The Barque Ewell Grove

The barque Woodmansterne calling for a pilot
The barque Woodmansterne calling for a pilot.
Painting by John Lynn via Wikipedia

A sailing ship, called a 'bark' or 'barque', had three masts, in which the foremast and mainmast were square-rigged and the mizzenmast was rigged fore and aft.

Henry James Blaksley had been baptised at St Mary, Lambeth, on 13 December 1795. He was a son of Charles Blaksley, ivory merchant & comb maker of 2 Bishopsgate Street Within, London, and Martha his wife. From 8 March 1810 Henry entered a 7 year apprenticeship with Henry Clarke, Merchant, Citizen and Goldsmith of London, at Little Bell Alley, Coleman Street.

He became a ship and insurance broker at 13 Mincing Lane by 1822 and later 2 New Chambers, Bishopsgate Street. During 1828 Blaksley & Co. became proprietors of the 277-ton wooden barque Woodmansterne which had been built at Shields, near Tynemouth intended for the West Indies trade. Despite several changes of commander and for a short time an additional owner named Barrett & Co., apparently in partnership with Blaksley, Woodmansterne continued sailings to Jamaica until 1838.

Thomas Reid had been the principal partner in the mercantile house of Reid, Irving & Co, which had its offices at Broad Street, City of London. He was also a director and sometime chairman of the East India Company and a director of the Imperial Insurance Office. In September 1823 he was created 1st Baronet Reid of Ewell Grove, Surrey and Graystone Park, Dumfries. Sir Thomas died on 29 February 1824 leaving a manor house at Woodmansterne, Surrey, to his son George .

It is thought that the use of the name of this estate at Woodmansterne for the ship completed in 1828 indicates that a financial interest had been taken in it by him or the family banking business.

Sir John Rae Reid, 2nd Baronet, had moved into Ewell Grove during 1829, following the death of his mother.

Henry James Blaksley's marriage to Sophia Hoffham came to be celebrated at St Mark's, Kennington, 12 August 1833.

Another barque, of 290 tons, built on the Tyne in 1834 for Blaksley was registered in the Port of London, Master John Burton, as Ewell Grove. Again its name seems to reflect the involvement of the Reid family and/or firm.

With a cargo of sugar, rum, coffee, and other merchandise, returning from Jamaica to London, the vessel set sail from Morant Bay for Carlisle Bay, on the 21 July 1835. She ran on to a shoal off Jamaica and had been there from 21st to 24th July, when a signal of distress brought to her assistance a steamer, HMS Rhadamanthus, carrying despatches. In about eight hours Ewell Grove was moored in safety, and during the next morning towed into Carlisle Bay. The magistrates there awarded the salvors one third of the ship, cargo, and freight, valued at £6,000 but the owners refused to accept that decree. In the High Court of Admiralty the salvors were given £1,200 with costs following proceedings detailed at:-

Voyages by the Ewell Grove, captained by a R Burton, to Jamaica and South America continued until 1842. Shipping News in The Morning Post, 8 August 1842, included a report from Calcutta, dated 8 June, of loss and damage to various ships in a storm. The Ewell Grove had 'lost fore and mizen topmasts' in a 'frightful hurricane [which visited Calcutta] injuring almost every vessel in the river, and house in the town and neighbourhood'. The barque may never have been recovered after this damage: its name does not appear in Lloyd's Register of Shipping for 1843.

Blaksley continued in business with other vessels, in particular the Brig Malvina commanded by Captain R Burton, immediately previous master of Ewell Grove.

Before 26 March 1852 his business as ship and insurance broker had passed to George Offor, jun. On 16 August 1855 Henry James Blaksley of 5 Dorset Terrace, Clapham Road, Stockwell, died in St Leonards on Sea, aged 59.

Brian Bouchard, July 2016