The Royal Charter was carrying around 450 passengers, were returning from the Australian gold fields near MelbourneThe loss of the Royal Charter in a terrible storm off Anglesey in 1859 was the worst ever shipping disaster on the Welsh coast. 359 passengers and crew are thought to have lost their lives. Thousands of workers had left the UK to find their fortune in Australia during the gold rush of the 1850s. The Royal Charter sailed regularly between Melbourne and Liverpool. Among the passengers were many gold diggers returning home from Australia and the boat was also carrying a cargo of gold. During the early hours of October 26th the ship was caught up in a fierce gale and driven against the rocks near the small village of Moelfre. All but 41 of her 500 or so passengers and crew perished. Many were carrying gold in the form of small nuggets and dust that they had found. These gold nuggets were found during dives on the wreck during the 1980s. The loss of life in the storm was so shocking that it led to a gale warning system being set up - an important development in weather forecasting.
The hero of The Royal Charter was Maltese seaman Guze Ruggier (usually anglicised to Joseph Rogers) who managed to get a line ashore and saved many lives. He was awarded the RNLI Gold Medal and £5.
The Royal Charter was carrying around 450 passengers, were returning from the Australian gold fields near Melbourne