THOMAS M. M. HEMY (1852-1937) - PAGE 61


Thomas M. M. Hemy datapages 01, 02 & 03 are now on site. Plus all of the other image pages, accessible though the index on page 05. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

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I present here more of Thomas Hemy's many works, commencing with the images that were contained in the Jan. 27, 1894 edition of 'The Boy's Own Paper', in the article provided on page 03 - at about 1/3 bigger scale. The titles are quite clear under each image. But for greater clarity, images 1 & 6 on this page came from that article. Image 2 is of The Burning of the 'Kent' as it appeared in Bibby's Annual for 1911. That item (slightly sharpened) comes from an e-Bay item that sold on e-Bay for U.S. $9.99 in Mar. 2003. And from that same source came the words under the image.

And image 3 on this page may be the closest we will come to the original painting, The Burning of the "Kent", unless & until we learn if the original painting still exists &, if it does, where it today is located. But, in early Nov. 2008, I have seen a reference which states that the original work may be 'in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London (I believe)' It is there, in fact, see below.

I have not scanned 'The Wreck of the Birkenhead' or 'Every Soul Was Saved', also contained in that Boy's Own Paper issue, because those works are already on this site in better quality, specifically here & here.


A poem was written about the Kent incident, which includes a reference to how the fire started. Available right here.

Burning of the Kent by Thomas M. M. Hemy

Burning of the Kent by Thomas M. M. Hemy

The next image is quite magnificent - from a coloured glass 'Lantern Slide' that is very old indeed & is believed to date from the period of 1900-1910. It comes to us via Ton Brinkel of The Netherlands, & is from a collection of such slides assembled by John Brinkel, Ton's father. This slide may be the closest we can hope to get today to the original painting. The slide itself was, I learn, manufactured by 'Church Army' of 14 Edgware Rd. W.2., London, England. And was hand coloured. I think a sliver of the original work at the left edge may not be visible in the slide. Regardless the image is wonderful. And if you wish to learn more about the 'magic lantern' & such glass slides, Ton has kindly provided a link to an extensive site on that subject, available here in its English language edition.

Burning of the Kent by Thomas M. M. Hemy - From Glass Slide

It is of interest, however, to note that in Nov. 2008 a similar slide, described as a '3.25 inch square glass magic lantern slide', not however coloured & therefore in black & white, was offered for sale via e-Bay. What is particularly interesting is that vendor indicated a possible location for the original work, i.e. 'Currently housed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London (I believe)'. The slide sold for GBP 4.50 or U.S. $6.59. The slide was further described as being:- 'Maker "Newton & Co, 5 Fleet St, London" & made around 1910. "Copied by permission of Messrs H Graves & Co". The writing on the masking is "The Burning of the Kent East Indiaman by T. M. Hemy". And:- 'the image very sharp indeed (for instance the name of one of the lifeboats reads "CAMBRIA FALMOUTH", and "KENT LONDON" on the ship)'.

Thanks to Andrew Cable's guestbook message here, it is confirmed that the original painting is indeed located at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London, in the corridor outside the Locarno State Rooms. The plaque under the painting states that the painting was donated by the artist in 1931. The painting is approx. 8 ft. x 6 ft. in size.


This print (second image above) was published by Joseph Bibby in the 1911 issue of Bibby's Annual. The print measures 9 x 6 inches & has text on the reverse side, as follows:

"The loss of the East-Indiaman "KENT" was one of those shipping disasters that send a shudder through the nation & leave a lasting impression upon popular memory. The "KENT" sailed from the Downs in February, 1825, having on board troops, passengers, & crew amounting to 637 souls. In the Bay of Biscay, on March 1st, fire broke out & spread with alarming rapidity, owing to a violent gale which was raging. Fortunately, the "CAMBRIA", bound for Mexico, hove in sight and succeeded in rescuing 554 persons. At two o'clock in the morning of March 2nd, the fire reached the powder magazines & the doomed vessel blew up."


From "Perils At Sea" written by Thomas Carter (Adjutant General's Office) - 1859

On Tuesday, 1 March 1825, the Kent, an East Indiaman, with the right wing of the 31st regiment on board, caught fire in the Bay of Biscay, and was totally destroyed. The accident occurred about 10 o'clock A.M., towards the end of a violent gale of wind, when the ship was rolling heavily. One of the spirit casks being adrift, an officer of the ship endeavoured to secure it with some billets of wood, but the ship making a heavy lurch, he unfortunately dropped the light, and letting go his hold of the cask with a view to recover the lantern, it suddenly stove, and the spirits communicating with the lamp, the whole place was instantly in a blaze.

When there was no hope of saving the vessel, exertions were made to preserve the troops and crew. The noble example of the officers found a ready imitation in the men, and all showed the utmost order and firmness in this trying ordeal. The providential means of escape were provided by the brig Cambria, but it was not until three o'clock in the afternoon that Captain Cook succeeded in getting the first boat from the vessel. From that hour until eight in the evening, the boats were constantly employed bringing the people to the Cambria, and succeeded in saving 296 officers, non commissioned officers and privates of the thirty-first regiment, together with 48 women and 52 children belonging thereto, and 10 male and female private passengers. Captain Cobb and 139 of the crew, amounting in all to 553. Fifty-four men, one woman and twenty-one children were lost, but the number would have been much greater, had it not been for the excellent order observed. At two o'clock in the morning the Kent blew up, after being completely enveloped in flames for four hours previously.

The crew of the ill-fated ship did not behave in the manner that is generally attributable to the British seaman, as they refused to return to the Kent for their shipmates after the first trip, and it was only by the coercive measures of the captain who said he would not receive them on board unless they did so, that they reluctantly proceeded on their duty. Two hours after the ship blew up, a soldier's wife was delivered on board the Cambria.

There were instances of men who who tied the children of brother soldiers on their backs, and leaping overboard swam with their burdens to the boats. Fourteen of the men who remained on the wreck were rescued the following morning by the Caroline and carried to Liverpool.


I am puzzled why I have not, long since, referred on this page to an account of the disaster, first published in 1825 & entitled 'THE LOSS OF THE KENT EAST INDIAMAN IN THE BAY OF BISCAY. NARRATED IN A LETTER TO A FRIEND BY GENERAL SIR DUNCAN MACGREGOR, K.C.B.' It was republished many times and is available, I know, in our city's (Toronto, Canada) Central Reference Library. A small volume - 4 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches in size & 78 pages in the original (later editions range up to 116 pages). With at least three illustrations. I mention it now because a later (1884) copy of the book was sold in March 2008.

The book does not come up very often on e-Bay, but has done so half a dozen times in recent years. Many copies are available via 'Book Finder'. Some day perhaps its text or a summary thereof may appear in these pages.

But in the interval there have been wonderful developments in the WWW world. And today the complete text of the volume is available at no charge in a great many places, such as 'Google Books', which has it here as a pdf file, a second edition, complete with appendices & of 96 pages total, & others, such as 'Project Gutenberg',, & others. Strangely, perhaps, the book does not seem to refer to the author's name. So now there is no necessity for me to undertake the work of transcription.

The webmaster is always happy to find information related to the subject matter of his various pages, & has found an ex-library book, in quite poor condition, entitled 'the book of SHIPWRECKS'. It was written by Kenneth Hudson & Ann Nicholls & published in 1979. It contained the image (artist unknown to webmaster) which follows, along with the following words: "In the Bay of Biscay in 1825 the East Indiaman Kent ran into heavy weather. Fire broke out on board, and in an attempt to put it out, the sea was allowed to flood the ship's fore-section, with disastrous results." What puzzles me is that the book, which lists over 1,000 shipwrecks from 2500 BC. onwards, has no other reference that I can see to the 'Kent'. It is not, that I can see, indexed in the book, nor are any details provided about the 'Kent' other than I have above indicated. Or none that I could spot at any rate. So why is the image in the book? Regardless, I am very glad to have the image! And the words add a new but rather different dimension to the descriptive texts above. I cannot tell you the true image source, since the book credits the image to a picture library. It is probably an engraving from Illustrated London News or some similar publication, but I do not know the exact original source. If anyone knows on what date & where the engraving was published, the webmaster would like to know.

No data available

The above words were written a very long time ago now. But in early Feb. 2006, Alexandra Keens of France has written in (thank you so much, Alexandra!) to advise that the black and white image above relates to a Théodore Gudin (1802-1880) painting entitled "L'Incendie du Kent, 28 février 1825" (The Burning of the Kent, 28 February 1825). The Gudin painting is, I am advised, in the French maritime museum in Paris, France, the 'Musée National de la Marine', on permanent loan from the Painting Department at the Louvre Museum. But I suspect that further detective work will be necessary to establish exactly what the above black and white image is. Because we do have a few problems.

Work by Théodore Gudin (1802-1880) entitled

First of all the images, while most similar in content, are far from being identical. Further, the image above is 'flipped' in direction from the Gudin work, visible at left (See the next paragraph re the image source). By that I mean that while the Kent is 'heeling', if that is the right word, to the left in the image above, in the Gudin original it 'heels' to the right. i.e. the image has been both modified & 'flipped'.

Perhaps the un-attributed print above is then 'after Théodore Gudin'.

Now it would seem that it may have been an easy thing for an engraver to do - to reverse the direction of a work, if there are no visual signals in the work such as wording to show which direction is correct. And especially that may be true if the engraver perhaps had never seen the original work.

The image immediately above comes from the fine site of Simil'Art Gallery of Paris. I trust it is in order to display it on this non-profit & informational site, but if not I will gladly remove it. Through that link you can also view an enlarged & beautiful reproduction of the Gudin work, available for purchase, I do believe.

Alexandra Keens advises additionally that an image is available here, that is rather closer in content to the print above - & stated to be by Gudin. 'Tis confusing indeed!


I know nothing about the next work, alas. Other than where I found the image, as stated at the top of this page.

The Captain was the Last to 
Leave by Thomas M. M. Hemy

Thomas Hemy Datapages 01, 02 & 03 are on site plus all of the other image pages available through the index on page 05.

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