Friday, November 1, 2013

Beware the Wrecker!

I hope you had a lovely time last night on Halloween!  I thought today might be a good day for a scary story from nineteenth century England, and few things are scarier than a wrecker.

Wait, a wrecker?

Yes, a wrecker.  Many of you are likely familiar with lighthouses or lighted buoys placed along waterways to guide sailors to safe harbor.  The concept wasn't lost on some dastardly criminals either.  They would post lights along England's shore in hopes of luring ships in to some nasty rocks or shoals.  When a ship floundered, the wreckers would swam aboard and take everything.  And if anyone survived the shipwreck, well, that was a shame.  Can't leave witnesses, can we now?

Do you have the chills yet?

Then let me tell you a story about Chambercombe Manor in Devon, which was once the home to a particularly dangerous wrecker named Alexander Otway.  His son William learned the trade from his father and actually married a beautiful girl he rescued from a ship his father had wrecked.  He apparently foreswore to follow in his father's footsteps at that point, and he and his wife were blessed with a lovely daughter whom they named Kate.  When Kate grew up, she fell in love with an Irish sea captain and moved to Dublin.

William and his wife fell on hard times, and the temptation to return to wrecking proved too great.  Soon he was turning a tidy profit from the misfortunes of others.  One night, a ship was wrecked on his shore in a terrible storm, and he went aboard and took what he could, including a woman so badly battered that he could not make out her face.  He carried her home, where she died, and stole her jewelry, saying nothing to anyone about finding her.  But this time, William hadn't finished his grisly work.  A few of the sailors from the ship had escaped its sinking and reported a passenger missing--a young lady named Kate who was traveling to the area to visit her father.  William Otway had engineered his own daughter's death.

Now there's a tale to chill the blood on All Hallows.


Helena said...

That's awful! Too horrid.

Regina Scott said...

I agree, Helena! Those wreckers were a nasty piece of work!

ettie said...

weirdly I find this funny, kind of like justice was served. I feel sorry for Kate though,

Regina Scott said...

It is ironic, Ettie, I agree. And I also pity poor Kate.

Lindsey Pogue said...

Wow, what a crazy story! They always say real life is the most interesting...Great stories ideas popping out of that one though :)

Regina Scott said...

I know, Lindsey! Glad to help. :-)