Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Numbers On Board the Sea Horse

According to Captain Gibbs, the Sea Horse took on board at Ramsgate, on the 24 January, 16 Officers, 287 men, 33 women, and 38 children and a crew 17 in number. There was also a passenger, Lieutenant Allen of the Royal Navy, which including Gibbs himself, comes to a total of 393 souls. Total losses were reported to be 12 officers, 15 seamen, 71 women and children as well as the 264 enlisted men, a total of 363. While the numbers reported to be saved were 4 officers, 23 enlisted men, one of which died shortly afterwards and 3 seamen.
      However a letter from Ramsgate dated 6 February clearly related that, ‘the statement of men on board the Seahorse is not correct-there embarked here 14 officers, 266 men, 33 woman and 34 children.’[1] While there can be little doubt that there were 16 officers on board, the number of enlisted men, women and children remains open to question. Furthermore, an investigation into the Regimental Pay List from 25 January 1816 to 24 March 1816 confirm the deaths of 4 senior enlisted staff, 4 colour sergeants, 1 drum major, 10 sergeants, 14 corporals, 15 drummers and fifers and 197 privates on 30 January 1816, a total of 245 dead men, 2 of which died at the wreck of the Lord Melville. Adding the 22 enlisted men that are listed in the pay list as having survived the wreck of the Sea Horse, the total of the enlisted men recorded to be on board comes to 265.[2] A figure much closer to the Ramsgate tally; if we take this reckoning as the more accurate of the two, then the numbers on board amount to 16 officers, 265 enlisted men, 33 woman and 34 children, 18 seamen and one passenger, a sum total of 367 souls of which 338 were lost. However, if the number of soldiers on board is incorrect in the official tally, then the number of women and children is also probably incorrect. Also, Gibbs stated that there were only 17 seamen on board, including himself. The exact figures of those on board and those lost is unknown.

[1] The Times, 8 February 1816.
[2] 59th Foot 2nd BN 1815 & 1816 War Office Regimental Pay Lists, 25 January 1816 to 24 March 1816 , WO/12/6870, The National Archives, accessed online at

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