The Jasper was a Cherokee Class, 10 Gun Brig. The class of vessel, alongside the classes Cadmus and Rolla, earned themselves the unfortunate nickname of 'coffin brigs' for their propensity to wrecking or foundering, nearly a quarter of the type were lost of the 100 or so built. The most famous 'coffin brig' was the HMS Beagle on which Charles Darwin sailed.
The keel was layed down in February 1808 at Ipswich under Jabez Bailey. The 90ft Brig-sloop was then launched in the May and commissioned under Cmdr William David by that June (2).
TREMENDOUS GALE OF WIND AT PLYMOUTH.
LOSS OF SEVERAL VESSELS
Jackson's Oxford Journal, 25th January 1817 (3)
At around 8pm, on the night of the 19th January 1817, a strong wind began to blow hard from the S/SSW continuing through until 1 am when it reached hurricane force and then continued in unabated form until 8 am. During the night several vessels had fired guns of distress but little assistance could be rendered during the storm, in the morning the Telegraph was entirely gone to pieces under the Hoe and the Jasper was on shore at Mount Batten (4).
On the evening in question the Jasper had been westward of the Breakwater, consequently this afforded her no shelter from the storm. Cmdr Carew and all the officers, save the Master Edward Smith, were ashore (5). Soon after eleven the bower cable parted, the sheet anchor was let go and the topmasts ordered struck. Yet as the storm continued over the hours the small bower cable parted and she began to drive (1). Smith ordered the sheet cable to be cut and attempted to run into the Cattewater. He might have succeeded had her head been cast to the west, to Smith's misfortune she cast to the east and almost instantly dashed to pieces on the rocks (5). In the chaos the Master ordered the weather rigging to be cut, so allowing the masts to go overboard, but with the sloop beating heavy on the rocks this was not possible.
All of the crew on board, except two were lost. One, Seaman John Bone, who was in the maintop had swung off the wreck and into a gig which was then swept ontp the rocks. The other, Marine Horscroft had managed to hang onto a spar as the sloop split in two, he then clambered up onto the copper sheathing until being swept off by a wave deposited close to Bone (1).
The court martials for the Jasper and Telegraph were held aboard HMS Superb in the Hamoaze a few weeks later. The court was of the opinon that the loss of the Jasper was in consequence of proper precaution not being taken in time. The wreck may have been prevented if more cable had been given and striking her topmasts and also by having the lower yards and top-gallant mast aloft. Despite this no blame was accorded to Carew or his surviving officers and company, who were all acquitted (6).
If you have any more information about this ship then please contact us.
(1) Hepper D., 1994, British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, Jean Boudriot Publication, pg 155
(2) Winfield, R, (2008) British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. 2nd edition, Seaforth Publishing, pg 311
(3) "TREMENDOUS GALE OF WIND AT PLYMOUTH" Jackson's Oxford Journal ,Saturday, January 25, 1817; Issue 3327, 19th Century British Library Newspapers
(4) "Saturday's Post" The Bury and Norwich Post: Or, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridge, and Ely Advertiser,Wednesday, January 29, 1817, pg 1, Issue 1805, 19th Century British Library Newspapers
(5) "THE LATE STORM". The Morning Post(London, England),Saturday, February 01, 1817; Issue 14363, 19th Century British Library Newspapers
(6) "SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE" Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet & Plymouth Journal,,Saturday, February 08, 1817; Issue 711, 19th Century British Library Newspapers