Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Captain Frederick Todd

Sometimes the most interesting stories in your family tree turn out to be not about your direct ancestors but of their siblings. As is the case with George Todd’s brother, Frederick John Todd. I hadn't had much luck finding out much about him.  I knew he was christened in Stokesley, Yorkshire on 04 Nov 1846 and he was on the census with his family until about aged 15. Then nothing - no listing on a later census, no marriage and but no death either.

I had wondered what happened to him until I made contact with a distant cousin who shared some family information that had been passed down to him.  On a pedigree chart made up in 1889, it said that Frederick was aged 43. I knew then that he had lived - somewhere. In small letters added later it said “Drowned”.  A later chart prepared about 1905 said beside his name “Died 2 Jun 1903” and the same date of death was listed for his wife. Were they in an shipping accident? Then I came up with his Second Mate, First Mate and Master Mariner certificates on Ancestry.  That explains why he wasn’t on the census - he was at sea.  I don't know what ships he manned or where they took him but I did find his last voyage which ended in tragedy.
Master Mariner's certificate 1879

There was marriage in the summer of 1896 in South Shields, Durham of Frederick John Todd to Alice Margaret Bell. It turns out she was the younger sister of the wife of Herbert Todd, Frederick’s brother. When they married, he was aged 50 and she was aged 39.

National Probate Calendar: TODD, Frederick John of 2 Kensington terrace South Shields, died 2 June 1903 in Valparaiso Bay, South America. Probate LONDON 15 June 1904 to Herbert Todd merchant and Errington Bell shipbuilder's cashier Effects £125

THE SHIELDS DAILY GAZETTE, Thursday, Jun 4, 1903 - The Arequipa Lost. Forty five Rescued. Captain and Wife Drowned and from the THE SHIELDS DAILY GAZETTE, Wednesday, Jun 10, 1903 - DEATHS On the 2nd of June, in the SS Arequipa, which foundered in Valparaiso Bay, Captain Frederick John Todd and his wife Alice Margaret. Source:

From Dictionary of Disasters at Sea during the Age of Steam: The SS Arequipa was a British passenger steam ship built by the Barrow Shipbuilding Co. in 1889 and was owned by the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. of Liverpool.

The following summary of the sinking can be found at The P. S. N. Co´s ship Arequipa was lying moored to buoys off Valparaiso loading cargo on June 2nd, 1903. During the day the weather worsened to such a degree as to stop all work and the hands were turned-to in order that the ship might be prepared to meet the gale. The violence of the seas increased with every hour and at one o´clock on the morning of the 3rd the captain gave orders to raise steam and put to sea, but the ship was now almost helpless, being swept by tremendous waves at frequent intervals. The head moorings parted and the ship was driven on to her stern buoy. The buoy holed her plates and the cable fouled the propeller. It was impossible to keep the water under control and only 15 minutes after striking the buoy the Arequipa sank. It was at first feared that there had been a very heavy loss of life but, contrary to early reports, the owners stated that there were no passengers on board at the time. Nevertheless, the captain and ten of the crew were lost, the third officer and 31 others being saved by the S.S. Laurel Branch while 13 persons were picked up by an unnamed sailing vessel. 

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