Stansas by Jane Francis James

Jane Francis James (c1811-1883), born in Wales, died in Brooklyn, NY was said to have crossed the Atlantic 24 four times with her daughter Jennie born on one of those trips. Neither is true but she did cross the Atlantic at least three times. During a particularly rough trip she wrote Stansas, a poem documenting the account. It was written on the 1855 maiden voyage of the ship The Lillies from St. Johns, New Brunswick to Liverpool, England.  The Lillies was a 1665 ton Clipper Ship that was known for speed.  From "in the Wake of the Wind Ships", Frederick William Wallace, 1927:
A smart ship was the Lillies, 1665 tons, built in 1855 by Alex. Simes at Lancaster, N.B.  This ship is credited with transporting troops from Dublin to Gibraltar in 4 days, and also made a passage from Liverpool to Melbourne in 79 days.  On this passage it is claimed that she made 365 miles ad for several days in succession.  The Lillies sailed under the White Star flag and also in the Mersey Line to Australia.  She was ultimately lost in October 1863 at Morecambe Bay, near Liverpool.

Written on board the "Lillies"
on a passage from St John NB for

In the "Lilies" from the port of "St John" we set sail.
Towed out by the steam boat, with a southerly gale,
Around the bluff headlands where the winds wildly blow
Away! far away! to the Eastward we'll go


Three cheers 'from the gallant ship soon rose on high
And rang through the vapour that obscured the sky,
But twill soon clear away and Norwesters will blow
Bound away to the East ward in the "Lillies" we'll go,


Night soon came on and the winds wilder blew
We stood by and up our top gallants did clew
While the tempest tossed ship lay rolling to and fro
Bound away to the East ward in the "Lillies" we go


We beat down the bay for two days or more
Till the winds drove us down on the bold Yarmouth shore
Our foresail to pieces while we "ware ship" is rent
But another good sail in it's place soon is bent,


The wild "Petite "passage" lay under our lee
Either we must run through it or lost we shall be
Either we must run through it from the frost and the snow
Or away to the Eastward we never shall go


So now then Lay aft-every soul of our crew
Stand by your "Clewgarnets" your mainsail up Clew
Jump start your main Jack and let your wheel flow
And flying away to the passage we go.


We near it hope in each sailors heart now beats high
Alternately "luff" and "Keep away" is the cry
We clear it. We fly from the frost & the snow.
And in triumph away to the Eastward we go.


But still there Cape Sable looms out on our lee
Board your main tack and we'll stand out to sea
And now let the west winds more wildly blow
For before them in triumph to the Eastward we go


Still wilder and wilder the good west wind blows
Think our good starboard anchor is adrift from the boat
And our boatswain washed away with a wild [Gyfar - may be Gybe or Jibe]
Still away far away far away to the Eastward we go


Our anchors secured we snugged every sail
And ran 'fore the fury of that western gale
Away from New Brunswick and the [ice] & the snow
In the wild Ocean "Lillies" to the Eastward we go

We run fore the fury of that western sea
Till our bulwarks are stove and life boats washed away
But the west wind is Blowing. so let each sheet flow
And away! far away! to the East ward we go.

Let her ride o'er the foam let her bend to the blast
Thirteen knots are counted as each hour is past
Blow good wind and we fly from the frost and the snow
And in triumph away to the East ward we go

But Hark! the ship popps she is struck by the sea
Our wheel is all smashed and taffrel rail washed away
Our foresail is split [Dump] and up it blew
As flying wildly away to the Eastward we go

Lay aft with your tackles lay aft all our crew
Quick with your helm up before we come to
There away she goes off 'fore her deadly foe
Like lightning away to the East ward we go

These lines are most respectfully dedicated to the Captain & passengers of the ship "Lillies" and will be concluded on arrival in the Mersey.


-- Clew-garnet is the tackle used to furl the lower square-sails.
-- "Till the bulwarks are stave" means till the bulwarks are broken.
-- Taffrel rail or taffrail is the rail around transom of a ship.

Jane Frances James

Shipwreck of the Lillies, November 1863 at Morecambe Bay, near Liverpool, 8 years after her maiden voyage described above.
Picture from



Copyright Bill Scholtz 1997-

Last edited 09/15/2011