The wreck of the Betsey and Jane, 1826

If it was thought that there had been damage to the vessel (including shipwreck) or the cargo because of bad weather then it was important for the master or his substitute to register or lodge a "protest" within 24 hours of arrival in port with a notary. If there was no notary then the "protest" should be lodged with the Consul.

In 1826 the Betsey & Jane, a 90 ton schooner brig, was on passage from St Helier to Gaspé when after 36 days at sea Captain Jean Messervy miscalculated his position and ran her onto the rocks off Duck Island, Newfoundland in fog. Unfortunately for Captain Messervy, a gale then sprung up and the hull of his ship was smashed. The crew were able to make their way to Harbor Briton in Fortune Bay, Newfoundland where they were able to report their fate. The Betsey & Jane was owned by James Remon of St Aubin, Jersey: built in Canada, Remon had operated her since 1819 and Jean Messervy had been master of her since 1820.

Below is the "protest" of Captain John Messervy of the schooner brig Betsey and Jane of Jersey.


District of Fortune Bay, Newfoundland

Be it known and manifest unto all persons to whom these Presents shall come and whom it doth and may concern that on the Twenty third day of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty six.

Before me John Thorn, *** Collector of His Majesty's Customs for the District of Fortune Bay, in the Island of Newfoundland personally appeared John Messervy, Master of the Good Schooner Brig "Betsey and Jane" of the Burthen of ninety tons, Francis Le Marquand, Mate and Elias Jean , seaman, belonging to the said ship who all solemnly protest and declare the truth as follows.

That they left the Port of Jersey, in the foresaid Schooner Brig "Betsey and Jane" on the eighth day of April last bound for Gaspie. The said ship being well man'd tight staunchand, well equip't and provided with Boats, tackle and apparel and every other kind of equipage necessary for the intended voyage to Gaspie aforesaid. And so they were perming(?) their course. Nothing material happened until Thursday the eighteenth of May following when allowing themselves six leagues to the west south west of Cape Bay an impenetrable fog having enveloped them for two days and nights previous to this time they were incessantly looking out to avoid every danger when at half past six AM of the said twenty four hours it then being very thick fog saw the breakers all around them endeavouring to wear ship when she struck on a Reef of rocks off Duck Island. They cut away the mast to ease the ship and let go the anchor to prevent her driving further on the rocks and every effort was made to save the ship but a violent gale of wind arose and blew right on the shore that she became a wreck - her bows in and she was full of water.

On the twenty third of this instant May the deponents arrived at Harbor Briton and made application to me for this my Act of Protest at the same time declaring that the loss of the said ship was occasioned by the dark and foggy weather and violence wind and sea so aforesaid and not through the neglect or misconduct of him the said master and any of the crew.

Whereupon on such the Master's request I the said Collector of His Majesty's Customs have Protested by these Present and do solemnly Protest again the thickness of the fog and the violence of the sea and wind for all and all manner of losses, costs, damages and expenses that hath hereby happened and occurred to the said ship her tackles, apparel and Furniture and also all the cargo on board and to the owner and proprietors thereof,

To the end that all such losses, Costs, damages and expenses may be borne and sustained by such Persons as have a right and ought to bear and sustain the same all of which losses, costs, Damages, and expenses to be recovered in due and convenient time and Place.

In testimony whereof, the said Master, mate and seaman have subscribed their names to these Protests and I the said Collector of His Majesty's Customs have set my hand and Seal the day and year first written in Harbor Briton, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland.

Port of Harbor Briton

The within named John Messervy, Master, Francis Le Marquand, Mate and Elias Jean, seaman belonging to the mentioned Schooner Brig "Betsey and Jane" Voluntarily make oath on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God that the contents of the within written Protest are true in every respect and to the substance thereof.


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