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The schooner Speedwell (1875)

1. General

Port of Picton Registry, Number 3 of 1875 :

Name: SPEEDWELLType: Schooner
Official Number: 72961Tons: 181 register
Where Built: South MarysburghPort of Registry / Hail: Picton
Build Year: 1875Value:
Builder’s Name & Date of Certification: George Dickson, of South Marysburg
Master’s Name: James Collier
Length: 110 feet & 75/10ths Breadth: 24 feet & 17?10ths
Depth of Hold: 9 feet & 58/10thsMasts: Two
Stern: SquareBowsprit: standing
How Built: Carvel of woodHow Rigged: Schooner
Note: Speedwell was a centreboard schooner.
Figure-head: NoneDecks: one
Subscribing owners:Chas. Wilson, James Collier and Zachariah Palmatier, joint owners.


The Speedwell, detail from print by Chas. I Gibbons, Toronto, 1892. (Private collection.) Note that a windward raffee is set. Click for enlargement.

See also the entry for the schooner Speedwell in our ships Database.


  1. 18 June 1875, sold to Benjamin Read Clarkson, John Henry Grassett Hagerty, Henry James Grassett the younger, all of Toronto; but Charles Wilson kept a mortgage for "$8,000 and interest."
  2. 27 November 1875, this mortgage was increased by a further "$7,000 and interest" in favour of Frederick William Kingston, Barrister at Law, of Toronto, sharing all 64 shares with Charles Wilson, but without change to the registered owners.
  3. By 8 November 1878, Hagerty and Grasset had "bought out" Kingston's interests; the total mortgage was brought down to Wilson ($8,000), Hagerty and Grasset ($3,000) all with "interest."
  4. 5 October 1880, a James Ewart bought the Hagerty and Grasset intersts in the mortgage.
  5. 8 June 1881, a James Austin and Robert H. Bethune bought into the mortgage and Kingston's share appears again, now leaving the mortgage as Wilson for $8,000, Kingston for $13,000 (backed by 48 shares) and Austin/Bethune for $13,000 (backed by 16 shares), while registered ownership has Hagerty and Grassett as sole co-owners
  6. By 28 March 1884, John Henry Grassett Hagerty appears to be replaced by George Fredrick Hagarty [sic], and Henry James Grassett by Sarah Maria Grassett
  7. By 12 February 1885, many names are removed as mortgage holders, and by registry entry of that date only James Ewart (16 shares) and John Ewart (48 shares) appear as unencumbered joint owners.
  8. 31 December 1885, John Ewart becomes sole owner, with no trace of mortgages.
  9. The Speedwell had a reputation for being difficult to steer; note that she carried a centreboard which would account for her crankiness.

Newspaper transcriptions

  1. Oswego Palladium Thurs., May 25, 1876 : The Schooners GUIDING STAR and SPEEDWELL Damaged Two Miles off Oswego – The schooners GUIDING STAR, Capt. Hurley, with grain for Oswego, and SPEEDWELL, Capt. Cootes, for Toronto, light, collided about two miles off this port last night, the wind being westward. The GUIDING STAR's bowsprit, jibboom and head gear were carried away and her jibs badly torn. The SPEEDWELL's main chain plates and main rigging were carried away and her mainmast split so it will have to be replaced. Her port side is stove in, and two or three frames broken, and her boat smashed. A tug picked up the GUIDING STAR and brought her into port. The SPEEDWELL worked in and made fast to the pier. The damage of the SPEEDWELL, which is owned in Toronto, is estimated at $500 to $600. The GUIDING STAR, owned by M.J. Cummings of this city, is damaged (estimated) $200 to $300.
  2. Oswego Palladium Wed., May 31, 1876 : Along the Docks. /.../ The repairs to the schooners MARYSBURGH, GAZELLE and SPEEDWELL are progressing rapidly, and the three will soon be discharged from the hospital. The plankshire [sic, Sheer plank], hatch comings and quarter deck of the schooner NEVADA have been painted blue to correspond with the times. Two years ago no captain thought of sailing in or out of port, but now the majority dispense with tugs. The night before last the Mystic Star was sailed in and nearly up the bridge, while last night eight or ten vessels warped down to the pier, hoisted their sails and quietly department without the assistance of steam. Many of the captains claim that an ordinary vessel can pay her expenses and clear about five dollars a trip if she sails in and out of port. The schooner SPEEDWELL's lame mainmast was unstepped this morning and the new one will be put in this afternoon. Capt. Bob Coote is chafing under the delay and is anxious to be off, although there are not millions in freights.
  3. Daily News (Kingston, ON), Sept. 12, 1876 [from Oswego Advertiser] : River Rats - One or more river rats made a raid upon the schooners Speedwell and Flora Emma the other night. The thiefs stole 40 lbs. of corn beef, a quantity of cabbage, etc. from the former vessel, and cork fenders, side tackles, lines and old rope from the latter.
  4. British Whig (Kingston, ON), June 1, 1880 : The schr. Speedwell has made some very good runs this season. She left Toronto on Friday morning for here. After discharging her cargo, she reached Toronto on Sunday, again loaded, left last night and arrived here this morning.
  5. British Whig (Kingston, ON), June 13, 1881 : Arrivals /.../ Schr. Speedwell, Toronto, 14,500 bu. wheat.
  6. British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 13, 1886 : The schr. Speedwell, grain laden from Toronto, lost part of her rigging during the gale.
  7. List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1886 : Schooner SPEEDWELL. Official Canada No. 72961. Of 181 tons reg. Built Marysburgh, Ont., 1875. Home port, Picton, Ont. 110.7 x 24.1 x 9.5 Owned by John Ewart, of Cobourg, Ont.
  8. British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 25, 1890 : The schr. Speedwell lost her centreboard yesterday while off Big Sodus.
  9. Toronto Mail & Empire June 4, 1896 : SCHOONER BURNT. Toronto, June 3. -- The schooner SPEEDWELL, which was lying at anchor half-way out in the channel off the Berkley street wharf here, caught fire early this morning. Nobody was on board the schooner at the time, and it is not known how the fire started. A still alarm was sent out, but when the engines arrived at the wharf the boat was too far out to be able to reach with a stream. About 9 o'clock this morning the tug FRANK JACKMAN towed the SPEEDWELL to the wharf, but in the meantime the fire had been burning all night, and had done considerable damage. All the upper works of the schooner aft were burned, and the hold badly scorched. The damage will amount to at least $800. The SPEEDWELL is owned by Capt. John Williams, who at the present time is sailing the schooner VAN STRAUBENZIE on the upper lakes. The SPEEDWELL was classed A 2, was of about 200 tons burden, and valued at $3,500.
  10. Toronto Harbor Master's Report, Sessional Papers, Canada 1897 : Schooner SPEEDWELL, was burnt at her mooring in the harbor at Toronto, June 3, 1896. A Total loss.
  11. Many references to the schooner Picton appear in C.H.J Snider's work:
    "Schooner Days" no. XXXII (32); The Early Bird, 3 Oct 1931.
    "Schooner Days" no. XLI (41); Early Birding, 2 Apr 1932.
    "Schooner Days" no. CCCXLV (345); Speedwell Sped Well, 14 May 1938.

References and source notes

(1 - 9) From various Registry entries, researched by Ken C. and Naval Marine Archive.
(11 - 20) Many of the contemporary newspaper cuttings can be found at Maritime History of the Great Lakes, Newspaper Transcriptons
(21) C.H.J. Snider Schooner Days index, Naval Marine Archive.

Picton built ships

The research and preparation of these data sheets was carried out by K.C. We extend our thanks to him.

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Source notes are listed at the end of the data.


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