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Loss of the Vulcan



We have to record the wreck of another of our coasting vessels, and more lives lost, at the entrance of Newcastle; and a still greater sacrifice of both life and property will, no doubt occur, before the government of the Colony will even think of removing the cause - which may be done by laying down secure buoys, and erecting a substantial beacon at the extremity of Nobby's reef. We regret to state that the sloop Vulcan, the property of Mr. Dawson, in proceeding from Sydney to the Hunter for coals was entirely lost at mid day of Saturday last, and the master, Mr. Richard Craven, 3 seamen, and two of the pilot boat's crew, perished!

It appears that the Vulcan was off Nobby's in a southerly gale, waiting for a pilot, but, after tacking about a considerable time, and no appearance of any assistance, in order to prevent her going upon a lee shore, the master ordered the anchors to be let go.

The weather increased, and the pilot boat made an attempt to push off to the assistance of the little vessel, also a boat from the Tamar steam packet. The Vulcan continued to labour exceedingly and dragged her anchors a considerable distance, during which her ballast shifted, - she capsized, and immediately after went down, - the same sea swallowing up master and crew, and two of the men in the pilot boat, one of whom only was saved, having been washed ashore with a paddle. It was certainly a fortunate circumstance that the pilot remained ashore, or he would undoubtedly have shared the fate of his more courageous men.

The whole of this tragedy was witnessed by a number of persons ashore, some of whom, when the danger of the vessel became apparent, put off, but they were frustrated in their attempts to reach her, as no boat could live in such dreadful weather. The only articles washed ashore from the wreck were 2 paddles, the compass and 2 hatches. The loss, we understand falls upon Mr. Dawson, the owner, and Mr. Kesterton, who had hired the vessel for 12 months. It is not known, exactly, how many persons have perished, it being supposed that some others were on board. We have been informed by a gentleman who witnessed the occurrence that Captain Mulhall, of the Tamar, exerted himself to the utmost to save the lives of the unfortunate men. - The Sydney Herald 28 December 1837


The Following correspondence has been handed to us, which we publish in justice to Mr. Jackson, the Harbour Master at this settlement, that gentleman having been accused of negligence in a contemporary journal, which, it will be seen, ought not to have been attributed to him; on the contrary, we learn that Mr. Jackson exerted himself in the most praiseworthy manner to save the lives of the crew of the unfortunate Vulcan, in which he nearly lost his own:

To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette

In consequence of a paragraph appearing in your paper respecting the praiseworthy conduct of Captain Mulhall, in risking his life to save the crew of the Vulcan, I beg to state (as the accompanying letter will corroborate), that such is not a fact. I would not intrude on your valuable time, had it not been for my knowledge of your impartiality in cases such as the present; and conclude with stating that by your inserting the above together with the enclosed letter, signed by a master of a vessel, you will confer favour on Your Obdt. Servt., A CONSTANT SUBSCRIBER Newcastle Dec. 29, 1837,

To Mr. Dawson., George Street, Sydney

Dear Sir,
I beg to state that in consequence of a malicious and rascally statement I believe got up by an individual of the town against Mr. Jackson, Harbour master and Pilot, I consider it is but fair for me to acquaint you of what I saw and know. No man could have done more than Mr. Jackson did, in trying to save the lives of the unfortunate crew; his conduct was praiseworthy in the extreme, - and when I have the pleasure of seeing you I will relate more particulars if required.

I am, sir, Yours truly, J.D. Liddell

P.S. It appears from good authority that Captain Mulhall was not in the boat at the time stated; nor did he assist.

The Sydney Gazette 9 January 1838