On Saturday last this parish sustained a death the loss of a remarkable man, in his 64th year, named William Stickland born in humble life, of him it my truly be said: –
“Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife, His sober wishes never learned to stray: Along the cool sequestered vale of life He kept the noiseless tenour of his way”
By his simple piety, strict integrity, courage and uniform civility he had endeared himself to all the neighbourhood.
His death will be universally lamented by all how knew him. By nature a sailor, he had been accustomed to the sea from his earliest childhood, and in early life he had been a leading spirit amongst the smugglers, who used to abound on this coast, to whom his dauntless courage and thorough knowledge of the coast were invaluable, and many were the hairbreadth escapes he had amid the heavy surf and darkness amongst the dreaded Kimmeridge ledges or the rugged rocks beneath Gad Cliff. He was the owner of a fine boat built by himself, and obtained his living as a fisherman. He was a keen observer of nature, his remarks upon the habits offish, sea birds and the peculiarities of the tides were always most interesting.
On the establishment of a Lifeboat Station by the Royal National Institution in 1868 at Kimmeridge he was at once chosen as the coxswain of the Mary Heape which office he held up to his death. In the terrific gale of December 8th 1872, the ‘Mary Heape’ was successful in rescuing 17 men, the crew of the German ship ‘Stralsund’ which had stuck on the Kimmeridge ledges, on which occasion the safety of the boat and crew was attributed to his clear head and steady had in piloting her through the heavy breakers. In recognition of which the Life Boat Institution awarded him an extra gratuity.
Every Sunday morning he used to be seen arrayed in his pilot jacket and hat well on the back of his head crossing the hill to attend the Service of his Parish Church, where also he was a regular communicant, and beneath whose shadow he now rests. How appropriate to him are the words of the beautiful hymn: –
‘The saints of God, life’s voyage o’er. Safe landed on that blissful shore, No stormy, tempest how they dread, No roaring billows lift their head, Oh, happy saints for ever blest, In that calm heaven of your rest’
Published by the Dorset County Chronicle, 24 March 1881
Kindly extracted from Dorset County Chronicle by William’s great-great-grand-daughter, Pat Andrews, who lives in Australia.