The Diary of Henry Boase (Mayor of Penzance 1816 - 17) records that on 18th June 1817 a meeting was held at the Guildhall in Penzance, chaired by the High Sheriff - Mr Harris of Kenegie, to consider how to help the widows and orphans of the 14 fishermen on “two mackrell boats” who had drowned in a great storm on 13th June.
A subscription was opened with the High Sheriff donating £50 [equivalent of £4,000 today]. The Mayor, Henry Boase, was then advised that it “would be discreditable to the Corporation to subscribe less than 20 guineas” although two days earlier some of the Corporation had suggested £5. The Mayor followed the advice, subscribed 20 guineas to the fund which was to be administered “as necessary.”
The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 21 June reported the same meeting and also published further details of both the meeting and the storm iteslf and its consequences. The meeting heard:
That early in the morning of the 13th instant, the boats employed in the Mackarel Fishery in Mount's Bay, were suddenly overtaken by a tremendous tempest, in which two large boats, each containing Seven Men, were, with their crews, totally lost.
That these fourteen men had all their little property in Fishing Materials to the value of above £300, embarked with them.
That they have left Eleven Widows, thirty Children, (mostly infants) and nine Relatives who were dependent on their labour for support, and that several of the widows are also near the time of their confinement, unprovided with even common necessaries.
That these fifty unfortunate persons are left altogether destitute, except of their legal claim on a parish already overburthened, or the aid of benevolence.
It was resolved to open a public relief fund and for banks throughout the county were asked to take subscriptions and transmit them to the local banks.
A committee was set up to direct the disposition of this relief fund, the members being: High Sheriff, Mayor of Penzance, Sir Rose Price, Rev. Mr Gurney, Rev. Mr Tonkin, Rev Mr Veale, Rev. Mr Treweek, John Scobell, John Batten, William Bolitho, John Paynter, William Carne, Samuel John, and Richard Pearce. Quorum of five. The Mayor was to be Treasurer and Samuel John the secretary. More than £150 was immediately subscribed.
According to Hichens and Drew this disaster came on the heels of an earlier storm which had occured on January 19 1817 and destroyed many of the boats in Newlyn and Mousehole.
The Newlyn Fisherman Memorial
Sculptor Tom Leaper
by kind permission of Tom Leaper