Document of the Month - September 2021

As we continue with the year of coast and waters, our document of the month flows to Alloa. During the 18th century, Alloa played an important role in developing the trade of coal and tobacco in Stirling and Clackmannanshire.

Recognised as a sub port by the Treasury in 1838, it oversaw the Upper Forth ports from Kincardine to Stirling Bridge. Our document of the month focuses on one the many shipping registers we hold as part of our Alloa Customs and Excise records (CE67).

This record exists thanks to the 1786 Merchant Shipping Act. This act required the owners of any British ship with a deck exceeding a 15 ton burden to register it with the Crown Customs in its home port to enable the government to have a regulatory control over the vessel.

They are an invaluable set of records for maritime historians and provide a detailed of account of ships and their owners. This particular example focuses on the ship ‘Undaunted’.

Built in Burntisland in 1831, it was registered at the port of Grangemouth on 2nd April 1840. Construction details are comprehensively recorded with the ship having three masts, one deck and measuring 106 feet in length.

Subscribers to the ship are noted with Tulliallan farmer James Morrison and Kincardine surgeon James Crawford all having shares in the vessel.

Finally, a simple but crucial detail of the history and fate of the vessel is present. The ship had three masters. The first was Andrew Ellis, as recorded in the initial registration, and the last was John Scott in 1844

Unfortunately for this vessel, the registration of the ship was cancelled on 27th November 1845. It was noted that it was ‘totally lost’ in the notorious Bay of Biscay on the 7th October 1845. The Bay of Biscay is home to some of the worst weather for sailing with huge swells and high winds still causing problems for ships today.