A chance capture

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A chance capture


Today, if a French vessel appears in the rocks off the coast of Jersey, the lifeboat is sent to rescue it. In times of war it was somewhat different


On 14 December 1809 a French vessel got into difficulty off the coast and was spotted by Aaron De Ste Croix, who set off in a small boat with four friends and boarded the vessel.

The ship was the Calipso of London, which had been captured by a French vessel in the Channel and was being taken back to France by a prize crew, until they became lost. They were quite happy for de St Croix to take charge and sail into St Helier harbour, and the five English crew on board were delighted to be rescued.

De Ste Croix’s reward was the vessel he had captured and a cargo of coffee and sugar.

Rozel rescues

On 9 January 1810 the Cumberland from Sunderland was abandoned by a French prize crew on rocks near Rozel. Twenty local men rescued her and brought her into the bay. The Lieut-Governor, General Don, claimed possession of the vessel and the Royal Court decided that the men who had salvaged her should have a quarter of the value of her cargo.

On another occasion a French prize crew sailed a British ship onto rocks not far from Rozel Bay and abandoned it. 20 local men went out to her and brought her into the bay on 9 January 1810.

The owners of the ship disputed the court order on the basis that the cargo was owned by the British Government but they lost their appeal to the Privy Council.

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