The Halsewell was a grand East Indiaman merchant ship. It
had a rich cargo and the passengers included the Captain's two daughters
and nieces. Thomas Burston, the First Mate, was also related to
the Captain. It was to have been Captain Pierce's final voyage before
The ship was sailing to India to trade. In January 1786, as it
headed west down the Channel, a terrible storm developed.
For several days the ship fought against blizzards and hurricane
force winds until finally it was driven onto the rocks at Seacombe,
near Worth Matravers.
More than 160 people lost their lives including the Captain's daughters
and nieces. Captain Pierce and his nephew, Thomas Burston, could
have saved themselves but chose instead to comfort the young women
as best they could and drowned with them.