Patagonia Bookshelf
Midshipman Isaac Morris, HMS Wager, 1740-46
Shipwrecked, escaped, stranded, captured, enslaved, traded, imprisoned, transported, released, repatriated


The wreck of the British Navy store-ship Wager on the west coast of Patagonia in 1741 has been recorded for posterity by several survivors, each with his own tale of adventure and suffering; among these, the author of this present book.

Midshipman Isaac Morris was baptized in Topsham, Devon, in 1710, the son of Isaac and Frances Morris. Apart from this brief entry in the local parish register, we have not found any further information on his life prior to the Wager disaster. The village of Topsham, on the estuary of the River Exe, was an active fishing and shipbuilding port, so one can imagine that Isaac's interest in the sea started at an early age.

Soon after HMS Wager was wrecked, the survivors formed into two factions. Denying the authority of the ship's captain, one of these groups attempted to make its way back to Britain by travelling southward to the Strait of Magellan, then northward up the Atlantic coast. In an overcrowded, converted longboat, conditions were desperate, and many of the group died along the way.

Some distance south of Buenos Aires, the longboat approached land, to replenish water and food supplies. Although accounts of events differ, what is certain that eight of the survivors were left behind, among them our author. This is their story: /1/

John Allen   Gosport
John Andrews   Manchester
Guy Broadwater   Blackwall
Joseph Clinch   Southwark
Samuel Cooper   Ipswich
John Duck   London
Isaac Morris   Topsham
Benjamin Smith   Southwark

Of the five separate accounts published by Wager survivors, only two (Byron, Bulkeley & Cummins) have appeared recently in reprints: /2/ none of the others (Campbell, Morris, Young) have been available in English in modern times, and only a few copies are held by major reference libraries around the world. We are therefore very pleased to be able to offer this electronic edition, as a companion to our web editions of Alexander Campbell and (attributed to) John Young, thus completing the collection. Please read on, and enjoy this remarkable tale of misfortune and survival. —> text begins here

Duncan Campbell
July 2007 (rev. October 2012)

1. The birthplaces are taken from the book by Bulkeley & Cummins.

2. A Spanish translation of Morris, Una Narración Fiel de Peligros y Desventuras, was published in 2004 by Taurus, Argentina. Spanish translations of Campbell, Morris and Bulkeley & Cummins were published in 2012 by Septiembre Ediciones, Chile, under the title of Cuatro Relatos para un Naufragio.

Copyright © 2004-2017 — Duncan Campbell & Gladys Grace
Personal and educational use only — Please cite this URL
Contact:-  E-MAIL