Washed Away During Gale

Found 26 September 1895, in the harbour at Poole, Dorset.

In a bottle, on a foreign telegram form:

Owner, ship Sarah Jane, Liverpool. Ship sprung a leak on 17th August off St. Ives. Ship sinking, and boats washed away during gale of 2nd inst. — James Goodenough, 20 New-street, Isle of Dogs.

This message was fished out of the harbour by a revenue cutter. The writing was described as being “in clear running hand” and “evidently that of a well-educated person”. Police enquiries found there was no New Street in the Isle of Dogs. A Board of Trade inspector identified a vessel named Sarah Jane that traded between Birkenhead, across the Mersey from Liverpool, and Millwall, on the Isle of Dogs. However, there were no reports of that vessel having encountered difficulties, so the message was labelled by the press as a “cruel hoax”.

[Aberdare Times, 5 October 1895]