Wreck of the Isabella

For a long time there has been an entry on this site referencing Cumpston's analysis of shipping movements in & out of Sydney that includes the Isabella 93 tons, master George Hingston, which arrived 18 Aug 1812 from London & Madeira via Rio with merchandise, sailed 2 Feb 1813 and was wrecked on the Falkland Islands Oct 1813. It is not clear who George Hingston was, and other descriptions refer to him as Hicton or Higton. 93 tons is small for a vessel rounding the Horn and crossing the southern ocean - other sources say 193 tons which is still a small vessel.

The Isabella was wrecked on Speedwell Island (formerly known as Eagle Island), one of the many small islands that form part of the Falklands, which at the time had no permanent settlement. All aboard survived and made it to land; 6 men, including Higton, set off in the longboat to sail to South America, about 1000 miles away, which took over a month. A British brig, HMS Nancy, was sent to rescue the survivors. In the meantime they had been found by an American sealer Nanina under the command of Charles Barnard, who informed them that America and Britain were at war but he would rescue them anyway. To provide provisions for the much larger number of people he would be carrying, Barnard and some others set off to find seals and wild pigs as food for the journey. While they were away the Nancy arrived and took the Nanina as a war prize and sailed off, leaving Barnard and the foraging crew to their fate on a different island. They were eventually rescued by British whalers who had been sent to find them. A summary of the events is given in a page about Speedwell Island.

There are various publications about the wreck of the Isabella out of which Captain Hingston/Higton does not come well. He is described as "incompetent when sober" and worse when he was drunk.

There is a Higton One-Name Study web site on which George Higton appears. It shows that he was born 12 Jan 1783 in Portsea (Portsmouth), the eldest of 11 children of George Higton (1756-1833) and his wife Eleanor Crooms (~1763-1842). That website cannot trace the family further back. The Higton family came originally from Derbyshire and Staffordshire; it is possible that the elder George may actually be a Hingston but there are no obvious candidates at present. I have also been sent a list of vessels of which George was master, mainly taken from newspaper reports. The Isabella was the first; the last was the Prosperity in 1837. He was living in Deptford in the 1851 and 1861 censuses and died in the 3rd Quarter of 1868 in Greenwich.

I shall liaise with the owner of the Higton site if we come up with more inforamtion.

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Added 10th May 2021 Chris Burgoyne