1875 Waterwitch

On November 29, 1875, the Waterwitch was heading for Cupids, NL. But in a blinding snowstorm, the ship struck rocks just north of Pouch Cove. The Newfoundland Express published the following letter from Pouch Cove’s Anglican minister on December 3, 1875:

Parsonage, Pouch Cove, Nov 30, ‘75

We had a frightful wreck here last night. The schooner Waterwitch, from St. John’s , to and belonging to Cupids, in the Bay, total loss. There were 25 souls on board, – out of which we saved only 13. I was on the spot soon after the terrible news reached the houses, and helped to haul up the survivors. Every man was hauled up fast to about 100 fathoms line, as the wreck could not be approached. We could hear their cries all night below us. It was frightful! The people have behaved nobly….

In much haste and trouble,

Yours truly,

Reginald M. JOHNSON

Alfred Moores of Pouch Cove is given credit for the rescue of many of the survivors; he was lowered by rope from an overhanging cliff so that he could carry survivors to safety.


Newfoundland’s Grand Banks: Genealogical and Historical Data for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland Express, Sept 1875-July 1876.

Dohey, Larry. 2019. “We could hear their cries all night below us,” Archival Moments (blog). Accessed November 30, 2020.

Additional Resources:

Moores, Alfred [not the same person as the hero in song]. N.d. The Water Witch. Interview with MacEdward Leach.

Sullivan, Marilyn and Kathie Billard. 1979. “The Waterwitch,” From History of the Town of Pouch Cove. Read more on the Pouch Cove Heritage Society website.

Drodge, Eldon. 2010. Newfoundland Stories: The Loss of the Waterwitch & Other Tales. Breakwater Books.


4 responses to “1875 Waterwitch”

  1. todd moores says:

    This is my great,great , grandfather.. I am beyond words at how proud I am.. I had no idea from where I came .. now I know and funny enough I continue to put others ahead of my own well being

    • Heather Sparling says:

      I’m glad you know about your great-great-grandfather’s incredible act of bravery and selflessness. It’s an amazing legacy.

  2. Bret Green says:

    A tale of a bygone era-when men had salt in their veins.

  3. Edward Darius Meadus says:

    The Water Witch was built in Poole England by my Great Great Great Grandfather Edmund Meadus, the last square rigger to be built in England.

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