Aug 18, 2018


  • Newfoundland 1881

The Wreck of the Isabel



Page 6

The Search for the Grave

The view from the cemetery at St Vincent's - known as Holyrood in 1881 - looking across the sea near Gull Island Point. (Image reduced in size and shown here courtesty of the StonePics project)

None of Henry Quick's relatives has visited his grave.

The family have always believed he was buried at Holyrood cemetery, and this was born out by several contemporary sources. One friend, visiting St John's, was asked to see if they could find the grave, but they found no clues at Holyrood.

Also I thought it unlikely that he would be buried so near to St John's and so far away from the scene of the disaster. The confusion could also have been compounded by the fact that there is also a Gull Island in Conception Bay to the north. But then we found the vital piece of missing information: until 1910 St Vincent's, right by Gull Island Point and Peter's River in St Mary's Bay - had been known as Holyrood.

Using a satellite photograph I spotted what just could be a cemetery nearby. I determined to make a journey from where I now live in England to Newfoundland to see if I could find the grave.

But then I counted up how long it had been since I had been to visit my family in western Canada, and thought I should visit with the living before going after the dead. So I booked a flight to Vancouver instead.

It was in Vancouver that I ran into Newfoundlander Dean Martin - or rather bashed into him with my luggage as I struggled onto a city bus on my way back from Vancouver Island. He helped me stow my bag in a safer place and we got talking. And exchanged email addresses. And then he enlisted the help of another Newfoundlander, William Hillier (see Historical Background Page 8) whom I have since plagued with questions, and who has been a mine of useful information. Amongst other things he confirmed the location of the cemetery at St Vincents, and suggested I visit the website of StonePics, a wonderful project to photograph every headstone in Newfoundland (see Links).

We were sure there at least had once been a headstone, because of this letter from Job Brothers in July 1881, addressed to Henry Quick's daughter:

St Johns Nfld
July 14th/81
Dear Miss Quick
I am in receipt of yours of the 4th having reference to the past great sorrow which has befallen you in the loss of your respected Father.
We had prepared and ready on the opening of navigation in the Spring the Memorial Stone which previously was referred to - and it was taken charge of by Mr Wm St Croix a respectable person, some time doing business with us and from this circumstance your late Father was known to him.
The Memorial Stone has been properly and carefully placed at the Grave, and bears the following inscription
Erected in memory of Captain Henry G Quick of Teignmouth, England, and the Crew of the Brigantine "Isabel" - lost at Gull Island 22nd February 1881
In the midst of life
We are in death
The Cost of the Head Stone was 7.00 and in the Erection our sole desire was to make respectful Record of the sad Event which - for his Family - was an irreparable loss and to us the [cutting?] off of a good Employee.
Please not to think yourselves under any monetary obligation in the matter.
The shore fishery is likely to be good the latest accounts from the Labrador coast are not favourable.
I hope you received the Letters which were forwarded some time ago to Plymouth by the "Mary Ann" - which vessel arrived back at Hants Hr. a few days ago.
With kindest regards
I remain
Yours respectfully

I dredged StonePic's wonderful online database for many hours before deciding that if the headstone still existed it must be in an unreadable state. I ordered a photograph of the grave of "[UNKNOWN] [unknown] & Others", thinking this was the most likely bet, and included a word of explanation in the accompanying email.

I was quite knocked out by StonePics response, and by how helpful they have been.

But so far no sign of the right grave. StonePics sent a photograph of a headstone from about the same time, just to show what they can look like when they fall over and get overgrown.

GIBBONS, Patrick (1893) & Catherine (1898)
(Image reduced in size and shown here courtesty of StonePics)

By an amazing coincidence, it looks as if it could be the grave of Patrick Gibbons, one of the people who helped recover the bodies.

/Page 7. Maps ...


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