Thomas Lawrence 19th Century

International free trade in the 19th century is recalled by the wreck of the Danish sailing trading ship Thomas Lawrence, that was sunk in 1862, 7.8 nautical miles off Hastings. She was one of the last wooden ocean-going sailing merchant ships, and frequently sailed between Europe and Central America. Thereafter, trading ships tended to be built with iron hulls and were increasingly propelled by steam engines. On her last voyage, she was outward bound to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, but was in collision with a German steamer, which survived. The wreck is historically important, and when its position is exactly fixed, it is expected to be protected by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport through Historic England.

Items from the vessel, including muskets (possibly intended for the Confederates in the American Civil War), machetes, bottles of Cognac and the tombstone of a Danish lady and her baby that were buried in 1858, are in the Museum. These objects, and the entire wreck on the seabed, are Nautical Museums Trust property (as agreed with the Receiver of Wreck). The collection of finds, including the tombstone, was purchased for about £3000 from treasure hunters.

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