James Edward Williams

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Captain
James Edward Williams
Died August 15, 1902(1902-08-15) (aged 63)
Aboard SS Chingtu
Cause of death Acute Bronchitis
Resting place Brampton Island

Biography

Captain James E Williams, commander of the steamer Chingtu,at the time of his death, had been in the service of the China Navigation Company for upwards of 25 years and was the commodore of the fleet. For nearly 20 years he was engaged in the trade between China and Australia, first as Master of the Whampoa in 1883, then of the Changsha I, when the vessel grounded on Rattray Island, due to the charts not being up to date, and eventually as commander of the Chingtu, to which vessel he was transferred about six years before his death. Captain Williams was regarded as an extremely capable and careful navigator, and during his lengthy connection with the China Navigation Company never had an accident of a serious character. He was popular with the shipping community and the travelling public. Captain Williams died on board his vessel at sea, and upon the arrival of the Chingtu at Townsville was buried at Brampton Island. He left three sons and one married daughter. Captain Williams, who was 63 years of age, had been in ill-health for some time past and, according to newspaper reports of the time had suffered from 'an affection of the heart'.

Service

Events / Stories

Newspaper Reports of Captain Williams' Death
Brisbane Courier. 18th August 1902.
Our Townsville correspondent wired last night as follows –
Captain James Edward Williams, master of the steamer Chingtu, died at sea on Friday last, during the voyage of the vessel up the coast from Sydney direct. The captain had not been in good health for some time, the alleged disappearance of a Chinaman from amongst his crew contributing no doubt towards the worry. The vessel was anchored off Brampton Island. Boats were then lowered, and the body taken ashore and buried and a cairnstone, surmounted by a wooden cross, marking the site of the grave The crew, intend obtaining a handsome headstone, and erecting it on their return trip. The chief officer takes command for the remainder of the voyage
The Argus Melbourne 18th August 1902.
Captain J. Williams, master of the steamer Chingtu, died on Saturday, on the voyage up the Queensland coast. He had not been in good health for some time past and had been much worried lately through the disappearance of one of the Chinese crew, which gave rise to two of the engineers being arrested on the charge of murder. Captain Williams was buried on Brampton Island.
Sydney Morning Herald. 19th August 1902.
The Late Captain Williams.
The late Captain James E Williams, commander of the steamer Chingtu, whose death was announced in our issue of yesterday, had been in the service of the China Navigation Company for upwards of 25 years, and was the commodore of the fleet For 15 years he was engaged in the trade between China and Australia, first as master of the Changsha, and then as commander of the Chingtu, to which vessel he was transferred about six years ago. The deceased mariner was regarded as an extremely capable and careful navigator, and during his lengthy connection with the China Navigation Company never had an accident of a serious character. He was popular with the shipping community and the travelling public, and was also held in high esteem by both of the conflicting sections of the Chinese. As stated in our telegrams yesterday, Captain Williams died on board his vessel at sea, and upon the arrival of the Chingtu at Townsville was buried at Brampton Island. He leaves three sons, one of whom is in South Africa, and one married daughter The deceased, who was 63 years of age, had been in ill-health for some time past, and had suffered from an affection of the heart. Captain Brown, the first officer of the Chingtu, has taken command.
Northern Territory Times 22nd August 1902.
Death of Captain Williams.
We learn from Mr. J. C McDonald, the acting agent for the China Steam Nav. Coy. that from inquiries made he has small reason to doubt that the report circulated in town on Wednesday morning as to the sudden death of' Capt. Williams, of the steamer Chingtu, is too sadly true; So far as can be gathered he died off the coast of N.S. Wales not long alfer his vessel's departure from Sydney on her usual voyage to Hongkong. This news will be received with deep regret by his many friends both here and elsewhere. Captain Williams was a fine specimen of the older fashioned type of British sailor who are fast disappearing under modern conditions. He was a thorough seaman from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head, and hidden under a somewhat stern and crusty outer demeanour was as simple, true, and kindly a heart as ever beat. His love for his profession was proverbial, and it was somewhat of a joke a few years back that he should spend a six months holiday cruising about after pearlshell in a lugger he had had specially built for the venture in Hongkong, enduring with cheerfulness and a palpable enjoyment the inevitable hardships attending such a life. During his long life at sea Captain Williams had visited a great many parts of the globe, and seen most things that are to be seen, and when he chose he could tell some interesting stories It is not long since that Captain Williams had a serious illness in Hongkong, and quite recently he had had some worries in connection with his ship which he would probably feel more keenly than a man taking less pride in his profession. In his death the CN. Coy. lose the services of a skilful and cautious captain, and his friends the friendship of a loyal and true hearted man.
The Melbourne Argus. 27th August 1902.
Death Notice;
WILLIAMS.—On the 15th August, at sea, in Lat. 22 deg. 23½ min. S. (off Queensland coast), of acute bronchitis, Capt. J.E. Williams, China Navigation Co.'s s.s. "Chingtu." Much esteemed during his long career in the China and Australian trade. Buried at Brampton Island on the 16th of August. A sailor and a gentleman.
Cairns Post 5th June 1923.
Old Grave: Discovered.
H.M. survey ship Fantome arrived at Cairns from the South on Monday. It was reported that the vessel called at Brampton Island, in the Cumberland Group, south of Mackay, and there discovered an old grave. There was a tombstone over the latter, bearing this superscription: "Captain J. E. Williams, of s.s. Chingtu, died at sea, August, 1902. This stone erected in loving memory by his friends." Captain Williams has thus lain on this lonely Pacific island for 21 years. The Chingtu was a well known vessel in the Australian-China service many years ago. The Fantome is northward bound and leaves today.

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