David Webster AM

b. 1847 Boughton Ferry, Dundee, Scotland.  d. 10/1897 Pacific Ocean.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 17/02 – 20/03/1874 Indian Ocean.

David Webster AM

David was one of thirteen children born to Robert and Elizabeth Webster, who lived at Loftus House, Boughton Ferry. Robert Webster was a successful grocer and later wine and spirit merchant. He later became a police commissioner and a magistrate. David received his medal on 4th January 1875 in Liverpool following a fierce debate over the award following the crew’s return. Tragically, in October 1897, David was first mate aboard the “Glenfilas” of Liverpool, when it left Newcastle, New South Wales bound for Manila. The ship never made its destination and the ship and crew were deemed lost.



The ” Arracan,” whilst on a voyage from Shields to Bombay, with a cargo of coals, took fire from spontaneous combustion of her cargo, and on the 17th February was abandoned by her crew, who then took to their boats and endeavoured to make for the Maldive Islands. The boats kept company until the 20th, when finding the currents too strong it was agreed to separate after dividing the provisions. The Master in command of the long boat then made for Cochin, the Mate in charge of the gig, and the Second Mate, MR. DAVID. WEBSTER, in charge of the pinnace with four of the crew, viz., three men and one boy, made for the Maldive Islands. After two days Mr. DAVID WEBSTER’S boat was injured by a heavy sea, and could not keep up with the gig, and lost sight of her. From this time the pinnace was kept working to windward until the 9th March, by which day the provisions and water had been consumed. Shortly afterwards the crew cast lots which of them should be.first killed to be eaten, and the lot fell upon the ship’s boy HORNER, but WEBSTER, who had been asleep, was awoke in time to save the boy’s life. After dark an attempt was made to kill WEBSTER himself, but the boy HORNER awoke him in time to save himself. On the following day, WEBSTER having fallen asleep, was awoke by the struggles of the crew for the possession of his gun, with which to shoot him. Two hours later the crew attempted to take HORNER’S life again, but were prevented by the determined conduct of WEBSTER, who threatened to shoot and throw overboard the first man who laid hands on the boy. The next day one of the crew attempted to sink the boat, but WEBSTER mastered him and prevented further mischief. Two days later the same member of the crew again tried to sink the boat, and expressed his determination to take the boy’s life. For this he would have been shot by WEBSTER had not the cap on the gun missed fire. Soon after, putting a fresh cap on his gun, a bird flow over the boat which WEBSTER shot; it was at once seized and devoured by the crew, even to the bones and feathers. During the next five days the crew were quieter, subsisting on barnacles which attached themselves to the bottom of the boat and on sea blubber for which they dived. The  following day some of the men became delirious. One of them lay down exhausted, when another struck him several blows on the head with an iron belaying pin, cutting him badly. The blood which, flowed was caught in a tin and drunk by the man himself and the two other men. Afterwards they fought and bit one another, and only left off when completely exhausted, to recommence as soon as they were able ; the boy, HORNER, during the time keeping watch with WEBSTER. On the thirty-first day in the boat they were picked up six hundred miles from land by the ship, ” City of Manchester,” HARDIE, Master, by whom they were very kindly treated, and brought to Calcutta. WEBSTER, by his conduct, was the means of saving the lives of all in the boat.