As the sad and remarkable disasters of this terrible night were full of a dismal variety, so the goodness of ProvidenceGod or another spiritual entity's protective care and direction., in the many remarkable deliverances both by sea and land, have their share in this account, as they claim an equal variety and wonder.
The sense of extraordinary deliverances, as it is a mark of generous Christianity, so I presume ’tis the host token, that a good use is made of the mercies received.
The persons who desire a thankful acknowledgment should he made to their Merciful Deliverer, and the wonders of his Providence remitted to posterity, shall never have it to say, that the editor of this book refused to admit so great a subject a place in these memoirs, and therefore, with all imaginable freedom, he gives the world the particulars from their own mouths, and under their own hands.
The first account we have from the Reverend Mr. King, Lecturer at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, as follows:
Sir, — The short account I now send to shew the Providence of God in the late dreadful storm (if yet it comes not too late), I had from the mouth of the gentleman himself Mr. Woodgate Gifier by name, who is a neighbour of mine, living in St. Martin’s-street, in the parish of St. Martin’s in the Fields, and a sufferer in the common calamityDisaster; is as follows, viz. —
Between two and three of the clock in the morning, my neighbour’s stack of chimneys fell, and broke down the roof of my garret into the passage going up and down stairs, upon which, I thought it convenient to retire into the kitchen with my family, where we had not been above a quarter of an hour, before my wife sent her maid to fetch some necessaries out of a back parlour closet, and as she had shut the door, and was upon her return, the very same instant my neighbour’s stack of chimneys, on the other side of the house, fell upon my stack, and beat in the roof, and so drove down the several floors through the parlour into the kitchen, where the maid was buried near five hours in the rubbish, without the least damage or hurt whatsoever. This, her miraculous preservation, was occasion’d (as I afterwards with surprize found) by her falling into a small cavity near the bed, and afterward (as she declared) by her creeping under the tester, that lay hollow by reason of some joices that lay athwart each other, which prevented her perishing in the said rubbish. About eight in the morning, when I helped her out of the ruins, and asked her how she did, and why she did not cry out for assistance, since she was not (as I supposed she had been) dead, and so to let me know she was alive; her answer was, that truly she for her part had felt no hurt, and was not the least affrighted, but lay quiet, and which is more, even slumbred until then.
The preservation of myself, and the rest of my family, about eleven in number, was, next to the Providence of God, occasioned by our running into a vault almost level with the kitchen upon the noise and alarm of the falling of the chimneys, which breaking through three floors, and about two minutes in passing, gave us the opportunities of that retreat. Pray accept of this short account from
Your Humble Servant, and Lecturer,
James King, M.A.
Feb. 12, 1704.
Another is from a reverend minister at ———— whose name is to his letter, as follows:
Sir, — I thank you for your charitable visit not long since; I could have heartily wished your business would have permitted you to have made a little longer stay at the Parsonage, and then you might have taken a Stricter view of the ruins by the late terrible wind. Seeing you are pleas’d to desire from me a more particular account of that sad disaster, I have for your fuller satisfaction sent you the best I am able to give; and if it be not so perfect, and so exact a storey as you may expect, you may rely upon me it is a true and a faithful one, and that I do not impose upon you or the world in the least in any part of the following relation. I shall not trouble you with the uneasiness the family was under all the fore part of the evening, even to a fault, as I thought, and told them, I did not then apprehend the wind to be much higher than it had been often on other times, but went to bed, hoping we were more afraid than we needed to have been; when in bed, we began to be more sensible of it, and lay most of the night awake, dreading every blast till about four of the clock in the morning, when to our thinking it seemed a little to abate; and then we fell asleep, and slept till about six of the clock, at which time my wife waking, and calling one of her maids to rise, and come to the children, the maid rose, and hasten’d to her; she had not been up above half an hour, but all on the sudden we heard a prodigious noise, as if part of the house had been pulled down: I need not tell you the consternation we were all in upon this alarm; in a minutes time, I am sure, I was surrounded with all my infantrySoldiers who fight on foot., that I thought I should have been overlaid; I had not even power to stir one limb of me, much less to rise, though I could not tell how to lie in bed. The shrieks and the cries of my dear babes perfectly stun’d me; I think I hear them still in my ears, I shall not easily, I am confident, if ever, forget them. There I lay preaching patience to those little innocent creatures, till the day began to appear.
Preces and Lackrimae, prayers and tears, the primitive Christians’ weapons, we had great plenty of to defend us withal; but had the house all fallen upon our heads, we were in that fright as we could scarce have had power to rise for the present, or do anything for our security. Upon our rising, and sending a servant to view what she could discover, we soon understood that the chimney wad fallen down, and that with its fall it had beaten down a great part of that end of the house, viz.: the upper chamber and the room under it, which was the room I chose for my study. The chimney was thought as strong, and as well built as most in the neighbourhood, and it surprised the mason (whom I immediately sent for to view it) to see it down; but that which was most surprising to me, was the manner of its falling; had it fallen almost any other way than that it did, it must in all likelihood have killed the much greater part of my family, for no less than nine of us lay at that end of the house, my wife and self, and five children and two servants, a maid, and a man then in my pay, and so a servant, though not by the year. The bed my eldest daughter and the maid lay in, joyned as near as possible to the chimney, and it was within a very few yards of the bed that we lay in; so that, as David said to Jonathan, there seemed to be but one single step between death and us, to all outward appearance. One thing I cannot omit, which was very remarkable and surprising. It pleased God so to order it, that in the fall of the house two great spars seemed to fall so as to pitch themselves on an end, and by that means to support that other part of the house which adjoined to the upper chamber; or else, in all likelihood, that must also have fallen too at the same time. The carpenter (whom we sent for forthwith) when he came, ask’d who plac’d those two supporters, supposing somebody had been there before him; and when he was told, those two spars in the fall so plac’d themselves, he could scarce believe it possible; it was done so artificially, that he declar’d, they scarce needed to have been removed.
In short, Sir, it is impossible to describe the danger we were in; you yourself was an eye-witness of some part of what is here related; and I once more assure you the whole account I have here given you is true, and what can be attested by the whole family. None of all those unfortunate persons who are said to have been killed with the £all of a chimney, could well be much more exposed to danger than we were; it is owing wholly to that watchful Providence to whom we are all indebted for every minute of our lives, that any of us escaped; none but He who never sleeps nor slumbers could have secured us. I beseech Almighty God to give us all that due sense as we ought to have of so great and so general calamity: that we truly repent of those sins that have so long provoked His wrath against us, and brought down so heavy a judgment as this upon us. O that we were so wise as to consider it, and to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon us.” That it may have this happy effect upon all the sinful inhabitants of this land is, and shall be, the daily prayer of dear Sir, your real friend and Servant,
Another account from a Reverend Minister in Dorsetshire, take as follows, viz.:
Sir, — As you have desired an account of the disasters occasioned by the late tempest (which I can assure you was in these parts very terrible) so I think myself obliged to let you know, that there was a great mixture of mercy with it; for, though the hurricane was frightful and very mischievous, yet God’s gracious Providence was herein very remarkable, in restraining its violence from an universal destruction; for then there was a commotion of the elements of air, earth, and water, which then seemed to outvie each other in mischief; for (in David’s expression, 2 Saml., 22, 8) “The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the Heaven’s moved and shook, because God was angry;” and yet, when all was given over for lost, we found ourselves more scar’d than hurt; for our lives was given us for a prey, and the tempest did us only so much damage, as to make us sensible that it might have done us a great deal more, had it not been rebuk’d by the God of Mercy, the care of whose Providence has been visibly seen in our wonderful preservations. Myself and three more of this parish were then strangely rescued from the grave; I narrowly escaped with my life, where I apprehended nothing of danger, for going out about midnight to give orders to my servants to secure the house, and reeks of corn and furses from being blown all away; as soon as I mov’d out of the place where I stood, I heard something of a great weight fall close behind me, and a little after going out with a light to see what it was, I found it to be the great stone which covered the top of my chimney to keep out the wet; it was almost a yard square, and very thick, weighing about an hundred and fifty pound. It was blown about a yard off from the chimney, and fell edge-long, and cut the earth about four inches deep exactly between my footsteps; and a little after, whilst sitting under the clavel of my kitchen chimney, and reaching out my arm for some fewel to mend the fire, I was again strangely preserved from being knocked on the head by a stone of great weight; it being about a foot long, half a foot broad, and two inches thick: for as soon as I had drawn in my arm, I felt some? thing brush against my elbow, and presently I heard the stone’ fall (close by my foot, a third part of which was broken off by the violence of the fall, and skarr’d my ancle, but did not break the skin; it had certainly killed me, had it fallen while my arm was extended. The top of my wheat rick was blown off, and some of the sheaves were carried a stone’s cast, and with that violence, that one of them, at that distance, struck down one Daniel Fooks, a late servant of the Lady Napier, and so forceably, that he was taken up dead, and to all appearance remained so for a great while, but at last was happily recover’d to life again. His mother, poor widow, was at the same time more fatally threatened at home, and her bed had certainly prov'd her grave, had not the first noise awaken’d and scar’d her out of bed; and she was scarce gotten to the door, when the house fell all in. The smith’s wife likewise being scar’d at such a rate, leapt out of bed, with the little child in her arms, and ran hastily out of doors naked, without hose or shooes, to a neighbour’s house, and by that hasty flight, both their lives were wonderfully preserved. The sheets of lead on Lytton church were rolled up like sheets of parchment, and blown off to a great distance. At Strode, a large apple tree, being about a foot in square, was broken off cleverly like a stick, about four foot from the root, and carried over an hedge about ten foot high, and cast, as if darted (with the trunk forward), above fourteen yards off. And I am credibly inform’d, that at Ellwood, in the parish of Abbotsbury, a large wheat rick (belonging to one Jolyffe) was cleverly blown, with its staddle, off from the stones, and set down on the ground in very good order. I would fain know of the atheist what moved his Omnipotent Matter to do such mischief, &;c.-— Sir, I am your affectionate friend and Servant, though unknown,
Rector of Swyre, in county of Dorset.
This account is very remarkable, and well attested, and the editor of this collection can vouch to the reputation of the relators, though not to the particulars of the story.
About three of the clock in the morning, the violence of the wind blew down a stack of chimneys belonging to the dwelling house of Dr. Gideon Harvey (situate in St. Martinis Lane over against the street end) on the back part of the next house, wherein dwells Mr. Robert Richards, an apothecary, at the sign of the Unicorn; and Capt. Theodore Collier and his family lodges in the same. The chimney fell with that force as made them pierce through the roofs and all the floors, carrying them down quite to the ground. The two families, consisting of fourteen, men, women, and children, besides three that came in from the next house, were at that instant dispos’d of as follows, a footman that us’d to lie in the back garret, had not a quarter of an hour before remov’d himself into the fore garret, by which means he escap’d the danger. In the room under that, lay Capt. Collier’s child, of two months old, in bed with the nurse, and a servant maid lay on the bed by her: the nurse’s child lying in a cribb by the bed-side, which was found, with the child safe in it, in the kitchen, where the nurse and maid likewise found themselves, their bed being shattered in pieces, and they a little bruis’d by falling down three stories. Capt. Collier’s child was in about two hours found unhurt in some pieces of the bed and curtains, which had fallen through two floors only, and hung on some broken rafters in that place, which was the pallour. In the room under this, being one pair of stairs from the street, and two from the kitchen, was Capt. Collier in his bed, and his wife just by the bed-side, and her maid a little behind her, who likewise found herself in the kitchen a little bruis’d, and ran out to cry for help for her master and mistress, who lay buried under the ruins. Mrs. Collier was, by the timely aid of neighbours who remov’d the rubbish from her, taken out in about half an hour’s time, having receiv’d no hurt, but the fright, and an arm a little bruis’d. Capt. Collier in about half an hour more, was likewise taken out unhurt. In the parlour were sitting Mr. Richards with his wife, the three neighbours, and the rest of his family, a little boy of about a year old lying in the cradle, they all run out at the first noise, and escap’d; Mrs. Richards staying a little longer than the rest, to pull the cradle with her child in it along with her, but the house fell too suddenly on it, and buried the child under the ruins, a rafter fell on her foot, and bruis’d it a little, at which she likewise made her escape, and brought in the neighbours, who soon un covered the head of the cradle, and cutting it off, took the child out alive and well. This wonderful preservation being worthy to be transmitted to posterity, we do attest to be true in every particular. Witness our hands,
London, Nov. 27, 1703.
These accounts of like nature are particularly attested by persons of known reputation and integrity.
Sir, — In order to promote the good design of your book, in perpetuating the memory of God’s signal judgment on this nation, by the late dreadful tempest of wind, which has hurl’d so many souls into eternity; and likewise his Providence in the miraculous preservation of several persons lives, who were expos’d to the utmost hazards in that hurricane. I shall here give you a short but true instance of the latter, which several persons can witness besides myself; and if you think proper may insert the same in the book you design for that purpose; which is as follows:— At the Saracen’s Head, in Friday Street, a country lad lodging three pair of stairs next the roof of the house, was wonderfully preserv’d from death; for about two a-clock that Saturday morning the 27th of November, (which prov’d fatal to so many) there fell a chimney upon the roof, under which he lay, and beat it down through the ceiling (the weight of the tiles, bricks, &c., being judged by a workman to be about five hundred weight) into the room, fell exactly between the beds feet and door of the room, which are not two yards distance from each other, it being but small; the sudden noise awaking the lad, he jumps out of bed endeavouring to find the door, but was stopt by the great dust and falling of more bricks, &c., and finding himself prevented, in this fear he got into bed again, and remained there till the day light, (the bricks and tiles still falling between-whiles about his bed) and then got up without any hurt, or so much as a tile or brick falling on the bed; the only thing he complain’d of to me, was his being almost choak’d with dust when he got out of bed, or put his head out from under the cloaths. There was a great weight of tiles and bricks, which did not break through, as the workmen inform me, just over the beds tester, enough to have crush’d him to death, if they had fallen. Thus he lay safe among the dangers that threatened him. And Sir, if this be worthy your taking notice of, I am ready to justify the same.
In witness whereof, here is my name,
Dec. 3, 1703.
A great Preservation in the late Storm
William Phelps and Frances his wife, living at the comer of Old Southampton Buildings, over against Grays Inn Grate, in Holborn, they lying up three pair of stairs, in the back room, that was only lath’d and plaster’d, he being then very ill, she was forc’d to lay in a table bed in the same room; about one a-clock in the morning, on the 27th of November last, the wind blew down a stack of chinmeys of seven funnels that stood very high; which broke through the roof, and fell into the room, on her bed; so that she was buried alive, as one may say; she crying out, Mr. Phelps, Mr. Phelps, the house is fallen upon me, there being so much on her that one could but just hear her speak; a coachman and a footman lying on the same floor, I soon call’d them to my assistance. We all fell to work, tho’ we stood in the greatest danger; and through the goodness of God we did take her out without the least hurt, neither was any of us hurt) tho’ there was much fell after, we took her out. And when we took the bricks off the bed the next morning, we found the frame of the bed on which she lay broke all to pieces.
Another great Preservation.
Mr. John Hanson, Register of Eaton College, being at London about his affairs, and lying that dreadful night, Nov. 26, at the Bell–Savage Inn, on Ludgate Hill, was, by the fall of a stack of chimneys (which broke through the roof, and beat down two floors above him, and also that in which he lay) carried in his bed down to the ground, without the least hurt, his cloaths, and everything besides in the room being buried in the rubbish; it having pleased God so to order it that just so much of the floor and ceiling of the room (from which he fell) as covered his bed, was not broken down. Of this great mercy he prays he may live for ever mindful and be for ever thankful to Almighty God.
Sir, — The design of your collecting the remarkable accidents of the late storm coming to my-hands, I thought myself obliged to take this opportunity of making a public acknowledgment of the wonderful Providence of Heaven tome, namely, the preservation of my only child from imminent danger.
Two large stacks of chimneys, containing each five funnels, beat through the roof, in upon the bed where she lay, without doing her the least harm, the servant who lay with her being very much bruised. There were several loads of rubbish upon the bed before my child was taken out of it.
This extraordinary deliverance I desire always thankfully to remember.
I was so nearly touch’d by this accident, that I could not take so much notice as I intended of this storm; yet I observ’d the wind gradually to encrease from one a-clock till a quarter after five, or thereabouts; at which time it seem’d to be at the highest; when every gust did not only return with greater celerity, but also with more force.
From about a quarter before six it sensibly decreas’d. I went often to the door, at which times I observed, that every gust was preceded by small flashes, which, to my observation, did not dart perpendicularly, but seem’d rather to skim along the surface of the ground; nor did they appear to be of the same kind with the common light’ning flashes.
I must confess I cannot help thinking that the earth itself suffer’d some convulsion; and that for this reason, because several springs, for the space of 48 hours afterwards, were very muddy, which were never known to be so by any storm of wind or rain before; nor indeed is it possible, they lying so low, could be affected by any thing less than a concussion of the earth itself.
How far these small hints may be of use to the more ingenious enquiries into this matter, I shall humbly leave to their consideration, and subscribe myself,
Sir, your humble Servant,
Apothecary in Jermyn Street, near St. James’s.
Dec. 8, 1703.
Sir, — This comes to let you know that I received yours in the Downs, for which I thank you. I expected to have seen you in London before now, had we not met with a most violent storm in our way to Chatham. On the 27th of the last month, about three of the clock in the morning, we lost all our anchors and drove to sea; about six we lost our rother, and were left in a most deplorable condition to the merciless rage of the wind and seas; we also sprung a leak, and drove 48 hours expecting to perish. But it pleased God to give us a wonderful deliverance, scarce to be parallel’d in history; for about midnight we were drove, into shoul water, and soon after our ship struck upon the sands; the sea broke over us, we expected every minute that she would drop to pieces, and that we should all be swallowed up in the deep; but in less than two hours time we drove over the sands, and got (without rother or pilot, or any help but Almighty God’s) into this place, where we run our ship on shore, in order to save our lives; but it has pleased God also, far beyond our ex pectation, to save our ship, and bring us safe off again last night. We shall remain here a considerable while to refit our ship, and get a new rother. Our deliverance is most remarkable, that in the middle of a dark night we should drive over a sand where a ship that was not half our bigness durat not venture to come in the day; and then, without knowing where we were, drive into a narrow place where we have saved both lives and ship. I pray God give us all grace to be thankful, and never forget so great a mercy.
I am, Your affectionate friend and humble Servant,
Russel, at Helverfluce in Holland,
Dec. 16, 1703.
Sir, — According to the publick notice, I send you two or three observations of mine upon the late dreadful tempest, as,
1. In the parish of St. Mary Cray, Kent, a poor man, with his wife and child, were but just gone out of their bed, when the head of their house fell in upon it, which most have kill’d them.
2. A great long stable in the town, near the church, was blown off the foundation entirely at one sudden blast, from the West side to the east, and cast out into the highway, over the heads of five horses, and a carter feeding them at the same time, and not one of them hurt, nor the rack or manger touch’d, which are yet standing to the admiration of all beholders.
3. As the church at Heyes received great damage, so the spire, with one bell in it, were blown away over the churchyard.
4. The minister of South-ash had a great deliverance from a chimney falling in upon his bed just as he rose, and hurt only his feet; as blessed be God, our lives have been all very miraculously preserved, tho’ our buildings every where damag’d. You may depend on all, as certify’d by me,
Vicar of Orpington and St. Mary Cray.
Fate of the Northumberland and Mary.
There are an innumerable variety of deliverances besides these, which deserve a memorial to future ages; but these are noted from the letters, and at the request of the persons particularly concerned.
Particularly, it is a most remarkable story of a man belonging to the Mary, a fourth rate man-of-war, lost upon the Goodwin SandsA 10-mile long sandbank in the English Channel lying 6 miles off the Deal coast in Kent, England.; and all the ship’s company but himself being lost, he, by the help of, a piece of the broken ship, got aboard the Northumberland; but the violence of the storm continuing, the Northumberland ran the same fate with the Mary, and coming on shore upon the same sand, was split to pieces by the violence of the sea; and yet this person by a singular Providence, was one of the 64 that were delivered by a Deal Hooker out of that ship, all the rest perishing in the sea.
A poor sailor of Brighthelmston, was taken up after he had hung by his hands and feet on the top of a mast 48 hours, the sea raging so high, that no boat durst go near him.
A Hoy run on shore on the rocks in Milford Haven, and just splitting to pieces (as by Captain Seam’s letter) a boat drove by, being broke from another vessel, with nobody in it, and came so near the vessel, as that two men jumped into it, and saved their lives; the boy could not jump so far, and was drowned.
Five sailors shifted three vessels on an island near the Humber, and were at last saved by a long-boat out of the fourth.
A waterman in the river Thames lying asleep in the cabin of a barge, at or near Blackfriars, was driven through bridge in the storm, and the barge went of herself into the Tower Dock, and lay safe on shore; the man never awaked, nor heard the storm, till it was day; and, to his great astonishment, he found himself safe as above.
Two boys in the Poultry, lodging in a garret or upper room, were, by the fall of chimnies, which broke through the floors, carried quite to the bottom of the cellar, and received no damage at all
Sir, — At my return home on Saturday at night, I received yours; and having said nothing in my last concerning the storm I send this to tell you, that I hear of nothing done by it in this country that may seem to deserve particular remark. Several houses and barns were stripped of their thatch, some chimneys mad gables blown down, and several stacks of corn and hay very much dispers’d; but I hear not of any persons either kill’d or maim’d. A neighbour of ours was upon the ridge of his barn endeavouring to secure the thatch, and the barn at that instant was overturn’d by the storm: but by the good Providence of God, the man receiv’d little or no harm. I say no more, not knowing of anything more remarkable. I am sorry that other places were such great sufferers, and I pray God avert the like judgments for the future. I am
Your real friend to serve you,
Orby, Jan. 18, 1703.
Sir, — I have no particular relation to make to you of any deliverance in the late storm, more than was common with me to all the rest that were in it: but having, to divert melancholy thoughts while it lasted, turn’d into verse the CXLVIII Psalm to the 9th, and afterwards all the Psalm; I give you leave to publish it with the rest of those memoirs on that occasion you are preparing for the press.
Sir, Your, &c
I. Verse 1, 2.
Hallelujah: from Heav’n
The tuneful praise begin;
Let praise to God be giv’n
Beyond the starry scene:
Ye angels sing
His joyful praise;
Your voices raise
Ye swift of wing.
II. 3, 4.
Praise him, thou radiant sun,
The spring of all thy light;
Praise him thou changing moon,
And all the stars of night:
Ye heavens declare
His glorious fame;
And waves that swim
Above the sphere.
III. 5, 6.
Let all his praises sing,
His goodness and his power.
For at his call they spring,
And by his grace endure;
That joins em fast.
The chain is fram’d,
Their bounds are nam’d,
And never past.
IV. 7, 8.
Thou earth his praise proclaim.
Devouring gulfs and deeps;
Ye fires, and fire-like flame,
That o’er the meadows sweeps;
Thou rattling hail.
And flaky snow,
And winds that blow
To do his Will.
V. 9, 10.
Ye prodigies of earth,
And hills of lesser size,
Cedars of nobler birth,
And all ye fruitfal trees;
His praises show,
All things that move,
That fly above,
Or creep below.
VI. 11, 12.
Monarchs, and ye their praise,
The num’rous multitude;
Ye judges, triumphs raise;
And all of nobler blood:
Of ev’ry kind.
And ev’ry age,
Your hearts engage.
In praises join’d.
VII. 13, 14.
Let all his glorious name
Unite to celebrate;
Above the heavens his fame;
His fame that’s only great;
His people’s stay
And praise is He,
And e’re will be:
The two following letters, coming from persons in as great danger as any could be, are placed here, as proper to be called deliverances of the greatest and strangest kind.
From on board a ship blown out of the Downs to Norway.
Sir, — I cannot but write to you of the particulars of our sad and terrible voyage to this place. You know we were, by my last, riding safe in the Downs, waiting a fair wind, to make the best of our way to Portsmouth, and there to expect the Lisbon convoy.
We had two terrible storms, one on the Friday before, and one on Thursday; the one the 18th, the other the 25th of November: in the last, I expected we shou’d have foundered at an anchor; for our ground tackle being new and very good, held us fast, but the sea broke upon us so heavy and quick, that we were in danger two or three times of founderingA ship filling with water and sinking as we rod: but, as it pleas’d God, we rid it out, we began to think all was over, and the bitterness of death was past.
There was a great fleet with us in the Downs, and several of them were driven from their anchors, and made the best of their way out to sea for fear of going on shore upon the Groodwin. The grand fleet was just come in from the Streights, under Sir Cloudesly Shovel; and the great ships being design’d for the river, lay to leeward: most of the ships that went out in the night appeared in the morning, and I think there was none known to be lost, but one Dutch vessel upon the Goodwin.
But the next day, being Friday, in the evening, it began to gather to windward; and as it had blown very hard att day, at night the wind freshened, and we all expected a stormy night. We saw the men of war struck their top-masts, and rod with two cables an-end: so we made all as snug as we could, and prepar’d for the worst.
In this condition we rid it out till about 12 a-clock; when, the fury of the wind encreasing, we began to see destruction before us: the objects were very dreadful on every side; and tho’ it was very dark, we had light enough to see our own danger, and the danger of those near us. About one a-clock the ships began to drive, and we saw several come by us without a mast standing, and in the utmost distress.
By two a-clock we could hear guns firing in several parts of this road, as signals of distress; and tho’ the noise was very great with the sea and wind, yet we could distinguish plainly, in some short intervals, the cries of poor souls in extremities.
By four a-clock we miss’d the Mary and the Northumberland, who rid not far from us, and found they were driven from their anchors; but what became of them, God knows: and soon after a large man of war came driving down upon us, all her masts gone, and in a dreadful condition. We were in the utmost despair at this sight, for we saw no avoiding her coming thwart our haiser: she drove at last so near us, that I was just gowing to order the mate to cut away, when it pleased God the ship sheer’d contrary to our expectation to windward, and the man of war, which we found to be the Sterling Castle, drove clear off us, not two ships lengths to leeward.
It was a sight fall of terrible particulars, to see a ship of eighty guns and about six hundred men in that dismal case; she had cut away all her masts, the men were all in the confusions of death and despair; she had neither anchor, nor cable, nor boat to help her; the sea breaking over her in a terrible manner, that sometimes she seem’d all under water; and they knew, as well as we that saw her, that they drove by the tempest directly for the Goodwin, where they could expect nothing but destruction. The cries of the men, and the firing their guns, one by one, every half minute for help, terrified ue in such a manner, that I think we were half dead with the horror of it.
All this while we rid with two anchors a-head, and in great distress. To fire guns for help, I saw was to no purpose, for if any help was to be had, there were so many other objects for it, that we could not expect it, and the storm still encreasing.
Two ships, a-head of us, had rid it out till now, which was towards five in the morning, when they both drove from their anchors, and one of them coming foul of a small pink, they both sank together; the other drove by us, and having one mast standing, I think it was her main-mast, she attempted to spread a little peak of her sail, and so stood away before it: I suppose she went away to sea.
At this time, the raging of the sea was so violent, and the tempest doubled its fury in such a manner, that my mate told me we had better go away to sea, for ’twould be impossible to ride it out. I was not of his opinion, but was for cutting my masts by the board, which at last we did, and parted with them with as little damage as could be expected and we thought she rid easier for it by a great deal; and I believe, had it blown two hours longer, we should have rid it out, having two new cables out, and our best bower and sheet anchor down. But about half an hour after five to six, it blew, if it be possible to conceive it so, as hard again as it had done before, and first our best bower anchor came home: the mate, who felt it give way, cried out, we are all undone, for the ship drove. I found it too true, and, upon as short a consultation as the time would permit, we concluded to put out to sea before we were driven too far to leeward, when it would be impossible to avoid the Goodwin.
So we slipt our sheet cable, and sheering the ship towards the shore, got her head about, and stood away afore it; sail we had none, nor mast standing. Our mate had set up a jury missen, but no canvass could bear the fury of the wind; yet he fastened an old tarpaulin so as that it did the office of a missen, and kept us from driving too fast to leeward.
In this condition we drove out of the Downs, and past so near the Goodwin, that we could see several great ships fast a-ground, and beating to pieces. We drove in this desperate condition till day-break, without any abatement of the storm, and our men heartless and dispirited, tir’d with the service of the night, and every minute expecting death.
About 8 a-clock, my mate told me he perceived the wind to abate; but it blew still such a storm, that if we had not had a very tite ship, she must have founder’d, as we were now farther off at sea, and by my guess might be in the mid-way between Harwich and the Brill, the sea we found ran longer, and did not break so quick upon us as before, but it ran exceeding high, and we having no sail to keep us to lights, we lay wallowing in the trough of the sea in a miserable condition. We saw several ships in the same condition with our selves, but could neither help them, nor they us; and one we saw founder before our eyes, and all the people perish’d.
Another dismal object we met with, which was an open boat, full of men, who, as we may suppose had lost their ship; any man may suppose, what condition a boat must be in, if we were in so bad a case in a good ship: we were soon tost out of their sight, and what became of them any one may guess; if they had been within cables length of us we could not have help’d them.
About two a clock in the afternoon, the wind encreased again, and we made no doubt it would prove as bad a night as before, but that gust held not above half an hour.
All night it blew excessive hard, and the next day, which was Sabbath day, about eleven a-clock it abated, but still blew hard; about three it blew something moderately, compar’d with the former, and we got up a jury mainmast, and rigg’d it as well as we could, and with a main-sail lowered 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 informed 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 haird 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 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 slackened 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 afler 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 lefl behind me, that rode it out thereabouts, and there was a gieat fleet just come from Russia, under the convoy of the Reserve 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 freshened, the clouds gathered, and all look’d very 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 top-mast, 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 freshened again, and blew very hard; we lid it out very well till twelve, when we veer’d out more cable, and in about half an hour afler, 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 hour 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, 1 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 am told since, the Russia-man sunk by her side.
In this condition we rid till about three o-clock, the Russia ships which lay a-head of me, and the men ef 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 high; 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. Yours, &c.
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 have therefore chose to omit them.