At Christmas 1839 the 150-ton schooner Lansdowne, owned by the Limerick Shipping Company, sailed from Limerick for Glasgow.
The Limerick Shipping Company
The Marquis of Lansdowne had been built at the company’s yard at North Strand, Limerick, downstream of the Wellesley Bridge and on land owned by the noble Marquis. She was named by Miss Russell, daughter of John Norris Russell, a principal shareholder, and launched on Tuesday 5 November 1839, in the presence of Sir William Macbean, Col Mansel and most of the officers of the garrison. The other merchant vessels in port had “colours flying from stem to stern” and “frequent discharges of artillery” welcomed the new schooner to the “world of waters”.
The yard, which was equipped with a patent slip, had another schooner on the stocks at the time. According to Commander James Wolfe
There is a patent slip and yard at Kilrush, as well as at Limerick. At the latter place the slip is proved for vessels of 400 tons, at the former only for those of 250 tons. Repairs to any extent may be done at either of these places; and at Limerick some fine vessels have lately been built.
The Limerick Shipping Company had ten schooners by 1834 and, in 1838, bought a steam tug, the Dover Castle, which also competed in the passenger-carrying trade on the Shannon Estuary. By 1842 it had thirteen schooners and was offering regular weekly sailings between Limerick and London.
At no period were the Commercial interests of the Port of Limerick so prosperous, this spirited Company having now at their command a squadron of vessels equal, if not superior for all sailing qualities, to those of any other port in Ireland.
Death at the Broomielaw
John Brown, aged 27 or 28, got married one day before the Lansdowne sailed at Christmas on what must have been one of its first voyages. In Glasgow, the schooner berthed at the Broomielaw, and in mid-January Brown went drinking with William Bennet and John Anson, both aged about 20. When they returned to the schooner, they lit the stove in the forecastle, closed the hatch and went to bed.
The port regulations banned fires on vessels after nine o’clock; the newspaper said [without citing any evidence] that the three men closed the hatch “so as to prevent a single ray being seen outside” by the police on the quay.
The unfortunate men went into their sleeping berths, and as might have been anticipated, the consequence proved fatal to all the three, the action of carbonic acid having done its deadly work long before morning.
About seven o’clock they were found dead, their countenances as calm as if they had still been under the influence of sleep. One of them was in a half sitting posture.
Two doctors inspected the bodies and “corroborated the accidental nature of the causes which led to death; and liberty was granted to have the bodies interred.”
The Lansdowne herself survived for only another three years: she was wrecked on the Scottish coast in January 1843.
Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser 7 November 1839
Sailing Directions for the Lower Shannon, and for Lough Derg; with some Hydrographic Notices of Lough Ree and Lough Erne. By Commander James Wolfe RN; being the result of Surveys made by Order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty
Clonmel Herald 25 January 1840 quoting Glasgow Courier
Limerick Reporter 17 January 1843
All newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive:
I found an article from the Lim. Chronicle 22/10/1856 in relation to John Russell, Edwardstown, Co. Limerick in which it states that he was the founder of Lim. Shipping Company, merchant, succeeded by son-in-law, William G. Gubbins.
There were two John Russell’s in the Limerick area at the time which makes things quite confusing. I might be wrong but I believe it was John Russell who set up the company and not John Norris Russell.
Yes: I’ve seen that piece. I haven’t tried to follow the full history of the Limerick Shipping Company, but I have looked into two aspects: the Non-return of the Native https://irishwaterwayshistory.com/about/irish-inland-waterways-vessels/older-irish-working-boats/up-and-under/the-non-return-of-the-native/ and the ownership of the steamer Dover Castle https://irishwaterwayshistory.com/about/irish-inland-waterways-vessels/older-irish-working-boats/up-and-under/ and https://irishwaterwayshistory.com/about/irish-inland-waterways-vessels/older-irish-working-boats/up-and-under/the-sale-of-the-steamer-dover-castle-in-1840/.
Apart from the article you mention, I have not come across mention of John Russell in connection with the company, whereas John Norris Russell was prominent in its affairs. However, that doesn’t mean that John Russell (the Edwardstown chap, as opposed to John Russell the son of John Norris Russell) wasn’t involved. A shipping company, at the time, might mean just a group of people trading under a common name; the ships (mostly schooners, in this case) might be owned by individuals, or subsets of the full list of company members, rather than by the company itself.
I will be glad to hear from anyone who can cast more light on the matter; please leave a Comment.