On This Day in Trinity House History – 1 November

1662

Samuel Pepys dines at Trinity House

Samuel Pepys’ diary:

“With Mr. Creed to the Trinity House, to a great dinner there, by invitation, and much company. It seems one Captain Evans makes his Elder Brother’s dinner to-day.”


1718

Trinity House Marks the Anniversary of the Gunpowder plot

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Adjourned to this day sennight* by reason of next Wednesday being the anniversary of the Powder Plot.”

* old English seofon nihta ‘seven nights’, i.e. a week


1975

Trinity House Assumes responsibility for Mumbles Lighthouse

Trinity House assumed responsibility for Mumbles Lighthouse from the British Transport Docks Board.

The lighthouse was first lit in 1794, originally displaying two open coal fire lights one above the other to distinguish it from St Ann’s Head Lighthouse which had two lights on separate towers and Flatholm Lighthouse with one light. The coal lights in braziers were expensive and difficult to maintain so were quickly replaced with a single oil powered light consisting of argand lamps with reflectors within a cast iron lantern. The original two lights are still reflected in the two tier structure of the tower.

Mumbles Lighthouse, image by Ian Cowe

Mumbles Lighthouse, image by Ian Cowe

On This Day in Trinity House History – 26 October

1664

The Elder Brethren Are Out of the Office

Court Minute:

“No Court, because all the Elder Brethren were present, according to custom, at a launch of a great ship of the King’s.”

The ship in question was HMS Royal Katherine. Samuel Pepys remarked of the launch:

“At Woolwich; I there up to the King and Duke, and they liked the plate well. Here I staid above with them while the ship was launched, which was done with great success, and the King did very much like the ship, saying, she had the best bow that ever he saw.”

HMS Royal Katherine

HMS Royal Katherine


1734

A Pilotage Complaint is Brought Before Trinity House

Board Minute:

“Captain Edward Carteret of the Italian Merchant lately arrived from the Streights attended and complained that on 8th. February last as he was outward bound on his last voyage outward from London to the Streights, Francis Lilly being then his Pilot down the South Channel towards the Downs, he the said Francis Lilly ran the said ship aground on the Last at Noon-day, near High Water, the Weather being clear, Light winds Westerly and the buoys in sight. Captain Carteret said that when the the ship first touched the ground, He cry’d Hard a Starboard, which if Lilly had suffered to be done, the Ship would have got Clear, But he (Lilly) Crying Hard a Port at the same time, the man at the Helm Observed him, which laid the ship across the said Last Sand, where she almost dry’d at Low Water, The ship being Aground, Lilly insisted that she was on the Spell, which the Captain not being satisfied of, took his boat, and on sounding himself, found that she was on the Last. The Captain said further that the Loyal Jane, Sabine Chandler, Commander, then bound for the Downs was in company with his ship (the Italian Merchant) and a head of her in the arrows, and went clear.

Ordered, that the Rt. Hon. the Master be acquainted with this complaint before any further proceedings be taken thereon.”

2 Nov. 1734:

“The Master ordered a court be held on the 13th. inst. to hear the complaint.”

On This Day in Trinity House History – 4 September

1662

Samuel Pepys has an interesting dinner at Trinity House

Samuel Pepys’ diary:

Sir William Compton, by Henry Paert the Elder, after a portrait by Sir Peter Lely, (circa 1655).

Sir William Compton, by Henry Paert the Elder, after a portrait by Sir Peter Lely, (circa 1655).

“At noon to the Trinity House where we treated, very dearly I believe, the officers of the Ordnance; where was Sir W Compton and the Lieutenant of the Tower. We had much good musique. Sir W Compton I heard talk with much great pleasure of the difference between the fleet now and in Queen Elizabeth’s day; where in ’88, she had but 36 sail great and small, in the world; and ten rounds of powder was their allowance at that time against the Spaniard.”

 

On This Day in Trinity House History – 20 July

1685

John Evelyn records his time at Trinity Monday

John Evelyn’s diary entry reads:

“The Trinity-Company met this day, which should have been on the Monday after Trinity, but was put off by reason of the Royal Charter being so large, that it could not be ready before. Some immunities were superadded. Mr. Pepys, Secretary to the Admiralty, was a second time chosen Master. We went to church, according to custom, and then took barge to the Trinity-House, in London, where we had a great dinner, above eighty at one table.”

 


1745

Early problems with the Nore Lightvessel

Trinity House Board Minute:

Nore Lightvessel model

Nore Lightvessel model

“Mr. Cam, one of the lessees of the light at the Nore attended to answer Captain Hallum’s complaint against the light and admitted that there happened an accidental obstruction in one of the funnels just at the time complained of, but said that it was removed in about half an hour, after which there was a good light, as there hath been all along, without any former complaint of this nature and he promised that all possible care should be taken to keep a good light for the future, offering to remove the present lightkeeper and put in anyone whom the Corporation should name,

Which being considered and that Captain Hallum admits in his complaint that one of the lamps was kindled as he came by, Mr. Cam was charged to take especial care that a good light be constantly maintained hereafter, to be kindled every evening immediately after sunset and to be kept burning till it be broad Day Light next morning, and that they give instructions accordingly to such lightkeepers as the lessees shall appoint at their own Risque and for whom they are answerable.”

On This Day in Trinity House History – 14 July

1685

Samuel Pepys is elected Master (again) of Trinity House

Trinity Monday: Samuel Pepys is elected Master for the second time, under the terms of James II’s Royal Charter.

Samuel Pepys FRS MP JP (23 February 1633 – 26 May 1703) was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament (for Harwich) who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man. Although Pepys had no maritime experience, he rose by patronage, hard work and his talent for administration, to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and subsequently King James II. His influence and reforms at the Admiralty were important in the early professionalisation of the Royal Navy.


1843

Elder Brethren Drowned on Duty

A Committee of Elder Brethren attempted to land at Trevose Head Lighthouse in a boat from the Vestal. The weather was too bad to permit of landing; on returning to the Vestal, owing to some confusion, the boat was run down by the steamer, resulting in the deaths of Captain Richard Drew and Captain Jenkin Jones, whose bodies were recovered.

The following excerpt of an Elder Brother’s diary is reproduced here from our recently-published history Light Upon The Waters:

“Early on Monday we weighed anchor and steamed out of Penzance Roads, round the Land’s End… towards Trevose Head. It was a brilliant morning, little or no wind, but rather a heavy ground swell. At 9 o’clock we lowered the cutter, Captain Drew (chairman) proposing to land and inspect the outer Quay’s Rock to which Probyn and I urgently dissented, seeing it would be attended with danger.

Drew replied ‘Let us attempt it, at all events,’ and perceiving his obstinacy and apprehending some accident, I advised Captain Jones, who was a very stout man, to remain on board, as four of us were quite sufficient to do the needful, should we succeed in landing, which was very doubtful. This he would not listen to and on approaching the rock we found it impracticable to land, so Drew ordered the boat to return. By this time the steamer was very near the rock, and as we were also close to it, had we struck we must all have perished.

At this moment the steamer struck the cutter midway between the five Elder Brethren and the seamen [rowing], the latter were fortunate in laying hold of different parts about the [Vestal’s] figurehead and got safely on board. We were carried under the steamer’s bows and poor Jones and Drew were drowned. Captains Probyn and Maddan were soon all right, but I was with great difficulty brought to, owing to my long immersion in the water, which completely exhausted me.

Although my health did not suffer from this accident, it caused the total loss of my right eye, the nerves having completely given way.

It was a sad sight to see the two dear fellows cold in death, who but an hour before had been in high health and spirits, and there was not a dry eye on board when the last sad duties were performed.”

After landing the bodies at Bristol, Captain Alexander Weynton joined the ship and the voyage continued.


 

1852

Bishop Rock stone-laying ceremony

Bishop Rock Lighthouse: The first stone (one of the fifth course) was laid in a ceremony attended by the Master the Duke of Wellington and the Deputy Master Captain Sir John Henry Pelly. The lowest stone was afterwards laid in the chasm of the rock, at one foot below the level of low water spring tide on 30 July 1852. The stone work of the tower was finished 28 August 1857, without loss of life or serious accident.

Bishop Rock Lighthouse internal plaque

Bishop Rock Lighthouse internal plaque

On This Day in Trinity House History – 8 July

1685

James II Charter of Incorporation. Samuel Pepys is appointed Master

In 1685 James II took his late brother’s throne, so Trinity House, like many other corporations, handed its charter to the new king as a sign of allegiance, and began drafting anew the articles of incorporation which James II would issue in a new charter.

Royal Charter granted to Trinity House in 1685 by King James II

Royal Charter granted to Trinity House in 1685 by King James II

The 1685 charter augments the number of the Brethren from 13 to 31, and describes their duties more fully; By-Laws are created, violation of which is to be punished by “pains and penalties, amercement and forfeitures, for the use and benefit of the Corporation, for the repairs of the house and other tenements and almshouses, for the relief of poor brothers and their widows, and other poor mariners and seafaring men…”

The lengthy charter closes with a confirmation of all former grants, liberties, immunities and jurisdictions, and reasserts the crown’s confidence in the Brethren to “commence thereon upon the conservation, good estate, and wholesome government, maintenance, and increase of the navigation of the realm, and of all mariners and seafaring persons within the same.”

John Evelyn’s diary entry for 20 July 1685 reads:

“The Trinity-Company met this day, which should have been on the Monday after Trinity, but was put off by reason of the Royal Charter being so large, that it could not be ready before. Some immunities were superadded. Mr. Pepys, Secretary to the Admiralty, was a second time chosen Master. We went to church, according to custom, and then took barge to the Trinity-House, in London, where we had a great dinner, above eighty at one table.”

 

On This Day in Trinity House History – 21 June

1662

Pepys enjoys ‘great good cheer’ at Trinity House dinner

Samuel Pepys‘ diary:

“At noon Sir W Pen and I to the Trinity House; where was a feast made by the Wardens. Great good cheer, and much but ordinary company.”

 


1894

Trinity House Vessels to fly the White Ensign

Permission is given by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty for the Corporation’s steam and sailing vessels to fly the White Ensign on all occasions upon which the ships are dressed, and while escorting the Sovereign in company with Royal Yachts and Ships of War.

1894 White Ensign permission

1894 White Ensign permission

From Wikipedia:

“Royal Navy ships and submarines wear the White Ensign at all times when underway. The White Ensign may also be worn on a gaff, and may be shifted to the starboard yardarm when at sea. When alongside, the White Ensign is worn at the stern, with the Union Flag flown as a jack at the bow, during daylight hours.

The White Ensign is worn at the mastheads when Royal Navy ships are dressed on special occasions such as the Queen’s birthday, and may be similarly be worn by foreign warships in British waters when dressed in honour of a British holiday or when firing a salute to British authorities.”