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God Help Us

Found December 1898, on the beach at Troon, South Ayrshire

In a bottle, a note scribbled in pencil:

Schooner Lizzie foundering off Corsewall Point. God help us.

Corsewall Point is 40 miles south of Troon on the west coast of Scotland. No Scottish vessel named Lizzie was known to be missing, and the message was initially assumed to be a hoax. However, it was subsequently revealed to be the last dispatch from a Northern Irish vessel, from Kircubbin, County Down, across the North Channel.

The Lizzie left Maryport, Cumbria, on 22 November 1898, and was due in Kircubbin on the following day. However, it was caught in a severe gale, and was last seen heading north, apparently to seek shelter from the storm. A week later, a life-boat bearing the Lizzie’s name was washed ashore near Larne, County Antrim, around 25 miles from Corsewall Point. “No doubts are now held that the vessel foundered in the heavy gale, which, it will be remembered, caused a lot of damage to shipping at the time,” reported the Glasgow Herald.

The Lizzie had a crew of four hands, led by Captain McWhirr, who left a widow and eight children, “most of whom are young”.

[Glasgow Herald, 9 December 1898]