October 1859 – letter from William Foster, ship’s carpenter to his wife:
“My dear wife, I am sorry to inform you that the ship is a complete wreck. She has gone to pieces this morning, about 5 o’clock. There are only 25 – 30 of us saved out of about 400 souls.
Dear wife, give my love to the children and tell them I will be home as soon as the letter.”
Amongst the passengers who did not survive was Sarah Ann Foster (neé Woodruff). Sarah was born in Hatherlow in the township of Bredbury on the 28th April 1821 and christened at Hatherlow Independent church. Her mother was Mary Woodruff and it is likely that Sarah was illegitimate, as her father’s name is not recorded.
We next hear of Mary Woodruff from an entry in Pigot’s Trade Directory for 1834 “Taverns & Public Houses - Hare & Hounds - Mary Woodruff, Chadkirk”.
Woodruff was a common name in the local area (Woodruff is the name of a creeping plant with a small white starry flower, which grows in woods and shaded hedgerows). The burial records for All Saints Church, Marple list many Woodruffs, in particular, there is a grave inscription for a family from Bredbury that includes a Mary Woodruff whose dates tie in with those of Sarah’s mother.
Sarah married John Foster, a widower, on the 10th December 1844 at Stockport Parish Church in the Market Place. John was the publican at The Black Boy, Great Underbank in Stockport. Interestingly, although Sarah’s father isn’t named on the baptism record, nor is he married to her mother, he is named on Sarah’s marriage certificate - John Priestnall, Dealer in corn and flour.