MARINERS-L ArchivesArchiver > MARINERS > 2003-09 > 1063137595
From: "Gordon A Troup" <>
Subject: Re: [Mar] Robert Hunter Beattie
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2003 13:59:55 -0600
Unlike Bob, I plead not guilty as I forwarded my reply to the list.
However, I did neglect to include one detail that seems a very similar
situation to what Bob describes. On this voyage:
Master BEATTIE ROBERT H.
Certificate of Competency I 73016
Birth Place DUMBARTON
Date Master Joined Ship Wed 20 Nov 1878
Registry of Last Ship 3 (NOVA SCOTIA)
Official Number 044439
Owner JAMIESON WILLIAM
Gross Tons 579
Destination YOKOHAMA, JAPAN
Voyage Commence Thu 13 Dec 1877
Date Terminated Fri 18 Apr 1879
The first master, William Gordon, died of disease 21 Jul 1878 off the
Japanesee coast, the second, Thomas Dormant was discharged, incompetent at
Manila and Robert H. Beattie was the third, signing on at Manila and
completing the voyage back to London. I checked the vessels given in the
1869 Lloyds Captains Register for RHB on the cd 'Ships and Seafarers of
Atlantic Canada' and could not find any additional ones recorded in the
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bob Zimmerman" <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 6:15 AM
Subject: [Mar] Robert Hunter Beattie
> Harry Dodsworth wrote:
> > I have already seen a thank-you note which suggests there were some
> >replies off list. In general, replies to the list are better as it saves
> >more than one person replying, and the information is available to
> >later researchers.
> I plead guilty to the crime of "sending an off-list reply," and throw
myself at the mercy of the court.
> Actually, Harry's information on Robert Hunter Beattie, combined with
mine, produces an intriguing career. Harry found the following:
> Robert Hunter Beattie born Dumfries-shire 1824
> Captain's certificate (S. 73,016) - unusually no place of issue listed
> [all service as captain; all voyages included W.I. - West Indies]
> Thetis, 1855-56
> Kelton, [Official Number] 16,255, 1857-63
> Received a telescope from the British Government for services to
> shipwrecked seamen of 'Elizabeth and Jane' on Aug. 25, 1862.
> Tobasco, 47,507 1863-64
> Pannco, 51,402 1865-67
> Sarinac, 50,?81 1867
> I, in my continuing research for a book on the 1866 Great Tea Race, have
digital photographs of the termination records for the entire voyage in
1871-1872 of the clipper ship SERICA (ON: 45261) in which a Robert H. Beatie
was A.B. The records don't tell me much about Beatie, though what they say
makes me think that my Beatie is the same person as Harry's above.
> My Beatie joined SERICA in New York on February 26,1872 at the age of 45.
This means he was born c1826-1827, which matches the birth year of Harry's
Beattie very closely, and is actually a better match to the 1826 birth year
that Pat Harrison, Beattie's descendent, has. He signed his name Robert H.
Beatie, which also makes it very likely it was the same man, since Beattie
was often spelled with either one or two "T"s in the 19th century, and to
have a match with a middle initial is very unlikely unless this was the same
man. My Beatie also states he was born in Dunfries, Scotland, the same
birthplace as Harry's above.
> Beatie was discharged from SERICA in October, 1872, in Hong Kong. (He was
lucky to leave SERICA when he did, as when this ship left Hong Kong it sank
in the China Sea on November 3, 1872, with the loss of all but one man.)
> The question that comes up of course is: Why did a man who was captain in
1867 become an AB in 1872?
> I have one theory: According to further information from Pat Harrison, in
1869 Beatie was master of the PAMUCO, sailing from Foochow China to Bankok.
In the 1850s and 1860s many ships along the China coast were actually owned
by Chinese but sailed under the British flag for protection. To get British
protection, they would hire a British sailor as a nominal captain. Often he
would speak little or no Chinese, acting merely as a front to make the
British registration legal.
> Beattie might have been doing this, which would explain why he was a
captain and then an AB.
> Another explanation might be that he had commanded a ship into New York,
and in order to get home, he needed to sign onto any ship available in any
position. SERICA, based in London, offered him that possibility. (SERICA was
also a very famous clipper ship, having won the tea race in 1864 and
finishing second and third in 1865 and 1866 respectively.)
> That he left SERICA in Hong Kong can also be explained, since the crews
that sailed under SERICA's captain, George Innes, routinely deserted or
demanded discharge at the first opportunity. (It seems Innes ran a sloppy
ship, and was not what one could call the best leader of men.) Having
previously commanded ships along the China coast, Beattie probably figured
he could easily get another ship back to London.
> In order to definitively link my Beatie with Harry's, however, we would
need to find out how Beattie got from Bankok on PAMUCO in 1869 to New York
in 1872. To solve the mystery we would need to know what he was doing in
between. Since he listed his previous ship when he signed onto SERICA in
1872 as MALACCA, it is this ship's records that will likely have the answer
to this question.
> And of course, there is always the very real possibility that we are
talking about two different men.
> Ah, the joys of research!