Wooden paddle steamer, built 1826 Scott & Sons, Greenock
350 grt, 212 nrt, 138 x 24 ft
Engines built Scott, Sinclair, Greenock
First owner: Mersey & Clyde Steam Nav. Co., Liverpool
From 1832, owned City of Dublin Steam Packet Co., Dublin.
On passage Dublin to Liverpool, sprang a leak and was abandoned off Holyhead on 12 January 1840. Captain Brown.
Position where abandoned: 53°55N, 4°20W [approximate].
73 passengers (out of about 120) and 21 crew rescued by ship Huddersfield (Capt. John Arden Clegg; 346 tons; wooden, built Liverpool 1825).
From Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser, Friday 17 January 1840:
WILLIAM HUSKISSON, On Sunday morning last [12 January 1840], the steamer William Huskisson, belonging to the City of Dublin Company, foundered in the channel on her voyage from Dublin to this port, with passengers and a cargo of cattle, etc. Through the humanity and intrepidity of Captain Clegg, commander of the ship Huddersfield, the property of Messrs. Horsfall and Son, the greater portion of the crew and passengers were saved, though we regret to state that a few unfortunate individuals met with a watery grave.
particulars of this painful and disastrous occurrence have been supplied to us
by Capt. Brown, the commander of the William Huskisson, who having lost his
log and all his papers, has given us the details as he can remember them:
On Saturday evening, the 11th January, at six o'clock, the William Huskisson, with about one hundred and twenty passengers on board, left the New Wall at Dublin, with the wind S.S.W. blowing hard. At half-past one o'clock on Sunday morning, the 12th, Holyhead bearing N.E., distance fifteen miles, the vessel sprung a leak. At two o'clock they got the vessel before the wind, all the pumps were kept going, and the deck load, principally cattle, were thrown overboard. The water, however, continued to gain upon the vessel. It continued to blow hard throughout the morning. At halfpast seven o'clock a.m., the vessel broached to; the water, having risen so high that the fires were extinguished, and the engines, consequently, stopped working, which rendered her entirely unmanageable. On the engines stopping, the water increased more rapidly, in consequence of the loss of assistance from the pumps worked by the machinery. About twenty minutes before eight o'clock, the ship Huddersfield, Clegg, master, hove in sight [she was outward bound from Liverpool to Africa]. The Calf of Man was then bearing E.N.E., distant eighteen miles.
Captain Brown states, that seeing no possibility of saving his vessel, his whole attention was turned to the preservation of the lives of his passengers and crew, in which he received the most energetic assistance from the master and crew of the Huddersfield, which vessel took on board ninety-four persons, who were brought to Liverpool on the evening of the 14th inst. Capt. Brown further says, the ship Huddersfield having received considerable damage from her repeated attempts to board and lay alongside the William Huskisson, while it was blowing very hard, and the sea running high, was making much water. Such being the case, her Captain feared to make another attempt to save the lives of about six persons who remained on board the steamer, considering it best to insure the preservation of those lives already under his care.
The following account, furnished by parties who had an opportunity of knowing
what took place on board the Huddersfield, and of being acquainted with the
difficulties encountered by the intrepid captain in his exertions for the
preservation of so many of his fellow-creatures, was published in a second
edition of the Liverpool Courier: Captain Clegg, observing the signals of
distress on board the steamer, immediately bore down to her assistance. On a
nearer approach, the ringing of the bell, and the heart-rending shout which
reached his ear, combined with the attitude of prayer of many on deck,
satisfied him that no time was to be lost in endeavouring to save a large mass
of human beings from immediate death. The sea was at this time running
fearfully high, and any attempt to lower the boats seemed worse than useless.
As the Huddersfield, however, neared the steamer, the boats of the latter were
lowered, but immediately swamped.
Captain Clegg saw, at once, that the only chance of saving the people was by endeavouring to run his ship under the stern of the steamer. In this bold and hazardous attempt, with his crew mustered on the forecastle ready to give assistance, they providentially succeeded in snatching twenty-three individuals off the wreck, and, although doing so, the Huddersfield carried away her bowsprit, lost two anchors and chains from the bow, and sustained other damage; the gratifying fact that they had so far succeeded, seemed to give fresh spirit to the officers and ship's company. The ship, with her gallant captain at the wheel, was immediately put about, and a second attempt made, in which about twenty to thirty more of the passengers and crew succeeded in getting on board - encouraged by this success, the ship was a third time put about, and again brought under the the stern of the steamer, when a further number succeeded in gaining the ship, making a total of ninety-three, including fifteen women and some children.
The gale, which had been on the increase, had now arrived at such a height, that Captain Clegg deemed it prudent for the safety of his own vessel, in her then crippled state, and those on board, not to remain longer by the wreck; as, however, there appeared to be still ten or twelve persons on board the steamer, he determined to make one more attempt; and accordingly again, for the fourth time, ran his vessel under the stern of the steamer. This attempt, as was anticipated, proved unsuccessful; and seeing that there was no prospect of any abatement of the gale, and apprehensive of his mast going by the board, after remaining by the wreck until ten a. m., they were reluctantly obliged to quit her.
The captain and crew of the steamer had all succeeded in getting on board of the Huddersfield, and Capt. Clegg, before quitting, offered them the ship's boats, if they chose to make any attempt to save those who still remained on the wreck; this, however, they very prudently declined, as it was the opinion of Captain Clegg, and all on board that the attempt must have ended with an additional loss of life.
The Huddersfield was outward-bound, with a valuable cargo on board. Capt. Clegg, however, returned with her to port, and landed his grateful passengers about six o'clock on Tuesday evening. Captain Clegg speaks in the highest terms of his first and second officers, Mr. Matthews and Mr. Drummond, and, indeed, of the whole ship's company, who conducted themselves throughout the trying occasion with a degree of boldness, promptitude, and gallantry truly characteristic of the British seaman.
Several of the passengers perished in a fruitless attempt to swim from the steamer to the Huddersfield, and a few in attempting to spring from one vessel to the other; but when we consider the impossibility of using the boats, the only surprise is how so many were saved. The utmost praise is due to Captain Clegg, but we shall leave his conduct to be noticed by those whom we are sure will not be found wanting in awarding him that reward which is so justly his due.
Aftermath There was widespread praise for Captain Clegg and he was presented with medals from Dublin and from Liverpool. The underwriters of his vessel volunteered to pay fully for the damage to his vessel caused by the rescue.
A print of the rescue was sold soon afterwards; showing the Huddersfield at the stern
of the PS William Huskisson [lithograph by G. Hawkins, Jnr]:
Painting of PS William Huskisson in service by Samuel Walters [Victoria Gallery, Univ.
Liverpool] with Eddystone Lighthouse:
The wreck: on 16th January, the Newburn (Captain Adams), inbound
from Belfast Lough to Liverpool, reported seeing a great number of dead pigs
and cattle, floating about 14 miles SW of the Calf of Man.
On 20th January, the Wanderer from Limerick to Liverpool reported: off the Calf of Man, saw the topmasts and top-gallant mast of a vessel, schooner rigged, the sails flying loose, apparently attached to the hull. At the time, this was thought to be possibly the wreck of the William Huskisson.
Even more curious:
Newspaper reports: Dundee Evening Telegraph; Friday 23 May 1919.
STEAMER EMBEDDED FOR GENERATIONS. Discovery of Remarkable Interest.
An episode, probably unique, reported from Liverpool. For some time past the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board has been conducting dredging operations in the neighbourhood of Burbo Bay [Bank], one of the huge accumulations of sand which impede navigation of the Mersey entrannce, and these have resulted in a find of interest. It is the remains of a steamer which have evidently been embedded for generations. Her date is long anterior to that of iron shipbuilding. Of sound English oak were her timbers and framing, to which circumstance, doubtless, is due the fact that they still retain cohesion and shape and have so wonderfully resisted the forces of decay as to supply an abundant quantity of material for souvenir manufacture. Her beams, in point of fact, are described as being as hard as iron. The machinery has practically perished, but engine bed-plates and funnel remain, and relics of pottery and other articles are plentiful. The vessel, cleared of super-incumbent sand, is not only visible but accessible at low water, and has been visited and examined by many interested people. The point of speculation is as to her identity, the prevailing opinion being that she is the William Huskisson, a paddle steamer belonging to the City of Dublin Company, and trading between Liverpool and the Irish capital, which on the 12th January, 1840, was wrecked on her passage to the Mersey. She had 120 passengers on board, of whom 95 were rescued by the ship Huddersfield and the remainder perished; Captain Clegg, of the Huddersfield, subsequently receiving handsome presentations from the citizens of Liverpool in recognition of his good work.
MDHB in their wreck-lists have an entry "William Huskisson" with location 53°27.67N, 3°4.96W [after conversion to WGS84 datum]; this is 1.8m at 305° from Perch Rock; about 1.2m from New Brighton shore at LW. This is charted now  as drying 0.8m at CD. The remains are described as of extent 100x25ft, with 6 inch timbers, copper-fastened, deck water tank and windlass casting. The record is dated 1956 when the highest part of the iron work dried 7ft and frames dried 4ft, and described as "wood; sail or barge".
Note that the PS Superb was lost in 1835 at a location described as on a sandbank about 1 mile from the shore at New Brighton, so is a strong candidate to be the origin of the wreckage described above. The engine and boilers of the Superb were salvaged which also checks with the remains found in 1919.
Further evidence comes from 1839: The Brighton from Bombay was driven ashore by the hurricane in January 1839 on the North east of the North Bank (also described as near the Middle Patch Buoy of the New Channel). It was reported at that time (January 1839) that "The spot is not far from that on which is still visible a portion of the cranks, boilers, and other ironwork of the Superb steam-vessel, wrecked some years ago". The Brighton seems to have been wrecked about 3 miles from Perch Rock.
Summary: it seems very unlikely that the PS William Huskisson, after being abandoned in a sinking position in mid-Irish Sea, would end up on the Burbo Bank unless it was part of a salvage attempt. I have found no record of any salvage or tow of the vessel. Moreover, though a wooden-hulled vessel, the weight of the engines and coal aboard would make the abandoned vessel sink once the hull was damaged. For instance, the similar vessel, PS Leeds, floated for 12 (but less than 24) hours after being abandoned in a sinking state. Moreover the PS Superb is a strong candidate for the "early wooden steamship" wreck described in 1919.
PS: The name "William Huskisson" is that of a politician, born 1770, who became MP for Liverpool in 1823, was president of the Board of Trade and who supported activities that favoured Liverpool. He is best known for being the first person to be killed in a railway accident: in 1830 during the official opening of the Liverpool-Manchester passenger service, the first in the world.