copyright ©
Stephen Gavin
2003 - 2011
brig Elizabeth Jane
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Brig Elizabeth Jane - launched Nova Scotia 1817 - Lost July 1854 off the coast of Yorkshire - Found Robin Hood's Bay, July 2003
Latest News 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2013
A short article about the Elizabeth Jane is available. An acknowledgement of its use will be much appreciated.
December 11th

The site has a link to the The British Pathe website where part of the film of the rescue of survivors of the Rohilla at Saltwick south of Whitby.
English Heritage's website is well worth a visit. In particular its articles about Maritime Women.

Perils of the Passenger
- the dangers facing women passengers and their fate in shipwrecks in British water, and Shipboard Nurses in the First World War - The story of nurses surviving shipwrecks during the First World War, are just two. The latter includes the loss of the Rohilla, in October 1914; not far to the north of Robin Hood's Bay, at Saltwick Nab.
November 14th

I came across this coloured engraving of Robin Hood's Bay by Nathaniel Whittock (1791-1860). Unfortunately the site on which I found it has ceased trading. There is a link to Julie's Prints, an Ebay Store, but this image appears to be no longer in stock. This is a striking and romantic image, and one likely to have put Robin Hood's Bay on the holiday route of the Victorian tourist.

If you come across a copy, or have a good quality scan, I'd be very pleased to hear from you. Contact

November 14th

Yesterday I went to Scarborough to celebrate the first birthday of the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre at 36 Eastborough.

I was made to feel very welcome and was given a tour of part of their collection of maps, photographs, models, and other maritime documents and artifacts; the whole collection being too large to store at their city centre site. The heritage centre holds many donated collections, which often represent a life-time of loving effort. The centre is managed by friendly volunteers who freely share their knowledge and enthusiasm. It has a small book and gift shop, and some of the books on sale are written by the centre's enthusiasts. The centre's website lists many articles written by John Rushton, who writes about Scarborough and other matters; and the work of other researchers, among them Tony East who is compiling details of Scarborough vessels and seamen.

It is the centre's mission to... a centre that is open to the public which celebrate's all aspects of Scarborough's Maritime Heritage.

...retain the skills and knowledge of our fishing and seafaring community which are being lost.

...carefully store, restore and display all memorabilia and exhibits donated to the centre.

...stage exhibitions and events that will involve all members of the community from 5 years old to 90 years old.'

Their latest news...

October 30th

Last week I bought a brig, not a real one, but a model; possibly made in the 19th Century - but who knows? Many of the details appear authentic, but comments will be welcomed. How she compares with Elizabeth Jane I will probably never know. This model seems very 'boxy'. I have seen images of collier brigs with similar 'blunt' bows, but I'm surprised how straight the lines of the hull are. Some images show brigs with very 'flat' sides to their hulls, so logically I suppose their lines will be 'straight'. Elizabeth Jane is described as 'Burthensome' in her sale advertisement, which I presume means 'capacious' or 'able to hold a lot of stuff'. It seems to follow therefore, that the closer a ship resembles a shoe-box the more 'burthensome' she will be.

'Click' to see a larger image of the brig

October 27th

Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre will celebrate its first anniversary soon with a party. The centre opens Wed-Sun 11am to 4pm and is at 36 Eastborough, Scarborough

September 12th

Alan Storm's Thesis:- Family and maritime community: Robin Hood's Bay, c.1653-c.1867, gives much information about Robin Hood's Bay and its history. His degree of Doctor of Philosophy was awarded by the University of Leicester in 1991.


September 10th
Charlie Ipcar - Roll & Go - Songs of the Sea  

Charlie Ipcar performed at the Tap and Spile, York. Charlie is based in Maine USA. He sings and plays the banjo, and specialises in 'Songs of the Sea'.

He has published several CDs, and a song-book called Sea Songs of Cicely Fox Smith - Songbook sample pages. His music & book.

Please note: Cicely is pronounced "sigh-sli" as in precisely)

August 2nd
Shipyards of Ipswich -
a drawing by Hugh Moffat MSNR
August 2nd
I am very grateful to Ian Wakeling for a number of emails concerning Ebenezer Robertson and Francis Hammond. Ian has realised that a Francis Hammond mentioned in a trail at the Old Bailey about a theft of whale bone, was not the once part-owner of the Elizabeth Jane. He also put me on to a map made by Hugh Moffat of the Orwell and the Ipswich wet-dock, which shows where major shipbuilding yards were situated over the past few centuries. The map, and Ian's findings and images of a number of trade directories, census records, and newspaper articles relating to Leicester Square etc., will be on this site soon.
August 1st

The Wolfram Alpha Search Engine
now offers the opportunity to make and publish 'Widgets'. This one calculates how much time separated significant events in Elizabeth Jane's life.
July 21st
An A3 poster of Elizabeth Jane's Story - do download a copy.  
July 9th

Image of a Collier Brig loading coal found at: website. The site is made in the memory of Philip Healey of Ilkeston Mines Rescue 1954-1971. I have attempted to check the source of this image, found on a number of sites. If you know its original source; own the copyright; or know the owner of its copyright, please contact us. This image has been used on a page that summarises the story of the brig Elizabeth jane.

(S.G writes - 20th March 2011 - this image is a wood engraving by Thomas Bewick, published in his Vignettes of 1827.)

July 9th
An anonymous article about a voyage to deliver coal to London - The Leisure Hour magazine


'Where bleak Northumbria pours her savage train,
In sable squadrons o'er the northern main,
That, with her pitchy entrails stored resort,
A sooty tribe to fair Augusta's port'


June 29th
Robin Hood's Bay.
Parties visiting the romantic scenery of Robin Hood's
Bay can be accommodated with respectable Lodgings at
Mr. M. Bell's, Belmont Place.
A cutting from the Whitby Gazette of September 4th 1854 has been added to this site as Image of the Month. July's image is a scan of a microfilm print-out of an advertisement, placed in the Whitby Gazette by Moses Bell, once owner of Elizabeth Jane Cottage, to encourage visitors to stay at his new cottages in Belmont Place. Mose's Bell had extended his existing two storey properties, by using timber from the Elizabeth Jane and the end wall of the new terrace built behind his original two-storey property.
June 21st

A significant piece of research that I should have published when I first received it from Serena Cant of English Heritage. It is an account of Elizabeth Jane's loss from her home port's newspaper the Ipswich Journal, July 15th, 1854, No.6,010:

'LOSS OF AN IPSWICH VESSEL: We have to record the loss of the "Elizabeth and Jane", Archer, master, the property of Mr. Read. It appears that she left Sunderland on Saturday morning with a cargo of coals. When about 4 miles off Whitby, she sprang a leak, and there soon being about 3 feet of water in the hold, with the pumps choaked, [sic] she was abandoned by the master and crew. At Robin Hood's Bay, the vessel ran ashore and was taken in charge by the Coast Guard.'

Serena continues: '...Elizabeth Jane was almost certainly legitimately sold, as the Coast Guard (who would have been the proper people to take the management of the incident in hand, before the setting up of the Receiver of Wreck in October 1854... ...Most "Coast Guard" men, incidentally, were Navy or ex-Navy men, so it was literally the equivalent of sending the military in to take control - they were, after all, meant to deal with smugglers and Frenchmen too! but their responsibilities extended to wrecks and to beating off the local populace intent on stealing liquor and drinking themselves insensible on the beach (which happened all too often), powers inherited by the Receiver of Wreck...'

There is no mention of the Elizabeth Jane's loss in Robin Hood's Bay's nearest local paper, the Whitby Gazette, which in July 1854 was a very new publication. However, to follow Serena's suggestion, I will contact the nearest local studies centre where I might find information to locate copies of handbills and posters advertising the sale "as she now lies". It is probable that Moses Bell, then owner of Elizabeth Jane Cottage (at this time a two story building), probably bought the wreck and broke her up himself over the winter of 1854/5. He would have had the right, according to indentures from a adjoining cottage, to lean timbers against his neighbour's wall. The 1860 Indenture reiterates an earlier 1847 right.

Serena also found this very interesting snippet in the Ipswich Journal, which refers back to a previous loss of a vessel owned by William Read:

'The announcement of Mr Read's acquittal, on the charge of having connived in the sinking of the "Colina", was welcomed yesterday at Ipswich by the ringing of bells, the firing of cannon, the hoisting of flags on the different vessels in the dock, and by other demonstrations of satisfaction on the part of the population.'
(Ipswich Journal, April 20th, 1844, No.5,479)

The Ipswich Journal IJ has a few records of Elizabeth Jane's in its arrivals and departures lists. 

June 16th

An interesting comment from an anonymous visitor to this site, concerning the Leicester Square home of Francis Hammond who in 1830 was part-owner of the Elizabeth Jane: 'I noticed on the page attempting to identify Hammond's house in Leicester Square you have an illustration from the London Illustrated News which is identified as depicting the square in 1858. Although it might have been published in 1858, it depicts the square before 1851, as Wyld's Globe stood in the gardens between 1851 and 1862 (though it doesn't make any difference to identifying the position of Hammond's house)'. More comments please!

Francis Hammond's House at Leicester Square

Wyld's Globe
June 14th

The Nameboard of the Elizabeth Jane has been accepted for the BBC's 'A History of the World Website'.

June 13th

A reasonably decent photograph of Elizabeth Jane's Nameboard. At last!

Nameboard of the Nova Scotian brig The Elizabeth Jane

Last year English Heritage made some photographs of details of brig Elizabeth Jane's nameboard, but this is the first full-width image. It was made by 'stitching' together eleven photographs of 2034 x 3456 pixels, using Microsoft Research's Image Composite Editor. This has caused some distortion, I think, but this image gives a very good impression of the board.

Follow this link if you want to see the brig's nameboard in great detail. Be aware, it is 25000 wide and 4.7 megapixels in size!
June 9th

Some thoughts on the making of Photosynths: When photographing an object, it would be useful to include in the scene 'markers' that will give the viewer a sense of 'where they are now'. These could be pins, post-it-notes with messages, little compasses etc. If an object, like Elizabeth Jane's Nameboard, is being synthed, it would be useful to lay a tape measure or measuring stick alongside it to give a sense of scale; shape (particularly if it has a bend); and again, a 'sense of location'. Navigating a Photosynth using overlapping images in 3D view can be tricky, particularly if the object is unfamiliar or composed of many similar surfaces or textures. Sometimes there are not enough photographs to 'bridge the gaps'. In such cases, Photosynth's 'Highlights' (little thumbnails) will act as useful navigation aids. In the case of the Nameboard there are 'Highlights' for every letter and other key parts of the board. If these are used to arrive at a particular face of the board, it is then much easier to navigate in either direction from that place.

It is worthwhile to experiment with Photosynth's other 'viewing modes':

These can be used to help build up a better understanding of the object being viewed, and to navigate around it.

3D View - allows one to navigate using the individual images placed in their relative 3D aspects. The degree of each image's 'distortion' gives a clue as to its orientation.

Overhead - shows Photosynth's capability to infer the plan view of a scene or object. Moving the cursor within this view shows where a photograph was taken as well as the photograph itself.

2D View - shows the individual photographs that have been 'synthed'. This mode makes it possible to chose a photograph to look at in detail. Double clicking on the photograph places it in its correct context in 3D view.

Point Cloud - give's insight into Photosynth's 'inner workings'. These are the inferred points in space by which Photosynth 'models' the scene or object.


Photosynth's Navigation Tools

Photosynth's 'Highlights'

June 9th

A Photosynth of the front rear, sides and ends of Elizabeth Jane's Nameboard has been made. Use the 'highlight' thumbnails to help you navigate this object.

A Photosynth of the front rear, sides and ends of Elizabeth Jane's Nameboard

June 7th

There is an interesting discussion about the use of ships' timbers being used, or not, in buildings on the Carpenters Fellowship website.

One of the ceilings at Elizabeth Jane Cottage has now been photographed and 'synthed'. I will try again soon using a photoflood, rather than a halogen lamp. Please be patient, it takes time to start and Microsoft will need to install Silverlight.

May 25th 2010

The Unnetie Digitisation Project - See photographs of Robin Hood's Bay, Whitby and other North East Coast sites and themes.

The New Opportunities Fund (NOF) has awarded North Yorkshire County Library Service £78,800 of lottery funding to conserve and promote several unique photographic archives stored at the County Library Headquarters, Harrogate and Scarborough libraries.

Chief of these is the collection of negatives and prints produced by the Harrogate photographer Bertram Unné, who recorded the way of life in the Dales and the Yorkshire countryside between 1940 and 1979.

May 18th

Little Brig Sailing Trust
Little Brig Sailing Trust - Contact

'Little Brig is Britain's newest sail training charity, offering sailing experience for young people aged ten and upwards.

Our friendly crew are professionally trained, and we currently sail for three hours with five new trainees. Our tall ships Bob Allen and Caroline Allen are specially designed and built for younger sailors. With ten sails and a hundred ropes there's a lot to do!'

Tel: 07876 345968 Email:,
May 17th
Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre

'The Scarborough Maritime Heritage group have opened an office at 36 Eastborough, Scarborough (open Friday to Sunday 11am till 4pm). An initial aim is to build up an archive of Scarborough and Yorkshire coast maritime life. Other activities are being planned.'
May 15th

Indentures 1847 & 1860 - related to cottage adjoining Elizabeth Jane Cottage - transcriptions to follow shortly.

May 12th
Blyth Collier Brig
Ocean Youth Trust

The Blyth Collier Brig Project ' about capturing the spirit of adventure, global enterprise and renewable resource use that enabled Captain William Smith to trade on the west coast of South America and discover the Southern Shetlands, in the Antarctic Ocean, 200 years ago from Blyth in, what was at the time, a state of the art collier brig and using it to contribute to the regeneration of Blyth.
The project will be building a modern version of his collier brig using state of the art technology plus, a low carbon footprint visitor and education facility that will, create jobs, enrich lives and educate future generations in renewable energy use, entrepreneurship, marine engineering and sailing.

The vessel will be used as an ambassador for North East and Blyth engineering skills around the world, adventurous sail training and also as the focus for the development of engineering apprenticeships that will supply the growing dockyards, modern ship builders and renewable energy manufacturers in Blyth with skilled employees from the local community.

See also: Press Release from: Ocean Youth Trust North East (OYT NE)

Their website:

More information about The Blyth Collier Brig Project would be gratefully received!

ay 11th A Photosynth of a ceiling at Elizabeth Jane Cottage showing ship's timbers. Do experiment with the Photosynth's controls.
May 8th
Shanties and Sea SongsWatched Shanties and Sea Songs with Gareth Malone a part of the BBC Four series: Sea Fever - The Story Of Britain And The Sea.
Sea Fever 'focuses on maritime history, culture, economics and science' and coincides with a new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum - Boats that Built Britain.

A screen-grab from BBC IPLAYER

Also see: National Historic Ships
May 6th  An interesting find by Serena Cant of English Heritage, from the Ipswich Journal no. 5,479 April 20th, 1844 - relating to the trial of William Read owner of the Elizabeth Jane, on the the charge of deliberately sinking the Colina, made available through the C19 British Library Newspapers online - 'The announcement of Mr Read's acquittal, on the charge of having connived in the sinking of the "Colina", was welcomed yesterday at Ipswich by the ringing of bells, the firing of cannon, the hoisting of flags on the different vessels in the dock, and by other demonstrations of satisfaction on the part of the population.'

Additionally, a tide table supplied by Serena from confirms 's calculation that Saturday 15th April 1854, the day that the Elizabeth Jane was floated off the rocks at Newbiggin, is the day of the Spring Tide.

Also see: Newbiggin Tides below...
April 27th

The has obtained the rights to publish charts from Belgium, The NetherlandsSpainCroatiaSouth Africa, IcelandOman and Malta. Approval from Portugal and France is expected soon. Their charts have been reworked to 100 mega pixels and yet, apparently, will download more quickly. 

March 16th
I have added a link from this site to Bob Sanders interesting and varied WALES, ENGLAND & MARITIME FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH website. Bob's Tracing British Crew Lists and Agreements page looks like an interesting line of inquiry; with particular reference to Official Logs of British Merchant Ships which is to be found on the same page as the previous reference.
Of particular relevance to the Elizabeth Jane:
Merchant Seamen: Registers of Service, 1835-1857
Merchant Shipping: Crew Lists and Agreements, 1747-1860 Merchant Seamen: Records of the RGSS, A Guide to Research guides
February 11th
An engraving of Waltham Street Chapel, Hull, (John Cutler Ramsden's final resting place), has been added to this site; courtesy of Yorkshire CD books. Colin Hinson produces computer searchable CDrom versions of old and rare Yorkshire books. Colin has also made a link from his significant Genuki Fylingdales page to this website.
February 11th
Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte - Journal of business history
Unfortunately only a 'snippet' view on Google Books - from:
Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte - Journal of business history - Page 156
February 10th
Elizabeth Jane's Entry on Wrecksite and its Excellent Websites page. See also Shipwrecks UK Ltd
February 8th
See Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory for Questions and Answers about Tides
February 6th
Tides Newbiggin January - April 1854
  An attempt to show tides at Newbiggin from January 1854 when the Elizabeth Jane 'went onshore' at Newbiggin, and the 15th of February when she was 'got off'. The graphs are from the WolframAlpha search engine. It is difficult to draw too many conclusions from this. Are the graphs accurate, for example; and how did the weather alter the state of the water? Might she have been floated off at the end of January?
  National Meteorological Library and Archive
February 6th
An Image of the Month page has been added.
February 4th
Discovered, an online pilotage guide for small craft at
January 31st
A trip to Newbiggin by the Sea in Northumberland to photograph* Newbiggin Rocks under snow, and to visit the grave of the captain of a Norwegian brig lost near Newbiggin on 7th January 1854; the same day that the Elizabeth Jane 'also went on shore, at Newbiggin'. The inscription on his stone at Woodhorn Churchyard says: 'Erected in memory of Jens Christian Gustav Cock aged 26 years Master of the Brig Embla of Christiania, Norway. This vessel was wrecked near Line Burn1, on the coast of Northumberland, Jan 7th 1854. Erected by Joseph Hodgson, Lloyd's Agent at the request of Mr Emil Cock, brother of the deceased.' 1Locally this appears to be spelled 'Lyne Burn'.* Photographs are being edited. Capt. Cock's gravestone will be re-photographed, in better light, at a later date.
January 29th
A transcription of the sloop Samuel's registration document has been added to this site. The Samuel of Grimsby rescued the crew of the Elizabeth Jane at the end of her final voyage in July 1854.
January 29th
New information from 19th Century Newspapers Online with thanks to Serena Cant of English Heritage.    

Newcastle Courant , Friday July 14, 1854 , No.9371, p3.

‘Bridlington Quay, July 9. The ELIZABETH & JANE , Archer, of and for Ipswich from Sunderland, was abandoned off the North Cheek of Robin Hood's Bay at 9pm yesterday, leaky, and pumps choked; crew were picked up by the SAMUEL of Grimsby, and landed here this morning.'  (S.G. says: This refutes my supposition that the crew were landed at Bridlington on the evening of the 8th of July 1854. )

This seems to be the primary source of Lloyd's List 's Bridlington quote, also repeated in the Hull Packet and East Riding Times lacking the time detail, and misspelling North Cheek as ‘North Creek'. (HPERT: Friday July 14, 1854, No.3628, p3)

The WolframAlpha search engine gives hours of sunrise etc., for the July 8th as follows:
begin nautical twilight | 1:03 am begin civil twilight | 2:43 am sunrise | 3:37 am sunset | 8:36 pm end civil twilight | 9:30 pm end nautical twilight | 11:07 pm end astronomical twilight | (not reached) duration of daylight | 16 hours 59 minutes

16th January
Tides for Newbiggin by the Sea on January 7th 1854, the day of the loss of the Embla and the grounding of the Elizabeth Jane, can be found on WolframAlpha search engine.
8th January
Images from this site have been re-presented using a javascript slideshow generated by VisualLightbox, and videos relevant to the story of the Elizabeth Jane have been added to this site using VideoLightbox.
1st January
A Happy New Year to all visitors to the Elizabeth Jane website!