Hawker of Morwenstow

Poet & Priest of Shipwrecks

Robert Stephen Hawker (1803–1875) became vicar of the church at Morwenstow in Cornwall, Great Britain in 1834 where he served until 1874. He gave Christian burials to shipwrecked seamen washed up on the shores of the parish.1 The figurehead of the ship Caledonia, which foundered in 1842, marks the grave in Morwenstow churchyard of five of the nine-man crew. Hawker described the wrecking in his book Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall.2

We laid them in their lowly rest,

The strangers of a distant shore;

We smoothed the green turf on their breast,

’Mid baffled ocean’s angry roar!And there—the relique of the storm—

We fixed fair Scotland’s figured form.

Hawker wrote many sketches and poems and these have been fully identified in The Book Collector.3 Hawker's Hut was built by Hawker close to Higher Sharpnose Point where he spent many hours writing poems. Visitors during Hawker's time included Alfred Tennyson in 1848.

The Nautical Archaeology Digital Library collects artifacts gathered in the domain of Nautical Archaeology.4


Brendon, Piers. (2002). Hawker of Morwenstow. Random House.


Hawker, Robert Stephen, and C. E. Byles. Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall. London: J. Lane; [etc., etc.], 1903.


Woolf, Cecil (1965)."Hawker of Morwenstow, 1803-1875." The Book Collector 14 no 1 (spring): 62-71; 14 no 2 (summer): 202-211.


Study Data from Texas A&M University Update Understanding of Archaeology [Seeking a Common Ground for the Nautical Archaeology Digital Library (NADL). Reflections on Science, Method, Theory and Templates]. Science Letter. NewsRX LLC, 2021;

Harpster, Matthew. “Shipwreck Identity, Methodology, and Nautical Archaeology.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 20, no. 4 (2013): 588–622.