Anything can happen to anybody, as the saying goes. Good, bad and indifferent, life and death are unpredictable that’s for sure. So when the Right Reverend Henry Norris Churton, Bishop of Nassau, had finished delivering his sermon on Ragged Island, he didn’t expect to drown trying to get back to his mission yacht, named the Message of Peace.

From the 1800s to the early 1900s, the only way for Anglican clergymen to visit their various parish churches, in the islands, was by boat. A boat was the only form of inter-island transportation. The more senior church officials, like those who held the office of Bishop, required their own exclusive mode of transportation. Bishops had yachts which befitted their status. The yachts were called mission yachts.

On 20th., January 1904, Bishop of Nassau Henry Churton had just delivered one of his sermons on Ragged Island, and was on his way to deliver another, when disaster struck.

(The Sphere, Friday February 6, 1904)

The Bishop’s yacht, the Message of Peace was anchored offshore. A small row boat had taken the Bishop off his yacht, delivering safely onshore. After the sermon, the small row boat and oarsman, only had one job, to deliver the good Bishop back to his yacht the same way they brought him.

Somehow, as the oarsman rowed out, a swell of water came upon the rowboat and the Bishop of Nassau was tossed overboard.

From this point, it seems that a combination of four things happened, which caused the Bishop of Nassau to drown, and very importantly, for no one to try to recover his body.

1. Bishop Churton’s gowns probably weighed him down the very moment he hit the water.

2. If the oarsman was Bahamian, the Bishop would have to try save himself. Bahamians, especially on Out Islands, weren’t particularly known for their vast swimming abilities in 1904.

3. Bishop or no Bishop, an oarsman on Ragged Island was not about to jump in the deep sea and potentially drown himself for anyone.

4. The yacht, the Message of Peace, must have been some ways offshore as there were no reports of the crew onboard rushing to help the poor Bishop.

(The Free Press, Friday 05 February 1904)

(The Guardian, London, Thursday 28 January 1904)

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