Mr N has a very salty family background; one of his direct ancestors from the North East of England was a ship's captain, two direct ancestors met their deaths in shipwrecks and at least five other close relatives from the past were sailors or master mariners, most of whom were lost at sea. It was a very risky business.
If you wish to listen to an appropriate musical accompaniment to this tragic tale please click on the arrow on the picture above.
John Foulstone was the above mentioned ship's captain and here is an account of the night he drowned, almost 213 years ago to the day, on April 5th 1799, bad weather for April...
The coast at Seaham
Lord Byron was married at Seaham in January 1815 - it bored him (and so did his new wife). He wrote to a friend:
"Upon this dreary coast we have nothing but county meetings and shipwrecks; and I have this day dined upon fish, which probably dined upon the crews of several colliers lost in the late gales."
We do hope he choked on a fish bone.
Captain Foulstone's gravestone can be found propped up in an untidy corner of St Thomas's churchyard, Stockton upon Tees.
His daughter Priscilla lost her father, two brothers and two sons to the sea so we feel it is not by chance that her youngest son, Mr N's Great Great Grandfather, became a sailmaker by trade.
Despite the sadness of this family history, or perhaps because of it, we love to find little antique mementoes of a life on the ocean wave. Small items, carved by sailors for loved ones, from animal bones saved from the stew-pot, are known as scrimshaw.
A delicate bodkin or stiletto for making holes in fabric.
A combined pipe tamper and seal in the form of a shapely leg.