Thursday, 8 August 2013

Leith steamship crew to be remembered in Essex service

A memorial service is being planned to commemorate the tragic loss of crewmen from the steam yacht Lorena in 1903 off Brightlingsea in Essex. The organisers are hoping to trace any descendants of the crew from Leith who may wish to attend. The sailors were:

John Currie, 47
James Douglas, 46
Alexander Smith, 36
John McLean-Johnson, 26
John Boyd McGregor, 25
Andrew Wilson, 31, and David Wilson, 26 (brothers)
Frederick Richard McLaren, 25

All were buried in a mass grave at All Saints Church, Brightlingsea.

The full story is at along with details of how to get in touch with the church.

(With thanks to Geraldine Barker @familysleuth - post amended following comment below!)


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My Scottish land and church records ebooks are available at, whilst my next Pharos Scottish course, Scottish Research Online, starts Sep 4th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!


  1. Whoa… The “steamship” was actually a turbine-steam yacht, the “Lorena”, and she didn’t sink.

    Sadly these lads drowned in a rowing boat accident while the 300ft long “Lorena” was coaling at Brightlingsea, Essex - probably during her maiden voyage to Cowes from her builders, Ramage & Ferguson of Leith.

    But it would be wrong to assume that they all came from Leith. Certainly the yacht was built there - for New York’s “Aspahlt King”, Amzi L. Barber - and her crew would have assembled there, but there was a greater tradition of crew for these early “superyachts” hailing from the west coast of Scotland, particularly among fishing communities.

    The first two names you mention, Currie and Douglas, suggest to me possible Argyll – Cowal – Loch Fyne connections…

    I wonder if their names appear on the All Saints Church frieze? See

    And good info on the accident and "Lorena" at

    Iain McAllister -