Archiver > MARINERS > 2003-02 > 1045600165

From: Tim Latham <>
Subject: Re: [Mar] Tea Clipper ships and crews - Capt.Richard Robinson
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 20:29:25 +0000
In-Reply-To: <>


Maryport is a town in the county of Cumberland, so the two are not
necessarily inconsistent. Doesn't matter though, I was wrong about Maryport
anyway ! Capt.Robinson of the Fiery Cross was born in Workington, another
Cumberland port, south of Maryport but north of Whitehaven where the
Brocklebank ships were built.

Here are some transcripts from Hollett's book "From Cumberland to Cape Horn".


It was on this voyage in the Princess Royal in 1840 that a young man by the
name of Richard Robinson, from Workington, made his first voyage as an
apprentice - a young man who was destined to become master of the almost
legendary tea clipper Fiery Cross of 1860.

(NOTE : there is an error here, the Princess Royal was built in 1841,
confirmed by other sources as launched 8th March 1841).


After serving aboard the Princess Royal, Richard Robinson had been promoted
by Brocklebanks to 2nd mate of the Rimac, before being promoted to first
mate of this vessel in August 1852. He left the Rimac in August 1854 and
obtained his master's certificate at Liverpool on the 16th of the following
month. On returning to service with Brocklebanks he obtained the position
of first mate to Capt.Kelly aboard the firm's barque Hindoo., which vessel
had just been taken out of the East India service and was now being traded
to Bahia and Pernambuco. Capt.Kelly noted at the time that Robinson was a
smart officer, but one with a somewhat fiery disposition. Robinson's next
ship was the Herculean, a full rigger of 531 tons : the master of this ship
was Capt.J.Bell of Whitehaven. Capt.Bell was more than pleased with his new
first mate, noting in the firm's records that Robinson was a very active
officer. Of crucial importance to Robinson was the fact that Brocklebanks
were trading the Herculean to China.

(NOTE: An apprenticeship at this time with Brocklebanks lasted 5 years, so
you could assume that Robinson started his apprenticeship in 1847 or


When Brocklebanks launched the Veronica in 1860, Richard Robinson was
appointed commander and he made one voyage in this vessel, as it happens to
Hong Kong, before leaving the firm in 1860 to take command of
Messrs.J.Campbell & Co.'s fine new ship Fiery Cross in 1861.

From "Brocklebanks 1770 to 1950" by Frederic Gibson (published 1953)

Princess Royal : Built by T & J Brocklebank at Whitehaven, 1841. 579 tons,
ship, 133.8 x 29.3 x 21.1. traded solely to Calcutta, commanders were
D.Robinson (1840-3), W.Hoodless (1844-5), Clarke (1846-7), Adamson
(1848-51), Mawson (1852-5) etc. etc. Sold by Brocklebanks 1871, broken-up 1877.

Rimac: details as webpage.

Hindoo ; Built by T & J Brocklebank at Whitehaven, 1831, 266 tons, barque,
traded only to Calcutta until 1854, then Bahia/Pernambuco until 1857 under

Herculean: details as webpage. Traded to China from her launch in 1856
until her loss in 1860, Capt.J.Bell.

Verionica : details as webpage. Gibson lists a single voyage under
Robinson's command, to Hong Kong in 1860.

Much of the information in these books originates from the Brocklebank
archive at Liverpool Record Office, which includes logs, office
correspondence, some crew lists, yard books, letter books and accounts from
1792 onwards. Also cited in Hollett's book is "The memoirs of Capt.William
Ray" published in the Liverpool Journal of Commerce 22nd Oct 1921 (will be
at the Newspaper Library - Capt.Ray spent his whole career with
Brocklebanks, started aged 15 as an apprentice on the Rimac, and ended as
Marine Superintendent for the fleet).

Best Wishes,

Tim Latham

At 15:45 17/02/03 -0500, Bob Zimmerman wrote:
>Howdy all,
>I have been astronished at the number of people who have been willing to
>dig into library archives for me to help answer some of my myriad
>questions. Thank you all, especially Malcolm Cooper, Tim Latham, Frank
>Haigh, Shirley Gaunt, and Fraser in cold but sunner Inverness.
>It is interesting to compare what various people have dug up. For example,
>there are a few contradictions, mostly resulting I think from the
>difficulty we (of the computer era) have in reading 19th script. One or
>two are more puzzling (such as the two different years of birth for
>Billing). Here's a list of all of them:
>-William Billing: born either 1817 or 1824 in Cornwall.
>-Falcon: two different official numbers: 7107 or 27000.
>-Serica: two different offical numbers: 45261 or 70982 (the 2nd is less
>-Windhover: two different official numbers: 60399 or 68399 (the 2nd is
>probably right).
>-Richard Robinson: born either 1824 or 1829 in either Cumberland or Maryport.
>-Richard Robinson: Certificate number either 5592 or 5?692 (2nd digit
>Concerning some of the other individuals on my research list, several were
>not found in the Registers when people looked, even though they were were
>pretty well known captains in their time. It is possible that they were
>simply not in the Registers available to those who looked. Or it is
>possible that they might be found elsewhere in the registers. For example,
>Donald MacKinnon (who won the 1866 tea race as captain of Taeping) might
>be found under Kinnon instead of MacKinnon. (According to one of the
>research guides I have read, prefixes like Mc and Mac are ignored in the
>alphabetical listings.)
>Similarly, Alexander "Jock" McLellan (or McLelland depending on the
>source) is referred to at length by both Basil Lubbock and David MacGregor
>in their books about the Tea Clipper ships, both noting that when he took
>over Chrysolite the ship suddenly became much slower. Lubbock also
>describes how Mclellan had to put down a crew revolt once by firing a gun
>on deck. I also suspect his name might be found under "L" for Lelland, the
>Mc being ignored.
>Or maybe some individuals never got a certificate because they didn't need
>one. For example, both John Dallas and Peter Maxton Jr. were as much
>owners as captains. Maxton was the son of Peter Maxton Sr. who built the
>ships his son captained. Dallas owned and supervised construction of both
>Fiery Cross 1 and 2.
>Other names that were not found included John Doudy (who as mate took over
>as captain of the Taeping in 1866 when MacKinnon took ill and died).
>Doudy's captaincy might have been very temporary (meaning he did not have
>a certificate), or maybe his name is spelled Doughtery or some variation
>thereof in the Registers?
>Finally, no one has found any reference yet for George Kirkup or Charles
>A. Watchlin.
>Kirkup took over as Captain for Richard Robinson on Fiery Cross 2 in 1867
>and was captain for that year at least.
>Watchlin meanwhile was 3rd mate on Taeping during the 1866 tea race,
>according to an article published in the magazine SEA BREEZES back in
>1927. According to that article, Watchlin went to sea in 1861 on the Miles
>Bartow. He also served on the clippers Sir Lancelot, Falcon, Glencairn,
>Windhover. Later he was commander of the SS Luna, 1st New Zealand
>government steamer. He died in Auckland, New Zealand in 1827. If he ever
>got a captain's certificate, he probably did it after 1866.
>Finally, here are three names that I think were also on Taeping: George
>Fowler, David Watson (Murray), and John Watson. I don't know anything more
>about them, so I can't give anyone anything else to go on. Sorry.
>Once again, thanks to everyone for being so helpful. If anyone can dig up
>anything more for me to help me on my research trip to London at the end
>of March, I would be very grateful.
>For example, in John Keay's log for the 1866 tea race, each day his
>reports describe how he has asked his carpenter to build or repair
>something, without every mentioning the carpenters name. Does anyone know
>a way I can find out who this carpenter was?
>Bob Zimmerman
>4708 Montgomery Place
>Beltsville, Maryland 20705
>==== Mariners Mailing List ====
>Mariners Website

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