Samuel Popplestone AM

b. 1831 Staddon Farm, Staddiscombe, Devon.  d. 01/06/1914 Plymouth, Devon.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 23/03/1866 Start Point, Devon.

Samuel Popplestone AM

Samuel was one of six children born to Richard and Ann Popplestone (nee Baron), who owned and lived at Staddon Farm, Staddiscombe, Devon. Samuel was baptised in Plymstock on 7th June 1831, and by 1861, Samuel had inherited the farm from his father, who had retired. Samuel was a bachelor at the time of his AM action, becoming the first recipient of the medal. In 1867 at Kingsbridge, Devon, he married Sarah Anne Lidstone, though there were no children from the marriage. Following retirement from the farm, he moved to 1, Grimestone Villas, Plymouth, where he died on 1st June 1914.



The ” Spirit of the Ocean,” a barque of 557 tons, with a crew of eighteen hands and twentyfour passengers, was wrecked on the rocks, four hundred yards to the west of Start Point, in the county of Devon, on the 23rd March, 1866. The mate and one of the crew were saved by Samuel Popplestone, unaided, and at the imminent risk of his own life. The circumstances under which this very dangerous service was performed by Mr. Popplestone are as follows, viz.: The vessel, with a part of her crew sick, and the mates and passengers assisting in working her was caught in a strong gale from the south-west; and on Friday, the 23rd March, she was off the Start, in a very dangerous position. Mr. Popplestone observed the peril of the vessel, and knew that if she failed to weather the rocks she must inevitably be lost, and every soul lost with her, unless assistance could be rendered from the shore. He therefore despatched a messenger on one of his own horses to Tor Cross, to rouse the villagers, and another messenger on horseback to give information to the Coast Guard. The vessel had by this time struck on the rocks, and had begun to break up rapidly. Mr. Popplestone took a small coil of rope, and, alone and unaided, proceeded over the shore from rock to rock until he got near to the vessel. The wind at the time was blowing at force 11, that is, a storm, nearly equal to a hurricane, accompanied by rain, and a very heavy and dangerous sea. Whilst Popplestone was standing on the rock nearest to the vessel, endeavouring to effect a communication with the vessel, he was washed off; but, by a great effort on his part, and  by the help of a returning sea, he regained his footing, and from this perilous position he succeeded in saving the lives of two persons, and conveying them beyond the reach of danger.