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HMS Fairy (1826)

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NameFairyExplanation
TypeBrig-sloop   
Launched25 April 1826
HullWooden
PropulsionSail
Builders measure233 tons
Displacement 
Guns10
Fate1840
ClassCherokee
Ships book
Note1832 survey vessel.
1840.11.13 wrecked on Sussex coast with loss of all hands
Snippets concerning this vessels career
DateEvent
31 December 1837
- 13 November 1840
Commanded by Captain William Hewett, Woolwich (until lost with the ship and all hands in a storm)
Extracts from the Times newspaper
DateExtract
Ma 14 December 1840(From the Hampshire Telegraph of Saturday)
We are sorry to state that there is every reason to fear that the Fairy, surveying vessel, Captain Hewett, has been lost, with the whole of her officers and ship's company. It appears that she left Harwich on the 15th ult. for the purpose of surveying some neighbouring sands, and must have encountered the late tremendous storm. It was ascertained before she left Harwich, that she had no design whatever of proceeding above a few hours' sail, having only on board at the time two days' provisions; but she has not since been heard of. A son of Sir C. Adam, a midshipman, was on board the Fairy. The Salamander steam vessel sailed on Monday, from Sheerness, for Norway, in search of her. She will visit the Shetland Isles, and call at Leith if necessary.
Tu 22 December 1840All hopes of the safety of the Fairy surveying-vessel, Captain Hewett, are at length abandoned. Part of a topmast belonging to her was picked up off Lowestoft Ness Point on the 15th last, near to the spot were some fishermen averted to have seem a vessel founder a month ago during the heavy gales. The whole of the crew, with the able commander, who had two sons on board, have perished. A fine spirited boy, the second son of Sir Charles Adam, was serving as volunteer of the first class on board, having lately commenced his noviciate in the naval service.— Naval and Military Gazette.
Ma 4 January 1841(From the Hampshire Telegraph of Saturday)
The Salamander, steam-frigate, arrived at Sheerness on Wednesday, after an unsuccessful search for the Fairy, and may be hourly expected at this port to refit, previous to proceeding to the Mediterranean.
Ma 4 January 1841LOSS of HER MAJESTY'S SHIP FAIRY.— It being ascertained beyond a doubt that Her Majesty's ship Fairy was lost off the coast of Suffolk on the morning of the 13th of November last, and that every person on board perished, this MEMORIAL is presented to a generous public to draw their attention to the unfortunate circumstances in which this awful calamity has placed the poor widows and orphans of the seamen and marines composing her crew.
It appears from the ship's books that out of a crew of 45 then on board 18 have left wives and children, who being now deprived of their natural support this appeal is made in their behalf.
Any contribution, however small, will be of importance where there are so many who need relief, and will be received by Mr. Breaks, at the Senior Officers' Office, in the Dockyard. Woolwich, who has kindly consented to take the office of Treasurer on this occasion.
Subscriptions will likewise be received by Captain Hornby. C.B., and family at Woolwich; and by the following navy agents, vis. — Messrs. Stilwell and Sons, 22, Arundel-street; H. Cooke, Esq., 41, Norfolk-street, Strand; Messrs. Chard, 3, Clifford's-inn, Fleet-street; and Messrs. Loudensack and Case, 1, James-street, Adelphi.— Woolwich-yard, Dec. 30, 1840.
Fr 8 January 1841LOSS of Her MAJESTY’S SHIP FAIRY.— As not a vestige of hope now remains respecting this unfortunate ship, which was commanded by Captain Wm. Hewett, R.N., and for many years employed in surveying the coasts of England and Holland, and the North Sea, some friends of that distinguished officer beg respectfully to APPEAL to the benevolence of the public In behalf of his afflicted widow and eight children, (the eldest only 16,) whose circumstances are of such a limited nature as to justify a measure of the kind.
For about 25 years Captain Hewett was actively engaged in this highly responsible and scientific branch of the naval service. Every step in his profession was given to him as the reward of unquestionable merit. The importance of his labours to the maritime world at large can only be duly appreciated by such as are acquainted with the nature of these arduous and frequently perilous duties which he had to perform — with his skill and experience — and with his faithful delineation of the position of the various shoals and quicksands with which those coasts abound. The execution of his charts was only equalled by their accuracy; the knowledge of which always gives confidence to the mariner when surrounded by invisible dangers. While in the execution of his duty on the 13th of November last, in the early part of that terrific gale of wind, a bark, believed to be the Fairy, was observed to go down stem foremost by a fishing smack off the coast of Norfolk, when all on board perished. The supplications of her crew (42 in number) for help, as she was sinking, were of the most heart-rending description; but none could be given, in such a storm, by the vessel in question. What renders the situation of the afflicted widow the more touching is, that her eldest son was on board as a midshipman with his father, and her brother as the master of the ship; so that by this mysterious dispensation of Providence she was, at the same moment, bereft of her husband, her son, and her brother.
Can the merchant, whose property may (under God) have been preserved by the invaluable services of this talented officer — can any one connected with the shipping interest — above all, can the Christian philanthropist refuse to contribute to the fund which it is proposed to raise for the benefit of this bereaved lady? May God, in whose hands are the hearts of all men, so dispose them that such a substantial public manifestation of sympathy may be awakened in her favour as shall remove an undue anxiety from her mind respecting the temporal well-being of her eight fatherless children.
Subscriptions will be thankfully received at the banking-house of Messrs. Drummond, Charing-cross; Messrs. Williams, Deacon, and Labouchere, Birchin-lane; Messrs. Martin, Stone, and Stone, 68, Lombard-street; also by Robert Miller, Esq., Blackheath-park; Thomas Lawrence, Esq., General Post-office; Capt. Drew, Trinity House; John Walker, Esq., hydrographer, India House; Major Robe. R.E., Tower; Thomas Chapman, Esq., Lloyd's; George Babb, Esq., Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire; Capt. Basil Hall, R.N., Portsmouth; and Lieut. Cook. R.N., of Addiscombe College, or at 35, Sackville-street; from whom any further information may be obtained.
The Earl of Galloway, Colonel Conolly, Commandant R.M. Woolwich, and Charles Broderick, Esq., have kindly consented to their names being given as Trustees for payment into the Bank of England, on account of Mrs. Hewett, of such sums as shall be reported to them by the abovenamed bankers, on or before the 1st of May next, to be payable on her account. Remittances, before the 1st of May, to the said bankers, should be made "To the Trustees acting in behalf of the Widow of the late Captain Hewett, R.N."
Sa 9 January 1841A meeting of the committee for raising subscriptions in aid of the widows and children of the persons who perished in the Fairy was held on Thursday, at Woolwich, Lieutenant Colonel Burton, of the Royal Marines, in the chair, when it was unanimously resolved that the sum of 70l. should be immediately divided amongst the most necessitous. It was never intended, as has been erroneously stated, that the subscription should be exclusively for the benefit of Mrs. Hewitt, the widow of the gallant captain of the vessel. The gentlemen who originated this praiseworthy object only contemplated that she should share with the others; but when this intention became known to this amiable lady, she stated that she felt grateful for the assistance offered, but declined being put on the list, as there were so many persons who had suffered a similar loss who had no other resource to depend upon, and she had made up her mind to be content with the allowance to which she was justly entitled according to her husband’s services.
Ma 11 January 1841A very feeling and kind-hearted appeal to the public has been written by Captain Basil Hall in behalf of Mrs. Hewett, the widow of an officer who recently lost his life in the execution of a perilous duty, in which not only the mariner was interested, but all who in the remotest degree have property on the high seas are deeply concerned. Lieutenant Pritchard, the officers and crew, of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Avon have set a generous example, by subscribing a day's pay to the widows and children now destitute by the loss of the Fairy; Lieutenant Tryon, officers and ship's company of the Rapid, tender to the Royal Yacht have very kindly subscribed a day's pay likewise; and the brigantine Viper, just returned from the coast, not to be thought "backward in coming forward," most liberally offered three days' pay, but only one will be accepted. It is a great pity that the widows of our hardy and gallant defenders were ever deprived, by the scratch of a pen, in 1824, of what had been conferred upon them by the acts of Parliament of this country. By the 14th of George II, in 1741, entitled, "An Act for the encouragement and increase of Seamen, and for the better and speedier manning His Majesty's Fleet," it is therein provided, that the real widow of any seaman below the rank of a commission or warrant officer, killed or drowned in the service, receive, by way of bounty, as much as would amount to a year's pay or wages of such seaman. This act stands in the Admiralty Statutes at page 190. It would be well for some naval member to ask a question about it.
Tu 12 January 1841

THE LATE CAPTAIN HEWETT, OF HER MAJESTY'S SHIP FAIRY.

The following is the letter referred to in yesterday's paper:—

"TO THE EDITOR OP THE HAMPSHIRE TELEGRAPH.
"Portsmouth Jan. 8,1841
"Sir,— I have been requested to solicit the advantage of your columns, to circulate a knowledge of the distressing case of the widow of the late Captain Hewett, who was lost in the Fairy, surveying vessel, in the great gale of the 13th of November last; and I feel confident that the friendly feeling you bear to the service will prompt you to render your powerful aid in so good a cause.
"Were the case an ordinary one, I might have hesitated to intrude it upon the public attention, however deeply I might have been interested in the parties; for I hold that appeals of this nature should never be made on light grounds. Unhappily there is nothing uncommon in the widow of a gallant and highly meritorious naval officer being left with eight children, almost entirely unprovided for; but it is seldom that an instance occurs which has such strong claims on the public favour as the present.
"That an officer who has devoted his whole life to the execution of his professional duties, and has at last perished in their actual performance, is well entitled to our respect, no one will deny, nor that his destitute widow and orphans are objects of our compassion. Still unless he shall have performed either some brilliant or some useful public service, his family can claim little more than our sympathy, and must be left to the care of those who are nearest and dearest, aided by the casual assistance of others whose generous natures judge of such matters by their own intrinsic distress.
"The case of Mrs. Hewett, however, and her eight delicate children (three of whom are at this trying moment very ill), stands on such very different grounds, that I cannot doubt, when the services of her late husband become generally known, she will be promptly and effectually relieved by the public.
"When an officer distinguishes himself in battle, the Country is never slow to acknowledge their sense of obligation to him and to reward him for augmenting the national renown; or, if he should fall in action, sound policy inclines them to provide for his family. But there are other services fully as beneficial to the country, and as essential to the advancement of its true glory, as those which figure in the Gazette, and which, therefore, are no less justly entitled to public favour. Of these the silent, unseen, protracted, often perilous, and always arduous labours, of the maritime surveyor, are entitled, on many grounds, to a high place in our esteem. There are perhaps no exertions of any of Her Majesty's servants, which produce more decidedly practical benefits to the community — none of which the good is more substantial at the moment, or more permanently useful in its character — none of which the results are more readily available in practice — nor any labours which require, at every stage of their progress, more skill, knowledge, patience, perseverance, and, above all, good faith and genuine public spirit, than the works of the hydrographer. This will be understood when it is recollected, that in the course of almost every other branch of the public service, occasional inaccuracies or neglects may occur without essentially vitiating the result. 'Success' said Lord Nelson, speaking of war, 'hides a multitude of blunders.' But this will not apply to surveying, for no eventual gloss or pretension, no elegance of execution of the maps, will make up for the smallest antecedent blunder in the details. Accordingly, a conscientious surveyor, like Hewett, makes it a sacred duty to superintend every cast of the lead, to verify every compass bearing by his own eye, to regulate and employ his chronometers with his own hands, and to observe the celestial bodies with instruments the merits of which he has himself proved. Finally, out of an immense mass of carefully accumulated materials scientifically reduced, he has to lay down his charts, that is, to adapt his work to the common use, not only of his own trading countrymen, but of the maritime world at large.
"It will scarcely be asked, what is the use of all this minute care? or in what way are the public concerned in it? or why should they owe so large a measure of gratitude to this particular officer, as to be called upon to widow and orphans? I shall, however, now show what have been the extent and the nature of his public services, of which their very great utility depends entirely upon the zeal and fidelity with which they were carried on. The character of the surveyor, indeed, is the only guarantee we can have for the correctness of such a work, and it established reputation that any claims of his family can rest.
"I pass over Captain Hewett's surreys of Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, and other distant places, because, though admirable in their way and very useful to those who trade with those nations, they are less calculated to make an impression on your readers, and, in point of fact, are less extensively useful than his labours nearer home. In all the wide circuit of waters navigated by British ships there is, I believe, no region more sailed over than what is called the North Sea, lying between the east coast of Great Britain and the continent, nor any with which it is more important to the mariner to be well acquainted. It is thickly strewn over with dangerous sholas, many of then out of sight of land; some lying directly in the fair way of navigation, and others far to the right and left of it, but not the less dangerous on that account to vessels driven out of their course by stress of weather.
"In 1818 Captain Hewett commenced the gigantic task of surveying this immense network of shoals, and he followed it up with a minuteness and an exactness heretofore unequalled in this or any other country. In the process of this most useful undertaking, numerous dangerous banks were for the first time examined, and their places correctly ascertained; others, which had no existence but in the fears of fishermen and traders, were swept off our charts. All the passages among the shoals were carefully sounded and rendered available by means of intelligible sailing directions — innumerable buoys were laid down, and lighthouses erected along the coast, to guide the mariner by day and by night; and I have just learned that the Trinity-house have borne honourable and substantial testimony to the value of Captain Hewett's suggestions on these points, and to the singular clearness and seaman like precision of all his operations, by awarding 200l. to his widow.
"In the midst of this career of public usefulness Captain Hewett was suddenly cut off, and the great work which he had almost completed most unfortunately interrupted. And here it may be interesting to pause a moment to consider how different the positions are in which an officer in command of a ship may be placed. There is not in the world a more glorious situation, or one upon which the country at large looks with greater admiration, than that of a captain leading his ship into action, it may be to death, it must be to honour. On the other hand, what stretch of imagination can reach or sympathy embrace the anguish and horror of a commanding officer in the situation of Captain Hewett in the gale when the poor Fairy foundered? All the skill and fortitude which had availed him so often in rescuing hie crew from perils he now sees to be utterly useless; wave after wave beats over the devoted ship, tearing the masts away, and washing all his gallant companions overboard; finally, the swamped vessel, completely overwhelmed, sinks under his feet.
"May we not well suppose that along with his last mortal agonies, and the deep sorrow at being thus wrenched away from the world, in the prime of life, he might yet feel supported by the reflection — that, as he had always done his duty by his country, and contributed materially, by his individual exertion, to its interests, his country would not now desert those whom he could no longer assist — and that, though no human hand could dry his widows tears, it might still make 'her heart to sing for joy,' by rendering the office of 'a father to the fatherless?'
"As, however, it forms, comparatively, an inconsiderable part of my present object to work on the feelings of your readers, I shall not pursue this subject further, nor intrude unnecessarily on the sacred privacy of the desolate widow's grief, except to state, that her eldest son, a midshipman, and brother, the master of the ship, perished along with her husband in the Fairy.
"It is enough, I hope, for me to state in conclusion, which I do upon the best authority, that her means, even with the highest pension which the rules of the state allow, must prove totally inadequate to maintain her in the position which, as an officer's wife, she has hitherto been accustomed to enjoy. Neither can Mrs. Hewett, unless assisted by the public, hope to bring up her children as they would have been brought up had their father's life been preserved to them and to his country. Let it be recollected also, that although this appeal is made in part to the generous sympathies of the public, it is not less directed to their sense of justice. For, if it be true, as I pledge myself it is, that Captain Hewett has rendered very important and permanently useful professional services to the nation without his ever having had either time or the means of laying up any provision for his family, they are certainly well entitled to protection, and to the heartiest assistance we can render them. It is gratifying to he able to communicate, that two gentlemen have already come forward to assist Mrs. Hewett, one with the offer of a cadetship, the other with a presentation to Christ's Hospital, for her sons.
"Subscriptions for Mrs. Hewett will be received by Captain Beaufort, Hydrographer's office; by captain Drew, of the Trinity-house; Mr. Thomas Lawrence, Post office; and by the London and Westminster Bank, Waterloo-place, and Lothbury, London; also, by Lieutenant Cook R.N. Addiscombe; and I shall be happy to receive and transmit to the committee of gentlemen acting on behalf of the widow, any subscriptions which may be forwarded to me at Portsmouth, I have the honour to be, your obedient servant. Basil Hall, Captain, R.N."
Tu 12 January 1841

TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.

Sir,— In an article in your paper of the 9th inst., dated from Woolwich, Jan 8, an account is given of the proceedings of the "Committee for raising Subscriptions in aid of the Widows and Children of the persons who perished in the Fairy," in which, after stating that a sum of 70l. had been awarded to the most necessitous, it goes, on to say that "it was never intended (as had been erroneously stated) that the subscriptions should be exclusively for the benefit of Mrs. Hewett, the widow of the gallant captain of the vessel. The gentlemen who originated this praiseworthy object only contemplated that she should share, with the others; but that when this intention became known to this amiable lady she stated that she felt grateful for the assistance offered, but declined being put on the list, as there were so many persons who had suffered a similar loss who had no other resource to depend upon; and she had made up her mind to be content with the allowance to which she was justly entitled, according to her husband’s services."
My attention, Sir, has been called to this article by some friends, who, in conjunction with myself, have undertaken to support the appeal made to the public by the advertisement in The Times and other, newspapers of last week, in behalf of the widow and children of the scientific and indefatigable officer, whose loss the nautical world will have to deplore.
The above article appearing in your paper so immediately succeeding the one containing our advertisements, though written, I have no doubt, without any such intention, is obviously calculated to raise an erroneous impression that Mrs. Hewett and her eight children are already amply provided for, and therefore, that the benevolent sympathy of the public is no longer required to be exerted in their favour; thus defeating the object we have in view.
In obedience to the request of my friends, I yesterday made it my business to wait upon Lieutenant-Colonel Buxton, Royal Marines, the chairman of the committee, whom your correspondent alludes to, and also upon Captain Hornby, Royal Navy, the Superintendent of the Dockyard, with whom the subscription originated, and am authorised by them to state, that its object, which was distinctly set forth in their advertisements, is intended solely for the relief of the 14 widows and numerous orphans of the 45 seamen and marines composing the, crew of the Fairy, and was never intended to apply to Mrs. Hewett; thus rendering it quite impossible that they could have contemplated, as stated by your informant, that she should "share with the others." I am further authorized to state, that no communications of the nature your correspondent alludes to have passed between the committee and Mrs. Hewett, and consequently the latter part of the article is entirely without foundation.
Since your paper, has thus been the medium of circulating the paragraph of which we complain, l trust, Sir, that you will, in justice to the bereaved family whose cause we advocate, be kind enough to insert the foregoing explanation in to-morrow's publication.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your very obedient servant,
A.W. Robe, Major of the Royal Engineers.
Tower, London, Jan. 11.
We 13 January 1841

(From our Correspondent.)

The subscription originated by Captain Hornby, C. B., superintendent of the Woolwich dock-yard, for the relief of the widows and children of the seamen and marines who were lost in the Fairy, now amounts to about 300l., and further sums continue to be forwarded for that praiseworthy object.
I regret exceedingly that I should have made a mistake in my last communication by stating that any share of this subscription was intended for Mrs. Hewitt, the widow of the gallant captain of the Fairy, and it would give me great pain were it to prove prejudicial to her interest, as nothing could he further from my intention, and I hope the publicity thus given to the circumstances of the case will ultimately prove for her benefit and the benefit of her family. The error arose from an impression is some quarters that the subscription originated by Captain Hornby was exclusively intended for Mrs. Hewitt and her family, which prevented several persons from coming forward who otherwise would have subscribed, had they considered the sums would be applied for the benefit of all the sufferers. As it is now generally known that there are two distinct subscriptions, every philanthropic person will have an opportunity of rendering assistance where all are worthy of commiseration.
Sa 16 January 1841LOSS of H.M.S. FAIRY.— The Public is earnestly appealed to on behalf of the widows and orphans of the seamen who perished in this unfortunate vessel. Subscriptions are received by Capt. Phipps Hornby, C.B., Woolwich; also at Messrs. Coutts and Co.'s Strand; and at Sir John Lubbock and Co.'s, Mansion-house-street.
Tu 19 January 1841The Late Captain Hewett.— Captain Basil Hall has published an appeal to the grateful feelings of the nation in behalf of the widow and eight children (three of whom are at this moment very ill) of the late Captain Hewett, of the lost vessel, the Fairy. The eldest son, a midshipman, and Mrs. Hewett's brother, the master of the ship, perished, it may be remembered, with him. Some humane persons have made interest in favour of two of the unfortunate lady's sons; but the pay to which she is entitled is wholly inadequate to the necessities of a numerous family, in delicate health and of tender years. The above are, after all, but a small portion of the services of Captain Hewett. The subscription originated by Captain Hornby, C.B., Superintendent of the Woolwich. Dockyard, for the relief of the widows and children of the seamen and marines who were lost in the Fairy, now amounts to about 300l., and further sums continue to be forwarded for that praiseworthy object. Mrs. Hewett does not participate in this.— Examiner.
Th 11 February 1841Her Majesty's Ship Fairy.— The wreck of this ill-fated vessel has been discovered four miles past Lowestoft, and it is reported that a fishing smack has brought up one of the yards.
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