Friday, 14 May 2010


On October 14th 1922, eight days after the drowning of Captain Garnsworthy and Pilot Pym, (See this blog for 28th April 2010) this column appeared in the Exmouth Journal under the title, “TRAGIC COINCIDENCE”:

“The hand of coincidence has been very much in evidence in connection with the disappearance of the sailing boat Primrose last week. It has been already stated that Capt. Garnsworthy’s grandfather, father, brother and one son had previously met their deaths by drowning. The chain of circumstance in connection with Mr Samuel Pym, the Exmouth pilot who accompanied Capt. Garnsworthy in the Primrose is equally remarkable. In 1896 two Exmouth pilots, William Pym and George Carnell, were drowned when going to the assistance of a vessel in distress on the bar.

George Carnell was succeeded by his son, Charles Carnell. The latter was drowned off Teignmouth in 1909 when out with a pleasure party of seven passengers. His place as an Exmouth pilot was taken by Samuel Pym who now appears to have met a similar fate. The William Pym who was involved in the 1896 disaster was not a member of the same family as Samuel Pym.

Although a keen look-out has been maintained, it is not anticipated that any discovery will be made until the bodies rise to the surface, usually on the ninth day. Local fishermen will therefore go out in considerable numbers to-day and cruise around in the neighbourhood of the Wreck buoy in the hope of recovering the bodies from the sea. It is not a pleasant task but there is not a boatman who would not go to any trouble in order to snatch from the sea its dead. It is a curious fact that most seafarers dread the thought of drowning less than the possibility of their bodies remaining undiscovered.”

But the sea did not readily give up the dead that were in it. The body of Samuel Pym was not found until it was washed up on Oddicombe beach on October 22nd. I don’t know where or when Captain Garnsworthy reappeared.


  1. While checking news archives (unsuccessfully) to see if there were any more details about Captain Garnsworthy I found this:

    The Times, Tuesday, Dec 09, 1924; pg. 16
    A Belief In Witchcraft. A Devon Assault Charge.

    Alfred John Matthews, 43, smallholder, of Clist [sic] St. Lawrence, was summoned at Cullompton, near Tiverton, yesterday, by Ellen Garnsworthy, his neighbour, for assaulting her.

    The complainant said that the defendant attacked her without provocation, scratching her arm with a pin, and threatened to shoot her.

    The defendant admitting the offence, declared that the woman had ill-wished him and bewitched his pig. He considered the police should raid her house and confiscate a crystal she possessed.

    The magistrate tried to persuade the defendant that there was no such thing as witchcraft, but he persisted in his belief. He was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

  2. George Carnell (one of the Trinity Pilot's who died), was my great-grandfather. His youngest daughter, Ethel became my grandma and often told us stories about her life growing up in Exmouth. There were 11 children (I think) so it must have been pretty tough. My family all love the sea, with my brother having a special passion for sailing. However, he works as a naval architect - often being called as an expert witness to solve mysteries of accidents at sea.