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Borth, Dufed ~ Mid-Wales

The Romans invaded Wales about 50 AD and about 55 AD they built a fort on the site of Cardiff. In the late 1st century the fort was reduced in size as Wales reached peace; However in the mid-3rd century the fort was rebuilt and strengthened to defend South Wales against Irish raiders. Towards the end of the century the Romans abandoned the fort at Cardiff. Cardiff had weekly markets and fairs during the middle Ages and it remain a small and quiet town, with trade between France and the Channel Islands (Guernsey, Jersey, Sark). Because it was expensive to move goods by land at that time, merchandise was transported through coastal waters to Bridgewater, Minehead, Bristol, Gloucester and London.

South West England and Wales. Weller. 1862. 1862 Map South West England and South Wales.

Wales and South West England. 1862.

During the late 16th century, 16 ships operated from Cardiff transporting farm produce such as cheese, salted butter, wool, grain and skins. Some coal and iron was also transported from Cardiff to other British ports. Tanned leather was brought from them to Cardiff along with malt, which was used in brewing. By the mid-1800s, the industrial revolution began: Wales was transformed as increasing amounts of iron were exported from Cardiff. In 1794 a canal was built and in 1798 a sea basin was created with a sea lock to allow ships in where they could be loaded or unloaded from barges or from the wharf.

Considerable trade to Bristol included quantities of oats, barley, salt butter and poultry of all kinds and from this town there are not less than 8,780 tons of cast and wrought iron shipped annually to London and other places.

April 5, 1869, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


Loss of the Barque "China"
The Captain, Chief Mate, and Seven Men Washed Overboard
The Second Mate and Six Men Rescued After Two Weeks of Starvation Gallant Conduct of Captain Lewand and the Crew of the Barque W. H. Jenkins

From the New York Tribune, March 8th, New York, New York

Cardiff Docks, Wales, 1907Cardiff Wales.

Cardiff Docks, Wales. 1907.

The barque China sailed from Quebec, sometime in November last with a lull cargo of timber, for the port of Cardiff, in Wales. The China was a ship of 685 tons, official number 32,860, and was owned by Watsons & Co. a large and wealthy Cardiff firm.

Her crew consisted of sixteen men, viz Captain Brannan, a native and resident of Cardiff, chief mate John Fortune, of Shields, England; second mate -- Boaz, of Cardiff, son of Captain Boaz, of the barque Eleanor, also of Cardiff; a steward, a carpenter, and eleven British and Irish sailors. She had favorable winds during the early part of the voyage, but the gale was so fierce and the ship steered so wildly, that about 11 o'clock on the morning of December 13th, she was brought to the wind; and, within less than twenty minutes, a tremendous sea broke over her with such sudden fury as to snap the mizzen-mast like a pipestem, shiver the stern to fragments, smash the rudder and wheel, and sweep away both the boats and the house on deck, which served as a cabin and contained the ship's store of provisions. At the same instant, the wind tore the close-reefed maintop-sail into ribbons.

The Captain, who had just left the cabin, saw the breaker coming, and shouted to the crew to run forward for their lives; but so fearfully swift and irresistible was the fatal wave that two of the sailors the man at the wheel and the chief mate, who was in the cabin were swept into their ocean grave in the twinkling of an eye; and before the rest of the men could save themselves among the fore rigging, another terrible sea plunged down on the doomed barque, swept off the forecastle house, and carried the Captain and four more of the sailors after their unhappy companions. As the cargo completely filled the hold, and the cabin and forecastle house were tossing in fragments on the sea, the only shelter left tor these horror-stricken men was under a little forecastle deck, beneath which they crept as soon as they dared risk themselves on the cleanswept main deck, over which the seas were rolling mountains high.

Stowed away in this little recess, scarcely large enough to hold them, and entirely open on one side to wind and waves they suffered for fourteen days and nights all the agonies of cold, hunger and thirst, beside the unutterable mental tortures inseparable from their frightful situation. The only provision left on the ship was a barrel of salt pork, under one of the hatches. From this, at the imminent risk of their lives, they obtained every particle of their food, and slaked their thirst with hailstones and such precious drops as they could squeeze from ropes' ends and bits of canvas when it rained. Without a moment's sleep, without a spark of fire, or a dry thread to keep them warm, pierced by the keen gales of December, drenched anew every now and then by the seas that rolled over the deck in constant succession, and with scarcely anything to quench the thirst that the salt meat only aggravated, these men suffered misery as few mortals have ever endured; and yet it is a positive and shameful fact that during the weary days in which the wreck of the China pitched and tossed upon the wintry Atlantic waves, three ships passed within hailing distance, and never even tried to save the wretched remnant of her crew. An officer on the deck of one of these vessels was seen to wave his hand, but passed on with heartless indifference!

In December, 1867, exactly twelve months before this terrible shipwreck, the China and the barque W. H. Jenkins, of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, lay side by side in Cardiff docks. The W. H. Jenkins is a ship of 721 tons, commanded by Captain Henry Alexander Thomas Lewand. She left the port of Middlesborough, in the north of England, with a cargo of iron for New York on August 2d, 1868. The seventh day out she encountered a severe gale shortly after passing between the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and sprang a leak, and only succeeded in reaching Ardrossan, near Glasgow, by diligent use of the pumps, and by tying sails, soaked in tar and stuffed with oakum, under the bottom. After thorough repairs at Ardrossan, she put to sea again, and encountered a hurricane on about the seventh day after leaving port, which threw her on her beam ends, shifted the whole of her cargo out of place, and compelled the Captain to throw about 50 tons of it overboard in order to right the barque and reach Ardrossan again. Here the cargo was restowed and secured, and the undaunted Captain put to sea the third time on the 11th of December, two days before the China was wrecked.

The weather was fearfully cold and boisterous, and the barque's progress westward was extremely slow, as appears from the fact that the trip to New York took 84 days, while the Jenkins made the same voyage last winter in 37 days. About 11 o'clock on me morning of the 27th of December the thick mist cleared up a little, and the second mate, whose watch it was on deck, reported a vessel about seven miles to the windward. In the course of half an hour Captain Lewand made out that it was a wreck, apparently abandoned. A signal flag was immediately hoisted to ascertain if any one was aboard, but the sharpest watch did not reveal any signs of life, and the flag was hauled down after flying two hours. The wind would not permit a closer approach during this time, but about 1 o'clock it veered a little to the southwest, and Captain Lewand, unwilling to leave until absolutely sure that the wreck was really abandoned, wore ship and sailed toward the China. When the miserable men on the wreck saw the signal fly from the masthead of the fourth vessel that had passed them since the fatal 13th of December they fell on their knees and thanked God.

The anguish of the bitter moment when they saw it hauled down was the keenest stroke of all, and no pen can paint their joy when the barque finally turned with the changing wind, and sailed towards them, and Captain Lewand, spying the poor fellows crawling feebly from under the forecastle deck, hailed them with, "All right, boys; I'll take you off if it's possible" but how? The seas were washing every moment over the ill-fated China, the timber cargo projected some eight or ten feet from her crumbling stern. Everything but the the wheel of the pump, the two forward masts, and a few stanchions, was swept away, and the bare yards were swinging in every direction.

So high did the seas run that a boat lowered from davits would have been shivered like an eggshell, and it was only possible to launch the yawl by carrying it amidships. Even then it looked like tempting Providence to undertake the rescue, but four brave men volunteered for the service, and the yawl put off only to find that it was absolutely impossible to board the China! But the poor wretches on the wreck, sparred on by hope and desperation, muttered at last strength and courage enough to climb upon the forecastle deck, crawl out on the jibboom, and flip down a cord into the water, from which they were speedily lifted into the boat. The second mate was insensible, but even he was finally let down with ropes into the yawl, and in two perilous trips all of the seven were carried to the barque. The steward seemed to have the most strength of any of them, but even he had to be hauled up the barque's side, and could only exclaim in piteous tones, as he was lifted over the rail, "My God, Capt. Lewand! fourteen days and nothing to eat!" And the mate died of utter debility within two hours after his rescue, withstanding the strenuous exertions that were made to restore him to consciousness and lite.

Manchester Ship Canal: Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol, Plymouth. 1907.

All the men were not only as thin as skeletons, but were covered with boils, caused by exposure to the salt water, and which added greatly to the other miseries of their hard lot. Every care was taken by them, and by the time the barque reached Fayal, on the 20th of January, they were strong enough to walk on shore, after showering thanks upon the Captain, and, with streaming eyes, blessing him for his humanity in rescuing them. It is probable that ere this some British bound craft has touched at Fayal, and carried them all to Cardiff, to tell as sad a story as over was told since men began to go down to sea in ships.

The W. H. Jenkins continued her voyage, passed Sandy Hook last Friday, and moored in the Atlantic Dock on Saturday afternoon. It would bo unjust not to say a word in praise of Captain Lewand, whose conduct is in such noble contrast to that of the other captains, who doubtless excused their inhuman indifference by the plea of danger to themselves and to their own ships. Capt. Lewand is a Prussian by birth, a self-made man, and one of those upright masters who are an honor to the British merchant service. His duty was fully done in hoisting the signal-flag, and, as the shipwrecked sailors were all too weak to show a signal in return, it was only his humanity which would not let him leave even a corpse without Christian burial, that saved six lives, and prevented the fate of the China from becoming one of those sad mysteries which darken the annals of the ocean with the ghastly inscription, "Wrecked at sea, and not a soul was saved to tell the tale."

Saturday, January 7, 1860, The Atlas, London, Middlesex, United Kingdom


Penarth Pier near Cardiff, Vale of Glenmogan, Wales.

Penarth Pier, Near Cardiff.

Vale of Glenmogan, Wales

During the 19th Century, Cardiff grew at a phenomenal pace. It jumped from fewer than 1900 people to more than 18,00 by 1851 and 60,000 by 1871.

Exports of coal, iron and grain helped the town grow, and industries such as shipbuilding, ropemaking, brewing, milling and paper-making developed as Cardiff became overcrowded and dirty because of the rapid growth. The industrial revolution included a shipbuilding industry and a rope making industry.

July 25, 1884, IRON, London, United Kingdom

NORTH WALES -- Notwithstanding the disorganisation of the coal trade in the adjoining counties, the North Wales colliers keep steadily at work. Nor is there any movement on the part of either the masters or the men for a reduction or increase of wages. The railway wagon works are well employed, as are also most of the manufacturing trades, and some activity prevails in the building of yachts and steam launches on the Dee at Chester. The various chemical and other works that line the estuary of the Dee from Chester to Mostyn are also fairly well employed. The Van lead mine, which has had a successful career for a quarter of a century, has latterly been carried on only at a loss, and the shareholders have passed a resolution to wind this company up.

Lord Penryn's Slate Quarry, Wales

In slate quarrying the men are respectfully projecting that they ought not to bear reduction in the price of slates. The slate trade, which a few weeks back showed signs of weakness, is recovering.

In the iron trade, the long hoped for improvement in prices is a long time coming. Orders are rather scarce, and there is a keen competition for them. A good deal is hoped for on the completion of the works for the manufacture of steel now in the course of erection.

October 10, 1884, Iron

Barry Dock and Railways Company.

Incorporated by special Act of Parliament, 47 and 48 Vic. Cap. 157, Session 1884

Their friends have already subscribed the larger part of the authorised share capital, are prepared to receive applications for 100,000 of the ordinary share capital of the Company, the unallotted portion of the proposed issue.

Shipping at Cardiff.Shipping at Cardiff.The object of the Company is the construction of a dock at Barry Island, seven miles from Cardiff and within the port of Cardiff, and the construction of railways of about 20 miles in length, from the dock to the Rhondda Valley, with access by junctions with existing and authorised railways to all the other great mineral producing districts of the South wales Coalfield. The dock will be constructed on a most favourable site in the estuary between the mainland and the Island. The area of the dock will be 40 acres, with a basin of 8-1/2 acres and a timber pond of 16 acres.

The depth of water available over the sill of the dock will be greater than that available at the other docks within the port of Cardiff. The dock will be fitted with the best appliances, and adapted for the accommodation of the largest ocean-going steamers now afloat. In three minutes after leaving the dock sates vessels will be clear at sea and in deep water. The favourable features of the site will admit of the dock being constructed at a cost which will be very small as compared with that of other docks in the Bristol Channel, and, consequently, the dividend to be earned on the dock under taking is expected to be larger than that of similar undertakings.

Cardiff Docks

Cardiff Docks. 1800s.

The whole of the gradients are most favourable, and the main line has been specially laid out for the accommodation of a large mineral traffic under the most favourable circumstances . . .

Practically, the whole of the traffic from the Rhondda Valley has been carried to the sea for shipment by means of the Taff Vale Railway, and the large dividends of that company have been earned chiefly by the carriage of this traffic, that company's dividends having been for some years past from 18 to 18 percent., and, by the issue of new shares at par to the shareholders, the dividend has been largely increased; and the Rhymney Railway Company, although it has no access to the Rhondda Valley, pays a dividend of 10 to 11 per cent; there are therefore good grounds for justifying the expectation that handsome dividends will be earned on the railways as well as on the dock.

It is expected that the dock and railways will be opened for traffic in 3-1/2 to 4 years, by which time it is estimated there will be a very large increase in the output of coal from the Rhondda Valleys, and that from new pits now being sunk by the promoters and Directors of this company and other persons and by various means the coal output of the whole district which will be served by the proposed railway and dock will be enormously increased . . . The scheme has practically received the approval of the shipowners of the United Kingdom.

August 10, 1890, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

The Strike in Wales

London, August 9.-- The strike of the railway employes In Wales continues. The mails are still carried on wagons. The strike has seriously affected the London shipping trade. Steamers are not able to obtain their usual supplies of Welsh coal and have gone to other places for it.

June 6, 1891, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California


Welsh Methodists Grieved at the Prince's Penchant for Gambling.

Cardiff, Wales, June 5. The Methodist conference of South Wales adopted a resolution expressing regret at learning that the prince of Wales took part in a game of baccarat at Tanbycroft. It adds: "We respectfully submit to his royal highness that by his conduct he offends the religious sense of the people and draws the royal house from the high position in which it stood and tends to lessen the loving and devoted affection to the throne which has ever been cherished by us."

June 19, 1894, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California


Fighting to Preserve the Established Church in Wales.

London, June 18. A meeting of members of the nobility was held to-day, at which the Duke of Westminster presided. A committee was formed to conduct the campaign against the Government's proposal to disestablish the church in Wales. It was agreed to contest every constituency in Wales in the general election. The Duke of Westminster subscribed 1000 toward the expenses of the campaign, while other lords subscribed 500 each. A total of 5000 was raised.

Welsh Flag.

(Editor's Note: www.MuseumWales.ac.uk has a superb list of United Kingdom researchers/archives/museums relating to maritime history for England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.)

Prince Madoc Leaving Wales.
Prince Madoc Ab Owain Gwynedd of Wales

The Welsh Fairy Book.Welsh Folk Lore
The Welsh Fairy Book
(Dover Children's Classics)

W. Jenkyn Thomas
This anthology of Welsh fairy stories was published in 1907 and has since become a standard. This edition contains an introduction by folklore scholar Juliette Woods, who puts the book in context and reveals the changes that have occurred in Welsh folklore studies during this century.

Welsh Folk-Lore: A Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales
Being the Prize Essay of the National Eisteddfod, 1887.
(Classic Reprint)
Elias Owen
To this Essay on the Folk-lore of North Wales, was awarded the first prize at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, held in London, in 1887. By an arrangement with the Eisteddfod Committee, the work became the property of the pubH shers, Messrs. Woodall, Minshall, Co., who, at the request of the author, entrusted it to him for revision. Before undertaking the publishing of the work, it was necessary to obtain a sufficient number of subscribers to secure the publishers from loss. Upwards of two hundred ladies and gentlemen gave their names to the autho and publication commenced. The names of the subscribers appear at the end of the book. The work might never have been published had it not been for their kind assistance.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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