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rigg'd it as well as we could, and with a main-sail lower'd almost to the deck, stood at a great rate afore it all night and the next day, and on Tuesday morning we saw land, but could not tell where it was; but being not in a condition to keep the sea, we run in, and made signals of distress; some pilots came off to us, by whom we were inform‘d we had reached the coast of Norway, and having neither anchor nor cable on board capable to ride the ship, a Norweigian pilot came on board, and brought us into a creek, where we had smooth water, and lay by till we got help, cables, and anchors, by which means we are safe in place.
Your humble Servant,
From on board the John and Mary, riding in Yarmouth
Roads during the great Storm, but now in the river of Thames.
SIR-Hearing of your good design of preserving the memory of the late dreadful storm for the benefit of posterity, I cannot let you want the particulars as happen'd to us on board our ship.
We came over the bar of Tinmouth about the - having had terrible blowing weather for almost a week, insomuch that we were twice driven back almost the length of Newcastle ; with much difficulty and danger we got well over that, and made the high land about Cromer, on the north side of Norfolk; here it blew so hard the Wednesday night before, that we could not keep the sea, nor fetch the roads of Yarmouth; but as the coast of Norfolk was a weather-shore, we hall’d as close Cromer as we durst lie, the shore there being very flat; here we rode Wednesday and Thursday, the 24th and 25th of November.
We could not reckon ourselves safe here, for as this is the most dangerous place between London and Newcastle, and has been particularly fatal to our colliers, so we were very uneasy ; I considered, that when such tempestuous weather happen'd, as this seem'd to threaten, nothing is more frequent than for the wind to shift points; and if it should have blown half the wind from the south-east, as now blew from the south-west, we must have gone ashore there, and
VESSELS IN YARMOUTH ROADS.
been all lost for being embayed; there we should have had no putting out to sea, nor staying there.
This consideration made me resolve to be gon, and thinking on Friday morning the wind slacken’d a little, I weigh'd and stood away for Yarmouth Roads; and with great boating and labour, got into the roads about one in the afternoon, being a little after flood, we found a very great fleet in the roads; there was above three hundred sail of colliers, not reckoning above thirty sail which I left behind me, that rode it out thereabouts, and there was a great fleet just come from Russia, under the convoy of the Beserve frigate, and two other men-of-war, and about a hundred sail of coasters, Hull-men, and such small craft.
We had not got to an anchor, moor’d, and set all to rights, but I found the wind freshen’d, the clouds gather’d, and all
black to windward; and my mate told me, he wish'd he had staid where we were, for he would warrant it we had a blowing night of it.
We did what we could to prepare for it, struck our topmast, and slung our yards, made all tite and fast upon deck; the night prov'd very dark, and the wind blew a storm about eight a-clock, and held till ten, when we thought it abated a little, but at eleven it freshen'd again, and blew very hard ; we rid it out very well till twelve, when we veer'd out more cable, and in about half an hour after, the wind encreasing, let go our sheet anchor; by one a-clock it blew a dreadful storm, and though our anchors held very well, the sea came over us in such a vast quantity, that we was every huur in danger of foundering. About two a-clock the sea fill’d our boat as she lay upon the deck, and we was glad to let her go over board for fear of staving in our decks. Our mate would then have cut our mast by the board, but I was not willing, and told him, I thought we had better slip our cables, and go out to sea; he argued she was a deep ship, and would not live in the sea, and was very eager for cutting away the mast, but I was loth to part with my mast, and could not tell where to run for shelter if I lost them.
About three a-clock abundance of ships drove away, and came by us, some with all their masts gone, and foul of one another; in a sad condition my men said they saw two founder'd together, but I was in the cabin, and cannot say
I saw it. I saw a Russia ship come foul of a collier, and both
drove away together out of our sight, but I am told since, the Russia-man sunk by her side.
In this condition we rid till about three a-clock, the Russia ships which lay a-head of me, and the men of war, who lay a-head of them, fir'd their guns for help, but 'twas in vain to expect it; the sea went too high for any boat to live. About five, the wind blew at that prodigious rate, that there was no possibility of riding it out, and all the ships in the road seem'd to us to drive. Yet still our anchors held it, and I began to think we should ride it out there, or founder, when a ship's long-boat came driving against us, and gave such a shock on the bow that I thought it must have been a ship come foul of us, and expected to sink all at once; our men said there was some people in the boat, but as the sea went so high, no man dust stand upon the fore-castle, so nobody could be sure of it; the boat staved to pieces with the blow, and went away, some on one side of us and some on the other; but whether our cable received any damage by it or not we cannot tell, but our sheet cable gave way immediately, and as the other was not able to hold us alone, we immediately drove; we had then no more to do, but to put afore the wind, which we did : it pleased God by this time, the tide of ebb was begun, which something abated the height of the sea, but still it went exceeding bigh; we saw a great many ships in the same condition with ourselves, and expecting every moment to sink in the sea.
In this extremity, we drove till daylight, when we found the wind abated, and we stood in for the shore, and coming under the lee of the cliff near Scarbro, we got so much shelter, as that our small bower anchors would ride us.
I can give you no account but this; but sure such a tempest never was in the world. They say here, that of eighty sail in Grimsby road, they can hear of but sixteen; yet the rest are all blown away.
Here is about twelve or fourteen sail of ships come in to this place, and more are standing in for the shore.
Abundance of other strange deliverances have been related, but with so small authority as we dare not convey them into the world under the same character with the rest; and bave therefore chose to omit them.
The editor of this book has laboured under some difficulties in this account; and one of the chief has been how to avoid too many particulars, the crowds of relations which he has been obliged to lay by to bring the story into a compass tolerable to the reader.
And though some of the letters inserted are written in a homely style, and expressed after the country fashion from whence they came, the author chose to make them speak their own language, rather than by dressing them in other words make the authors forget they were their own.
We received a letter, very particular, relating to the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and reflecting upon his lordship for some words he spoke, “ That he had rather have his brains knocked out, than,” &c., relating to his inferior clergy. The gentleman takes the disaster for a judgment of God on him; but as in his letter, the person owns himself the bishop's enemy, fills his letter with some reflections indecent, at least for us : and at last, tho' he dates from Somerton, yet baulks setting his name to his letter: for these reasons, we could not satisfy to record the matter, and leave a charge on the name of that unfortunate gentleman, which, he being dead, could not answer, and we alive could not prove.
And on these accounts hope the reverend gentleman who sent the letter will excuse us.
Also we have omitted, though our list of particulars promised such a thing, an account of some unthinking wretches, who passed over this judgment with banter, scoffing, and contempt. It is a subject ungrateful to recite, and full of horror to read; and we had much rather cover such actions with a general blank, in charity to the offenders, and in hopes of their amendment.
One unhappy accident I cannot omit, and which is brought us from good hands, and happened in a ship homeward bound from the West Indies. The ship was in the utmost danger of foundring; and when the master saw all, as he thought, lost, his masts gone, the ship leaky, and expecting her every moment to sink under him, filled with despair, he calls to him the surgeon of the ship, and by a fatal contract, as soon made as hastily executed, they resolved to prevent the death they feared, by one more certain : and going into the cabin, they both shot themselves with their pistols. It pleased God the ship recovered the distress, was driven safe into
and the captain just lived to see the desperate course he took might have been spared; the surgeon died immediately.
There are several very remarkable cases come to our hands since the finishing this book, and several have been promised which are not come in; and the book having been so long promised, and so earnestly desired by several gentlemen that have already assisted that way, the undertakers could not prevail with themselves to delay it any longer.