The Roseneath was an iron barque rigged sailing vessel built by Barclay Curle & Co. Ltd of Glasgow and launched in 1857.
Six lives were lost when the Roseneath ran ashore 400 yards south of Portpatrick harbour on Saturday 2 February, 1889. The Roseneath, which was loaded with 150 tons of rubbish ballast, had left Dublin for Glasgow the previous morning under tow of the Greenock tug Defiance. Around 2am on Saturday morning the two vessels encountered atrocious weather off the Copeland Islands which resulted in the tug’s towing eye giving way. Strenuous efforts were made by the crew of the Defiance to get a line aboard the Roseneath but, due to the weather conditions and the darkness, they were unsuccessful.
As daylight broke it soon became clear to Captain Robert Browne of the Roseneath that his vessel was being rapidly driven towards the Galloway coast. Due to the hurricane force winds he was unable to set any sail and his vessel was out of control. In desperation he decided to head for the narrow entrance to Portpatrick harbour where, at worst, he could run the barque ashore in relative shelter. His plan nearly worked – had it not been for a series of squalls which lashed the Roseneath within a mile of the coast and pushed her south of the harbour entrance. Unable to head upwind she was eventually driven ashore around 8:30am between the harbour entrance and Castle Point. As the Roseneath heeled over onto her side exposing her deck to the full force of the sea, the eleven people aboard struggled to climb into the rigging. However, six people including the mate, Duncan Taylor, his wife and child, were washed overboard and drowned. The remainder of the crew(5) were rescued by the Portpatrick Rocket Brigade. The Roseneath eventually broke up later that day and became a total wreck.
At a subsequent Board of Trade inquiry into the loss of the Roseneath and the six lives lost, the Court was asked to consider the certificates of both masters. After due consideration the Court ruled that the master of the Defiance was not in default but the master of the Roseneath was in default. However, taking into account his efforts to save life, and being last man to leave the ship the Court while reprimanding him did not consider it necessary to suspend his Masters certificate. The full transcript of the Court proceedings is attached below, it gives more detail on the conditions prevailing that night and the final desperate moments onboard the vessel before it grounded.