Burns' new mail steamer "Mastiff" lying off Reykjavik in June 1878

Lord Inverclyde's Yachts
On the evening of Saturday, June 22, 1878, Mr John Burns and his wife, along with sixteen guests, left the private jetty below Castle Wemyss to board Burns' new mail steamer "Mastiff" for a sixteen day cruise to Iceland, the story of their cruise recorded by Anthony Trollope in a 96-page book, "How The Mastiffs Went to Iceland".


The "Mastiff" at Ardrossan The 230-foot long, 871 ton, "Mastiff" was built by by J. & G. Thompson of Clydebank for Messrs. G. & J. Burns' Irish mail service and was fitted with a two cylinder steam compound engine - In 1906, she was bought by Gibralter's Bland Line who, renaming her the "Gibel Dersa", ran her on the ferry service to Tangier until 1923, when she was withdrawn and scrapped at Genoa. The party returned to Wemyss Bay around 3 pm on Monday July 8, 1878 and, after strawberries and cream at Castle Wemyss, Burns' guests went their separate ways, "in melancholy humour" says Trollope. The success of the expedition on the "Mastiff" seems to have enthused Burns to build himself a yacht and, as fortune would have it, Burns was able to employ one Alexander Wilson, formerly yachtmaster to James 'Paraffin' Young of Kelly House, Wemyss Bay, Young retiring from from yachting and disposing of his schooner 'Nyanza', she built by Robert Steele & Co. of Greenock in 1867 and, along with the 'Oimara', one of the first Clyde-built 'composite' yachts. In all, the successive members of the Inverclyde family would own eight yachts over the course of the next forty years, these all fairly typical of their time and some indeed having quite interesting stories to tell. Matador 220 tons John Burns 1879 - 1880

The 'Matador', rigged as an auxiliary 'steam schooner', was sold to a Col. Campbell of Glasgow in 1881 and then to one R. C. T. Blunt of Glasgow who had her until 1885, her tonnage increased under his ownership to 233 tons - She then disappears from The Royal Yacht Squadron list until 1888 when owned by one Capt. J. H. Bainbridge, R.N., he seemingly disposing of her in 1900. Jacamar Capercailzie (I) 1890 451 tons 522 tons John Burns Sir John Burns Bart 1891 1882 - 1883 1883 -


Emily Burns, in hat, the 1st Lady Inverclyde, she the daughter of George Arbuthnot who had built Skelmorlie's 'Beach House' in 1844, the photograph taken on the after deck of the 1892-built "Capercailze (II)" Capercailzie (II) 1905 722 tons Sir John Burns Bt. and 1st Lord Inverclyde 1898 - 1900 1892 - 1897 2nd Lord Inverclyde 1901


The steel screw schooner Capercailzie (II) was designed and built by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow in 1892, she was registered at 566 tons gross, 308 net tons and 772 Thames tons, measured 229 feet in length with a 27 foot beam and, engined by her builders, was given a pair of steam compound engines. Inherited by the 2nd Lord Inverclyde upon his father's death in 1900, he kept her until 1904 when she was sold to Mr. Davison Dalziel of Grosvenor Place, London. He retained her name and kept her until 1912 when she was sold to the Italian government who renamed her "Archimede" and employed her in a variety of roles as an armed patrol vessel. Captured by Austrian forces at Odessa in March 1918 but retaken by the Italians at Sevastopol that November, she was subsequently rearmed with 2 - 3 inch guns and remained in service until scrapped in 1928. Note - Burns' Yachtmaster Alexander Wilson retired in 1896 due to a heart condition, he finally expiring in 1906 at the age of 69.


Beryl (I) as the "Thessalia" Beryl (I) 1910 484 tons 3rd Lord Inverclyde, James Clelland Burns 1906 -

This steam yacht, 168.5 feet long and 25.2 feet in breadth, Yard No 388, built to the order of Wyndham Francis Cook of London, was launched on Wednesday August 31st 1904 by Scotts of Greenock and, with twin triple-expansion steam engines, had a designed service speed of 13 knots, a detailed description of the ship noted in "Two Centuries of Shipbuilding by the Scotts at Greenock" and her sister-ship, Lord Dunraven's "Grianaig" built at the same time - She was sold on to Lord Inverclyde in 1906 and then to Lord Hollenden in 1911, her name then changed to "Lorna" - Requisitioned by The Admiralty in 1914, for service as a patrol vessel and, surplus to requirements in December 1919, she was sold to Sir Walter Preston M.P. She was again requisitioned in 1939 and, armed with one 12-pdr and one 6-pdr guns, serving as an armed boarding vessel until May 1941, her later war service unknown. As a consequence of the destruction of the Greek coastal and inter-island ferry fleet during WWII, she was sold to Kavounides Bros. of Piraeus in 1947, they re-naming her to "Thessalia" converting her to a passenger ship. Quite a number of decommissioned yachts, formerly belonging to the British aristocracy were sold on to the Greek ferry operators, small, compact and relatively fast steamers to carry passengers and cargo in The Ionian Sea. Easily distinguished by their often highly decorated and guilded clipper bows, the former yachts were sometimes referred to as 'The Lords' or 'The Seagulls', a feature often being the painting of a seagull below each ship's name, on the bows and, as in the case of the newly acquired "Thessalia", the yachts were painted white, a large blue 'K' on their funnels indicating ownership by the Kavounides Brothers, they one of the pioneers of the soon to develop post-war Greek cruise lines. 4

Beryl (I) as the "Thessalia" Following her conversion, the "Thessalia" began operating from Piraeus to Kythira Peloponnese and later ran from Patras Piraeus to Lobster, Mytikas, Zaverda, Lefkada, Preveza, Parga, Paxos, Corfu and Igoumenitsa, it taking her a full day to run from Pireaus to Preveza. In 1960, her masts were removed and she was fitted with diesel engines and a new funnel and re-named "Glaros", her overnight accommodation increased to provide 120 berths ! Little surprisingly, the majority of passengers preferred to make the trip to the deck, the mixed-age passengers packing every free corner of space. With few proper piers or landing facilities, just as in many places in The West Highlands, passengers and cargo were ferried between ship and shore in large 'flit' boats manned by local men. Some landing places, like Lobster, were remote and, with perhaps only a couple of buses a week to bigger towns, the ferries were thus the main means of transport opening doors in the outside world for the young people nursing dreams of another life, better and more interesting, ferry journeys acquiring a nearly mythical dimension, the ports the beginnings of life. As in the old days of the Clyde Steamers, people would gather around waving white handkerchiefs to the various arrivals and departures of friends and relatives. Too, as on Scotland's west coast, the animals were transported by boat between ship and shore, a ship's derrick slinging the unenthusaistic animals over the side and, should the hoist wires break and an animal fall into the sea and swim back to shore, then quarrels would break out between all concerned. A story too is told of one trip on the ship when four friends, travelling to a wedding, decided to play a trick on the ship's purser - Four 'cow' tickets were duly purchased and when a ticket inspection ensued, the four friends comfortably ensconced in a cabin, the ticket inspector demanded, "Where are the cows ?" "Can't you see ? They're in front of you !" Decommissioned, the "Glaros" was laid up alongside others in Ambelakia of Salamis in the mid-1960's and then, on the evening of December 14, 1966, when the area was hit by strong winds, she was struck by the "Rita" and, her waterline portholes broken, she began to flood 5

and then sank in the shallow waters in the early hours of the next morning. She was raised and scrapped in Perama in 1968.

Beryl (II) as Emerald on the Skelmorlie Measured Mile in 1903 Beryl (II) ex-Emerald 1913 797 tons 3rd Lord Inverclyde, James Clelland Burns

Designed and built by Alexander Stephens on the Clyde in 1903 as Yard No. 397, Emerald was owned by Sir Christopher (later Lord) Furness, a scion of one of northeast England's wealthiest industrial families. Registered at 694 tons gross, 472 net tons and 797 Thames tons, she measured 212 feet in length with a 29 foot beam and sported a classic schooner rig with sails by Lapthorn & Ratsey. Constructed with two decks, the upper one of teak and lit by electricity throughout, no expense was spared to fit her out and she was the epitome of luxury. Her excellent speed was the result of triple screws driven, most unusually at this early date, by three powerful Parsons' steam turbines; in every sense the acme of modernity, she was undoubtedly one of the finest yachts of her day. Another of her claims to fame was that she was the first turbine-powered vessel to cross The Atlantic when she was chartered by Jay Gould, the well-known American yachtsman, to use as his temporary home from which to watch the 1903 America's Cup races. After nine years' usage by Lord Furness, she was offered for sale after his death in November 1912 and purchased by Lord Inverclyde of Castle Wemyss who renamed her Beryl. Sadly, her new owner enjoyed her for only about a year as in December 1913, whilst lying at her mooring in the Gareloch, the yacht was boarded and set on fire by militant suffragettes and totally destroyed, the newspaper reports at the time valued the loss at £40,000. Beryl (III) 1393 tons 3rd Lord Inverclyde 1914 - 1918

Built as a yacht and oceanographic research vessel for Prince Albert of Monaco, the 1,368 ton "Princess Alice (II)", length 251.0 feet, breadth 34.8 feet and depth 18.7 feet, was launched on November 11, 1897 and completed in April 1898 by Laird Brothers of Birkenhead as Yard No. 631 and given a single triple-expansion steam engine and had a service speed of 12 knots.


Beryl (III) as The Prince of Monaco's "Princess Alice (II)" She was sold to Lord Inverclyde, James Cleland Burns, in 1914 and renamed "Beryl", a replacement for the "Emerald" which supposedly had been set on fire by suffragetes who, by some, were suspected of also having destroyed Alexander Stephen’s Kelly House at Wemyss Bay by setting it alight. The lovely "Emerald", beyond economic repair, finished her days as a coal hulk in The Gareloch ! Requisitioned in January 1915 and armed with one 3 inch and one 12 pounder, she was on loan to The Director of The Naval Auxiliary Division until October 1915 - Later, she was based at Queenstown with 'The Auxiliary Yacht Patrol' and stayed there until early 1918, she then based at Portsmouth, Kirkwall and was at Dundee when the war ended. [Sources : Ian Dear's "History of the Royal Yacht Squadron 1815 - 1985", Appendix 1 'Members' Yachts and Their Use in The First World War' (Stanley Paul & Co., 1985 ISBN 0 09 162590 4 ), the origins of 'The Yacht Patrol' etc. explained on pages 91 - 94 and from The Admiralty's Naval Historical Branch's extracts from the logs of some yachts and also the 'Red Lists' which record in which Auxiliary Patrol area each yacht was operating at any particular time].

Beryl (III) as the "Alice" (right) 7

Following James Burns' death in 1919, the "Beryl" was sold to The Commercial Cable Company in 1921 and renamed "George Ward", after an early Vice President and General Manager of the company. Used for repair work on the Atlantic cables owned by the company, she was withdrawn in 1923 and, in 1925, sold to one A. Gatti, her name then changed to the "Ardita (II)" ( ? ) - Two years later, in 1927, she was sold to one T. Campanella and re-named the "Alice". Though nothing more is really known of her, it is suggested that she may have been scuttled in the Toulon area in August 1944.

Beryl (IV) in The Mediterranean Beryl (IV) 342 tons 4th Lord Inverclyde, John Alan Burns 1926 - 1930

In her autobiography, Lord Inverclyde's second wife, June Tripp, tells us that Inverclyde's fourth 'Beryl' was built by Hepple and Co. Ltd. at South Shields 'in 1921' but, the 342-ton "Beryl", with her uncommonly-shaped 'spoon' bow, was of earlier build and, built for one N. C. Neill, had been launched as the "Adventuress" at the South Shields yard, as Yard No. 626, on December 10, 1912 and completed in February 1913. Records assert that she was 135 feet and 2 inches in length, 'between perpendiculars', her 'overall length' probably in excess of 150 feet, 30 feet in breadth and was fitted with but a single steam triple-expansion engine, details of her design speed unrecorded. Nothing is known of her service in WWI but, in 1921, she was bought by one William Kissam Vanderbilt II, great-grandson of the wealthy and famed 'Commodore' Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt's "Eagle" ex-'Adventuress' (left) and Inverclyde's "Beryl (IV)


At this point in her life, the "Adventuress" appears to have been returned to her South Shields builders, Hepple and Co. and given a thorough overhaul and upgrade for, now renamed the "Eagle", she would take part in a number of research expeditions and, it is most likely that Lord Inverclyde's second wife, June Tripp, assumes this 1921 date as the year of the yacht's building, perhaps seeing a builder's plate with that 'overhaul' date somewhere on the ship or even being somewhat 'mis-informed' by one of the yacht's crew. June Tripp also says of her that, presumably as a consequence of the 1921 overhaul and upgrades, "The "Beryl" had five state-cabins, three bathrooms, a dining-room and drawing-room, and carried twenty-three in crew. "The master state-room was charmingly furnished in Louis XVI style with a double bed, an ivory and gilt dressing-table, flowered curtains, armchair, chaise-longue and a graceful little escritoire. "She was by no means the prettiest yacht afloat; her snub nose bereft her of that 'make-wayfor-Her-Majesty' air that some ships possess by sheer virtue of line; but she was strong, she was luxurious, she had crossed The Atlantic many times and weathered many a storm". On the death of his father in 1920, 'Willie' Vanderbilt had inherited a multi-million dollar fortune and, looking for a winter residence in the following years, he set his sights rather strangely on a small 'articial barrier island' that had been begun in 1905 as part of a dredging and land reclamation project some three miles offshore from Miami's beach.

Fisher Island, Miami Construction of what became known as 'Fisher Island' began in 1919 when Carl G. Fisher, a land developer, purchased the property from businessman and real estate developer Dana A. Dorsey, southern Florida's first African-American millionaire. Just as Vanderbilt, a frequent visitor to Key West and Miami, was desperate to acquire Fisher's 216-acre island in Biscayne Bay, so too he discovered that Fisher was equally anxious to own Vanderbilt's "Eagle" - "My island for your boat ?" and the legendary deal was done.


After Vanderbilt's death in 1944, ownership of Fisher Island passed to U.S. Steel heir Edward Moore and, Moore dying in the early 1950s, the island was then bought by Gar Wood, the millionaire inventor of hydraulic construction equipment. Wood, a speedboat enthusiast and the first man to achieve 100 mph on water. Though Fisher was one of the best known and active promoters of the Florida land boom of the 1920' and by 1926 was worth an estimated $100 million, the Florida real estate market bubble began to burst almost as soon as he took over the "Eagle" and, for whatever reason, Fisher sacrificed her and, in that year of 1926, Lord Inverclyde became her new owner and renamed her "Beryl". It may well have been that, amongst Fisher's only-just-beginning-problems, Fisher had illjudged affairs and either his or even Vanderbilt's yacht agents had unwittingly allowed the "Eagle" to be chartered to bootleggers, the American prohibitions laws in force from 1919 until 1933 and any hint of scandal by association almost certainly detrimental to reputations ! Lord Inverclyde's second wife, June Tripp, has it that, "During the early days of Prohibition in America, she ("Beryl") had been chartered by liquor racketeers who had used her as a rum-runner between Canada and United States. I rather relished the knowledge that she had been a shady lady before becoming the property of an austere Scottish peer and entitled to fly the White Ensign, the emblem to which all ships at sea must 'dip' their own ensigns". Anyway, after Alan Burns' marriage to June Tripp, though it goes generally unmentioned, it was "Beryl", with her then somewhat exceptional dark green painted hull, that brought the couple to Castle Wemyss for the first time, the yacht's crew hitching a tow-line on to Inverclyde's car at the castle's private jetty and towing the couple to the castle's front door. In 1930, hard on the heels of the end of the couple's short 15-month marriage and almost immediately at beginning their somewhat prolonged divorce proceedings, "Beryl" was sold to one J. B. Allan, the Allans another famous Clyde-based shipping company family and the yacht renamed "Scotia" until 1934, she sold to a Sir J. Humphrey and named "Anglia". Following WWII, her war service undiscovered, she was sold to E. T. Stoforos in 1947 and named "Itea", she presumably, like the 1904-built "Beryl", being purchased for conversion and service as a Greek inter-island ferry ? In 1961 she was re-named the "Kapetan Stratis" and though there is no note of any change of ownership or conversion from steam to diesel power, her tonnage measurement is decreased from 342 tons to 247 tons. The last recording of the ship was in 1963, her owners then A.& M. Diamantis and her name now the "Polychronis". A useful reference is "The Royal Yacht Squadron; Memorials of Its Members : 1815 1901" by Montague Guest and William B. Boulton (1902) which is "an enquiry into the history of yachting and its development in The Solent" and contains a complete list of members with their yachts from the foundation of the club to the present time from the official records and can be downloaded from The Internet Archive at http://www.archive.org/details/royalyachtsquadr00guesuoft and further ship and owner internet searches were made using the http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz/ databases.


June, Lady Inverclyde


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