James Dix, Master Mariner




Mary and James Dix

James Dix's ticket

click the ticket
to see bigger






James Dix began his sea-going life in 1848 at the age of sixteen. He registered at the port of 'Clay' as cook and cabin boy.

According to his register ticket, he was of 'fair' complexion and still growing. He was sixteen years old

Lorna Fox née Hancock of Salthouse, who died in 2002, told about her great uncle who was Master of the ship that hangs on her wall. She had kept everything relating to him and to his family.

She said "He married my Great Aunt Mary, in Salthouse Church, on 7 April 1859. and they had six boys and most of them went to sea.

"My son-in-law wrote away to Lloyds of London to get information about his ship in the picture that hangs on our wall.
We know that he became a Mate in the year 1863 and a Master in 1865, and he was Captain of the Jane Pardew (the ship in the picture above) in 1871, a 120-foot barque built in Sunderland in 1857.

"Her port of registry was South Shields. I have here the marriage certificate of his daughter Martha, who was the youngest child of seven, to a William James Cooke, a dock labourer of South Shields.
Of Martha's six brothers, the sons of James and Mary, at least three of them went to sea and two are recorded drowned. James himself was drowned at Potio in the Black Sea in 1885, when he was serving as Mate on the Steam Ship Horner.

"I also have this little letter written by one of his sons . . .


The letter, dated 7th February 1879, reads:

Dear Parents
We are loaded and allready for sea we are going to sea to day. I did not think we was going this week we are going to alexandria again. I think we are going to load there, write there when you get this letter. I have got the same wages 2/5 They are 3/5 here for AB [Able Seaman] My month comences today I had 13/- to take It was no use sending that home they have taken care of it till I come back the talk is we are coming to shields to get new boilers in after this voyage so I will be all right. It is blowing a gale of wind and we are not going till saturday all our crew have been on the ship before they are a nice lot of men so I hope we will have a comfortable voyage this time give my kind love to all I will bring martha and george a valentine home from alex I was pleased to here from sam and john I hope john my have a fine and quick passage home and the same tons[?] address to British counsul alex Egypt. I have nothing more to say at present so I must say Good bye from your loving son James Dix I got no advance

click on the card to see it a bit bigger and be able to read it

Among Lorna's mementos, (collected and treasured by her Aunt Amelia Pigott), were some black-edged 'Remembrance' cards.

The one on the left bears the same date as the letter and we realised it was in remembrance of the death of young James - six months after he wrote the letter above and drew the little picture of his ship. In tiny writing it says that he was killed by falling from the fore-top-gallant-mast of the barque "Agenoria" lying at Marseilles.



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Val Fiddian 2005