"The Cyprian"

The Times newspaper report on the inquiry into the wreck of the Cyprian

11th Nov 1881

The inquiry as to the loss of the Cyprian was resumed yesterday at Liverpool, before the Wreck Commissioner. A youth named Sydney Smith, engineer’s steward, of the Cyprian, said that the stowaway picked a lifebelt off the deck, and the third engineer fastened it to him. He could not say whether there were any signs of drunkenness in the captain or the chief officer. John Gourding, able seaman, said he heard the captain give orders to set the main staysail. The men grumbled about it, and witness also complained. He thought it was no use setting the after sail, as they were so near the land. Witness saw the Captain and the chief mate pushing and hitting some of the crew. The captain cursed several of the men who were working properly at the time. Neither the captain nor the mate hit or pushed the witness. The lifeboat was floating alongside full of water, and the witness cut her adrift. This was after the vessel had struck. The first sea that came, turned the boat over, and washed him away from it. He swam ashore, and was pulled up over the rocks. The master was on the bridge nearly the whole day. The chief mate was drunk. Witness would not say that the captain was drunk, but he was worse for drink.  He did not see him drink anything. He had sailed with the captain on the previous voyage, and never noticed any signs of drunkenness in him before. He did not notice any sign of drunkenness in the captain until half an hour before the vessel struck. Thomas. Williamson, fireman, gave similar testimony to the insobriety of the master and the mate.  James Jones, another fireman said he saw nothing in the conduct of the captain or chief mate, which led him to suppose they had had too much drink. Mr. Henry Wylie, physician and surgeon, said he had known Captain Strachan, nine or ten years. He was a most temperate man, and witness never saw him drunk. John Klaha, the stowaway, 16 years of age, said that just after the lifeboat got stove in the captain was standing by the wheelhouse. He said to witness, referring to the lifebuoy, " Take that, my boy, it's only lumber on me, I can swim that far." He thought the captain was sober. But the mate was the worse for drink. A number of witnesses spoke to the general sobriety of Captain Strachan, and the inquiry was again adjourned.



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