Painting of the Packet Ship Lancaster

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The Lancaster was built in 1823 in Lancaster, England. It weighed 353 tons. From 1833 to 1840 it was owned by Sir J. Tobin, who was mayor of Liverpool in 1819. The Lancaster traded between Liverpool, England, and Africa and was reported missing in 1840.
The painting by Miles Walters presents a dual view of the ship showing its profile and rear view. A small pilot ship is approaching Lancaster. Artist Miles Walters was born in 1774 and died in 1849. He was a shipwright (and later a seaman), after leaving the sea, Miles moved to London. He later moved to Liverpool with his third son Samuel Walters (1811-1882), where he was listed in the directories as an artist. Miles and Samuel worked on several marine paintings together.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1830
Walters, Miles
Physical Description
oil on canvas (overall material)
without frame: 30 in x 32 1/2 in; 76.2 cm x 82.55 cm
with frame: 27 in x 39 in; 68.58 cm x 99.06 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cigna Maritime Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History


"The master of the Lancaster was Richard Lethbridge, my GGGGrandfather. The following article appeared in the Carnavon & Denbigh Herald, on Saturday, 21 March 1835.Wreck in Cardigan Bay. The ship Lancaster, Lethbridge master, bound from Liverpool to Africa, has been lost in Cardigan Bay under the following circumstances. The vessel had been lying wind-bound in Studwells roads for some time, and about eleven o'clock last Saturday, the 14th inst. [1835-03-14], she was got under weigh, about two o'clock she struck on the western extremity of the causeway and almost immediately filled. The master despatched a boat to Mr. Hughes, deputy agent to Lloyd's residing at Pwllheli, requesting prompt assistance. Unfortunately, it was then low water, and no boats could be got out, but two were sent to her as soon as possible. Mr. Hughes offered the crew of an Irish herring smack £163.10 to go out which was refused. About four or five o'clock the tide flowed over the vessel, and the master and remainder of the crew were compelled to abandon her, and arrived at Pwllheli in safety on Sunday morning, having passed the night on board the Mersey, then lying in Studwell roads. The vessel soon went to pieces and not a vestage [sic] was to be seen, when the two boats arrived at the place where she had struck. The accident happened through the captain mistaking the position of the causeway. We understand it is not very correctly laid down in the chart. This shews the necessity of a new survey of Cardigan Bay, which we trust our gallant and honourable member Cononel Parry will be able to obtain. Early on Monday morning last, the shore near Barmouth was shrewed with large quantities of merchandies, evidently from the wreck of the Lanchaster. This consisted of puncheons of rum, empty casks, hogsheads of tobacco leaf, hats, bread, palm oil, staves, powder casks, and empty casks supposed to have contained fire arms marked 'Oùwith 'No. 500' enclosed in a diamond. Several sailors' chests were washed on shore, in one of which was a log book belonging to the Lancaster, stating that she rode at anchor on the 9th inst., near Studwell, Pwllheli. A letter was also picked up written by a Nicholas Cleary, Tavern, Hurst-street, Liverpool, and purporting to have been entrusted to the care of the mate of the ship Dido. The stern of the Lancaster came on shore on Tuesday. Several casks of goods have been driven on shore marked with the letter 'D', and which lead to the fear that the Dido must have shared the fate of the Lancaster. Goods have also been washed up marked 'S.L.' supposed to be part of the cargo of the Sarah of Liverpool, which was run down a few weeks since by the Silas Richards, American packet ship. Most of the articles are in a damaged state, particularly the bread, hats and tobacco leaf.We regret to find that some of the country people seemed much inclined to plunder the property thus cast upon the shore, and to rapaciously excercise the disgraceful practice of wrecking. They broke open some of the rum puncheons, and drank to such an excess, that one man died in consequence. A great part of the property would no doubt have been pilfered, had it not been for the strenuous exertions of several respectable individuals. The most active were Mr. Anderson, collector of the customs, Mr. Robert Griffith, Mr. Richard Barrett, Mr. Hugh Roberts, and Mr. Anthony Thomas Morgan of Hendre."
"Hello Mr. Arnold: Thank you for following up with this information. Is there any way to verify that ththe LANCASTER in your article is the same LANCASTER as the one in the painting? Sincerely, Paul F. Johnston. Maritime Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of American History."

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