The Life Saving Awards Research Society
Journal No.62
WRECK OF THE RANDOLPH
by C. Peter Mulder
Edward Kelly entered the Royal Navy on 2 nd November 1810. He passed his
examination in 1817 and was commissioned as Lieutenant on 27 th December 1817.
He served in the Owen Glendower , 42 guns, Captain Hood Hanway Christian, and
was stationed at the Cape of Good Hope, where he was ultimately invalided and
placed on half pay. In May 1847 he became Harbourmaster at Mauritius.
The Randolph was an East Indies trader of about 500 tons, built c1840. The sailing
vessel left Port Louis, Mauritius, in July 1851 for Calcutta. The ship carried as
steerage passengers 250 Indian natives, returning from a term of labour in the island;
she also had a few other passengers of whom two were army officers, Lieutenant
Holland and Ensign Scott of the 48 th Foot.
On the night of 25 th , when off the north east end of the island, the Randolph
approached too close to the shore and the lookout raised a cry of “breakers ahead.
This proved to be a reef which ran out for some two miles and in the darkness the ship
went heavily aground and became a total wreck. The masts were cut away but this did
not prevent the ship from falling over onto her beam ends.
At daylight it was discovered that all the boats were serviceable and in these the
survivors made for the shore. The number lost included Ensign Scott, two members of
the crew and from 20 to 30 Indians. All of these people were washed overboard during
the night. The first officer was despatched to Port Louis with the news of the wreck
and the Governor at once sent a steamship to bring the shipwrecked people back to
the town.
A medal was awarded in connection with the wreck of the Randolph , and the one
struck for Lieutenant Kelly is illustrated on the following page.
The medal is 35mm in diameter and appears to be silver-gilt (although this could be a
base metal). This is all that I know about the medal so I hope that our members may
be able to advise on who actually awarded the medal, how many were awarded.
References:
Hocking, Charles, Dictionary of Disasters at Sea During the Age of Steam , Lloyds
Register of Shipping, 1969.
O’Byrne, Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849.
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Journal No.62
The Life Saving Awards Research Society
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