John Wesley 1861

New Year’s Day 1861

The first call for Brooke’s first lifeboat Dauntless, came at 7am on New Year’s Day. The 32 pounder lifeboat canon on the cliff top boomed out over Brook and in a few minutes the whole village was alive with activity. The ship, John Wesley, was in danger in Compton Bay.

The Captain, George Abbott, declined coxswain John Hayter’s offer of help and twice the lifeboat returned to shore even though the crew could see that the schooner was doomed. The schooner finally went aground under the white cliffs and a cliff rescue was begun.

Two coastguards reached the ship by ropes only to find it empty, the crew were safely on their way to Southampton on a tug. Sadly, when climbing back up the cliffs there was a cliff fall and coastguard McLeod was killed. It was an unnecessary tragedy and Widow McLeod was left with five children.  The Trust Fund collected to support her was considered quite a sum for those days, with the RNLB and Charles Seely putting in ten pounds each.