David Beddoe and Albert Furlong - Heroes!

Royal Humane Society - Albert Furlong
Furlong family
Board of Trade Bronze Medal - Albert Furlong
Furlong family

On 19th February 1861, in a violent storm, the coastal sloop, Elizabeth and Mary of Cardigan floundered on the rocks near Strumble Head.  Two local men, David Beddoe and Albert Furlong, risked their lives to save members of the crew. Their act of heroism made national papers and for their brave efforts they received the recognition of the RNLI and the British Humane Society who presented both men with medals.

The following report which appeared in the Manchester Times on the 23rd February 1861 paints a vivid picture of how events unfolded……………

Heroism at Sea

During a fearful gale, at 6am on the 19th ult. the cable of a coasting sloop, the Mary and Ann of Newport, Pembroke, snapped asunder, close under the cliffs, about half a mile below where the French invading force, under General Tate, landed at Pencaer, sixty seven years ago. Intelligence of the wreck was brought to the Fishguard Lifeboat Station and the lifeboat was expeditiously manned and rowed around the coast to the spot. The sloop was wrecked against a small precipitous island, with a channel between it and the mainland about forty yards across through which the sea burst with great fury. One of the crew of the sloop was cast by the waves on the side of the cliff facing the land. Another could be seen lying on his stomach with his face to windward clinging on a ledge  of rock seaward of the island, every wave washing over him. Several ladders were lashed together and a rope made fast to the top. The extempore bridge was thrown across the channel but was immediately broken by the force of the waves and the ladders and rope washed adrift. The lifeboat arrived but from danger of being wrecked, could not offer any service.
Albert Furlong, aged nineteen, a native of Fishguard, then volunteered to swim across the channel with a rope tied to his waist, so as to be hauled back if unsuccessful; but the bystanders refused, judging by the fury of the waves and his apparent physical incapacity for such a feat that he would certainly be drowned.
David Beddoe, a seaman, nothing daunted by their refusal, slipped off his coat and waistcoat climbed down the cliff and plunged into the sea closely followed by Furlong. The bystanders actually ran away ” rather than see two men drown in that way”, After several times missing his hold of the opposite rocks, Beddoe got a footing when at the end of the channel and a few feet from being washed out to sea. Young Furlong also, after frequently missing his hold, grasped some seaweed and managed to get a hold above reach of the waves. Their late companions had by this time mustered curiosity to look after their fate and seeing their heroes so far safe one ventured across with a rope and was pulled up by Beddoe and Furlong.
It was a comparatively easy task to rescue the shipwrecked man on the land side of the island but a work of great difficulty to climb down the seaward side of the cliff and save the one on the ledge of rock who by this time, 2pm, must be benumbed. A stone was made fast on the end of a rope and thrown down to him and he had sufficient animation to make it fast to himself and he was hauled to the summit of the island. They were all afterwards drawn to the mainland by ropes, it being 4pm before the last man reached the mainland.
One lad aged fourteen was washed away from the wreck and the man who had been on the ledge was about sixty and by the time he reached the mainland his arms were stiff in the position he grasped the rock and he evidently could not have lived there much longer.

 David Beddoe and Albert Furlong received the RNLI Silver Medal, 2 sovereigns and the Institute’s thanks recorded on parchment. The British Humane Society awarded them each a Bronze Medal and £2 and the Ship Wrecked Mariners Society also awarded medals to both men.

Other newspaper articles reveal that the alarm was initially raised by Mrs Mortimer of Llanwonnor – she sent a message firstly to the men of Tresinwen and then to Mr Vaughan, the Secretary of the Fishguard Lifeboat when it became apparent of the seriousness of the situation.  Goodwick was four miles away by road but the journey for the lifeboat was considered to be nearer eight miles. The two men who were saved were David Jenkins, Master and Thomas Mathias, Mate. The name of the young lad who drowned was not recorded but it was said that he was the 14 year old son of Thomas Griffiths, a ferry man at Newport.

The medals shown above are the Bronze medals awarded to Albert Furlong by the Royal Humane Society and the Board of Trade – the medals has been handed down through the generations and are now in the care of a great great grandson. With thanks to the current custodian for sharing the photographs.

The whereabouts of Albert’s RNLI Silver medal or any of David Beddoe’s medals, are not known

Some of you may notice that the introduction and newspaper account differ as to the name of the unfortunate vessel!!  Nearly all the newspaper accounts (which are almost identical in their wording) refer to the Mary and Ann of Newport as does the British Humane Society  whereas the official citation from the RNLI and Board of Trade record it as being the Elizabeth and Mary of Cardigan.    Information on the Welsh Mariners website indicates a David Jenkins, Master Mariner of Parrog, Newport (b. 1811) was the Master of the Elizabeth and Mary at the time of the shipwreck.

For other articles about Albert Furlong  click here  and here

Comments about this page

  • Excellent research. The photo of the medal is precious also. Thank you all for sharing. Diolch yn fawr.

    By Hedydd Hughes (21/01/2024)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.