25th December 1806

The Stotfield fishing disaster

At the start of the 19th century, Stotfield, which is now part of Lossiemouth, was still a small village in Moray, which relied on the income derived from its small fishing fleet. The entire fleet was lost, along with all the men of working age, in a storm on Christmas Day 1806.

Stotfield’s tiny fleet comprised just three boats at the time. Each of them was very basic, was rowed by hand, and lacked a deck. The weather had been calm as they set out that Christmas morning, but a gale rose up before the boats were able to get back to shore, and they were swamped by the waves. All three sank, claiming 21 lives and leaving their families financially imperilled.

Boats wrecked

“During the storm on Christmas day, three boats belonging to the village of Stotfield, in the neighbourhood of Elgin, Scotland, were wrecked upon that coast, and every person on board perished,” said the Lancaster Gazette of 24 January 1807. “The crews consisted of eighteen men and three boys.”

“By the loss of the three boats belonging to Stotfield, lately mentioned, seventeen widows and forty-five children are left without support,” reported The Star on 23 January 1807. “One of the widows, who has lost her husband and two of her sons, has died of grief since the disaster.”

Over the next few months, the numbers of dead and bereaved, as reported in the press, fluctuated considerably, increasing to 89 fatherless children and 31 widows by February 1807. A fund was set up to support those left behind, which continued collecting contributions from churches and individuals for the next year.



Other events that occured in December

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