Rye in East Sussex Town Guide

Message for Denis Wederell

Denis Wederell: Hello Denis:

I tried your email from the Mariners Archive but it doesn’t work.

I am the great grandson of William Heatley, Master of the Star of Peace. I would be very interested in learning anything about how the ship was lost. I know through William’s son Thomas, my grandfather, that the “Star” was lost off Queensland in 1891. I also heard William could not swim and drowned in the incident. William’s father’s tombstone in Blyth, Northumberland reads “William father of William Heatley lost off Queensland 1891”

On another subject, William and the crew of the Star apparently rescued the crew of a sinking Belgian ship off the coast of France in 1878. I have an oil painting commissioned by the Belgian government depicting the rescue along with an article in a maritime journal describing the rescue. My father was given the painting when he visited family in England in 1963. It was painted by noted Belgian artist Henry Loos. Quite a family treasure.

I’ve been to the British National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and was able to get copies of William’s Mate and Master certificates. Nice folks there also helped me track a few of the voyages. Mostly going from England to Portugal and then over to the coast of South America and back. Seems like the voyage to New Zealand was not typical.

I hope to hear from you!


Bill Heatley
Dallas, Texas, USA

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