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Thornton, Samuel (?–1839)

One of the most melancholy accidents on record, arising from the blameable practice of Sabbath-pleasure sailing, occurred on Sunday last. Notwithstanding the wetness and the boisterous state of the atmosphere, six persons proceeded on a pleasure trip down the harbour, in the fast-sailing boat, the Haidee. The party consisted of Messrs Charles and John Rogers, drapers, George-street, Mr. Samuel Thornton, money taker at the box-office of the Theatre, and brother to the owner of the boat, Mr. Williams, a saddler who had lately commenced business in Bridge-street, Mr. Fligg, lately from New Zealand, a clerk in the employ of Messrs. M'Gaa, Breed and Co., and Mr. Johnson, foreman in the employ of Mr. Mitchell, linen draper, Waterloo House, King street. The Haidee was celebrated for her qualities as a sailing boat, and the parties on board having much practice in the management of sailing boats, were unfortunately not deterred from carrying into effect a project previously agreed upon, by the squally state of the weather, which on that day deterred other parties less adventurous, from leaving their homes. The accident which terminated so fatally occurred about half-past five o'clock in the afternoon; the boat was then between Shark Island and Bottle and Glass Bay; a squall carried away the jib-sheets, and a sea striking the boat at the same moment, threw her on her beam-ends; she righted, but a second sea striking her on her quarter, she sunk stern foremost. Williams, Johnson, Thornton and Fligg sunk with the boat, leaving Charles and John Rogers struggling with the waves. Both were good swimmers and made for the shore, Charles first, John following. When almost at the shore, Charles observing his brother's strength failing, called to him to keep up his spirits, for a few strokes more would see them in safety. Charles made no reply, and a moment after his brother observed him with his head drooping on his breast, sink to rise no more. John, now the only survivor was washed ashore by the waves in a state of insensibility, and rescued from his perilous situation by some of the aborigines, who had witnessed the accident from the beach. He was carried to the house of Mr. R. Hill at Vaucluse, where he met with the most humane and hospitable treatment, and a boat was put off to render assistance to his companions in misfortune, but it was found impossible to reach the spot where the accident occurred. The friends of the unfortunate sufferers went down to Vaucluse yesterday morning to search for the bodies, but without success, the ebb-tide having in all probability dragged them out. This melancholy accident, as may well be supposed, has excited a strong sensation in Sydney. The sufferers were almost all well known in Sydney, and very generally respected. Mr. C. Rogers was a Freemason, and Master of Lodge 266. Mr. Johnson was a native of Bristol, and has been between two and three years in the colony.

Original publication

Citation details

'Thornton, Samuel (?–1839)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/thornton-samuel-14323/text25391, accessed 12 December 2019.

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