1870 - 1888
Photos: Left: Fred and William c. 1875 (I guess); Right:
Fred, Lilian, William c.1884
Outline his Life: The following information
was sent to me by Ray Farnsworth (see
email dated 11 Jan 2005) and by Alfie Windsor who runs the website for HMS
Conway (see email dated 19 June 2015):
- William was born at Freelands, Alnwick, on Oct 8 1870, third
child (2nd son) of Henry Augustus Paynter and Henrietta Paynter (née
- Little is known of his early life but some photographs of
him as a young boy are held at Freelands.
- According to Alfie Windsor, William was educated in HMS Conway
on the river Mersey off Rock Ferry between 1884 and 1886. According to Ray
Farnsworth, on Nov. 25 1886, he was bound for 4 years as an apprentice seaman
in London to C. Nicholson, a ship owner from Liverpool.
- His first voyage was on the sailing ship CUMERIA (net 1284
tons, built Birkenhead - Ship No. 63195). The voyage was from London to Melbourne
and "any port or places in Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Pacific
and Atlantic Oceans, West Indies, America, trading backwards and forwards
as the Master may require until the return of the vessel to a final port of
discharge in the United Kingdom. Voyage not to exceed 3 years". The voyage
in fact ended on March 27 1888, at North Shields (mouth of the River Tyne,
some 35 miles South of Alnwick), having started in London in Nov. 1886.
- The crew consisted of 20 men, together with 4 apprentices.
One of his fellow apprentices was Henry Middleton Dand of Alnwick who
was no doubt a close personal friend, as the Middleton Dand family was well-established
and known in Alnwick, and friendly with the Paynters (ref. Ediths and Olives
- Family, anecdotal information suggests that William was not
at all keen to continue his career as a seaman but, during his short break
at home in April 1888, was persuaded by his father to continue/complete his
apprenticeship. He sailed again on the CUMERIA on April 20 (from N. Shields).
- His reluctance to sail again is now understandable from an
examination of the Crew Agreements of the CUMERIA (copies held at Freelands).
On his opening voyage to Melbourne, one of his fellow young apprentices,
George Dickson, was killed by "a fall from aloft whilst at sea".
This resulted in a Certificate completed in Melbourne on April 15 1887
at the Mercantile Marine Office. Furthermore 10 members of the crew
deserted at Melbourne (replaced by others); two others failed to join the
ship in Melbourne, one deserted in Valparaiso and one other was declared sick
in Valparaiso (syphilis). A further motley collection joined the ship in Hamburg
just before the final short trip across the North Sea to North Shields. Most
of these were foreign and were defined as "Runners" and " did
not appear to sign their formal release after docking in the UK". What
a collective experience for a 17 year old - hardly surprising he didn't appear
to keen to continue!
- But continue he did, and sailed on the
CUMERIA from N.Shields on April 20 1888 on a voyage to Valparaiso. The Master,
C.J. Hilton and First Mate, A.L. Hurry were unchanged. The rest of the crew
were a mixture of Swedish, Danish, German, Irish, and English. Again there
were 4 apprentices including Henry Middleton Dand and William Foster Paynter.
The vessel was not heard of after June 12 1888 and 25 lives were lost
"supposed drowned". I believe the last contact was somewhere
near South Africa (see correction below). My final note is that
apparently WF Paynter was owed £4/7s/6d, "to be accounted for".
A certified copy of the entry in the Marine Register of Deaths is held at
Ray Farnsworth offered further information and the illustration
below in an email dated 25th Jan 2005 as follows:
"I have obtained a copy of picture of the "Cumeria"
from the Hilton family. I have now been authoritively advised that the
Cumeria was last sighted on June 12th 1888 at Lat. 30degrees South, Long.
50degrees West off the South American East Coast, between Port Alegre and
Rio Grande, about 300 miles North of Montevideo. I had previously understood
(wrongly) that the ship was last seen off the South African coast."
Below is a copy of a very early photograph
of the Cumeria sent to me by Ray Farnsworth in July 2006 taken in San Fransisco
in 1872 (copyright is with the museum in San Francisco)
An earlier note from Ray dated July 2002, stated: "I
did the original research re the fate of William, your Grandmothers brother.
The family data was that he was lost on The Conway. I checked with detailed
maritime records both in the UK and in Nova Scotia, and came up with the
true ship record and crew lists etc. It was definitely The Cumeria".
Ian Caldwell relates
a similar story which concludes with the following anecdote: "William was presumed drowned but his body was never found.
His mother always laid an extra place at the table every Christmas for him
as she never knew for certain he was dead."
Last updated 10 Aug 2016 - Olive's
birth year corrected.
Updated 20 Jun 2015 - Information from Alfie
Page updated 29 Jul 2006 - Photo added of the "Cumeria".