The top ten most popular Messages from the Sea, based on stats from our website’s first two years:
One of several messages said to be from the famous White Star liner.
Know I Died Happy
A final message from George J Mills of the Spanish Queen.
A Pretty Little Boy
A poem found inside an 11ft shark.
The Body in a Well
Is this murder confession, found off the white cliffs of Dover, genuine?
Inside a Cod
A remarkable message found inside the stomach of a cod.
I Know I Cannot Escape
A sad message from William Graham on board the Pacific.
Lifting of the Body
This message reveals a grave-robbbing mystery.
Look After My Boy
A sad farewell from the missing steamship City of Boston.
God Help Us
What fate befell the schooner Lizzie?
I Expect My Turn Will Come Next
John Marshall of the Bavaria’s last, desperate plea.
Found November 1886, Deerness, Orkney.
Written on a couple of wooden pins:
This is the last of the schooner Baltic of Peterhead, on a voyage to the Baltic Sea, September 19. While crossing the Roost, we made an attempt for the boats, but failed, and so now we all have to perish. Whoever gets this, send to the relatives of the poor sailors.
The Roost is likely to be the Sumburgh Roost, an area off the southern tip of the Shetland mainland where two tidal currents meet with often dramatic and unpredictable results. The Baltic was a 99-ton schooner registered in Peterhead under a Captain Dinnes.
[Shields Daily News, 2 November 1886]
Found 20 February 1884, near the High Level Bridge on the River Tyne.
In a bottle, written in lead pencil on rough and dirty paper:
11 Mary Terras, Middlsbro, England.
Lord come and save us poor shipwrecked seafaring men. No provision left. Are starving to death. If you don’t pick us up very soon will see dear ones no more. Captain, mate, and all drowned, but me, and Jim Rower and Pat Kelly.
Me last love to my wife Mary Anne and the bairns.
Brig Jane, Clifford, Capt.
Thom. Little has written this.
[Shields Daily News, 21 February 1884]
Found 26 February 1881, east coast of Isle of Wight.
In a sealed medicine bottle, written on the fly-leaf from a Bible:
Smack Polly, of Brighton.
Dying of hunger and thirst. Are on a raft off the Needles. Samuel Solomon, master.
Do help us, for God’s sake; there are eight of us. Nets all carried away by the last storm.
The message in a bottle was picked up by a man named Ront, and passed to a Mr Beale, the Lloyd’s agent at Portsmouth. Nothing more could be learned of the matter. It was assumed that if a raft had been floating of the Needles rocks, on the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, it would have been spotted from the Needles lighthouse, “unless, indeed, it was during one of the heavy fogs.”
[Eastern Morning News, 28 February 1881]
Found August 1896, Arranmore Island, County Donegal.
In a bottle:
December 27th, 1895.
This is my last, as our good ship is foundering and is three days on her beam ends, springing a leak. Sinking fast; Ocean Maid; lat. 45, long. 57 45 W.; bound from New Brunswick for Liverpool. God spare me or not, give my love to all; I am no more.
James R Gilmour, England.
[Eastern Daily Press, 27 August 1896]
Found May 1879, Wigtown Bay, south west Scotland.
In a bottle, written in good hand, in pencil, on a small scrap of paper:
20th January, 1879.
Ou ship, the Puffin, is sinking. She caught fire on the 18th, and has burned for two days. The pumps are no use. The ship is fast settling down. God help us! Publish this when found. A raft is being prepared. I belong to Whitehaven.
James K. Henetron, Whitehaven.
The ship is going down.
[Greenock Advertiser, 26 May 1879]
Found December 1876, Greenses, Berwick.
In a tin box, a letter:
Schooner Regina, of Jersey, 21st December:
To whoever may find it.
H.P. Erith, Fair View Place, Gorey, Jersey.
4 p.m. – Blowing a fearful gale, sea terrible, hourly expecting to go on shore. Can do nothing for her. Tried to sail several times. She won’t bear it. Have told crew what to expect from her. God grant wind may veer in time to save us. Soundings in 27 fathoms rock, so now there is no chance. Expect to go ashore between Ferns and Coquet. No chance of saving life with this sea. Should like to see something. Weather thick. Have been lying-to two days. Have done all I can to keep her off, but can’t carry canvas. Praying that the Lord may have mercy on our souls and take us to heaven.
Tell my dear sisters I am thinking and praying for them.
Coquet is an island off Amble on the Northumberland coast, around 60 miles south of Berwick.
[Bradford Daily Telegraph, 1 January 1877]
Found October 1907, Carmarthen Bay, South Wales.
In a bottle, on a piece of dirty paper:
Steamship Brunswick, 1898, off Cape Horn, March 13th. If found kindly make inquiries.
All hands lost. God Bless Us.
Cape Horn, off Chile, is the southernmost point of South America. It is more than 8,000 miles from South Wales, where this message was found – almost ten years after it was dated.
[Eastern Evening News, 9 October 1907]
Found October 1897, HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.
In a bottle, on a piece of paper:
September 8th, ’79, Brig Belfast.
Mutiny on board the Belfast. Captain and first mate overboard.
Lat. 41.29 south, lon. 32.26.
HM Dockyard, or Her Majesty’s Naval Base, is the Royal Navy base at Portsmouth.
[Glasgow Evening Citizen, 6 October 1879]
Found September 1909, on the beach at Fjaltring, Jutland.
In a bottle:
Steamboat Patrel lost, all hands; 50 miles E.S.E. C. Wasclead; warn the public.
John Beimner, first engineer. 8/5/1909.
[Greenock Telegraph, 11 September 1909]
Found April 1890, on Blatchington Beach, near Newhaven.
In a bottle, a letter:
Brig Elfrida, Captain Jones, left Glasgow April 12th, 1890.
Saturday, 19th, all sinking, no sight of land.
TOM SMITH, 40, Fellgate, Edinburgh.
Elfrida was the first crowned Queen of England, as the wife of Anglo-Saxon King Edgar. There is no further record of the brig named after her.
[Braford Daily Telegraph, 26 April 1890]