Tayleur fund for the succour of shipwrecked strangers

Edward J Bourke


Tayleur Medal

The sailing ship Tayleur was wrecked in January 1854 at Lambay with the loss of 220 of the 670 aboard. A fund was established in both Liverpool and Dublin to assist the victims. The fund was chaired by Lord Talbot de Malahide and prominent among the committee were Mr Stokes and Mr Pim and Mr Andrew Parker. The meetings were at their offices in Commercial Buildings, Dame Street. The fund paid out sums to the survivors and paid for coffins and burial of the victims. The £600 residue of the fund was used to award medals for heroism in the Irish Sea. This residue was invested in common stock and the trustees at eth time were Alexander Parker, Lord Talbot, and Thomas Bewley with Augustus Russel as secretary.
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.


There was a strong sense of hierarchical order in the accounts of medal award meetings and gentleman medal holders such as Lt Dyer, Sir Ralph Cusack, Sir George Grey and Captain Hutchison were became involved in the committee. The committee was based at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce in Dame Street and consisted of Lord Talbot de Malahide and his son who succeeded him, Mr Pim a merchant, Mr Alexander Parker, Mr Wm Hogg and Mr Frederick Stokes. At the wind up, James Talbot Power and John Jameson (distillers) Frank V Martin and J Harold Pim formed committee.
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
32 John Hill 4-10-1869 S Eonota Kingstown
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"
Unknown No details email

Tayleur Fund Awards


About 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 Brazil

When 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.
Site of the rescue on the East Pier

Site of the rescue on the East Pier

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 Rescue

The 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 rescue

On 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 Rescue

The 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 Rescue

A 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 Regatta

While 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 Columba

The 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 Rescue

When 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 Portrane

On 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 Balbriggan

On 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 Lough

Captain William Wisnom was awarded a Tayleur medal for saving life in Belfast Lough. But the date and details are unknown.

Eden Quay

On 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

Storm in Kingstown Harbour

Storm in Kingstown Harbour

Both Sir Ralph Cusack the steward of Lord Talbot and Mr walsh Lloyds Agent in Dublin were prominent in efforts to rescue and look after survivors of the wreck of the Tayleur on 30-1-1854. Mr walsh was awarded his medal for the Industry rescue at Kingstown and it is reported that Sir Ralph had a medal in his possession or in an other account was awarded a medal possibly for his efforts in connection with the Tayleur. An obituary in the Irish Times on 4 March 1910 described the barrister Sir Ralph Cusack as a member of the Tayleur Medal Fund Board and a medal holder.

Winding up the fund

On 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