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Lyme Regis's forgotten hero
12:00pm Saturday 25th August 2012 in Lyme Regis
THE forgotten heroism of a Lyme Regis seaman 156 years ago has been unearthed by a distant relative investigating his family history.
Jim Callaway, 57, was researching his great-great-great-uncle, William Callaway, when another relative got in touch through the internet.
Jim, from Yorkshire, discovered that William had been awarded the RNLI silver medal, five sovereigns and a certificate for his bravery in August 1856.
William, who lived in Horse Street, now Coombe Street, went to the rescue in Lyme Bay when he saw a small boat taking part in a regatta capsize, throwing three men into the sea.
William, alone in another boat, saved one man but tried in vain to rescue the other two.
Now Jim Callaway has been given the medal and certificate by the great-great-granddaughter of William, and the details have been authenticated by the RNLI.
Jim, who called in at the Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboat station during a visit to the town, said: “It has been fascinating discovering so much about my uncle all those years ago.
“The 1851 census shows him living in Horse Street, Lyme Regis, with his mother Frances, sister Flora and brother John.”
Jim, a retired teacher from Hornsea, East Yorkshire, also found that William married Sarah Jane Bryant in Lyme Regis and they had five children.
He later moved to Alderney, married again, and after becoming a master mariner was a pilot in the Channel Islands.
“In the earlier years William was skipper of cargo vessels carrying granite, and called at many ports including Lyme Regis,” said Jim, who is not giving up his research.
He now wants to find out more about the ships William commanded.
William Callaway died, aged 74, leaving £2,136 in his will.