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Metail Shipwrecked Fisherman and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society, Local Agency, wall plaque.

Central Office 16, Wilfred Street. 

Westminister, London, S.W.1.


Dimensions: tbc (approximately 30cm wide)


The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society or the Shipwrecked Mariners for short, is a national charity founded in 1839, which operates throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, whose purpose is to provide help to former merchant seamen, fishermen and their widows and dependants who are in need.

It was founded at the instigation of Mr. John Rye,a philanthropic  retired medical man of Bath, Somerset and his servant Mr. Charles Gee Jones, born in Weston-super-Mare , a former Bristol pilot and landlord of the Pulteney Arms in Bath, following the tragic loss of life from the Clovelly fishing fleet in a severe storm in November 1838. Aided by Sir Jahleel Brenton, at that time governor of Greenwich Hospital, Mr. Rye succeeded in establishing the Society, and of collecting a respectable sum as a first subscription, initially by going from house to house in Bath collecting half crowns. 

The Society's first patron was Queen Victoria and it has had a royal patron ever since; today it is the Princess Royal. One of its first Vice-Presidents was Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Bt. The Society was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1850.

The Society's flag, a St George's cross with the letters SFMS in the quadrants and a number, was displayed by ships and their position reported by the coastguard to the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette in London. From 1851 until 1854 it operated lifeboats at Lytham, Rhyl, Portmadoc, Tenby, Llanelly, Teignmouth, Hornsea and Newhaven but it was subsequently agreed that it would be wiser if one organisation concentrated on rescuing lives at sea while the other helped the survivors or their bereaved families ashore, so in 1854 the Society transferred its lifeboats to the RNLI.


source: (edited and citations removed).

Old Mariners wall plaque

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