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‘Harboured Here Below’ – The Wreck of the Cambria, 1870

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 27, 2011


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by Paul Richmond

"In each of three successive years the Anchor Line lost one of its large transatlantic emigrant steamers in very different, but equally disastrous, circumstances. In 1868 the Hibernia, after an accident at sea, sank slowly in mid-ocean about 700 miles west of Ireland; the next year, the United Kingdom simply vanished somewhere in the Atlantic; and in 1870 the Cambria ran into rocks at high speed in a wild gale off the Donegal coast and sank rapidly.

In total, no less than around 340 people died in these wrecks, with a significant number of Ulster-bound passengers included in that tally. All three of the ill-fated vessels were en route to Ireland from New York at the time of their destruction: had each steamer been travelling in the opposite direction, the total death toll would have been vastly higher.

This article outlines the sorry tale of the Cambria’s disastrous loss, which has now sadly been generally forgotten, and paints a few brief portraits of some of the 180 people lost with the vessel."