It was reported in early newspapers “The Hull Packet” and “The Aberdeen Journal” that there was a number of shipwrecks and a great loss of life along the east coast of Scotland in January 1800, including the loss of two vessels off the coast of Portlethen. It’s difficult to say how many people actually died during this particular storm but it seems that the final tally could easily have run to three figures. The following account is as reported in “The Aberdeen Journal” however there is only one sentence dedicated to the two vessels lost at Portlethen.
“The loss of shipping has been very great on this coast. The accounts that have hitherto reached us, are, that the Sussex of this place, went ashore near the harbour of Stonehaven, but the crew were fortunately saved, and the vessel got into port. The Stonehaven, of Stonehaven, also went ashore near the harbour of Stonehaven, and is a total wreck, but all hands were saved. The Martha of this port, and the Lord Salton of Fraserburgh, Hugh Dalrymple, went ashore at the sands of Belhelvie, and all the crews perished, except Mr Mitchell, master of the Martha. The Neptune of this port, Gibbon, is also lost, and all on board perished; a part of the wreck came ashore in the bay of Nigg.
On Saturday, two large brigs came ashore near the New Pier; their names are, the Stockton, Wilson, of and from Sunderland for Boston, and the Nile of Sunderland, Moon – their crews are saved, and the vessel, it is hoped, will be got off without much damage.
Same day, the Janet of Kincardine, Turpie, and a vessel name unknown, were lost at Portlethen, and all on board perished.
That evening the accounts came, that two English vessels were wrecked on the rocks of Collieston, but that ten of the crews were saved by the humane activity of the people on shore; a Macduff sloop was lost at the same place, and the master only saved.
On Sunday we learned, that the Volunteer, of Peterhead was put ashore at Stonehaven, the crew and passengers saved; and the John of this port was wrecked at Montrose but the crew also saved. Between Bervie and Montrose no fewer than thirteen vessels, and in the Bay of Lunan four vessels, are wrecked, and as yet we have no certain accounts of the fate of the crews.
Same day, the Dorothy of Shields came ashore near the Don mouth; one of the hands had been washed overboard on Friday, but the rest got safe on shore.
The accounts that have hitherto reached us cannot be expected to be particular; but we must add, with too much truth, that of thirty vessels put on shore during the dreadful hurricane of last week, we have heard but of few crews saved.
By a gentleman who left Newburgh yesterday afternoon, we are informed, that a brig and sloop were seen among the breakers at Collieston, and there was not the smallest probability of their escape from being wrecked.
Seventy one vessels sailed from Sunderland and Shields, all coal-loaded, for this north coast, and we have as yet heard of no more than six who have reached their ports”.
This was the first report that there were large losses in shipping and lives and in subsequent weeks the Aberdeen Journal started cataloguing the names of those ships that were wrecked or lost during this, and another storm that occurred around one week later.