The Faithful Steward, bound from Londonderry, Ireland to Philadelphia with 249
passengers, ran aground near Indian River Inlet, Delaware on the night of September 1,
1785. When a sounding was taken, it was found the ship was only in 4 fathoms of
water, though there was not the slightest appearance of land. Every exertion was used
to run the vessel off shore but all failed.
On the morning of September 2, the ship was near Indian River, about four leagues to
the southward of Cape Henlopen. Every effort was made to save the unhappy sufferers,
who had remained on the deck during the night.
The ship was only 100 yards from the shore. On the evening of Sept. 2, the ship broke
to pieces. The long boats that had been put into the water drifted ashore before they
could be manned. All relief was cut off. The only chance of survival for the remainder
of the passengers was by swimming ashore, or using pieces of the wreck as life rafts.
By dawn’s light only 68 of the 249 passengers had survived. The inhabitants from
Lewistown (present day Lewes, DE) came to the beach to plunder the bodies of their
goods. Of the 100 women and children aboard, only 7 were saved.
Among the cargo aboard the ship were 400 barrels of half pennies and gold rose guineas.
(See Coin Beaches)