Captain Henry James Pennison fell victim to a theft and a collision at sea in the space of just over a year, losing the contents of his ‘uxurious cabin on the Satellite.
The 1891 census shows that 2 Daisy Villas was home to Captain Pennison, his wife, Mary Ann, their three teenage sons and his mother-in-law. He was a well-known seaman in Jersey, captaining various local vessels, including the Satellite, which was owned by Richard and George Allix of Havre des Pas.
T B Davis
The Satellite, under the command of Captain Pennison, was famously the vessel that a young Thomas Benjamin (TB) Davis went missing from, assumed drowned, in March 1883. He had been tasked with lowering the ship’s longboat and was accidentally cast adrift. He was eventually found drifting by another vessel, rescued and taken back to shore safe and well, but not before news of his death had already been mistakenly reported in Jersey.
Several months after the 1891 census was taken, Captain Pennison was in court as a witness to a robbery that took place on board the Satellite while it was berthed in St Helier Harbour.
On the night of 9 September 1891, a French national named Jules Guérin, alias Jules Fauché, entered the cabin of the vessel and stole a suit, two coats, four pairs of trousers, an overcoat, four shirts, several collars, several pairs of stockings, a pair of socks, a quantity of ham, some biscuits and a handkerchief, all belonging to Captain Pennison.
Captain Pennison was staying ashore that evening, therefore and was not on board when the break-in happened.
A fortnight later the accused broke into another vessel, the Argo, and stole two overcoats, two pairs of boots, a jacket, a pair of stockings, a white cravat with blue spots, several ties, a penknife, four bottles of wine, a quantity of ham, two pairs of trousers, a handkerchief and a towel.
Suspicions were raised when Guérin tried to pass one of the stolen overcoats to another man to sell, after which his lodgings were searched and several of the stolen items were found in his possession. His landlady, Mrs Amédée, recalled him coming home one day with a sack full of clothing.
His trial did not take place until several months later. Witnesses, including Captain Pennison, were called to give evidence and identify their possessions among those that were recovered from Guérin’s lodgings.
The jury took four minutes to find him unanimously guilty and he was sentenced to one year imprisonment with hard labour and banishment from Jersey for five years. Clearly this sentence did not deter him because just over a decade later, in 1903, he was back in Jersey and back in court, having stolen from another vessel moored in St Helier Harbour. This time he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour and another five years banishment.
In December 1892 Captain Pennison and the Satellite made headlines again. Bound for Newcastle from Jersey and having just entered the Tyne, the ship was being towed into the harbour when it was hit by another vessel, the steamer Raithwaite Hall, which was heading back out to sea. Having sustained considerable damage, the Satellite reportedly foundered within a couple of minutes of being struck.
There were nine crew on board, all from Jersey, and somehow, in spite of the rapid demise of the vessel, none of them perished or was injured. All clambered on board the steamer that struck their vessel and were taken safely to shore.
Captain Pennison lost a large number of personal effects and money in the incident, including a valuable gold watch and chain, clothing and a harmonium. The Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph reported that he had "fitted up the vessel, in which he had been for 13 years, in really luxurious style".