Thursday, August 14, 2014
BRITISH SHIPWRECK AT TINIAN
October 4, 1848
The British ship Canton sailed peacefully out of Sydney, Australia in September, with China as her destination.
All was well till the early morning hours of October 4th when it was caught in a terrible storm. Under these circumstances, the ship could not avoid hitting the reef off of Tinian. It is not known why the ship would have been in the Marianas in the first place, if they were indeed heading for China.
The ship lost 20 men, buried in the waters off Tinian. Its 507 tons of cargo were also lost, including over a dozen horses.
Five members managed to get into a lifeboat and escape before the ship went down : William Foxal, Thomas Avent, William Thompson, and two unnamed others, a seaman and a boy.
These five survivors were well-received by the small group of Chamorro laborers living on Tinian at the time. These laborers, all from Guam, worked on Tinian's cattle ranches for two or three years at a time, providing beef for Guam. Sometimes Filipino convicts also lived on Tinian for brief periods, doing the same work. Carolinians would sail their boats up and down the Marianas sent on errands by the Spanish government.
After nine days on Tinian, the five survivors were sent to Guam. After some time there, they were sent to Manila where eventually they found passage to their homelands.