HC Deb 06 April 1852 vol 120 cc780-1

said, he wished to ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Board of Admiralty had received any information with respect to the loss of the Birkenhead steamer, and whether the hon. Gentleman could inform the House what had been the number of souls on board that steamer, and when she had left England? He also wished to know whether the hon. Gentleman would communicate to the House the latest intelligence which had been received at the Admiralty, with respect to the Megœsra and the Hydra?


said, that at half-past ten o'clock that morning the Admiralty had received—not by any official communication, but through the electric telegraph—information of that distressing event. They had immediately forwarded a telegraphic communication to Admiral Sir John Ommanney, at Plymouth, desiring him to report to them any circumstances of the case which might have reached him. No answer had since been received from Sir John Ommanney; and at half-past two o'clock a further communication had been despatched to him asking for an explanation of that delay. Until an answer to that communication had been received, it would be premature for him (Mr. Stafford) to pronounce any opinion upon the cause of that delay. He bad waited at the Admiralty until half-past four o'clock, and up to that period no official communication had been received there upon that subject. The number of souls on board the Birkenhead had been upwards of 600. With respect to the other two vessels to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded, he had to state that the Hydra had sailed from Devonport on the 10th of February, that she had been heard from at Madeira on the 20th of February, and from Sierra Leone on the 2nd of March. The Megœra had sailed from Devonport on the 7th of January, had left Madeira on the 27th of January after having had some delay there and had been in communication with the Bos- phorus, in lat. 28.13 N., and long. 1818 W., on the 29th of January. That was all the information he could give to the hon. Member upon those subjects.