Lady Elizabeth (1879)

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For another ship of the same name, see Lady Elizabeth (1869).
Lady Elizabeth.jpg
Lady Elizabeth
Career (Australia, Great Britain & Norway) Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Name: Lady Elizabeth
Owner: John Wilson (1879-1886)
George Christen Karran (1886-1906)
L. Lydersen (Skibsaktieselskabet) (1906-1913)
Falkland Islands Company (1913-1936)
Crown Receiver of Wrecks, Falkland Islands (1936-current)
Port of registry: Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom London (1879),
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Castletown, Isle of Man (1886),
Flag of Norway.svg Tvedestrand, Norway(1906),
Builder: Robert Thompson Jr., Sunderland England
Yard number: 98
Launched: 6 June 1879
Identification: Official ID #81576
Fate: Beached on Whale Bone Cove
General characteristics
Class and type: Cargo
Type: Iron hull, 3 masted Barque rig
Tonnage: 1155 net tons (1208 gross tons)
Length: 67.97 m (223.0 ft)
Beam: 10.67 m (35.0 ft)
Depth: 6.52 m (21 ft 5 in)
Decks: wood
Propulsion: sails
Crew: 18 to 25
Notes: [1]
Lady Elizabeth Wreck Site
Coordinates: 51°41′19.67″S 57°48′14.98″W / 51.6887972°S 57.8041611°W / -51.6887972; -57.8041611

The Lady Elizabeth was an iron barque of 1,155 tons built by Robert Thompson Jr. of Southwick, Sunderland and launched on 4 June 1879. Robert Thompson Jr. was one of the sons of Robert Thompson Sr. who owned and operated the family ran shipyard J. L. Thompson & Sons. Thompson Jr. eventually left the family business in 1854 to start his own shipbuilding business in Southwick, Sunderland.[2] The ship was built for John Wilson as a replacement for the 658-ton, 1869-built barque Lady Elizabeth which sank off Rottnest Island, Western Australia in 1878.[3]


The builders of the second Lady Elizabeth had also built the first ship. The ship had three masts and was just under average size compared to barques built by Robert Thompson. However, the later Lady Elizabeth was still the seventh largest ship the firm built. John Wilson remained owner of the Lady Elizabeth and was captained by Alexander Findley from Montrose [4] until 15 March 1884 when he took out a number of loans from G. Oliver and also with the bank. Eventually John Wilson declared bankruptcy and all of his ships, including the Lady Elizabeth were sold off.[5]

The new owner was George Christian Karran who purchased the ship a few months later. Karrans' family owned a number of ships but this was George Christian Karrans' first ship. George Christian Karran also captained the ship for a few years. After owning the ship for a few years, George's elder brother Robert Gick Karran died leading George to take command of the Manx King. However, he remained owner of Lady Elizabeth until 1906.[6] In 1906 the Lady Elizabeth was purchased by the Norwegian company "Skibasaktieselskabet," for £3,250.[5] The company was managed by L. Lydersen and the Lady Elizabeth was captained by Peter Julius Hoigh.


  • On 23 February 1884, The Lady Elizabeth suffered substantial damage from a hurricane. She sustained damage to the front of the poop deck after it was stoved in. Many of her sails were lost or severely damaged. Despite the damage, the ship was able to make it to port in Sydney, Australia where six crew members jumped ship. Another death occurred on the voyage when William Leach fell from aloft and later died from his injuries. This was the third voyage under the command of Captain Karran.
  • On 10 May 1890, Captain George Christian Karran stepped down as captain after six voyages and Captain H. C. Lever took command as the new captain of the Lady Elizabeth.
  • In January 1906, The Lady Elizabeth was sold to the Norwegian company "Skibasaktieselskabet" of Sundet, Boroen.[7]

Mystery of lost sailors[edit]

During Captain Julius Hoigh’s command of the ship, two crew members went missing after suffering from malarial fever. The Lady Elizabeth left Callao, Peru with a crew that included several Finns on 26 September (year unknown, but between 1906 and 1913). Just after leaving port, one of the Finns named Granquiss became ill, which Captain Hoigh diagnosed as malarial fever. A few days later, another crewmember who was also a Finn named Haparanta also became ill with malarial fever. Another crew member also complained of feeling ill but not as severe. The captain prescribed some remedies to help the ill crew members and they were allowed to walk the deck for the fresh air. A short time later, around afternoon, Granquiss went missing and the crew were unable to locate him on the ship. Captain Hoigh came to the conclusion that the ill crew member must have deliberately jumped overboard, taking his own life, and was not lost overboard due to the fine weather that day. Around 7:00 pm, Captain Hoigh discovered the other sick Finn crewmember was missing. A search turned up no evidence of him. It was concluded that the malaria had caused both men to become delirious and jump overboard. Captain Hoigh ordered the crew to keep close watch on the last man with the less severe fever. Captain Hoigh reported that there had not been any previous trouble with the other men. The Lady Elizabeth eventually arrived at its destination Newcastle New South Wales and filed a report with authorities. A consul from Norway named H. C. Langwill held an official inquiry.[8]

Final years[edit]

An ad placed in October 1900 for the Lady Elizabeth.

On 4 December 1912, The Lady Elizabeth left Vancouver bound for Delagoa Bay Mozambique,[9] with a shipment of lumber. The ship encountered severe weather halfway through the voyage and was damaged just off Cape Horn. Four crew members were lost overboard, along with the ship's two boats and part of her deck cargo. She also sustained damage to the deck fittings, wheel, moorings, and other parts of the ship. Captain Hoigh ordered the ship to the nearest port for repairs. The Lady Elizabeth altered course for Stanley, Falkland Islands. Fifteen miles outside Port Stanley, the Lady Elizabeth struck Uraine Rock just off Volunteer Point and suffered a six-foot break in the hull and keel along with a foot-long hole. The ship began to sink but was able to get to Port Stanley for repairs. After she was examined, the Lady Elizabeth was condemned (declared unseaworthy) because of the damage.

In June 1913, she was condemned and converted into a coal hulk. She was sold to the Crown Receiver of Wrecks, Falkland Islands for £1,000. The Lady Elizabeth remained stationed there until 17 February 1936 when her mooring lines broke during a storm and she drifted to where she now lies in Whale Bone Cove in Stanley Harbour.[10]

Current status[edit]

Lady Elizabeth in 2012.
Lady Elizabeth can be seen on the left in this 2007 photo of the harbor.

The Lady Elizabeth is still intact and partially beached in Whale Bone Cove.[11][12] The ship has been reported to rock back and forth during high tides from the pounding waves. Many of the ship's accessories are still attached to the Lady Elizabeth including the main crank for the anchor, the davits that would hold the two lifeboats, part of the crow's nest, part of the spiral staircase, and most of her wooden decking. However, most of the ship is suffering severe rust and the keel has started to rust away leaving large holes. During high tide, the bottom of the ship is flooded. There are still sections of paint on the inside of the ship. Some of the iron rivets have rusted away causing the starboard bulkhead to spring out.
In June 1984, the owner assessed the damage of the Lady Elizabeth. Using original reports from the assessment made on the damage in 1913, they found the foot-long hole in the keel and reported that this was indeed the reason the ship would not stay afloat. However, if the Lady Elizabeth was towed for repairs in drydock, she could possibly sail again. Unfortunately, there was no dry dock in Port Stanley in 1984.

Since coming to rest in Whale Bone Cove, the poop deck quarters have been removed of all wood and vandalized. The rudder of the ship is still intact but showing severe corrosion and is turned to port with the steering gears still intact but also corroded. The ship's wheel is missing. The original anchor has not been located; however, it is believed to be buried where the Lady Elizabeth was used as a coal hulk. Plans were made by the Crown Receiver of Wrecks to salvage the Lady Elizabeth and convert her into a floating museum. Due to lack of funding, however, the project was never completed.[13]

In the winter of 2008, the ship’s bowsprit broke during a storm. The Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust has discussed removing the bowsprit.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Condemned at Stanley Bibliography by John Smith (New York 1973)
  2. ^ The Shipbuilding industry: a guide to historical records By L. A. Ritchie p.150
  3. ^ Lloyd's List (1878): J. Loney, "Australian Shipwrecks", Volume 3 (1871-1900)
  4. ^ Lloyd's Captains' Register
  5. ^ a b Lloyd's List & The Lady Elizabeth
  6. ^ Karren family story and the Lady Elizabeth
  7. ^ Report on the British Barque LADY ELIZABETH in Stanley Harbour, Falkland Islands reported by E. Fred Yalouris & A. Fred Feyling Pg. 25-28
  8. ^ The Daily Telegraph Report on the British Barque Lady ELizabeth
  9. ^ Another article on Lady Elizabeth
  10. ^ "The two Lady Elizabeths, from the last days of the Windjammers". The Old Salt Blog. 
  11. ^ "Lady Elizabeth". Virtual Globetrotters. 26 June 2006. Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Story on the Lady Elizabeth
  13. ^ Report on the British Barque LADY ELIZABETH in Stanley Harbour, Falkland Islands reported by E. Fred Yalouris & A. Fred Feyling pgs. 29-33
  14. ^ Leona Roberts, the museum manager at the Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust letter