Saturday, 13 April 2013
A TOPSHAM PILOT, 1789.
On October 8th 1797 a Topsham pilot-boat was out at sea plying for trade when she was signalled by a Prussian ship, some accounts say Russian, some five miles off Bolt Head but the Prussian ship did not want a pilot, she wanted to offload fourteen British seamen, two of them grievously wounded, who had been taken off the frigate 'Quebec'. On 6th October, the 'Quebec' had been in a desperate sea battle off Ushant with the French frigate 'Surveillante' and the Prussian ship had found 'Quebec' burning and had brought these few survivors back to British waters. The Topsham pilot must have been dangerously overloaded but she brought the fourteen sailors safely into Salcombe and into the hands of the principal customs house officer there, Richard Valentine, who found doctors and all necessary comforts for the 'poor souls' who had survived.
Just another day's work for a Topsham pilot!!!