Apr 272018
 

Our members are participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge for 2018 with the theme People of My Place. Today's entry is from Janet Few.

This will be rather different to the other April posts, which commemorate a particular person from the author’s place. Having a coastal place, Bucks Mills in North Devon, means that the burial registers record unidentified men, who have been found drowned on the shore. So, although I may not know his name, I would like to pay tribute to Mr X, a 35 year old unknown man, whose body was washed up on the beach near my place on 16th October 1821.

He was a victim of the severe storm that took place in Bideford Bay on 4th October. The sixty boat herring fleet put out from neighbouring Clovelly (also a registered one-place) and forty boats were unable to regain the harbour. Boats and nets were lost, an incredible financial burden for the families. Fortunately a fund set up to assist the families raised a considerable sum. It is believed that thirty one fishermen lost their lives, leaving nineteen women widowed and sixty one children fatherless. We will never know the name of the man who was buried in my place and undoubtedly the age is an estimate but he was someone’s family member. In total, the coastal parishes near Bucks Mills record the burials of twenty five of the victims, four of whom were unidentified. Presumably the remaining six victims were either never recovered or came ashore in a more distant place, perhaps across the Bristol Channel in South Wales.

Tragically, seventeen years later, there was a similar disaster in the bay. This time, eleven boats and twenty one boats were lost. Some of the victims were related to those who had perished in 1821. The bodies of eleven of these fishermen were either never recovered or never identified. Therefore they have no burial record or death certificate, unless of course, they are buried in your place.

Bucks Mill's memorial to the lost seamen of 1838

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