New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Wreck of the ‘Lord Ashburton’

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The Wreck of the Lord Ashburton

Lord Ashburton

The Wreck of the Lord Ashburton by Joseph Heard

The Lord Ashburton was a 1,009 ton ship built near Saint Andrews, and named in recognition of the Baring family, headed by William Baring, the 2nd Baron Ashburton. He was a political figure who represented Britain in negotiating the border between Maine and New Brunswick, and for whom the Webster-Ashburton treaty was named.

The Lord Ashburton had left Toulon, France destined for Saint John, but the winds were so strong upon approaching the Bay of Fundy that it was forced to avoid attempting a landing. She was buffeted about for days during which time it came in sight of Grand Manan, and even Partridge Island before, at night and in the midst of a snowstorm on January 18, 1857, it struck the rocks off Eel Brook on Grand Manan. The masts were soon lost and ship was clearly breaking up. The crew gathered on deck and were either washed into the sea or jumped for their lives.

The best estimate of the number of people on board is 29 including Captain Owen Creary, his three officers, and a crew of 25. Some reports are a little confused as to whether the 29 included the captain and officers.

Several of the men made it to the beach alive, but most of them froze in the cold. One of the few survivors was James Lawson who managed to make it up the rock face and to take refuge in a barn at Long’s Eddy. The others were found in the morning, some still sitting in the posture in which they had died. Stories vary, and according to one account Lawson remained on the beach overnight and only made it up over the rocks in the morning. It sounds a little fantastic that anyone could survive overnight, soaked to the skin, in a snowstorm in January. In any case, he was found in the barn and taken in by a local family. He and six others ended up in the Marine Hospital in Saint John in February. Both of Lawson’s feet and possibly a leg were amputated and he remained in the hospital for five years. He was a native of Denmark but, after staying in Saint John for an additional three years, returned to Grand Manan, married, and became a shoemaker.

A wooden memorial was erected at the graveyard at North Head and, in 1910 the present permanent marker was erected reading “In Memory of 21 Seamen drowned on the Northern Head of Grand Manan, January 19, 1857, … to the ship Lord Ashburton.”

Ashburton Monument1

The 1910 Memorial

Dark volcanic stones can be found on the beach at Eel Brook Cove, and these stones are different from the native stone. These are assumed to be from the ballast of the Lord Ashburton.


Written by johnwood1946

January 13, 2016 at 7:56 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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