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Mr. Edwin William Jones

Ferryside Lifeboat - Edwin William Jones
Ferryside Lifeboat - Edwin William Jones

The following is an obituary for a Mr Edwin William Jones, Sea Pilot and Second Coxswain of Ferryside Lifeboat, who died tragically at sea off what is now known as Scotts Bay in February 1910. Thus demonstrating the extremely dangerous nature of the modern day crews working environment.

The crew wish to pay homage to Mr Edwin Jones, and extend an open invitation to any of his living relatives to come and view Ferryside Lifeboats brand new boatstation and see for themselves the legacy left by Mr Jones.
Originally published in The Carmarthen Journal, Friday February 18th, 1910, and reproduced in the Merchant Navy Association Newsletter 2006, issue 9. The obituary has been faithfully reproduced here with the consent of both organisations.



Mr Edwin William Jones, Ferryside.

Mr Edwin Jones, Sea Pilot, of Ferryside, met his death on Friday Night, under circumstances with which it would be difficult to find a parallel in the catalogue of melancholy tragedies which belongs to the locality.

On the evening named, Mr Jones left in a small boat to pilot up the Laugharne river. There was a heavy swell, the tides were high and the weather looked quite threatening. Mr David Jones his uncle, advised leaving the ship until next morning, but Edwin went out alone,as he had done many times before and under worse conditions. He was seen pulling out to the ship just before dark. He piloted the ship halfway up the Laugharne River, where he was relieved by another pilot. It is said that the Captain of the vessel, disliking the look of the river, pressed Edwin to remain on board with him overnight, and that Edwin, with a laugh and a cheerful “Iʼm all right old man” declined. Be that as it may, Edwin pulled away down The river, and that was the last seen of him alive.

What happened between then and the next day, when his body was found, is a matter of conjecture, to a great extent, and no useful purpose is served by trying to solve the problem. One or two things are, however quite certain. The cause of the fatality was the swamping of the little boat. To get home Edwin had to round The Wharley Point, a bluff-headland which pushes itself out into what is at times a cauldron of treacherous waters. It was pitch dark, there was a very heavy nasty sea, as there had been for the last fortnight or so. Edwin had passed through such many a time before. He was second Coxswain of the Lifeboat, and as such knew as well as the oldest what it meant to beard the insensate anger of wind and water. On one occasion he was thrown out of the lifeboat and by a miracle managed to get back. He was one of the foremost of the rescuers of The famous wreck of The “TEVIOTDALE“.

 About five years ago, almost to the week, he went out with his fellows to the wreck of the “SlGNA”, well knowing the slender chances of their ever returning. There was no better type of sailor. To go out with him for a sail was to feel that one was in the safest hands in the world. Surely there was no trick or treachery hidden in those coasts which could have baffled the nerve and the resource of Edwin Jones?

Yet, incredible as it seems, on this particular night, all the experience and skill of a Iifetime were mastered and Edwin was swept suddenly to his death. It was a bitter fight, but the sea gave him no quarter, and poor Edwin went under without a hand to help him. He who had helped hundreds, and whom hundreds of friends would have leaped to help, had to die alone and friendless. It is one of the saddest tales of the sea that we hove heard.

 What happened is up to a certain point evident. Hampered by the darkness he got into a bad sea and was swamped before he could right himself. It is thought that he wrenched away some of the woodwork from the inside of the boat to serve him as a support and taking off his coat and jersey, made for the shore.

A heavily flowing tide carried him to the jagged rocks which lie at the foot of the cliff between Captain Scottʼs house and the castle, and here he was undoubtedly killed by the heavy seas. It is said that cries for help were heard, but evidence of this is slender. The probability is that, however he fought and maneuvered to get a safe landing place, as undoubtedIy he would; his fight was practicalIy over when he did eventually land. He must have reached the rocks helpless, and perhaps unconscious, and a pointless death followed

Visitors to Llanstephan will recognise the place as lying between the Menʼs bathing place and the steps leading down to the Womenʼs, below the pathway leading to the former.

 The remains of Mr Edwin Jones were laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon in St Ishmaelʼs churchyard. The body was enclosed in an unpolished oak coffin, bearing the inscription; “Edwin William Jones aged 46 years, died February 11th, 1910”. It was, on Tuesday evening, removed to St Thomas Church. Here the deceased had been a member of the choir for many years and there followed it into the church, although a service had not been arranged the Clergy had to arrange one. Shortly after 2 oʼclock on Wednesday afternoon the funeral service was held. St Thomas’s Church had never held so many worshippers for there was not even standing room vacant, the service, which was fully choral, included Heimores burial service, led by the choir under the direction of the organist and choirmaster, Mr W H Mitchell, and the hymn “There is a Land of pure delight”. The officiating Clergyman was the Rev David Williams, Curate in Charge, assisted by the Rev D M James, Vicar of Llanstephan. The coffin was carried on a bier the whole of the way to St Ishmaels by sections of the great procession of men who accompanied and was immediately followed by the chief mourners, among whom were Mrs Edwin Jones (the Widow) and her father, Mr Dan Jones the aged Grandmother of the deceased, with whom he had lived for many years; Mr & Mrs David Jones (Uncle and Aunt) with their family; Mr John Jones (Father), and others.

Among the members of the public were Mr GR. Brigstocke Roberts rest; Dr Lewis Williams Ferryside: Mr R.A. Nevill Undercliff; Mr N. Buckley Roderick; Mr E.A.H. Harries; Mr R.A. Lewis, Rock Cottage: Mr Cecil Tregoning Llanelly; Mr Thomas Tanlan; Mr Fred Sewell, London, who also represented Captain Day, Adjutant of the Calcutta Volunteers (who is now in India and an old friend of the deceased) and Mr Hugh Stephens Carmarthen; Messrs Burge & Rees Williams Aberdare: D. F. Lewis London: W.H. Mitchel, Joseph Morgan, O Davies, Captain Gower, G. Dyke, R. Dyke, Fred Davies, Scoff, Walter Jenkins, Rev Lewis Ferryside, E Jones, W. Beynon Jones, Lewis Giles, Crabbe, Woodley, William Williams, Chapman, A maddocks, Rev W.E. Davies, Carmarthen, and a great many other well known people in Ferryside and a large surrounding District, whose names it was impossible to collect.

The rear of the procession was brought up by a large number of ladies, who carried the beautiful wreaths and floral emblems which had been sent in, among these were an anchor from the Lifeboat Crew, a harp from the Choir of St Thomas, a cross from Mrs Williams Portiscliff, and a boat together with the following:-a cross from the Widow; GWR employees, Ferryside; Tilton Trading Steamers Ltd, Mr 8. Mrs Drummond and family, Mr R.A. Nevitt, Mr F. W. Nevill, Mr 8. Mrs Sewell London; F.G. & R. Burge; Mr & Mrs A.E. Maddock Carmarthen; Mrs Parry; Mr R. Lewis Rock Cottage; Mr H. Taylor- Stephens Mr & Mrs R.L. Williams, Mrs Sewell & Family Mr & Mrs Hugh Thomas, Cwm Mill; Mr & Mrs Williams Spitman Street Carmarthen; Mr & Mrs Harries Ferry House; Mrs A Bagnell Woodman; Mr H. York, Mrs Groves, Mr W.V.M. Thomas; Mr Rees Williams Aberdare; “The Boys” Carmarthen; Mr W.B.N. Roderick Llanelly; Misses Burge, Evans, Roberts, and A Thomas, Aberdare; etc.

The Service in St Ishmaels Church and at the graveside was read by the Vicar of the Parish the Rev R.J. James, assisted by the Rev D. Williams, and the final Hymn at the open grave was “Christ will gather in his own”.

The grave was in an elevated position in the old churchyard, overlooking the bay, a most appropriate resting place for one who had saved so many from death on the dreaded sand which lay in the distant bay. The melancholy of the sad gathering which assembled was emphasised by the dreary afternoon and the vast prospect of leaden skies which stretched away to the ghostly Worms Head on the horizon. If ever sincere tribute were paid to character and worth it was here, and if ever a man deserved such, one felt that it was Edwin Jones. No more striking proof of this could be had than in the variety of classes which stood around this Sailorʼs grave. These Men and Women were not mere acquaintances, but friends. Grief unmistakable was stamped everywhere; grief at the loss of Edwin, and something more than grief at the thought that he should died helpless at night within sight, within sailing distance even of his own house, he whose kindly heart delighted to serve others and whom the whole countryside would have mustered in force to help could they have heard but one little warning note of his danger. Imagination might almost have credited the elements with joining the mourning.

The booming diapason of the bar which lay below, the “great chant of eternity rising from the Ocean” joined the sad minor of the farewell Hymn with a human accompaniment of sorrow for the end of such a Sailor and such a sterling friend.


The inquest

An inquest was held on the body at Ferryside National School on Tuesday last before the Deputy Coroner Mr W. Brodie of Llanelly and jury, Mr R.A. Nevill attended on behalf of The National Lifeboat Institution, of which he is the local Secretary. Mr David Jones, Coxswain of the Lifeboat Ferryside stated that the deceased was his Nephew, and was 46 years of age. He last saw him alive shortly after five o clock at the Ferryside beach, when they arranged that the deceased should go out to the “S/S DOONEGLEN” bound for St Clears, which was then about coming in.

Witness saw him go out in his boat to the “S/S DOONEGLEN” he went aboard, and 10 minutes later she steamed away towards Laugharne River. At lO:3O p.m. He did not know his nephew had not returned. On the following morning witness went to look for him, when he saw an object in the mouth of the Laugharne River. He found that it was the deceased boat, which was aground and full of water, near Wharley Point. The tide had just receded. The stem sheet and the oars were missing. He then proceeded to search for the deceased’s body, and made for the nearest land, to which he thought the deceased would have tried to swim. A man named Thomas John signalled to him, and the body was subsequently found close to the rocks under Llanstephan Castle, about a quarter of a mile from where he found the boat. The body was found face downward, the deceased’s head was lying in a pool of blood. His coat was off and the watch in his waistcoat pocket had stopped at 7.18 oʼclock.

Witness was of opinion that his boat had upset and that he swam to the rocks and failed to get up. There was a steep cliff there and he probably fell back. The weather at that time was squally, and it was near high water. The deceased was able to swim, but he did not think he was a good swimmer. His boat was a good substantial one and deceased had come round in worse weather many times. He believed the boat had capsized, because the anchor was out of cable.

George Brown. Frog more Street, Langhorne, Pilot, said he went out on Friday in his boat to meet the S/S DOONEGLEN to bring her in. He met her about a mile out, and went on board about six oʼclock. The deceased was then in charge of her. The witness then took her into his charge and the deceased jumped into his boat. They wished each other goodnight, and the deceased went away. He could not say what direction he went. In order to get to Ferryside he would have to go round the Wharley Point where he believed, he would encounter a rough sea, which would be dangerous. He did not think it bad enough not to try. Deceased was quite well and cheerful. His body was found two miles from where he left him. By a juror, it was not very dark.

Mr Thomas John. Fisherman, Stratford Villas, Llanstephan, described the finding of the body at the foot of the rocks at Gravel Gwyn, Llanstephan. Mr David Lewis Williams, Ferryside, said he examined the deceased at 12:3O on Monday. Above the left eye was a jagged lacerated vertical wound, an inch long, reaching to the bone, which had been bleeding. There was also a wound two inches long through the scalp, about three inches above the ear to the left side reaching to the bone. There was a puncture wound near the left eye and near the ridge of the nose, and one half an inch long above the right temple. On the face there were a number of scratches and bruises. They were all ante mortem. The neck was dislocated. There were scratches on both hands but they were post mortem. There were no bones broken. Death was possibly due to drowning, to the dislocation of the neck or to exhaustion. It was impossible To say whether The allocation was ante mortem or post mortem. The probability was that death was due to exposure and exhaustion. The wounds were no doubt caused by the rocks and not by a person. After the coroner had summed up, the jury brought in a verdict of accidentally drowned by the capsizing of a boat.

At the close of the proceedings Mr Nevill referred to the loss which The Lifeboat Institution, and The Local Committee, and members of the crew had sustained. Edwin Jones had been second Coxswain for 10 years and had proved very efficient, and had desired to offer sincere condolences with the widow, and other members of the family in their sad bereavement. His sympathetic expressions were endorsed by Mr F .M. Owens, and the foreman of the Jury also made references to the loss which was felt throughout the whole village. The Coroner said that the expressions of sympathy should be conveyed to the Family on behalf of the Jurymen.

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