SAILING  SHIP  "DODINGTON"

 

George Dodington (died 1720, see geneology pages),  a founding governor of the Bank of England, owned a ship, the Indiaman "Dodington".  He held many important government posts but had no children: he left his considerable fortune to his nephew George Bubb Dodington, who built Eastbury. Member of Parliament from 1705-. Page 136, THE OLD CAUSE, has more information. 

I have read somewhere that the Ship Dodington was in a convoy, but decided to race ahead of the other ships, and in its haste was caught in a storm and sank: would be lovely to find a painting of the ship.

==== found on internet 4/28/2002 =====

In mid-July 1755, while the Cape of Storms shows its muscle, a British ship bound for India, the Dodington, was battling a blistering gale in Algoa Bay. The captain thought they were well out at sea. Suddenly there were breakers dead ahead at the bow. It was the ragged edges of the notorious Chaos Islands. A splintering crash ended the journey of the Dodington. In less than twenty minutes it sank.

23 seamen scrambled ashore and survived for seven months on what is today known as the Bird Island archipelago. 

Algoa Bay, on the Southern African coast, has a number of islands. Jaheel, Brenton and St Croix are closer to the Swartkops River mouth. About 30 kilometres further east lays the Bird Island archipelago. Although well marked on old seafarer’s charts, the flat islands are not easy to see and many boats have floundered here. The Dodington was not the first.

Since it went to its watery grave 39 more boats have sunk around here. These wrecks are now a favourite diving spot for relic hunters and historians who are still trying to solve some of the mysteries that lay beneath the waves

=== Internet, 4-28-2002 ===

THE LOSS OF THE DODINGTON:

In late 1754, in an effort to force the French out of the Indian subcontinent once and for all, and to ensure the dominance of the British East India Company in the region, the Directors of the Company appointed Robert Clive - later to be known as Baron Plassey - to lead their forces in India.

A fleet of Company vessels, comprising the Stretham, Dodington, Pelham, Edgecote and Houghton was assembled, and sailed from the Downs near Dover on 22 April 1755. The first half of the voyage was uneventful, with the Dodington proving herself a superior vessel by outstripping the rest of the fleet. 

After rounding Cape Agulhas however, the master of the Dodington, James Sampson committed a navigational error common at the time, which was to ultimately result in the loss of his vessel. The charts he was using were based on the original Portuguese Roteiro, or sailing instructions, compiled by Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo in 1576, which showed the south-east coast of Africa cuffing away too rapidly to the north, and which meant that vessels sailing according to this chart were in fact far closer to the coast than they realised. This error put the Dodington directly on course to the low rocky island named Chaos Island by Bartholemeu Dias 1488, and today known as Bird Island, situated near Port Elizabeth in Algoa Bay. Shortly after midnight on 17 July 1755, the Dodington struck a reef off Bird Island and, according to survivors accounts, broke up within 20 minutes. Only 23 of the 270 people on board made it ashore.

These survivors managed to salvage some items, including tools, food and two chests of Company silver from the wreck before it disintegrated completely. They spent nearly seven months on the island building a small open boat which they named Happy Deliverance, and eventually sailed to Mozambique where they were rescued.

When she was wrecked, the Dodington was carrying a cargo which included silver specie (35 000 ounces), copper ingots, military hardware and artillery pieces for Clive’s campaign, and a variety of personal cargo. Historical records indicate that Clive was unable to get a passage on the Dodington, and had to settle for a berth on her sister ship, the Stretham. He nevertheless put his personal fortune of gold aboard the Dodington, as reflected in the "Manifest of private gold, silver and wrought plate Lycenced to be shipped on Board the Doddington (sic) for Fort. St. George", which is preserved in the Records of the East India Company, and reads: "For Robert Clive Esqr. Governor for Fort St. David, One Chest of Gold, Marked R.C. No. lqt - 653 Oz, 6 pennyweight"

Further evidence that this gold was indeed on board the Dodington, is to be found in a letter dated 5 October 1756 written by Clive to his father, in which he confirms that he lost L33000 when the vessel was wrecked.

Although two chests of Company silver were recovered from the wreck by survivors and later returned to the Company through the unstinting honesty of the First Mate, Evan Jones, there is no evidence to suggest that the chest containing Clive’s gold was ever recovered. In light of Jones’ efforts with the Company silver there is every reason to believe that had the gold been found, it to would have been returned to its owner.

 

DISCOVERY OF THE WRECK:

Although the perception that the Dodington was a treasure ship ensured that she was never forgotten, the location of the wreck itself was lost, and it wasn’t until 1977, after years of patient research, that the vessel was discovered off Bird Island by David Allen and Gerry van Niekerk. Based on archival research, and discounting later guesses as to the location of the wreck, it took Allen only ten minutes to find the wreck once he got into the water. The discovery of a number of bronze howitzers on the site, together with other artefacts proved conclusively that the wreck was that of the Dodington.

In 1982, following an amendment to the National Monuments Act which made permits a requirement, Allen applied for, and was granted a NMC permit to investigate the wreck, and the Port Elizabeth Museum agreed to collaborate on the project. David Allen’s permit was renewed a number of times, until his tragic death in 1987. The NMC immediately received a number of applications from other divers for the Dodington permit, but decided to keep the permit with Allen’s original team and issued it to his father, Charles J Allen. In June 1990 the NMC was notified by Mr Allen that he could no longer carry on with the project, and that he recommended the permit be transferred to Gerry van Niekerk, his son’s original partner. The permit was reissued in Van Niekerk’s name on 5 July 1990, and he has held it ever since. It currently expires on 1 December 1998.

 

=== internet, 2/17/2002 ===

JOHANNESBURG—The National Monuments Council could lay claim to half of the value in antique gold coins that London auctioneers say belonged to the legendary Clive of India if the council can prove they were salvaged illegally from a shipwreck off the Eastern Cape coast.

South African law says that a permit has to be obtained to explore a ship off the coast, but the 1400 gold coins which were last seen aboard the Dodington almost 250 years ago surfaced this week at a London auctioneer where they were expected to fetch R3,8 million.

According to The Times of London, a group of international divers claimed to have "stumbled across" the coins last year. The exact location where they were found and the identity of the divers are being kept under close wraps.

South African divers, historians and archaeologists are mystified by the sudden appearance of the sunken treasure. In 1755 Robert Clive withdrew £3000 in gold coins from the Bank of England to finance his business ventures with the East India Company. On April 22, 1755, he set sail for India aboard the merchantman Stretham, stowing his gold in the Dodington. On July 17 the Dodington hit a reef and sank with the loss of 247 lives. Twenty-three survivors were shipwrecked on Bird Island, off Port Elizabeth. After six months the chief mate and 16 others escaped on a life raft made from wreckage and reached Mozambique.

In 1977 a team of South African divers discovered the Dodington off Bird Island, but a search of the wreck only yielded copper ingots, silver coins and a cannon. According to reports an international team returned to the Dodington last year and, using modern methods, carried out an exhaustive search, but to no avail. The team then claims to have stumbled upon the wreck of a smaller, faster, vessel from the same era, heavily armed and almost certainly the craft of a pirate.

The ship contained 1400 gold coins of the type and date that Clive had withdrawn. The gold weighed 620 ounces, five percent short of Clive’s consignment. Mr Richard Bishop, coin specialist at Spink’s Auctioneers, was unable to give definitive answers yesterday, but was confident of the authenticity of the find. "We don’t know where the shipwreck is, but we know it is further along the route between the Cape and Madagascar," he said. Mr Bishop refused to reveal the identity of the divers. He said the treasure was being sold by a coin expert in Florida, US, to raise money for the diving team to continue the exploration.

===  internet, 4/28/2002 ====

Portuguese gold coins, alleged to have been unlawfully removed from the East India ship Dodington which sank in what are now South African territorial waters off its eastern coast in 1755, have been returned to South Africa in a negotiated settlement. The returned coins amount to a third of the total quantity in dispute. The rest are being retained by a Florida coin dealer who had consigned them for sale at Spink & Son in London. South Africa had issued its claim in London four years ago relying on a South African law which prohibits exports of cultural objects without a permit. According to a report in The Independent (18th February 2001) Spink had refused to return the coins to the dealer once the suggestion of impropriety came to light.

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