Hartwell (ship)

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Career (Great Britain)
Name: Hartwell
Owner: John Fiott
Builder: Caleb Crookenden and Co., West Itchenor, West Sussex
Completed: February 1787
Fate: Wrecked and sunk, 24 May 1787
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 938 tons bm
Length: 151 ft 2 in (46.08 m)
Beam: 38 ft (12 m)
Depth of hold: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Crew: 113
Armament: 26 guns

Hartwell was a British ship which ran aground and sank off the Cape Verde islands off West Africa during her maiden voyage in 1787.

Ship history[edit]

Hartwell was a 938 ton ship built by Caleb Crookenden and Co. of West Itchenor, West Sussex, completed in February 1787 [1] for John Fiott, who claimed she was the largest ship of her kind in the service of the British East India Company.[2]

The ship sailed from the UK in February 1787[3] under the command of Captain Edward Fiott[4] on her maiden voyage bound for China, loaded with goods including 209,280 troy ounces (6,509 kg) of silver.[3]

After severe Atlantic gales, on 20 May, a "mutiny" broke out over a refusal by the crew to extinguish lights. Three men were arrested and confined, but with half the crew still refusing to obey orders, the ship changed course and headed for the Cape Verde islands, where the Captain intended hand over the mutineers to the authorities. Unfortunately on 24 May the ship ran onto a reef north-east of the island of Boa Vista where it broke up and sank, though all the crew were saved.[2]

One of the midshipmen aboard was John Bellingham, later notorious as the assassin of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.[5]


Between 1788 and 1791, under an East India Company contract, the Braithwaite brothers reportedly recovered 97,650 silver dollars from the wreck.[2] Between 1994 and 1996 the South African company Afrimar recovered more coins and artefacts, and from 1996 the Portuguese company Arqueonautas Worldwide S.A surveyed and recovered more artefacts from the wreck.[3][6]


  1. ^ MacDougall, Philip (2010). "Shipbuilding at West Itchenor" (PDF). Sussex Industrial History (Brighton: Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society) (40): pp.7–10. ISSN 0263-5151. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Sedwick, Daniel Frank (2011). "Hartwell". sedwickcoins.com. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "Wrecks being excavated by ARQ in Cape Verde: The Hartwell". Arqueonautas Worldwide. 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Hartwell East Indiaman 1787". wrecksite.eu. 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Prime Minister has been shot!". Hua Hin Observer. 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Hartwell Artefacts". Arqueonautas Worldwide. 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2012.