Tayleur fund for the succour of shipwrecked strangers
Edward J Bourke
There is considerable doubt about how many medals and cash awards were made as newspaper accounts seem incomplete and in some cases vague. Electronic searches of the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Belfast Newsletter and Freemans Journal have brought out new information but there are known medal awards whose details have not been discovered.. It appears that medals were not awarded posthumously and there is some confusion in accounts about similar awards by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent society. No comprehensive list has been found but much information must have been in the affidavit at the time of the wind up of the fund. A fuller search of the personal papers of Lord Talbot, Mr Jameson or Mr Power might yet yield a copy of the affidavit made on winding up the fund (the original being presumed lost in the Four Courts fire 1922) or even the minute books. There is no reason to believe that the list below is comprehensive.
In the early days of the Fund cash awards were made for rescue work and money given to the surviving seamen to accommodate and assist them. After the 1861 wreck of the Industry and Neptune at Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) the Fund decided to award medals to the rescuers but no medals were granted to the six men who lost their lives. These men received RNLI medals. William Huchison (Harbourmaster) thanked the trustees of the fund for the donation of £10 given to the widows and orphans of the crews of the Industry and Neptune. The Tayleur Fund acted as an initial repository of funds for a memorial to Boyd and his men.
A medal is on display at the coastguard station in Howth. The Luke Malone medal in the National Museum (Went collection) was sold in London in 1929 to A.H. Baldwin, later sold to a Galway solicitor, Comerford and sold at Adams to Went in 1976. The discovery of a hitherto undocumented medal in the Maritime Museum in Dún Laoghaire has prompted a revision of the information to hand. Several medals are in a private collection. The medals were made by Richardsons of College Green, Dublin and are silvered or gilded. The blanks are base metal awaiting silvering or gilding. A vague story suggests that a medal or box of unawarded, uninscribed, medals was found in a basement in O’Connell Street after a fire (Possibly 1916 or 1922). This could have been a jeweller’s premises. The case of Carton’s medal was described at auction as fire damaged but this happened in America. Margaret Spreadborough of 6 Belmont Knockavery Youghal wrote to the Irish Times in 1957 seeking information about a medal relating to the Ada rescue which she had in her possession.
|No||Awardee||Date||Grade||Rescue||Location||Location of medal|
|1||Bernard Burke||9 Feb 1861||S||Neptune/Industry||Kingstown|
|2||John Burke||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|3||Hugh McNeill Dyer||9 Feb 1861||G||As above||Kingstown|
|4||James Beer||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||Duiblin|
|5||George Biddlecombe||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|6||Joseph Sweeney||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||Sold 16 December 2003 Dix Noonan Webb London|
|7||Denis Deneen||9 Feb 1861||S||Industry||Kingstown|
|8||William Boyd||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||
NMM "Medal 0541"
|9||George Doherty||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||
NMM "Medal 0540"
|10||John Walsh||9 Feb 1861||G||As above||Kingstown|
|11||William Wick||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||6 May 1992 sold £250 DNW also Dec 2010|
|12||Richard Wingate||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||auctioned 12 Dec 2012 at DNW. Now in Dublin|
|13||William Wright||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||UK|
|14||Peter Kane||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|15||Thomas McGonigal||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|16||Archibald McLenahan||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|17||Luke Malone||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||In National Museum, Collins Baracks, Went Collection. Press 11 drawer 4|
|18||John Newham||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|19||George Robertson||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|20||James Twomey||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|21||George Farrin||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||In Collection|
|22||William Ferguson||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|23||William Ferris||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|24||William Fynes||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||Photo in catalogue of medal types RW Colln.|
|25||John Griffiths||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||V&A Museum London|
|26||William Heron||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|27||Peter Holland||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown|
|28||Lt William Hutchison||9 Feb 1861||S||As above||Kingstown||In collection|
|29||Henry Crout||19-9-1863||S||Rescue||Mersey||28 July 1993 sold, ex-Stansfield Collection. £520|
|30||Edward Gray||Jan 1869||G||Blue Vein||Ballybrack|
|31||John Freeney||January 1869||S||Blue Vein||Ballybrack|
|33||William Biss||4 October 1869||S||Eonota||Kingstown||Sold Bloomsbury 12/5/1995 £450 RW Colln.|
|34||James Doyle||4 October 1869||S||Eonota||Kingstown||Maritime Museum Dún Laoghaire|
|35||Wm Jones||21 June 1872||S||St Columba||The Skerries ( Wales )||2nd officer LMS steamer|
|36||Robert Ellison||2 February 1873||S||Sarah Anne||Balbriggan|
|37||Wm Scantlebury||2 February 1873||S||Sarah Anne||Balbriggan|
|38||Thomas Woodley||2 February 1873||S||Sarah Anne||Balbriggan||At Howth Coast Guard station|
|39||Lot Smye||2 February 1873||S||Sarah Anne||Balbriggan|
|40||John Davis||2 February 1873||S||Ada||Portrane|
|41||Joseph Davis||2 February 873||S||Ada||Portrane|
|42||William Davis||2 February 1873||S||Ada||Portrane|
|43||Richard Twohig||2 February 1873||S||Ada||Portrane||Sold 17-9-2009 £2,400 RW Colln.|
Sold 16-5-2016 undisclosed
|44||Charles SmartSpink 1985 exhibition incorrectly says Stuart||2 February 1873||S||Ada||Portrane||Ex Feyer colln Lot 179 Dix Noonan Webb London 25-9-08 £700 RWColln.|
|45||James Carton||26-2-1875||S||Belle Hill||Balbriggan||W. H. Fevyer Collection sold £650 RW Colln.|
|46||John Carvin||26 February 1875||S||Belle Hill||Balbriggan|
|47||James Murphy||26 February 1875||S||Belle Hill||Balbriggan|
|48||Edmund Dayrell||20 September 1878||S||HMS Alexandra||Kingstown|
|48||William Wisnom||unknown||S||Rescue in Belfast Lough||Antrim|
|49||Sir Ralph Cusack||Had a medal in his possession||?||board member||awardee?||Obit Irish Times 4 March 1910|
|Unawarded||white metal||2 June 2011 for sale by Robert Moffatt USA|
|Unawarded||white metal||Might be same as above||Stacks Bowers Galleries Baltimore $130|
|Unawarded||white metal||Private hands Dublin KS|
|Unawarded||Gilt metal||UK House of Commons Sir Arnold Wilson’s collection|
|Unawarded||White metal||Tasmania TMAG donated by Lord Talbot de Malahide|
|Unawarded||White metal uniface||Hull Museum UK|
|Unawarded||Bronze||NMM "Medal 0542"|
|Unawarded||White metal uniface||NMM "Medal 0541"|
Tayleur Fund Awards
ProteusAbout 1856 the crew of the Proteus were rescued by the crew of the Smack Sarah and they were awarded £30. A further £11 was given to the Sailors home for the seamen’s accommodation.
Kish - France et BrazilWhen the France et Brazil was wrecked on the Kish bank in 1858 The Fund gave the crew £30. Their rescuers on the Mary of Carnavon were given £12.
Mary of Carnavon
On 8-11-1858 six Balbriggan fishermen received £25 for their work in the rescue of the crew of the Mary of Carnavon. Four Skerries fishermen whose work had been less dangerous were awarded a smaller amount.
Neptune / Industry - Kingstown RescueThe Kingstown guard ship and coastguard training ship was the Ajax moored at Kingstown harbour. During the fierce storm of 8-2-1861 the Industry and the Neptune were driven on the pier at Kingstown. A rescue party of about 40 men led by Captain Boyd went to the pier from the Ajax. The captain and five seamen were lost during the rescue attempts. Mr Alexander Parker chairman of the Tayleur fund said that it had £600 available and silver medals were awarded to 22 seamen and Lt Hutchison the Harbour Master and Police Constable Deneen. The sailors were, George Farrin, William Ferguson, Bernard Burke, William Wright, Thomas McGonigal, John Griffiths, William Heron, James Beer, John Burke, John Newham, William Wick, William Boyd, George Robinson, William Fynes, William Ferris, Peter Kane, George Docherty, Archibald McLenahan, George Biddlecombe, Richard Wingate, Luke Malone and Peter Holland.
There were RNLI medals presented to Captain Boyd, Lt Dyer, Gunner Farrin, James Twomey, Lt William Hutchison (Royal Dublin Militia) Lt Richard Parsons, Mr John Walsh the Lloyds agent who had assisted the Tayleur victims was awarded a Lloyds silver medal for his work at the Neptune rescue. No awards of any kind were made to the men lost with Boyd – Curry, Forsyth, Johnson, Russell, Murphy.
Liverpool rescueOn 17-9-1863 Henry E Crout an AB of HMS Edgar, which was at Liverpool , saw a woman accidentally fall from a landing stage into the water. He jumped into the water and a she had become exhausted he supported her until they were picked up by a boat and taken back to HMS Edgar. The incident was witnessed by Captain Hornby and the Admiralty subsequently sent the details to the Royal Humane Society.
Blue Vein RescueThe Blue Vein ran ashore at Ballybrack in January 25-9-1868 . Gray and his driver John Freeney waded out to the vessel and Gray swam out with a rope saving five people. Their Tayleur medals were awarded 2 January 1869.
Kingstown RescueA silver medal was presented to William Biss, James Doyle and John Hill of HMS Royal George for their lifesaving work on 4 October 1869. The Eonota had run aground on the east pier at Kingstown and several boats from the Royal George went to assist. James Doyle’s medal has been discovered in the Maritime museum Dun Laoghaire in 2011.
Kingstown RegattaWhile divisional officer of the coastguard at Kingstown E.M Dayrell was presented with the "Tayleur" silver medal for saving the life of E. Dunn, who was blown overboard (with the loss of one hand and injury to the other) by the premature discharge of a gun he was loading on board a steamer on the occasion of the Kingstown Regatta, 7 July 1878. Commander Dayrell jumped overboard, brought the man to the ship's side, and supported him until assistance was rendered. The Commissioners of Irish Lights officially recognized this act of gallantry, and the Royal Humane Society presented him with a testimonial on vellum.
St ColumbaThe LMS mail boat St Columba ran ashore at the Skerries near Holyhead on 21-6-1872 and the passengers were rescued with the assistance of the second officer of the LMS steamer – William Jones. He was awarded a Tayleur silver medal.
Sarah Anne Balbriggan RescueWhen the coastguard saw the Sarah Anne in danger on 2 February 1873 they sent for the Skerries Lifeboat to assist. The Skerries Coastguard turned out but the Skerries Lifeboat men refused to answer the call. A scratch crew of volunteers and coastguards manned the boat but a heavy sea capsized the lifeboat when the exhausted crew could no longer keep her head to the seas. The life boat self righted and three men managed to stay aboard, a fourth was pulled in by the three but seven men were lost. Four Tayleur medals were awarded to the coastguard men who had manned the lifeboat and survived. Robert Ellison, William Scantlebury, Lot Syme, Thomas Woodley were the recipients. One of the medals is inscribed "Presented to William Scantlebury, Coastguard for distinguished courage in endeavouring at great peril to save life at the wreck of the Sarah Ann at Balbriggan 1st & 2nd February 1873"
Ada PortraneOn 2 February 1873 during the same storm the Ada was wrecked at Portrane. The Malahide Coastguard arrived shortly after she struck rocks 600 yards off shore. The crew lashed themselves in the rigging. Rocket rescue failed and the coastguard boat was too far away to be brought. Joseph Davis assisted by his brothers John and William and Joseph Smart. They were joined by coastguard Richard Twohig and the five went out in a small boat, they cut down the crew but the captain’s son had died of the cold. The crew of the small boat were awarded Tayleur medals as far as can be ascertained because Twohig’s medal has been sold. The newspaper account of the medal award for the Sarah Anne rescue mentions only a cash award to the Ada rescuers. It is possible that the committee reviewed their decision and awarded medals later.
Belle Hill at BalbrigganOn 26 February 1875 the Belle Hill went on the rocks at Balbriggan, the rocket lines became entangled but some of the crew used the lines to reach some nearby rocks. Three local men waded to the rocks and pulled the crewmen higher out of the reach of the seas. A small coastguard boat was brought and it took the men from the rocks to the shore. The lifeboat was en route when it could not pass under the railway bridge. The conduct of the three men Carton, Carvin and Murphy was praised by the coroner but there are no details of awards.
Belfast LoughCaptain William Wisnom was awarded a Tayleur medal for saving life in Belfast Lough. But the date and details are unknown.
Eden QuayOn 15 May 1878 the Trustees of the Tayleur Fund per F Stokes, subscribed to the fund for the mother of Matthew Fegan drowned at Eden Quay in attempting to rescue two sailors who had fallen from a gangplank. Fegan was described by the gateman of Custom House Dock and as having saved, in separate incidents, J Nash, T Doolan, M Woolsey, three children and Mr Coleman. This donation underlines the Fund policy of not awarding posthumous medals.
Tayleur rescue work
Winding up the fundOn 31 December 1895 following the Palme Lifeboat Disaster a fund of £2000 was collected. The question of adding to the fund arose and Frederick Stokes suggested that if the trustees were approached that he was sure the balance of the fund would be applied. But there was discussion that the Palme fund was sufficient. It is not clear why the fund trustees decided to cease their work and hand over the fund. This is especially curious given that they had several unawarded medals in stock. The death of Sir Ralph Cusack in 1911 may have had some impact on the committee’s work and medals had not been awarded since 1875 as far as is known. On 7 March 1912 the committee of the Tayleur fund communicated with the RNLI offering the residue of the fund to provide a motor for the Kingstown lifeboat. The RNLI deputy chief inspector attended a meeting of the Tayleur fund. Disposal was agreed by the trustees on 13 June1912 and the residual amount was £1233. After discussions about whether a new boat would be more appropriate the Tayleur fund was wound up in September 1913. The assets were £400 of 4.5% stock, £250 of 3.5% stock, and £700 cash. A delay ensued while the technical merits were debated. On 4 March 1920 the Times London reported that the “Dunleary” lifeboat was endowed by the civil service lifeboat fund and a considerable contribution from Tayleur fund. One of the conditions of the transfer was that a memorial plate to commemorate the winding up of the Tayleur fund should be fixed in a suitable position. A plaque was to be erected on the lifeboat or in the lifeboat house at Dun Laoghaire but as far as can be ascertained this promise was not honoured as no evidence of this plaque has been found though the old lifeboat house still exists.
- The Tayleur Fund Medals, Roger Willoughby, Lifesaving Awards Research Society Journal No. 22 p4.
- Other mentions of Tayleur Fund medals, Lifesaving Awards Research Society journal 8/27, 17/100, 28/69.
- A medal linking two Irish Sea disasters, Arthur E.J. Went Dublin Historical Record, 32, (4) September 1979.
- Bound for Australia , the wreck of the Tayleur at Lambay, Edward J Bourke ISBN 095230273x
- Journal of the medal society of Ireland , November 1992, George Callahan.
- History of the Tayleur Fund, Unpublished, John Wilson.
- Auction data from Invaluable.com
- British Naval medals, 1919 Marquis of Milford Haven.
- Medal news Magazine Feb-July 1994