"Neglectful or Worse": A Lurid Tale of a Lighthouse Keeper and Wrecking

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Mention Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and their maritime history, and many people will have a vision of the Cornish and Islanders of the past as wreckers, purposely luring ships on the rocks through the use of false lights, and then killing the survivors and plundering the cargoes. Alternatively, other stories focus on the role of the lighthouse keepers, who were occasionally accused of dousing the lights during storms, or who were kidnapped by wreckers so the lantern could not be lit.

Most secondary works that discuss wrecking discount the stories of false lights, but the role of the lighthouse keeper remains in question. This paper examines some of the more lurid Victorian narratives of wrecking, such as the tales of St. Agnes and Longships lights, and investigates how these stories became distorted over time to become part of the accepted orthodoxy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalTroze: The Online Journal of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


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