Lured Into The Light
For Personal Gain
Courtesy of 'Journal of the Upper Ards Historical Society'
Another illegality was the practice of wrecking for profit. This was an activity where the merchant ships were deliberately lured onto rocks by false light in order to plunder their cargo for personal gain.
Much of the Irish coast is very treacherous and in the eighteenth century the Irish parliament passed repeated statutes against looting and wrecking, reiterating that it was a capital offense to "put out false lights with the intention to bring any ship or vessel into danger".
In 1739 Robert Ward wrote to Judge Ward that the inclement weather had prevented him from investigating a Co Down shipwreck, adding "but I have made a small progress in relation to the Kilclief wreck"; he goes on to list the goods from it found in the cabins of various tenants.
Wreckers were sometimes disguised as passengers and subsequently made themselves masters of the crew and perhaps murdering the existing officers with the intention of stealing the ship and its precious cargo.