A maritime disaster off the coast of Jersey in December 1900. One of the crew aboard the steamship Rossgull was Elijah Jarman Emptage.
Six members of the Emptage family took part in the rescue attempt of the crew of the Northern Belle in January 1857. Two lost their lives and three received medals at an earlier event. Now it was Alfred Emptage’s turn to receive his medal at a ceremony where special mention was made of his bravery.
Born into a family of generations of mariners, Albert John Emptage earnt his living by the sea, having begun to work with boats at the age of eight. Whilst he had a turbulent domestic life, his skill at sea was undisputed. Albert was a member of the Margate lifeboat service for 40 years, many of them as coxswain. It was not just his height which made him a ‘giant of a man’.
Today there are many powerful global companies but the largest and most powerful was the East India Company. It had its own army and navy to protect its interests. George Emptage served in the company’s Bombay Marine, rising to Commodore and seeing action in the Second Anglo-Mysore War in India.
Thomas was called upon to do his duty and hire out his cutter to the Navy Board, to help service the English fleet at war with France.
If you hire something out, you expect to be paid for your time and expenses especially when, during the period of the hire, you’ve not had any other form of income and have incurred debts on behalf of your country.
Thomas, like many other people at the time, found himself having to argue with the Navy Board in order to be paid.
The story of an encounter with a veteran boat man named Hemptage and of his meeting with Napoleon Bonaparte. Why was it so important?