From ‘The Times’- 1st April 1809
A very serious accident happened on the 1st April 1809, on the River Thames. The ‘Britannia’, Captain Lamb, with a valuable cargo on board, for Halifax, came to anchor opposite Woolwich Warren. At the same time the staff in the Ordnance Department at Woolwich Warren, were experimenting with some new guns by firing out into the river. The shot from one of the guns passed so near to a steward onboard the ‘Britannia’ that he was knocked down by the percussion of the air produced by the velocity of the ball. Another shot unfortunately struck a seaman who was up in the rigging, and completely cut his body in two, so that the head and shoulders fell down upon the deck, whilst the trunk was entangled amongst the ropes. When this took place, the wife of the seaman happened to be on board. She was there to take her leave of him for the voyage, and to receive a month’s pay for her maintenance, and also for her two children. General Bloomfield, the superintendent of Woolwich Warren, after being made acquainted with the accident, proposed to bury the unfortunate seaman at his own expense, and to recommend the widow to the Government, as a proper object for a pension.