get I to land, I’l trouble these no more.
At Ducke and Drake I’d rather safely play,
On our owne Poole upon the Holy-day.
- Ay me! That last wave, mother, washt my coat,
An other such would throw me out o’th Boat.
Faine would I sleepe, but yet I cannot heere,
Take any rest, I’m taken so with feare.
- Oh save me Mother! thus her Lambkin cride;
And she with teare-swolne eyes again replide.
Feare nothing, Child: Heaven shield us from mishap;
Sleepe pretty Ape, l’l shroud thee with my lap.
‘Twixt feare and love such mutuall conflicts bee,
The waves socke her, she him upon her knee.
Weigh these surprised soules who rightly can,
And shares not in these miseries of man
With joynt compassion? Who can eye this Shelfe
Of danger, and reflect not on himselfe?
Of the whole substance of our Marchandize,
One onely Pearle’s of unvalued prize:
Which got, wee gaine; which lost, it is in vaine
To have possest the Indies for our gaine.
Let’s then contemplate Him, where wee may rest,
For all things else are losse, hows’ere possest.
If wee have wealth, perchance, wee have not health;
If wee have health, perhaps, wee have not wealth;
If health and wealth, yet friendship may be scant;
If health, wealth, friendship, wee may honour want;
If health, wealth, honour we injoyers be,
Yet what are these if wee want libertie?
But God is all in one, for it is hee
Who with a girdle bounds the surging Sea:
Nought may oppose his Empire, whose command
Reacheth from Sea to Sea, from Land to Land.
Some Merchants for Silkes, Sables, golden Oare,
Dive in the depths, before they vent to shore,
But wee runne no such hazard; for wee seaze
On Him, who in Him seazeth wholy these.
Draw in thy sailes, my Muze; and muze on Him,
Who free from staine, assoiles our soules from sin.
*Jonah. 2.5.6. Who, when the Waters compasse us halfe dead,
The Depths enclose us, weedes enwrappe our head;
When wee to th’ bottome of the mountains go,
And th’ Earth with barres immuzes our bodies too;
Yet from the Pit will Hee our Spirits raise,
To whom bee still the sacrifice of Praise.
For further reading on the foole Archibald (Archie) Armstrong:
For further reading on the foole Archibald (Archie) Armstrong:
Here, I am the documenter of the evidence and mainly choose not to offer my opinion as explanation, the reader can apply their own. It stands as a sad yet important piece of Westmorland history and one of the biggest fresh water drowning tragedies in the country. Certainly the poem hasn't been available in a public forum for approaching 400 years, which is surprising for what is one of the nation's greatest loss of lives. To my knowledge it took the sinking of the Marchioness on the River Thames on 19th August 1989 to surpass this lakeland tragedy, when 51 drowned.
(**On the meaning of 'barke', its usual meaning refers to a vessel or barge, but here, also a body carrying a soul.)
It appears that the great boat tragedy was not the only fatality, and it is the accounts of the Fleming household of Rydal Hall that gives reference to another tragedy:
The Estate and Household Accounts
Sir DANIEL FLEMING
Rydal Hall, Westmorland
1688 – 1701
Page 245 - September 14 1697:
This day Tho. Brathwaits Great boat was cast away, being over-loaded and it being a stormy day, with 4 men therein viz. Rob. Grunel, Rob. Grunel his son, Will. Ellerey, & James Brathwait of Sawerey, ye last of whom was drowned, & ye other three narrowly escaped. She was loaded with Limestones. This Boat was cast away 62 yeares ago next Octob. ye. 19th, when 46 persons were drowned, & 7 Horses, it being a very windy day upon Windermere.
This seems to suggest that the boat was recovered after the tragedy of 1635, although there would be repeated repairs. Perhaps this indicates that the Great Boat, as a ferry was replaced and the older vessel went on to be used in the transport of quarrying material.
This seems to suggest that the boat was recovered after the tragedy of 1635, although there would be repeated repairs. Perhaps this indicates that the Great Boat, as a ferry was replaced and the older vessel went on to be used in the transport of quarrying material.