The Sierrra Madrona

The Sierra Madrona was an iron sailing ship of 1430 net tonnage, built in Stockton on the Tees in 1875 and owned by the Sierra Shipping Co. She was registered in Liverpool, and her official number was 744611. It seems that no official logs have survived2, though there is an item in the National Archives under BT 110/74/26, covering 1891-1900, though the registry closed in 1894.

A book by Basil Lubbock, Last of the Windjammers vol.1 has a list of 14 ships of the Sierra Shipping Co. According to a post on Rootsweb Thompson Anderson & Co mainly operated sailing ships; their first steamer was built in 1903.

After grandfather Percy left HMS Conway in July 1888 to join the Sierra Madrona, so far as I can make out from newspaper reports, there were just four voyages in the period 1888 to 1893 before the one where the ship was lost with all her crew, clearly not including Percy.

1. The Sierra Madrona arrived in Liverpool from Rangoon on 18 or 19 Aug 18883, and sailed again from Liverpool for Bombay via Newport on 05 Sep 18884. She left Newport on 24 Sep5, and on 19 Nov her position was reported as 41°N 29°W6, that is in Atlantic just north of the Azores and presumably heading for the Cape. She arrived in Bombay on 19 Jan 18897. Then on 08 Feb she sailed for Rangoon8, and from Rangoon headed home on 17 Mar 18899, again presumably sailing Cape as she was noted as leaving St. Helena in July10. She arrived in IJmuiden on 27 Aug 1889, from Rangoon11 and was reported as passing Dover on 25 Sep12, presumably on her way back from Holland, and as having arrived at Penarth (near Cardiff) from Cape Town on 05 Oct 188913.
2. The next mention of her is as having arrived at Cape Town from Bassein on 09 Jan 189014. She called at St Helena around 23 Jul on her way home from Bassein15. I am a bit confused here. Bassein is in Burma, on a more westerly branch of the Irawaddy delta than Rangoon, and a one way trip took the Sierra Madrona several months. I therefore think that in Jan 1890 she was on her way out to Bassein, not on her way home. In early August 1890 she was reported having passed Browhead (the most southerly point of mainland Ireland, 3.8 km east of Mizen Head, and in County Cork) from Bassein for Queenstown (an Cóbh, in Cork Harbour, Ireland)16. On 11 Aug she again passed Dover17, possibly again heading east for Holland.
3. In late Jan 1891 she was again at Rangoon18. She left Rangoon, and was at Rio on 02 Jul 189119. She left Rio for Portland, Oregon, on 12 Aug 189120, where she arrived on 21 Nov 1891 21, presumably having rounded Cape Horn as the Panama Canal was not opened until Aug 1914. She left Portland on 07 Jan 1892, headed for the Channel22, and arrived at Queenstown, Ireland, on 14 May 189223. On 25 May she was at Calais 24, and then passed Dungeness on 18 Jun 189225.
4. On 16 Jul 1892 she again sailed from Liverpool for Rangoon26, arriving on 18 Nov 189227, having taken some 4 months for the trip. On 27 Feb 1893 she left Rangoon for the Channel28, and four months later arrived at Queenstown, Ireland, on 01 Jul 1893 carrying rice29. She departed from Queenstown on 03 Jul for Rotterdam30, passing the Lizard on 05 Jul 31, and docking at Rotterdam on 11 Jul32 . From Rotterdam, she was towed to Liverpool by the Black Cook, passing the Lizard on 03 Aug 189333, and arrived at Liverpool on 05 Aug 1893 34.
5. The next mention is in 1894 when she was reported at 48°N, 7°W (the western end of the Channel) on 02 Feb, en route from Liverpool to Rangoon35, then later she was reported as being very much overdue, having departed from Birkenhead on 25 Jan36 . She had been reported at 42°N, 12°W (in the Atlantic off the coast of Portugal) on 10 Feb 37. On 16 Aug 1894 the vessel was posted as missing38. She was carrying coal. In October an inquiry into the supposed loss of the vessel, with her crew of 28, was held at Liverpool39 . During the inquiry it appeared that the last time she was spoken to was on or about 13 Apr 1894 at 40° 28' S, 27° 34' E (south of the Cape in about the longitude of Port Elizabeth)40.


1) Information from Lloyds Register 1899-90 provided by the Merseyside Maritime Museum. The official number came from the Clip website (
2) Information from the Maritime History Archive of the University of Newfoundland covering the years 1876-1894.
3) Shipping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Tues 21 Aug 1888.
4) Shipping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Thur 6 Sep 1888.
5) Shipping Intelligence, The Morning Post, Wed 26 Sep 1888.
6) Shipping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Thur 29 Nov 1888.
7) Shipping News, The York Herald, Tues 22 Jan 1889.
8) Shipping Intelligence, The Morning Post, Wed 13 Feb 1889.
9) Shipping, Liverpool Mercury, Tues 30 Apr 1889.
10) The Dundee Courier, Thurs 25 Jul 1889, the reproduction is not very clear.
11) Scheepstijdingen, Nieuwe Amsterdamsche Courant, Wed 28 Aug 1889.
12) Shipping News, The Dundee Courier, Wed 25 Sep 1889.
13) Mercantile Shipping News, The Standard, Mon 07 Oct 1889.
14) Shipping, Liverpool Mercury, Sat 11 Jan 1890.
15) Shipping Intelligence, The Morning Post, Thur 24 Jul 1890.
16) Shipping, Liverpool Mercury, Mon 04 Aug 1890.
17) Shipping News, Dundee Courier, Wed 13 Aug 1890.
18) Shipping News, Dundee Courier, Fri 30 Jan 1891.
19) Shipping News, Dundee Courier, Sat 04 Jul 1891.
20) Shipping Intelligence, The Glasgow Herald, Tues 01 Sep 1891.
21) Shipping Intelligence, The Morning Post, Tues 24 Nov 1891.
22) Mercantile Shipping News, The Standard, Sat 09 Jan 1892.
23) Shipping Intelligence, The Belfast News-Letter, Wed 18 May 1892.
24) Mercantile Shipping News, The Standard, Thu 26 May 1892.
25) Shipping News, The Dundee Courier, Tue 21 Jun 1892.
26) Shipping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Tue 19 Jul 1892.
27) Shipping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Sat 19 Nov 1892.
28) Shipping News, Dundee Courier, Wed 01 Mar 1893.
29) Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Dublin, Mon 03 Jul 1893.
30) Mercantile Shipping News, The Standard, London, Tue 04 Jul 1893.
31) Shipping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Thu 06 Jul 1893.
32) Shippping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Wed 12 Jul 1893.
33) Shipping Intelligence, Western Mail, Fri 04 Aug 1893.
34) Shipping Intelligence, Glasgow Herald, Mon 07 Aug 1893.
35) Shipping, Liverpool Mercury, Thu 15 Feb 1894.
36) Three Ships Overdue, The Belfast News-Letter, Sat 11 Aug 1894.
37) Supposed loss of two Liverpool ships and about 70 lives, The Belfast News-Letter, Mon 13 Aug 1894.
38) Shipping intelligence, Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Thu 16 Aug 1894.
39) Shipping News, Liverpool Mercury, Tues 09 Oct 1894.
40) Wreck report for Sierra Madrona, 1894, on

© John Stowell 2012             This file last edited on 10 January 2012.

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