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Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Sunday, 8 August 2010 12:09 UK
Royal Charter family tragedy draws Monty Don to Moelfre


Monty Don goes to the site of the Royal Charter shipwreck

The tragic story of the Royal Charter shipwreck is told to gardener Monty Don as he visits Anglesey to research his family history.

In BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are? he discovers his great great grandfather died in the disaster at Moelfre.

He was just 60 miles short of Liverpool on his way home from New Zealand.

More than 400 people perished in the 1859 shipwreck and Monty uncovers the strange circumstances that led to his ancestor being on the fateful voyage.

Monty comes from a well-known dynasty of architects in one branch of the family tree, but knows little about his other relatives.

Today it would be the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down
Anthony Barclay, Moelfre Lifeboat coxwain

He starts his investigation with a visit to his older brother David. Amongst the family memorabilia they find a photograph of their great grandmother, Charlotte Wyatt, whose maiden name was Hodge.

Monty is intrigued as no-one in the family has spoken much of the Hodge family.

His efforts lead him to Nottinghamshire and Anglesey to learn more about Charlotte's father, the Reverend Charles Hodge, his eventful life and tragic death.

Anthony Barclay, coxswain at Moelfre RNLI lifeboat station, is able to tell Monty a great deal about the events of 1859.

"They were surprised how many little stories we knew, but you can't grow up in Moelfre without knowing all about the Royal Charter," Anthony said.

It was the worst shipwreck there has ever been off the Welsh coast, Anthony added.

"Today it would be the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down."

On his father's side, Monty has heard that his ancestors were part of the famous Keiller marmalade dynasty, based in Dundee.

He uncovers a bitter family feud and finds out what happened to their vast wealth.

Who Do You Think You Are? is on Monday, 9 August, at 9pm on BBC1.

Moelfre's Royal Charter disaster
13 Oct 09 |  History


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