Off Beat History. Tragedy on Sealing Schooner.

Evening Telegram                                              January 11, 1960

Early in April, 1817 a sealing schooner belonging to Thomas Danson, a merchant of Harbour Grace, blew up a few miles off Cape St. Francis, at the mouth of ConceptionBay. The vessel was most likely returning from the icefields with a load of seal pelts at the time the tragedy occurred, though she could have been just starting out on her second trip.

Apparently the stock of gunpowder carried by the vessel for use by the gunners, for blasting the ice-pack if the vessel became jammed, exploded. Carelessness on the part of some crew member, or perhaps an accidental fire, could have caused the explosion. In any event it was a shattering explosion.

Most of the crew of the schooner were either killed outright or seriously injured. Two of the men disappeared altogether – simply blown to atoms. Six dead men were taken to Harbour Grace by another vessel and buried ashore. The rest were buried at sea or went down with the wreck. The captain of the ill-fated craft was John Newall or Noel, a well-known Harbour Grace name. He was mortally injured in the explosion and died the same day as he was landed in Harbour Grace from a rescue ship.

 St Paul’s Harbour Grace Burials                     

30 Mar 1817 John Newell 26 yr of   this parish, S.S.
30 Mar 1817 Jonathan Parsons [28?]   yr of   this parish
2 Apr 1817 Thomas Clarke 17 yr of   Musquitto