75343: Shipwreck of the Sir William Wallace, 1834

On 24th October 1834 the Sir William Wallace was shipwrecked on the island of Berneray, driven ashore at Corran. It was known that the 232 ton brig contained a valuable cargo of timber, so two of the strongest men on the island, Donald Morrison and Archibald Munro, were chosen to guard her. On a bitter night, with no footwear other than mogain, a type of heavy knitted woollen stocking, the two men died of exposure. It proved impossible to salvage the ship, which had sunk into the sand. The ribs however remained visible at low tide.

Various newspaper accounts of the time detail the wreck and of the public sale of timber, held on 22nd April 1835. The timber included:

  • 6000 feet of yellow pine
  • 3000 feet of red pine
  • 2750 feet of elm
  • 2000 feet of white oak
  • 2270 pieces of pipe
  • 2148 pieces of puncheon staves
  • 5 fathoms of lathwood 
  • and 5 dozen handspokes

On the same date the hull was also to be sold, including lower masts, caps and tops, bowsprit, etc together with 3 anchor and chain cables which had slipped from the ship. Local enquiries were to made to Berneray’s minister at the time, Reverend John Bethune.

Just over 100 years later, in Spring 1942, Donald’s grandson Donald Morrison Dòmhnall Iain Dhòmhnaill saw the remains of the ship rise again, ‘forced from its sandy grave’, presumably by the combined effect of the pounding of the waves and the explosion of a wartime mine off Boreray.


Record Type:
Historical Event
Date / From:
24 Oct 1834
Record Maintained by: