Baron of Renfrew (ship)

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File:"Baron Renfrew" 1825.jpg
A lithograph of the Baron of Renfrew, from the Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana at the Library and Archives Canada.

The Baron of Renfrew was a four-masted barque of 5,294 Gross Register Tonnage (GRT), built of wood in 1825 by Charles Wood, Anse du Fort, Quebec, Canada, on his own account. It was a very large ship built to transport timber from the New World to Europe and to be disassembled after discharging the timber cargo to sell the tax-free ship-timber, because the timber used to build the ship was free of the high taxes on imported timber.


On August 23rd, 1825 under the command of captain Matthew Walker the ship left Quebec with a crew of 25 men and a cargo of 9000 ts timber (probably ship and cargo weight, both timber) bound for London, England. On October 21st of the same year the ship appeared in the English Channel but stranded the day after on the Goodwin Sands near Long Sound Head in the Channel already under tow of two tugs and a pilot on board. It is reported that parts of the ship and its timber cargo were found on the French coast near Dunkirk and Gravelines, according to other sources the ship, broken in three parts, were found near Calais.

The huge ship had a length overall of 92.65 meters with bowsprit and jibboom: 110,8 metres (363 feet)), 18.59 metres wide and 10.36 metres tall (304 feet × 61 feet × 34 feet). It had a kind of four-masted barque rigging with the square-rigged masts fitted with just three square sails (course, top, and topgallant sails) and the spanker mast with a spanker sail and a spanker topsail. Three foresails were fitted to the stays to the jibboom making 14 sails all in all. Instead of a bobstay the end of the bowsprit was supported by an extra spar (bar) resting on the cutwater above the waterline.

21st: Octr: 1825, at the time the Captain, Officers & remaining 22 of her crew left her, off Gravelines. - She left Quebec Augt. 23rd & filled with water 650 Miles from land, drew 33 ft. & had 31 ft. water in her Hold, was waterlogged & went ashore in 3 pieces 24th Octr: near Calais. Her 4 Anchors wd. 192 cwt. Chain 2 1/4 In. diamr: 130 fathoms long, wt. 14 Tons Hemp cable 26 In. Circume: got on the Long sands off Margate 16th & off 18th Octr: Cargo consisted of 9000 Tons of Timber.[1]

Baron of Renfrew is classified as a disposable ship, or timber ship (timber drogher). She was not particularly seaworthy:

She left Quebec Augt. 23rd & filled with water 650 Miles from land, drew 33 ft. & had 31 ft. water in her Hold, was waterlogged & went ashore in 3 pieces 24th Octr: near Calais.[2]

and had to be towed from Quebec to Calais.

Due to a later change in the timber tax census disposable or timber ships lost their tax advantage and ceased to be built.

Further reading

  • Wallace, Fredrick William: Wooden Ships and Iron Men. White Lion, London, 1973/1924.
  • Williams, David M.: Bulk Carriers and Timber Imports: The British North American Trade and the Shipping Boom of 1824-5. The Mariner's Mirror Vol. 54, London, 1968. pp 373-382
  • Wood, Charles: Ballast. John Clark, Glasgow, 1836.

See also


  1. Printed & Pubd. 27th Octr: 1825. By S. Vowles, 3, St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, London. l.l.; Dra[wn] [illegible word ending in "ity"] / M. Young. l.r.; S. Vowles Lith. [hardly legible]; in pen and ink, verso. u.l.; C. Richardson [sic?] / Limehouse.
  2. Baron Renfrew Timber Ship (Timber Drogher) 1825, Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-3280 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana.

External links