Service to honour shipwreck heroes

Above and below: The Amelia as it tried to rescue the crew on the stricken Coupland in the South Bay; five volunteers died in the rescue attempt, although the six-man crew of the Coupland survived.
Above and below: The Amelia as it tried to rescue the crew on the stricken Coupland in the South Bay; five volunteers died in the rescue attempt, although the six-man crew of the Coupland survived.

A CEREMONY will be held today to mark the 150th anniversary of one of Scarborough’s most famous shipwrecks.

Five volunteers died during the rescue attempt of the Coupland on November 2 1861 – including Lord Charles Beauclerk, who was swept to his death in the icy waters after he leapt into the north sea in a desperate attempt to save the crew of Scarborough’s first RNLI lifeboat, Amelia.

Storm of 1861'One of Scarborough's most famous shipwrecks happened in the South Bay during a violent gale in November 1861. A South Shields schooner called 'Coupland' was attempting to enter the harbour when her sails were disabled and she was forced onto rocks. The new lifeboat 'Amelia' was launched to rescue the crew, but its mission was far from successful, with the lifeboat men having to abandon their boat and two of their number being drowned. Three more people were killed that night after trying to rescue the lifeboat crew. Rocket lines later saved the six-man crew of the 'Coupland'.'Picture from North Yorks County Council archives'submitted pics

Storm of 1861'One of Scarborough's most famous shipwrecks happened in the South Bay during a violent gale in November 1861. A South Shields schooner called 'Coupland' was attempting to enter the harbour when her sails were disabled and she was forced onto rocks. The new lifeboat 'Amelia' was launched to rescue the crew, but its mission was far from successful, with the lifeboat men having to abandon their boat and two of their number being drowned. Three more people were killed that night after trying to rescue the lifeboat crew. Rocket lines later saved the six-man crew of the 'Coupland'.'Picture from North Yorks County Council archives'submitted pics

Now, a century-and-a-half later, the nobleman is set to be honoured by his descendants when his decaying pauper’s grave is replaced with a new headstone in recognition of his bravery.

His great grandson, John Beauclerk, is travelling to Scarborough to lay a wreath to all five men in remembrance of the anniversary, and the plaque will be revealed as part of a special programme of events, hosted by the RNLI, which will mark the anniversary.

John Porter, a spokesman for Scarborough Lifeboat, said: “Scarborough has had many tragedies at sea over the years, with lifeboat crew being lost on several occasions. Each year we hold a memorial service at St Mary’s Church to commemorate the men who have given the ultimate sacrifice and it’s fitting that on the 150th anniversary of the death of Lord Beauclerk that his courageous actions are remembered in this way.”

The Coupland was trying to enter Scarborough harbour when her sails were disabled and she was forced onto rocks, leading to the death of five volunteers during the rescue attempt when the vessel struck the lifeboat.

Rocket lines later saved all six members of the Coupland’s crew, but both boats were lost at sea.

It was Amelia’s first and last service mission and cost the lives of Thomas Brewster and John Burton, two lifeboatmen in their 20s.

Three bystanders, including Lord Charles, who was a descendant of Charles II and Nell Gwyn, also died. But despite his gallantry, Lord Charles did not receive a hero’s burial at the family mausoleum of the Dukes of St Albans at Redbourne, Lincs, where he was born in 1813.

Instead he was buried in Scarborough’s Dean Road Cemetery by his elder brother, Lord Frederick Beauclerk, who intended to return to make more permanent arrangements but died before he could carry out the task.