The impact of major storms on communities

Wayne Shepheard looks at the impact of significant storms on communities Previously through the example of the Great Gale of 1824
Who was killd about the 23 of November 1824 by the Sea overflowing the Village of Chissel his Leg was busted in attempting to make his escape later the House fell onto him.

The impact of major storms on communities

These are the words on the tombstone of William Hansford of all Chiswell, Dorset, The data was sent to me by his 3x-great-granddaughter who had heard I was writing about natural phenomena and their impacts on the lives of the ancestors. I made note of these words on his headstone in my 2018 novel, Surviving Mother Nature’s Tests.
Hansford was one of dozens who perished throughout the tempest that flew throughout Southern England in late November 1824. His departure was memorialised succinctly on his headstone.
Yet another story was passed along to me with a descendant of an area family that fared considerably worse: that the Holman family, also primarily inhabitants of Dorset. This family lost four members into the storm, all mariners, resulting in the end of the ancestral Holman line. Richard and two of the sons drowned at sea near Swanage, Dorset. Another son died when his ship was wrecked at Crookhaven, Ireland. 1 other son had previously died in 1795, at the age of three.
Just 1 child of Richard and Elizabeth (Burgess) Holman seems to have increased to maturity. Eliza Jane Holman married Charles Corney in 1832. They had five kids after their relocation into Surrey. Sadly, Charles also died at sea 1843, at the Time of Allergic storms

•Category 5 and 4 hurricane tracks from 1851–2016 in the northern Atlantic

As a maritime nation, Britain has had it share of such disasters. Living by the ocean always has risks, especially for those who left their living from the bounty. History is replete with stories of shipwrecks and deaths, and nearly all from major storms that arose quickly and caught voyagers by surprise. That can be true for many communities on the coasts of all continents. Such disasters have occurred often during previous centuries.
Lots of family historians may just have fundamental understanding of the deaths of ancestors in sea. A search for the triggers and if others suffered the identical fate as those during the 1824 storm may not have been carried out but might be quite important in building family stories.
Important hurricanes arise at the mid-Atlantic, initially crossing to the west, usually to make landfall in North America.
Sometimes some may veer back throughout the northern Atlantic region, impacting elements of northern Europe. The Great Gale of 1824 was one of those types of Storms that created a U-turn, possibly at mid-ocean, and led straight toward the British Isles.
The’hurricane period’ in recent times has run from late summer to late fall. The northern sea was colder which improved the thermal gradient together with the warm seas of the mid- Atlantic creating a lot more extreme weather events. The storm period was more, and also the strength of storms was greater. It wasn’t unusual to have major storms in late fall and early winter seasons, as was the situation with all the Great Gale of 1824.
We might expect that with the larger amount of major storms, the more of these may have turned into east to hit northern Europe than have been seen during the last century.
A lot of these might have caused harm at least equivalent to that of their 1824 event.
It should be noted that the North Sea area also suffered from several extreme and damaging storms during the time of the Ice Age, however, these are stories for another time.
The 1824 tempest
Newspapers of the afternoon conducted dire reports of damage and devastation of towns, villages, farms and forests from Cornwall to Kent across the southern shore of England in late November 1824. Boats of all sizes, including over 80 large ships, were destroyed in the offshore areas along the English Channel and within the harbours of every vent.
One eyewitness account related the reach of the storm:”Twern’t a sea — not a little of it — twer the great sea hisself grew up level like and come on right across the ridge and , like nothing else in this world” ( 3022806/http://chiswellcommunity.or g/ccommunity/page. aspx)
Between 22 and 23 November, settlements in southern England, along the coastline and inland, were ravaged, first with several inches of rain and from wind-produced storm strikes. Homes, farms, forests and orchards, businesses and ships at anchor or tied into wharves — such as the wharves and promenades themselves — were severely damaged or dropped entirely by water and wind.
Floods have been widespread. Animals cows, cows, horses, fowl — were lost by the tens of thousands.
This is a picture of character in her terrific form. It appeared as if the demon of destruction was riding to the waves ready to pounce upon all around that the watery element had controller; it might indeed have instructed morality itself a lesson, also shown that the weakness of human reasoning, even when unprotected by pirates who rules the waves.
An Matter of the Western Antiquary (Volume XI, Number 7, February 1892, pages 116–120) has an extensive description of the many ships wrecked at a report originally printed in the Devonshire Freeholder on 27 November 1824 which starts:
It becomes our painful duty this week to detail the depression and gloomy effects of a calamitous and horrible storm, which visited our shore on Tuesday morning last, the consequence of which are unparalleled in the history of Plymouth, and also has also spread desolation and distress during every part of the adjacent coast. . .Newspaper and other reports also recount the heroic efforts of many individuals who risked their lives to rescue others trapped stricken vessels and also in damaged buildings. All these periodicals printed shortly after case are a significant source of information regarding families and communities. Detail may also be seen in many publications produced years after like a thorough overview by Gordon Le Pard (1999).
The experiences at Chiswell, Dorset Chiswell (famous in the past also as Chisel, Chissel and Cheswell) is located in the island of Portland, in the southern end of Chesil Bank. The shingle barrier shore extends 18 miles across Dorset’s western shore. Histori- cally it has generally shielded the town site from waves and flood although it has also become the site of several shipwrecks.

Map of south east coast of England showing areas and numbers of important shipwrecks throughout the Terrific Storm of 1824

The village was almost obliterated by the 1824 storm surge that topped the beach complex on the west side in the evening of 22 November. A leading factor in the substantial flooding was its analogy with the highest spring tide of the year. A total of 36 houses were ruined and 100 others had been left uninhabitable. Damaged was estimated at #15,000 (Number 2.8 million in the currency). It was actually relaunched to the west side of the obstruction, into Portland Harbour.

•Location of Chesil Bank and also the village of Chiswell across the western shore of Dorset

Twenty-two residents, 10 of them children, were killed, 1 family losing four associates.


Burials of those killed during the Great Gale in Portland parish, Dorset (from Portland parish burial register)


    • SurnameForenameAgeDate BuriedRelationshipsAttwoollAnn3528 Nov 1824Wife of Abel AttwoollAttwoollHenry128 Nov 1824Son of Abel & Ann AttwoollAttwoollRobert528 Nov 1824Son of Abel & Ann AttwoollAttwoollMary Lano1228 Nov 1824Daughter of Abel & Ann AttwoollByattMary5430 Nov 1824Wife of John ByattDryerStephen6415 Dec 1824
      DunningJane6026 Nov 1824Wife of William DunningDunningJohn6026 Nov 1824Husband of Jane DunningFuzzardMary1327 Nov 1824Daughter of Samuel & Ann FuzzardHansfordWilliam6429 Nov 1824Husband of Mary HansfordHollandMargery5626 Nov 1824Wife of Philip HollandMitchellGrace
      6 Dec 1824WidowPearceAnn6528 Nov 1824Wife of Henry PearceRussellEdith Coombs1030 Nov 1824Daughter of John & Edith RussellRussellElizabeth1230 Nov 1824Daughter of John & Edith RussellStoneGrace Attwooll527 Nov 1824Daughter of John & Edith StoneStoneShadrach4929 Nov 1824
      WallisGrace Mary628 Nov 1824Daughter of John & Jane WallisWhiteGrace7 m30 Nov 1824Daughter of William & Mary WhiteWhiteWilliam530 Nov 1824Son of William & Mary WhiteWhiteRobert5628 Nov 1824
      WinterThomas8026 Nov 1824

The reduction of kids always appears most tragic. Five Chiswell families were ruined by the deaths of kids:
Abel Attwooll lost his entire family spare one son. A girl had expired in 1817, aged nine months. Both were baptised the exact same evening — 28 January 1827 — and might have been twins. The earliest, Robert, went on to marry (Mary Meares) and have five kids, all in Portland. The youngest, Elizabeth Mitchell also marred (John Stone), however, this couple did not have children. It seems they had no additional offspring in following years.
John and Edith Stone dropped his son, Grace Attwooll, just five years old and the youngest of their seven kids.
Grace Mary Wallis, in the time of her death, was one of 3 children of John and Jane Wallis.
William and Mary White dropped both of their young children: William Jr, aged five and infant Grace, only seven days. They did go on to have six more children between 1826 and 1841.

•Picture of an oil on canvas painting from Joseph Walter (1783–1856) of the West Indiaman’Britannia’, revealed in three places. On the left side ship is revealed in stern view and also on the far right in bow perspective

Also interred at St George’s were 18 individuals considered to be members and passengers of the team of this Colville, a 400-ton West Indiaman wrecked on Chesil Beach to the north of town. The boat Colville already been in its way homeward from the West Indies into London with a cargo of cotton along with rum when it had been caught up from the raging tempest and driven onshore.
Only three of these deceased had been identified: John Wilson, the captain; Thomas Dixon Gosling, of London, also a passenger; along with Hugh Baron Fraser, Esq., late of this Civil Commissary of Demerary, in the Dutch East Indies, also a passenger. Fraser was one of 16 people buried as unidentified but was afterwards uninterred and reburied at the church. Over the next month, 11 additional bodies were found in Chesil Beach, presumed victims of this storm, and have been buried at the St George’s graveyard. Their identities and if they were a part of the Match of the Colville weren’t known.

Illustration of the village of Chiswell, c.1900

The island of Portland, on which Chiswell is located, was entirely cut off from the mainland from the storm. Fishermen, that comprised most of the population, lost their boats, tools as well as for many, their houses and other possessions. Many families were left destitute. Relief in Weymouth, on the mainland, was postponed due to the linking road and bridge was severely damaged.
It was some time before the village, including lots of others across the southern coast, entirely recovered into the state it was in prior to the Good Gale. So too were the households of those areas.
Other Locations
Even though Chiswell village had been signifi- cantly impacted and almost destroyed by the storm, and there have been other areas and families that felt that the loss.
Two tales which made the information included the following:
Thomas Major, of Bridport, Dorset, has been occupying an unoccupied property in West Bay, 20 miles up the coast from Chiswell, when the storm broke. Two of his brothers: Lucretia, aged nine, and Caroline, aged 4, were using him. Afraid the tenement in the harbour where they were staying could be overrun, Thomas tried to carry the two little girls to security. A wave caught before they could attain high ground and three perished. The couple had lost a daughter earlier in the identical month. Before a year was the youngest child too died, inventing the family catastrophe.
In Dorchester, Dorset, 71-year older Henry John Richman, Rector of the Holy Trinity, and his wifeElizabeth, were murdered while the chimney of the home fell through the roof, beating them as they lay in their own bed. Rev.
Richman had provided guidance and support to the community through his office at the church for over 30 years.
The Great Gale of 1824 is not unique among the numerous significant storms which have attached coastal communities. It is memorable from the perspective of damage wroughtiron, however. Towns were rebuilt and families proceeded. A lot of those who were lost were remembered with memorials and written reports.
Such occasions as important storms often have impacts beyond the destruction of houses and companies. On occasion they may force individuals to relocate long distances from where they had been born and expected to create their own lives, as a result of lack of familial service or even the negative changes in commercial activity and occupation. It may be beneficial for family historians to explore such events brought on by Mother Nature to ascertain if any of the ancestors had been changed.

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