Section Index
The Builders
Seamen and Vessels
Lighthouse Keepers
Other People in Stevenson’s “Account”
The Map “deciphered”
An Historic Engineering

(as at August 1809)

(an alphabetical list is included with the Builders and may be found there)

Schooner ["Sir Joseph Banks"]

83˝ tons

Mr David TAYLOR (in 1821 became Light-house Storekeeper at Leith)
*George DORWARD (mate)
*George MILNE
Sutherland BREMNER (cook)
George DALL (narrowly escaped the Press Gangs in 1810)
William REID
George GIBB

*DORWARD and MILNE were dismissed for their part in the “mutiny”. Others involved in the incident were: William BROWN, George GIBB, Alexander SCOTT, John DICK, Robert COUPER, Alexander SHEPHERD, James GRIEVE, David CAREY, William PEARSON, Stuart EATON, Alexander LAWRENCE and John SPINK.

John PETERS (steward, of "Sir Joseph Banks" in 1808)

Note - This year (2004) saw the Sir Joseph Banks RHS Bicentenary. Dick Dawson (Sussex) in this context researched the eventual career and demise of the SJB.

"On October 4th Sir Joseph Banks sailed for Leith to be sold. It is quite likely that she needed a substantial refit at this point, as remaining constantly on station at the rock in fair weather and foul would have taken its toll. Stevenson watched the vessel leave with regret. He described her as “this beautifully moulded ship”. In 1811 the schooner was sold for £1,510.

"Sir Joseph Banks’s history can be traced for nearly another 40 years through Lloyd’s Register. In 1812, she was skippered by W Fleet, owned by J Mitchell and shown as being in A1 (1st class at Lloyd’s) condition.

"For the next 20 or so years she traded coastwise and changed ownership three times. During that time she had her share of wear and tear and the Register shows various underwater repairs and a new deck.

"In 1833 she changed hands again and the new owner J Spence re-rigged her as a brig. By this time she was classed E1 (3rd class, but good condition). She kept to the same waters, being attached to Leith but sailing to the Orkneys as well as mainland Scotland.

"In 1843 Spence gave her a refit, re-instating her schooner rig and doing enough work to raise her back to Æ1 (1st class, 2nd division).

"In 1847 the Register shows master as J Murray and owner Mooat [Mowat?]. Sadly, the entry is accompanied by the single word “Wrecked”. The circumstances are unknown.

"It seems that Sir Joseph Banks was still trading at the time she was wrecked. If she was, it shows an extraordinarily long life of 40 years in regular, hard use. Stevenson’s instincts about the schooner were right."

Floating Light ["Pharos"]

82 tons - 67 ft x 16 ft x 6 ft

Mr James WILSON (also Landing Master latterly became one of the Harbour-masters at Leith)
John REID, (mate; became first Principal Light-house Keeper of the Bell Rock; retired in 1821 and succeeded by Mr Thomson MILNE, ex-reflector maker).

Alexander MUIR
D. HAY (cook)
Alexander SCOTT (younger brother of James Scott who was accidentally drowned)
Charles GRAY
John BLACKWOOD (mate)

Thomas ELLIOT - (cook, Floating Light, left the service in March 1808 and went to the West Indies).
Capt. George SINCLAIR (left the service May 1808; earlier in the works commanded the Floating Light).
Mr Thomas CALDER (commanded the Floating Light in Feb.1809).


About 40 tons

Mr William REID
Peter SOUTER (mate); also one of the Praam-masters during the Works
William BROWN
John SPINK (cook)

Capt. James MACDONALD, (master of the "Patriot" in April 1809).
Mr SPINK (succeeds Capt. Macdonald as master of the "Patriot").


42 tons - 55 feet

Mr Robert POOL
Thomas MACURICH (mate; eventually became master of the Bell Rock Tender)
Alexander COLLISON

Other vessels connected with the works:
Alexander (a boat hired from Aberdeen; also used to transport stones from Aberdeen and Mylnfield, near Dundee)
Hedderwick (*praam boat used to transport the blocks of stone to the Rock)
Fernie and Dickie (two other *praam boats built at Arbroath launched in April 1809)
* Stevenson gives the dimensions of these boats at about 28 ft by 8ft 6 in, with the depth of hold at 2 feet.
The Mason and The Seaman (boats of 20 feet in length specially built to transport the artificers from the "Sir Joseph Banks" to the Rock). The latter was fitted up as a Lifeboat after, what Stevenson called, Greathead's method "being lined and girded with cork to the depths of three streaks below the gunwale." On testing the buoyancy of the vessel she was found to float with 30 men on board.


James SCOTT (aged 18, drowned accidentally, Sept. 21, 1808; his younger brother, Alexander, was taken on shortly afterwards)
James SPINK - Bell Rock pilot (his timely arrival at the Rock averted a potential disaster).
Henry LEASK, (one of the temporary keepers left in charge of the lighthouse during the winter of 1810; formerly a shipmaster).
Capt. GLOAG (left the Service in late 1807; replaced by Capt. TAYLOR).
Mr Tom FERNIE (builder of the “Sir Joseph Banks”; launched Arbroath, January 1808).
John PRATT (seaman, mentioned in example of Impressment Exemption Certificate).

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