The Belfast Sloop and the Success
From the Ipswich Journal of 1741 comes the following gruesome tale which illustrates startlingly the hazards faced by those seeking to emigrate to the New World. Perhaps one of our American cousins would please check this story for us for it would be fascinating to know if it is true. Would anyone of a nervous or delicate disposition please read no further...
December 26th 1741
Captain Thompson of His Majesty's ship Success, said that on the 23rd of October about 80 leagues eastwards of Cape Anne they met a Sloop in great distress, she came from Belfast in Ireland and was bound for Philadelphia with 108 passengers, but having been out 17 weeks were so distressed for provisions that about 30 of them died for want, among them were the master and all the sailors but one, so they could not manage the sails or steer the vessel they had eat up all the tallow candles and for several weeks had fed on the bodies of those who died and when people from the Success went on board they found the body of a man lying on the deck partly cut up with his arm and his shoulder boiling in a pot in salt water and so eager were the poor famished people for the flesh of their dead companions that many concealed pieces of flesh in their pockets.
Captain Thompson put aboard a midshipman and three other hands to navigate the vessel and gave beef, bread, water and wine sufficient for seven weeks.
Last Saturday the sloop arrived but so many of the people had died since the man of war left them that their numbers had been reduced to 62, several were so weak they will not recover. All possible care is being taken of them, the master's name was Ebenezer Clark, the owner's name is Josiah Thompson who lives in New Haven, Connecticutt.