What happened to the Clarendon?*
Updated: Feb 16
What happened to the 'Clarendon'
Along that lone and ghastly shore
As the gale blew her up the Channel
And through the rigging tore….
She was then bound for London
With West Indies sugar and rum
And eleven helpless passengers,
Their day of judgement come.
The prayers, lamentations and cries
Were their last eternal pleas,
As the small ship yawed and wallowed
In the huge, raging seas.
And despite the helmsman’s efforts
To steer the stricken craft,
The sailors still kept alive their faith
And cut the canvas aft.
But all these efforts were in vain
As she sped towards the coast,
With fishermen on the beach at hand
Who did their able most.
There she struck with horrific force
To be pounded by the surf,
Her fate thus sealed, as the Captain knew,
Held fast between heaven and earth.
With lines thrown out and some crew saved
Death was cheated thrice,
Amidst the fractured timbers…
Tossed forth as careless dice.
And sadly, with the sickly dawn
On that fateful October day,
In washed the many bodies,
That limp and lifeless lay….
Including a Planter and his daughter
From Nevis, their distant home,
And a family of four young sisters,
Dead amongst the foam.
A sight indeed so shocking
That grown men tugged their clothes,
And wept and chastised the Almighty
With harsh and mumbled oaths.
Now all these years later,
At peace the lost remain;
From deeds and hurtful misery,
Their bodies long have lain.
Protected from the hurricane
And the stinging gale,
Their lives not even memories
At Blackgang and at Chale.
The last a pleasant setting,
On the Wight’s southern fringe,
Witness though of many a storm,
That blast and take revenge.
And in the quiet churchyard
On blocks of weathered stone,
Are scored the fading stories, -
Proof that Time has surely flown.
Yet disaster may have a sequel
And from flotsam once forlorn,
The ship’s salvaged timbers
In the ‘Wight Mouse’ now adorn.
So that life goes on a flourishing,
As generations thrive evermore,
And drink their beer and tell their tales,
Though none are left that saw….
Those tragic and awful happenings,
On that night in ‘thirty six’,
When the brave little ‘Clarendon’
Was smashed to utter sticks.
*Wrecked off Blackgang Chine, Isle of Wight, England en route from Nevis on the 11th October, 1836
The author is a 3 x great grandson of the Nevisian planter-cum-barrister, Walter Maynard Pemberton (1788 -1836), via his daughter Mary (1833-1894). She fortunately remained on Nevis when her father and sister Ann (1825-1836) sailed for England on their fatal voyage and later married her first cousin, the Rev. Walter Pemberton (1827 -1901), also of Nevis.