Completed Maritime Subjects 25 Where did this Shipwreck happen?

Topic: Artist

Where did this Shipwreck happen? Do you have any more information on the artist?

Compton Verney, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Alice Read,

The title has now been amended to 'A Terrible Shipwreck: 12th February 1870 at Kingsdown near Deal' and the artist to 'Thomas Longley Mourilyan (1840–1922)'.

This change will appear on the Your Paintings website by the end of June 2014. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Martin Hopkinson,

This may be Kingsdown south of Walmer for an Edward Mourilyan RN [born 1803] was Staff Commander living at St George's Lodge, Deal
More can be found in Charles Robert S. Elvin, The History of Walmer and Walmer Castle, Canterbury, 1894

Martin Hopkinson,

A Thomas Mourilyan owned Court Lodge Farm from 1863 see 'East Kent History' [online] re Court Lodge Farm

Martin Hopkinson,

There are 54 Mourilyan letters and documents recorded in various different repositories on A2A - the register of archives, particularly in the Sladden of Badsey Paoers in the Worcestershire Record Office and in Kent
Please do note that the name of the artist has probably been misread

Martin Hopkinson,

It would be worth consulting Chapter VIII of 'Heroes of the Goodwin Sands', London, 1904 by the Rev Thomas Stanley Treanor of the Religious Tract Society, a resident of Deal which includes an engraving after W H Franklin's 'Scene on Deal Beach 13 September 1870' with a more extended view with Kingsdown in the distance naming one of the vessels involved as the Glendura.

The image mentioned above as possible source for the Compton Verney painting is visible at:

A number in the book say 'From a photograph'... or 'From a Painting']... [by W.H. Franklin', this example being the latter. W.H. Franklin of 3 High Street Deal was a commercial photographer there in the later part of the 19th century, so presumably also a painter if the caption credits are intended to be read the same way.

Michael Charles,

This picture closely resembles both in content and in style a painting in the collection of the Marlipins Museum in Shoreham-by-Sea, but whereas Compton Verney's painting purports to be by a named artist, T.L. Morilyan, to date from 1870 and to depict a shipwreck which occurred on 12th February of that year, the Marlipins painting is unattributed and is thought to date from shortly after the event which it is said to depict, the wreck of a ship named NYMPHA AMERICANA on the coast of Sussex on 29th November, 1747. The Marlipins' painting may be viewed at PCF/West Sussex/Marlipins Museum/Accession no. SHORM116.

The NYMPHA AMERICANA was a Spanish corsair, laden with an exceptionally valuable cargo, which was captured off Cadiz by the celebrated 'Royal Family' squadron of British privateers led by Commodore George Walker. While being sent back to London under a prize crew, she was overwhelmed in the English Channel by a violent storm and was driven aground at the foot of the cliffs at Crowlink, near Beachy Head.

Research recently undertaken for the Marlipins Museum's newly-opened, summer-long exhibition of all its ship-portraits, marine paintings and maritime artefacts, in which this painting is included, suggests that the wreck of the NYMPHA AMERICANA and its subsequent plundering were popular subjects among contemporary artists. In the National Maritime Museum, for example, is said to be an etching produced by one Barrodell Lambert in 1748 which is accompanied by the following description:

"The NYMPHA AMERICANA was taken by Commodore George Walker, Commander of the Royal Family Privateers, near Cadiz, and carried first to Lisbon, thence to Portsmouth and after in her passsage to London she was unfortunately wrecked near Beachy Head, on the coast of Susssex, November 29th 1747 at 11 o'clock at night. She was built chiefly of cedar, about 800 tons burthern, had ports for 60 guns, her lading consisted of super fine velvets, cloths, gold and silver laces, and almost every other kind of mercandise. She struck upon the rocks, and left her bottom some distance from the shore, which had parted at the rungs, afterwards broke asunder in the midships. The fore part overturned, by which accident 30 of the 130 men that were on board was drown'd. Her bottom could not be found till December 24th, from which was taken up by persons employ'd with their boats near 30,000 stirling value of quicksilver (now known as mercury). Great quantities of her cargo were carried off by people from different parts, 60 of whom perished on the beach, Downs and other places. One was shot and broke his thigh, but notwithstanding those accidents, great numbers still continued to search and often found some of her cargo so that this may be justly recorded the most extraordinary wreck that ever happened on any part of the coasts of this kingdom. Published according to Act of Parliament June 28th, 1748."

No doubt the N.M.M. can be of assistance in this regard. The Marlipins' research has unearthed some graphic information relating specifically to details of the particular scene depicted in its own painting and this can be made available upon request.

It may be of interest to explain that the 'Royal Family' squadron of privateers - so called because Walker's flagship was named KING GEORGE and the others DUKE, DUCHESS and PRINCE FREDERICK - was a particularly successful and popularly acclaimed auxiliary naval force raised by a syndicate of London merchants. Its exploits were recorded in at least four paintings which are now in the N.M.M., three of them by arguably the greatest of all English marine artists, Charles Brooking (1723-1759).

Michael Charles
The British Mercantile Marine Memorial Collection

Michael Charles,

I should add that a detailed entry with regard to the NYMPHA AMERICANA - if indeed this be the wreck depicted in either the Compton Verney or the Marlipins Museum painting - is to be found in Richard and Bridget Larn's encyclopaedic 'Shipwreck Index of the British Isles', Vol.2, Section 3 (Sussex).

Michael Charles

Martin Hopkinson,

The beach and cliff in the Compton Verney closely resemble that from South Walmer to Kingsdown , and do not resemble Crowlink . The representation of the cliffs at Crowlink is schematic and inaccurate, even allowing for subsequent cliff-falls. I lived a decade apiece at Eastbourne and at Deal. So I can confirm from many walks that this is the case, but Mourilyan was probably not a full time professional artist and could well have studied engravings of earlier shipwrecks. Deal Maritime and Local History Museum may well be able to provide more information on the Mourilyan family, as might the Kent History and Library Centre [formerly County Record Office] at Maidstone. In the 1970s it published an extensive bibliography of published Kentish material. The principal contemporary historians of Deal are Gregory Holyoake and Gertrude L. Nunns. There is a small self-published book on 'Forgotten shipwrecks of The Downs' by David Chamberlain , 1993.

Peter Johnson,

It seems very like the great storm of 12 February 1870 in which several ships were driven ashore at Kingsdown near Deal. A full account is in the Deal, Walmer, Dover and Kentish Times of that week, including a letter from Thomas Warland, 1the Captain of the "Glendudor" whose wife and child were rescued over the bow of the ship with the crew. Most of the ships were wrecked, though the "Gleduror, from the East Indies with a very valuable cargo, was eventually pulled off. The Maritime and Local History Museum at 22 St George's Rd, Deal, has an oil painting of the "Glenduror" rescue, and would provide further details, I'm sure.

Peter Johnson,

Looking at the picture further, it seems to accord with the Kingsdown accounts - the nearer ships were swept on to the shingle bank broadside and wrecked, whereas the "Glenduror" further away, with sails on her foremast, drove straight into the shingle bow first and survived.

Peter Johnson,

Looking at the picture further, it seems to accord with the Kingsdown accounts - the nearer ships were swept on to the shingle bank broadside and wrecked, whereas the "Glenduror" further away, with sails on her foremast, drove straight into the shingle bow first and survived.

Treanor's 'Heroes of the Goodwin Sands', already mentioned, gives basic details including identifying the 'Glenduror'-which seems to be the correct spelling - (built on the Clyde, 1864) as the most distant ship shown, whose master deliberately beached her bows on into the shingle at the south end of the beach in the storm of 12 Febraury 1870, to avoid broaching to and suffering the same fate as the smaller vessels in the foreground. She was later refloated, only to be wrecked on 14 January 1873 off Seascale, Cumbria, inward bound from Manila for Liverpool with a cargo of salt and jute.

The Compton Verney oil is not an exact replica of the Martin illustration in Treanor (esp the figures) but they are so close that the latter is probably the principal source for it.

Paul Kettlewell,

Thomas Longley Mourilyan was born in 1840 at Deal, Kent
1861 - Master's Assistant on the ship "HMS Vulcan"
1871 - Navigating Lieutenant on the ship "HMS Basilisk"
1881 - Navigating Lieutenant living at Cheriton, Kent
1891 - Staff Commander RN Retired living at St Paul, Kent
He died in 1922 in Kent

There is also a Thomas Longley Mourilyan (1772 - 1848), presumably his father, described as a gentleman in the 1847 poll book for Deal.

Elaine Clark,

Compton Verney's catalogue of Folk Art (which spells the painter's name Mourilyan) states that the date of the shipwreck, 12 February 1870, is inscribed on the back of the painting. This would confirm that the subject is the wreck of the Glenduror.
Thomas Longley Mourilyan was baptised at Deal on 4 November 1840, son of Thomas Longley Mourilyan and Mary Mumbray Mourilyan, nee Cook. He was living in Deal in 1869, when he married his first wife, Elizabeth Irvine.
On census night, 2 April 1871, he was at sea aboard the Basilisk heading for the Australia Station, as Navigating Lieutenant under Captain John Moresby. Moresby wrote an account of this expedition which makes several references to Mourilyan. While searching for survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of North Queensland, Moresby and Mourilyan discovered a large inlet, which the captain named Mourilyan Harbour in honour of his lieutenant.
Mourilyan retired in 1888 with the rank of Staff Commander.
Christies website shows a watercolour of "A Naval Engagement Before the Bouge Forts, Canton River, China" ascribed to Captain T Longley Mourilyan, but dates it at about 1850.

Could I suggest that this one pretty much 'solved'. What is really needed is for Compton Verney to put together a suitable catalogue entry summing up (and/or one short enough to appear on the Your Paintings site).

A search on the BL/Gale 19th century newspaper database (not currently available to me) would probably identify the other vessels wrecked at Deal on 12 Feb 1870: there is no mention I can se in the Illustrated London News. What is not clear is whether there is any 'eyewitness' element, the similarity to the Franklin /Treanor image suggesting it may be a bit of 'painting for pleasure' retirement work rather than what a 30-year-old active lieutenant saw himself, assuming he was home on leave at the time. It is not at all unusual to find naval men as amateur painters, though this man is certainly 'naive' compared to others and probably with few items to be found e.g. the Bogue (ie Bocca Tigris) forts mentioned above which may simply be misdated a bit early by Christies, unless by his father

We (National Maritime Museum) have a chart of Papua New Guinea (NMM G264:2/10) with an inset of 'Milne Bay - DISCOVERY BAY... by Navg. Lieut. T.L.Mourilyan, RN HMS Basilisk, 1874.' In 1908 Alexander Stephen of Linthouse built a twin-screw coaster called 'Mourilyan' for use on the Australian coast by the Howard Smith company, which probably takes its name from him via Mourilyan Inlet (as above) . There was also an Edward Mourilyan, who seems to have been in the Navy from before 1843 and ended as a staff commander.

Paul Kettlewell,

There are several newspaper articles mentioning the shipwrecks off Kingsdown in February 1870. Most of them only mention the Glenduror, Wieland from Java for Rotterdam, but there is an article in the Shields Daily Gazette dated 15 Feb 1870 which states that a second vessel, the schooner Racine of Marseilles, Mella from Havana for Antwerp was also wrecked.

I recommend this case is now closed and left to the collection to amend its records and update accordingly, including a suitable description for PCF purposes. The following may help further on the incident represented, with the warning that press report spellings of ship and master names can be a bit erratic, so need independent check (e.g. in Lloyd's Register etc).

'On Saturday night [12 Feb. 1870] while a storm from the east was raging, and the surf and sea were running high, the cold being intense, the ship Glendura [sic], of 1000 tons, Captain Thomas Warland, bound from Batavia to Rotterdam, was seen on the main [mainland] northward of Kingsdown, near Walmer Castle, driving towards the shore. The Life-boat Institution's boat Sabrina, at Kinsdown, was under great difficulty immediately launched and the crew boarded the ship.. At great risk the captains wife and infant, and a man in charge of the child, were got on board the life-boat and brought to the shore. Again the boat was launched and the ship again boarded, and more of the crew brought ashore, and at last...the whole crew, numbering 28 persons, were safely landed at Kingsdown. Several hours of the night were occupied in these trips, and the severity of the weather, together with the fury of the wind and sea, rendered the task very hazardous.
About half-past eight on Saturday evening, the schooner Ramine, Captain Mette, from Havana to Antwerp, with a cargo of rum and sugar, stranded near Walmer Castle. The crew were all saved by ropes from the shore, except one youth, who fell out of the sling. About nine on Sunday morning, the barque William Harper, from Burriana, was driven on shore near the bathing-rooms, Walmer. All the crew were saved by ropes. Shortly afterwards the brig Anna Lena, Captain Visser, from Surinam to Amsterdam, stranded and broke up within an hour.
The crew of this vessel also were saved; as also were those of the barque Eglantine, Captain Holland from Alexandria to Dover, which went on shore a little to the south of the Anna Lena. Great credit is due to the boatmen for their skilful exertions in saving the crews of the five vessels, with the exception of the youth, who was lost by too hastily adjusting the sling before leaving the ship.' (Article: 'The Severe Gales', in the 'Morning Post', London, Tuesday 15 Feb. 1870).

Some tons of cargo were subsequently removed from 'Glenduror', the only ship which survived to be refloated:

'Feb. 19- The Glenduror was towed off the Main [mainland] by two tugs this morning making but little water, and at once proceeded for London, in tow.' (The Standard, London, 21 Feb. 1870)

Michael Charles,

While Compton Verney's query may undoubtedly be considered solved, it may be of passing interest to note that although the Larns' 'Shipwreck Index of the British Isles' duly records the loss of the RACINE, WILLIAM HARPER, ANNA LENA and EGLANTINE, it makes no mention of the beaching of GLENDUROR herself - presumably by virtue of her having escaped destruction and been refloated seven days later. Rather more surprisingly, however, her eventual wrecking off Seascale on 14th January, 1873 is also unmentioned in their volume concerned, No. 2, Section 1 (Cumberland).

Al Brown,

There was a comment on this discussion, briefly and the very first, which seemed to provide a source for the image. I think this was taken down as it jumped the gun on the general announcement regarding AD - this work being one of three discussions set up to coincide with that.

Alice Read,

Would the collection like me to change the title to 'Shipwreck on Deal Beach, 12 February 1870' and the artist to 'Thomas Longley Mourilyan (1840–1922)'?

Al Brown,

Apologies Andrew, I noticed that after posting.

In the final entry it would be worth listing Franklin's name, as his work seems to be the source of the image. That the publication lists the image as 'From a Painting... by W.H. Franklin', while others is the same work are noted as 'From a Photograph... by W.H. Franklin', perhaps suggests that he produced painted versions of his photographs - assuming that was the original form. This seems to have been quite common - see the PCF entries for the firm of Dickinson.

Compton Verney,

Firstly, thank you very much to everyone who has contributed to this page - it has been very valuable to bring together these testimonies and we have enjoyed reading through them to gain a further insight into our painting. In reply to Alice, yes please - could you change the title to:

A Terrible Shipwreck: 12 February 1870 at Kingsdown near Deal.

and the artist to: Thomas Longley Mourilyan (1840–1922)

We will also collate the information provided here in order to update the 'Your Paintings' page, our website and gallery information.

Programming Officer