Alexander (East Indiaman)


Alexander (East Indiaman)

The East Indiaman merchant ship "Alexander" was shipwrecked while on passage from Bombay to London two miles from the Isle of Portland on the Dorset coast in the English Channel. Only five of the ship's 140 (or 150) crew survived the disaster.

The wreck occurred on 27 March, 1815, when the large ship entered the Channel after a lengthy voyage, and was caught by a very strong gale from the South-South-West which pushed the ship onto the beach in front of the village of Wyke, Dorset during the night. None of the ship's officers survived the wreck, and the incident was not observed by any witnesses on the shoreline, so the circumstances of the disaster remain somewhat unclear.

Early in the morning of the 27th, the local population discovered a large quantity of wreckage scattered along the shore for several miles in both directions. Amongst this wreckage was found the bodies of 39 lascar seamen and seven of the ship's European officers and passengers, whilst five others were found alive, all "lascar", although their nationalities and genders are disputed by sources.

Local people clothed and fed the survivors, and collected the bodies on the beach for burial. The Lascars were buried in a mass grave in the churchyard, as their names were lost with the ship's papers, but the Europeans were identified soon afterwards, and buried under a memorial erected nearby which stated:


"To record the melancholy wreck of"

"THE SHIP ALEXANDER"

"This monument is erected by C Forbes Esq., MP London and the owners of said ship, which, on her voyage from Bombay to London was totally lost in the West Bay, on the night of 26th March 1815, when all the crew and passengers, consisting of more than 140 souls, unhappily perished, with the exception of five lascars".

ee also

* Arniston, another East Indiaman wrecked in the same year.

References

*Grocott, Terence, Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary & Napoleonic Eras, Caxton Editions, Great Britain: 2002. ISBN 1-84067-164-5.


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