Commander Edward Randall Pascoe RN

In September 1827 Edward Randall Pascoe, Commander of H M Steam Packet Arrow, sailed into Holyhead harbour in the midst of a ferocious storm. He had lashed himself to the ship’s wheel to ensure he was not washed overboard. His ship had already suffered damage to its machinery and had been ordered to make for Holyhead to effect repairs. The vessel’s normal route across the Irish Sea was from Portpatrick in Scotland to Donaghadee in Ireland, a three and one half hour crossing.

Edward Randall Pascoe RN 1779 – 1827

Born at St Ewe, Cornwall, he was aged 48 and had served in the Royal Navy from an early age. He married Ann Molland at Dover in 1811 and they had seven children. In 1805 he served as Master’s Mate on HMS Naiad at the Battle of Trafalgar. As a smaller ship she was not directly involved in the battle but stood by to help recover damaged and captured vessels. In 1808 he was promoted to Master and took up that position on the 38 gun frigate HMS Niemen. In 1814 he was serving on HMS Granicus, another frigate.

Ann Pascoe (nee Molland) 1781 – 1852

By 1821 he had left the Navy but retained on half-pay. He was commissioned Commander in the Postal Service and took command of the Steam Packet Mansfield to carry mail and passengers across the Irish Sea from Milford to Waterford. By 1825 he and his family had moved to Portpatrick where he commanded His Majesty’s Steam Packet Arrow, being paid £250 per annum.

Typical Steam Packet of the period

When Commander Pascoe reached Holyhead on that September day he was obviously exhausted and possibly injured. He had tried to persuade the Post Office to allow him to return to Portpatrick for repairs to the Arrow but they decided that facilities were inadequate and instructed him to sail to Holyhead where facilities were better and more accessible for those sent to effect the repairs. Sadly his condition developed into a fever and he died at the town on 13 September 1827. He was buried at the Parish Church of St. Cybi on 18 September.

Death notice published in the Cambrian Newspaper, 29 September 1827.

The story does not end here. Recently descendants of Commander Pascoe became interested in his story and began some extensive research. It is this research that has formed the basis for this article. We are grateful to Brian Miller and Sarah Perrott for kindly sharing their information and photographs. Sarah Perrott is a direct descendant of Edward Randall Pascoe.

It was not clear if his grave at St. Cybi was marked with a gravestone so she arranged to have a memorial tablet made and gained permission to have it laid at the church graveyard in his memory. Subsequent to this, local research may have located the grave in the north west section of the graveyard. Confirmation of this is awaited as due to the Corona Virus restrictions, this portion of the graveyard has been locked off and is inaccessible.

Memorial Tablet at St. Cybi’s Graveyard, Holyhead

The Steam Packet Arrow was taken over by the Admiralty in 1837 and renamed the Ariel. In February 1840 she carried Prince Albert, accompanied by his father and brother, across the English Channel to the UK for his wedding to Queen Victoria. The crossing took five and one half hours.

HM Steam Packet Ariel entering Dover Harbour on 6 February 1840 carrying Prince Albert on his way to his wedding to Queen Victoria.

The painting of the ‘arrival of Prince Albert’ is by William Adolphus Knell (1801–1875) and is part of the Royal Collection, having being purchased by Prince Albert.

With grateful thanks to Brian Miller and Sarah Perrott for permission to include the results of their research and the images of Edward Randall Pascoe and Ann Pascoe.

Contributed by Barry Hillier

© Holyhead Maritime Museum

When an Irish Tenor met Billy-in-the-Bowl

The meeting occurred at the ‘Stanley Arms’, Holyhead in 1818. This is not the present Stanley Arms at the bottom of Market Hill, but the ‘Eagle and Child’ hotel built by the Stanley family in about 1770. Later named the ‘Royal Hotel’, the building is now known as Victoria Terrace and is adjacent to the Cenotaph at the entrance to the town centre. In 1818 the hotel was run by Thomas Spencer, who came to Holyhead from Parkgate, nr. Chester in 1808.

The Royal Hotel, Holyhead (known in 1818 as the Stanley Arms)
 The Irish Tenor was Michael Kelly, who was born in Dublin in 1762. He was very famous in his day and regarded as one of the finest tenors of the period. He was also an actor and composer and worked alongside well known London theatre producers such as the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was a friend and contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and worked with other famous composers such as Salieri.

Michael Kelly – operatic tenor, actor and composer.

Michael Kelly was not a well man. He suffered badly with gout. He was in Holyhead whilst on the way to Dublin to progress a lawsuit against a Mr. Hime, who was accused of pirating and publishing a number of his compositions. The following is Michael Kelly’s own account of the time he spent at Thomas Spencer’s hotel and his meeting with Billy-in-the-Bowl. Through this he clearly saw an example of the saying ‘Beauty being in the eye of the Beholder’.

“There was, about this time, a law-suit to come on, in Dublin, in which I was subpoenaed, against a Mr. Hime, a music-seller in Dublin, who had pirated and published a number of my compositions. I was labouring under severe illness at the time, however, I had promised to go, let the consequence be what it might. On the 13th July, I left Tavistock Row for Dublin, in a travelling-carriage, in company with Mrs. Horrebow, Mr. Addison, and Henry Horrebow. I travelled slowly, and by short stages, (still being very ill,) and on the seventh day, reached Holyhead, and put up at the Stanley Arms, kept by Mr. Spenser, from whom, and his family, I received the greatest possible attention.
I remained nine weeks in his house, as I was unable to cross the sea, I was told, without the risk of my life. While I was there, a little fellow, a great ally of mine, called upon me every morning. In his person he verified the old adage, that every eye forms its own beauty. This said droll little fellow, surnamed, by the inhabitants of Holyhead, “Billy-in-the-bowl,” though a dwarf, having lost both his legs, or rather, never having had any, went crawling about, literally seated in a bowl-dish; yet, in spite of his deformities, he captivated the heart of a beautiful Welch girl, who would have him for better for worse.
Her father, a wealthy farmer, offered to give her a good fortune, and a young and handsome man for her husband; but no she would have Billy-in-the-bowl. She bore him two fine boys, and is, I am told, even now, very jealous of him.
On the 25th of August, being somewhat restored to health, though still afflicted with the gout, and unable to venture on a sea voyage, I quitted Holyhead for the Earl of Guilford’s seat, Wroxton Abbey”.

Holyhead Poet and Performer, Gillian Brownson, describes the story in poetry

Ref. Reminiscences of Michael Kelly: Of the King’s Theatre,  Page 309 …, Volume 2

Michael Kelly died at Margate in 1826, aged 64.

‘The Royal Hotel’ – Footnotes.
The first inn built on the site was;-
‘Plas Glan y Mor’ followed by:-
‘Plas Newydd’ followed  by :-
‘The Eagle and Child’ followed by:-
‘The Royal Hotel’ followed by
‘The Railway Hotel’.
Over the years, among other names, the inn was colloquially known as :-
‘The English House’, ‘Jacksons’, ‘Spencers’ and ‘The Bird and Bantling’.

The old elaborate ‘Eagle and Child’ signpost remained outside the hotel throughout the time it was both the Royal and Railway Hotel and beyond. Also etched into the glass window was the following inscription.

“In questa Cassa troverte,
Tout de bon on pieut souhaiter,
Vinum bonum, Pisces Carnes,
Coaches, Chaises, Horses Harness.”

The Translation reads:-

“In this house you will find,
Everything good one could wish for,
Good wine, Fish Game,
Coaches, Chairs (presumably sedan chairs) Horses Harness”.

Contributed by Peter Scott Roberts.

© Holyhead Maritime Museum