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The Piracy of the Bark, 'Morning Star'

From the Logie Family Papers of Robert Huggard

The Bark, “Morning Star”, Thos Gibbs, Commander, sailed from Colombo on 13 Dec. 1827 with a cargo of coffee and cinnamon. The passenger list is below the following text. The principal passenger was Major William Logie, Governor of Ceylon, and his family.

The ship sailed from the Cape of Good Hope on 28th Jan'y 1828 and made the Island of Ascension at daylight on the morning of 19 February. 1828. The following is an extract form the Ship's Log Book date 19th Feb'y 1828.

"At daylight saw the Island of Ascension bearing west, distance about six leagues and saw a brig about 6 miles astern apparently in chase of us, which at 7 o'clock fired a fun and hoisted a Blue British Ensign. We then hoisted our colours and continued our course, under a press of sail, thinking on the appearance of the Brig that she vas a Privateer. About 8 o'clock A.M. the Brig coming up with us fast, fired two more blank shots, and being now nearly abreast of us, she fired a shot, which passed close to our stern, hauled down the British Ensign. They hoisted Buenos Aryan colours and fired another shot, which fell short. We then shortened sail and the Brig hailed us and desired us to lav to, and send a boat on board, But was answered we had no Boat that would swim, on which she fired a round of Grape shot, which wounded one man, and did considerable damage to the sails main rigging. We then lowered the boat down, and the Mate with 3 hands and Hr. Smythe a passenger went in her. As soon as the boat got alongside and Mr. Smythe had gone on Board they ordered two of the men out of the boat and asked him if he was the Captain and had the ships papers, which being answered in the negative, they began beating them with their swords ordering them to return to the ship and send the Captain with the ships papers.

He accordingly went on board with the papers and the same boats crew, who were immediately ordered out of the boat and confined below. They then manned the boat with eight men armed with cutlasses and a long knife each. Boarding us, we could not oppose having no arms of any description. The few ships arms being perfectly unserviceable and the Brig laying within Pistol shot on the weather beam with her guns pointed. She appeared to carry 5 guns a side and one long battering gun on a traverse amidships.

She was well manned, painted all black and sailed remarkably fast. As soon as they boarded, they began beating the people below with their cutlasses, severely wounding several. They then placed sentries on the hatchways and ran the ship into smooth water under the lee of the Island. They then cut away all the halyards and hove to. They then ordered the people from below and made them hoist out the skiff (the other boat having filled with water was cut adrift). This forced the people to work, beating them most unmercifully with their swords.

The Brig then sent her own boat on board with more men, and they commenced plundering the ship of the sails, cordage, the ships medicine chest, all the Captains live stock, the greater part of his wines and all the spirits and stores they could get at.

They also plundered the passengers of the greater part of their clothes, all their money and valuable articles they could find. They also broke open the hatchways and carried off everything they could conveniently take away.

About dark in the evening, they made all the males on board go down the fore hatchway, which they secured, and sent the women and children to the Cuddy. About midnight, the women, not being secured below, and hearing all quiet, ventured on deck and found they had quitted the ship and the Brig was out of sight.

They immediately gave information to the men, who with a good deal of exertion, cleared away as much as to allow them to get up onto the deck. It was found upon examination, that they had cut away all the Mission rigging and backstays, all the larboard main rigging and backstays and threw them with the backstays on the starboard side, together with the greater part of the running rigging. They had tried to cut away the mainmast and tiller, destroyed the Binnacle, and carried off the Company’s chronometer charts and long glasses. The ship had also been scuttled forward.

On sounding the well, she was found to have six feet of water in her hold. We then found that the Captain and Mate, two seamen and one soldier were missing. There remained only the Chief Mate, Carpenter, Cook, Steward and four seamen, and only three sergeants and eight soldiers (invalids) in any way fit for duty.

Every exertion was then made to pump the ship out and get the leak stopped, in which we happily succeeded by 6 o’clock a.m. We then set the foresail and kept her head to the northward, and at 9 o’clock, nothing in sight, set the fore-topsail, wind S.E. and steered W.N.W. We luckily found a spare compass, a Quadrant and two long glasses and some charts, which escaped their search.

Further extracts from the Log Book of the Bark “Morning Star” further tell the story of this adventure:

On the 22nd of Feb’y at 8 a.m. in consequence of the soldiers reporting that there was a very great heat coming up from below, they supposed the ship was on fire or there was a danger of it. All hands were set to immediately to hoist up the coffee and cinnamon from the fore hold. It was found that three lower tiers of coffee were wet and were heated and swelled to such a degree that a great part of the bags had burst. The heat was so intense that it was deemed necessary for the safety of the ship to throw overboard such bags as were in that state.

All of the loose coffee had to be thrown overboard as well. The remainder of the crew and the invalids who were equal to any exertion worked the whole day or until they were completely exhausted.

On the 23rd at 6 a.m., it was found necessary to continue throwing overboard more of the heated coffee, which was preserved in until about 6 p.m. On the 24th, the people employed as yesterday when it was found that the coffee stowed between the fore and main hatchways had swelled to the degree that it was found necessary to break out more bags to ease the ship.

On the 25th at 6 a.m., the people commenced taking out the two upper tiers of coffee so as to make a freer circulation of air from the fore to the after hatchway. They stowed it in the fore hold, which had been completely cleared of damaged coffee. The quantity could not be correctly ascertained, so much of it being loose, but it is supposed to amount to between two and three hundred bags.

The following passengers were aboard:

Major Logie, Governor of Ceylon

Mrs. Logie

Alexander Logie, their son, born in 1823

Barbara Logie, their daughter, born at sea in 1825

Asst. Surgeon Goodwin

Hospital Asst. J. Johnston

Ordinance Clerk Wm. Robison

Mr. James Smyth, Merchant

Pvt. E. Morris, Royal Artillery – severely wounded

Lieut. Wilkinson, Royal Staff Corps – time expired man

Pvt. Wm. Campbell – 16th Regiment

Pvt. Thos. Garvey – 16th Regiment – severely wounded by grapeshot

Pvt. Jas. McGreery – 16th Regiment

Pvt. Danl. Mullane – 16th Regiment – slightly wounded

Pvt. Hector McPhaddon – 78th Regiment – time expired – missing

Pvt. F. Finlayson – 78th Regiment – time-expired

Sgt. T. Martin – 83rd Regiment

Pvt. Pat Sloan – 83rd Regiment – severely wounded

Pvt. Henry Donohoe – 83rd Regiment – severely wounded

Pvt. John Moran – 83rd Regiment

Pvt. M. Bafferty – 83rd Regiment

Pvt. Wm. Walburn – 83rd Regiment

Sgt. P. Butt – 97th Regiment – of the Gordon Highlanders

Pvt. Thos Bangs – 97th Regiment

Pvt. Saml Lovel – 97th Regiment

Pvt. J. Painter – 97th Regiment

Women and children:

16th Ptc. 1 orphan boy

78th Mary Scott, widow 3 children

Helen Sloane

83rd Mary Martin 1 child

97th Anne Brett 1 child

Officers and Ships Company:

Thos. Gibbs – Commander – Missing

Geo. Burgby -- Chief Mate

Alex Mowat – 2nd Mate – Missing

H. Sales – carpenter – severely wounded

Pat Cullen – cook

Andw. Beyerman – steward

H. Johnson – seaman

M. Marlborough – seaman

Richr. Jones – seaman

John Vincent – seaman

John Larking – seaman -- missing

Rich. Hood Ritchie – seaman – missing

Jas. Smith, boy of the shipping master

"Major William Logie was Governor of Ceylon 1825 - 1828. He was a major in the Gordon Highlanders, having joined the 92nd Regiment in 1800, transferred to the 97th Regiment as Captain, promoted to Major in 1808. He fought in the Peninsular War with Sir John Moore in 1809. He built a large stone house called "Glenlogie" (still is), 3 miles east of Kingston, Ontario. With his friends Sir John A. MacDonald and William Morris, he founded Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, on the 18th of Dec 1839. His portrait has been donated to Queen's by Eleanor Mary James. An album of his sketches that he did while he was Governor of Ceylon has been given to the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto) by Mrs. James."

He was a Major in the 97th Regiment. Previously Captain in the Ninety Second Regiment, Gordon Highlanders.

William and his family were attacked by pirates while traveling at sea on a voyage from Ceylon to Scotland aboard the ship, 'Morning Star' in December 1827.

William along with his friends, Sir John A. MacDonald, William Morris, John Machar and others, helped found Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada