People of the Iona II

There were 39 crew on board the Iona II for the last voyage.


Rare details of people associated with the Iona II were recorded in the wreck's Board of Trade Inquiry.


Thomas Hoare Chapman was appointed the master of the Iona II on 2nd January 1864. At the time, he was 37 and had already spent 21 years at sea. Since 1850 he had been master of ships and steamers up to 3000 tons, operating all over the world. Thomas Chapman was a resident of Liverpool which, while not being in close proximity to Glasgow, was within reasonable travelling distance in 1864. Considering that his master’s certificate was under threat, it is unclear why Thomas Chapman was not present at the Board of Trade Inquiry into the wrecking of the Iona II.


Joseph Sigar Gray joined the Iona II on the 7th January 1864 as Chief Officer holding a certificate of competency as master.

Chief Engineer

William Allan was the Chief Engineer on the Iona II and, when not at sea, lived in Albert Street, Townsend, Glasgow . He had been an engineer for 14 years and been at sea since 1859. Allan held a first class engineers certificate of competency and joined the ship at Greenock in the 17th January 1864. Previously he had been the second engineer on the Diamond which was a similar vessel to the Iona II.

Second Engineer

George McGregor of Greenock was the Second Engineer on the Iona II and had been at sea for four years.


George McColl lived on Grace Street, Finnieston and had been a steam engine fireman (stoker) for 12 years when he joined the Iona II on the 16th January 1864. He was the only fireman to give evidence at the Board of Trade Inquiry where his involvement in the mutiny of 13 firemen and subsequent incarceration was outlined. After spending a month in jail, McColl was released by the Lord-Lieutenant and then selected to give evidence at the Board of Trade inquiry. Prior to being on the Iona II crew, he had served as a fireman on the PS Mary Ann which was a similar river steamer to the Iona II but slightly smaller. This vessel successfully made it to Nassau as a blockade runner.

Shipbuilders & surveyors

Several experts in shipbuilding were involved in the construction and reinforcing of the vessel.


George Thomson was born in Partick in 1815. He undertook an apprenticeship with the engineer and shipbuilder Robert Napier where he learnt a great deal about the shipbuilding industry. With his older brother James, he set up the engineering company J. & G. Thomas in 1848 and by 1851 they had expanded into shipbuilding. From their shipyard on the south bank of the River Clyde, 40 steamships were turned out in quick succession. There was also a strong connection between this family company and that of David Hutcheson & Co. Ltd. with many steamships built for the west coast shipping company. Upon James’ retirement in 1863, George took over the running of the business. Unfortunately in 1866, George died quite suddenly and it was left to his sons, James and George, to run the company.

Shipyard Manager

Andrew Burns was a manager for J. & G. Thomson Ltd. By 1864 he had 22 years’ experience with iron shipbuilding and he had been with the company since it started in 1851. Burns superintended the building of many steamers, including the Iona II, and had been involved with the construction of many more. In the Board of Trade inquiry he gave evidence that he was satisfied with the reinforcing works done on the Iona II in preparation for the Atlantic crossing.


By 1864, George Barber was an experienced shipwright surveyor. Within his eight years of work he had surveyed 1500 steam ships, including the Iona II, while under construction. At that time he was entirely satisfied that the Iona II was suited to the river trade for which the ship had been designed. Barber happened to be surveying some vessels nearby when Iona II was being strengthened. He concluded that the Iona II’s


Ferry Company Manager

David Hutcheson was born in Fife in 1799 but he and his parents shortly moved to Port Glasgow. He worked his way through the ranks of the shipping industry and in 1851 he took over the successful Highland shipping company of J & G Burns of which he had been local manager. The new company involved his brother Alexander and friend David MacBrayne and continued to operate and improve the shipping and tourist services to the west Highlands. The shipping company was not only a transport and cargo service, it was a vital part of the remote communities of the west country of Scotland. David Hutcheson died in 1881 and was buried in the west country town of Peny-friar.

Confederate Middleman

David McNutt was a partner in the Glasgow based firm McLeash and McNutt. He was a Scotsman but also a Southern American sympathiser and active in sourcing ships for the Confederacy.

Ships that David McNutt acquired for the Confederate cause:

 •  PS Rothesay Castle was bought in June 1863 and sold the following month to another company to run the blockade

 •  PS The Dare was bought in October 1863 for the Richmond Importing and Exporting Co.

 •  PS Beatrice was built in 1863 for McNutt and J.N. Sliddon of Liverpool and sold in August 1864 to run the blockade.

 •  PS Nola was owned by McNutt when it hit a reef 1st January 1864 while leaving Bermuda to run the blockade.

 •  PS Iona II was bought in January 1864 for Charles Hopkins Bostier and was wrecked en route to running the blockade in February 1864

 •  PS Stag (later Kate Gregg) was bought for the Atlantic Steam Packet Co. of Charleston and made three successful runs at the blockade from September to December 1864.

 •   PS Cuxhaven arrived in Nassau in December 1864 but returned to the UK without running the blockade

 •   PS Mary Ella arrived in Nassau in December 1864 but returned to the UK without running the blockade