Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1880 & 89

Joseph Rufus Chadwick (1849 - 1885)

 Joseph Rufus Chadwick was a Commercial Clerk and both he and his wife were drowned when the steamer they were travelling on was involved in a collision off the coast of Cornwall on 21st July 1885.

Joseph was born in the second quarter of 1848 in the Greengate area of Salford. He was the son of George Chadwick (born 1819 in London) who was a packing Clerk in a shipping warehouse and Mary Ann, nee Clayham (born 1816 in London). Joseph's parents were married at St Mary's Church, Manchester in 1842. Their first child, Charles Henry, was born in 1843, but sadly died on 3rd February 1845.

The 1851 census shows that the family was living at Hodson Street, Salford, including Joseph's older sister Charlotte (born 1847 in Greengate, Salford). Another sister Amelia Ann was born in 1853, but sadly she died on 27th November 1858, aged 5.


In 1861, 13 year old Joseph and family were living at 24, Wellington Street North, Salford, and in 1871 the family was living at King Street, Salford.

Joseph's father George died on 9th October 1874 and was buried at Weaste Cemetery. The 1881 census shows the family living a 78, Milton Street, Barton-upon-Irwell. Joseph is 33 and a Commercial Clerk and his sister Charlotte is 35 and a School Mistress. The following year, Joseph married Mary Roper at Chorlton-on-Medlock.

In July 1885, it is not known whether Joseph and his wife Mary were in Cornwall on business or on holiday, but they decided to sail home from Falmouth to Liverpool on the SS Cheerful. This 1,014 ton steam ship was built in 1874 by Osbourne Graham and Company of Sunderland. Amongst its general cargo were two tons of Cornish tin ingots which were produced by the Carvedras smelting house of Truro.

The Cheerful set off on 20th July in dense fog. Having cleared the Lizard and Land's End, she proceeded along the North Cornish coast, but in the middle of the night, about 18 miles off St Ives, she was struck amidships by the torpedo boat, HMS Hecla. The SS Cheerful is reported to have sunk in four minutes which did not allow the crew to release a lifeboat. Thirty six of the passengers were rescued by the crew of the Hecla and were taken to Plymouth, but nine went down with the ship and three more perished shortly after being picked up.

One of the survivors, a Mr Herbert White of Widnes, describes being sucked down with the vortex, but was brought to the surface by clinging to an empty barrel. He said that there were three ladies on board as well as a Stewardess, one of whom was saved by her fur coat which spread out and kept her afloat.

The bodies of Joseph and Mary Chadwick were never recovered, but their names are remembered on the family gravestone in plot 32 1964 of the Dissenters portion of Weaste Cemetery, along with Joseph's infant siblings Charles Henry and Amelia Ann.