1881 – Black Friday

Sculpture at St Abbs showing the wives and children of St Abbs’ lost fishermen.

On 14th October 1881 there was a huge storm which caused a terrible loss of life along the coast from Berwickshire to Edinburgh . In total 189 fishermen lost their lives. There were 3 from Coldingham Shore, 129 from Eyemouth, 24 from Burnmouth, 11 from Cove (Cockburnspath), 15 or 17 (various accounts) from Newhaven (Edinburgh), and 7 from Fisherow (East of Edinburgh) .

The boat ‘Two Sisters’ Coldingham Shore (as St Abbs was then called) was lost in the disaster with its crew of three men:

Charles Purves, aged 55, left a widow and family.

William Thorburn, aged 38, left a widow, Isa Thorburn, and his children Christina, Elizabeth and Isabella.

James Thorburn, aged 42, brother of William (above), left a widow and two children, Isabella and Wilhelmina.

The names of the children listed above came from relief rolls, and only included boys under 14 years old and girls under 15 years old. I will research the families further to establish the names all all wives and children.

Further Reading – Non Fiction

Black Friday, the Eyemouth Fishing Disaster of 1881, Peter Aitchison, Berlinn Origin, April 2018. Previously edition published by Birlinn Press, 2006. Also previously published as Children of the Sea: The Story of the People of Eyemouth, Tuckwell Press Ltd, 2001.

An Old-time Fishing Town: Eyemouth its History Romance and Tragedy. With an Account of the East Coast Disaster 14th October 1881, Daniel M’Iver, Memorial Edition published by J McKelvie & Sons, Greenock, 1906. Various Reprints including Kindle edition published in aid of the RNLI Lifeboat Fund.

Further Reading – Fiction

The Storm, Elisabeth McNeill, Severn House Publishers Ltd, April 2006.

Further Reading – Poetry

The Boy Who Came Ashore, Alan Gay, Dreadful Night Press, 2006


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