Come learn more about Block Island’s very own maritime mystery. Author Jill Farinelli will tell the story at the Block Island Maritime Institute Center on BIMI Presents on Tuesday, July 10 at 7 p.m.
Two days after Christmas in 1738, a British merchant ship traveling from Rotterdam to Philadelphia grounded in a blizzard on the northern tip of Block Island. The ship carried emigrants from the Palatinate and its neighboring territories in what is now southwest Germany. The 105 passengers and crew on board — sick, frozen, and starving — were all that remained of the 340 men, women, and children who had left their homeland the previous spring. They now found themselves castaways, on the verge of death, and at the mercy of a community of strangers whose language they did not speak.
Shortly after the wreck, rumors began to circulate that the passengers had been mistreated by the ship’s crew and by some of the islanders. The stories persisted, transforming over time as stories do, and in less than a hundred years, two terrifying versions of the event had emerged. These tales became known as the legend of the Palatine, the name given to the ship in later years, when its original name had been long forgotten.
So how did the rumors begin? What really happened to the Princess Augusta and the passengers she carried on her final, fatal voyage? Through years of painstaking research, Jill Farinelli reconstructs the origins of one of New England’s most chilling maritime mysteries.