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Eighteen year old resuscitated following boating incident at London Bridge

Year 1809, John Evans, Apothecary, and James Heeps

Read by Sally Craig-McFeely – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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April 18, 1809

Letter to the Directors of the Royal Humane Society, April 18th, 1809. Gentlemen,

It is with great consolation I cheerfully communicate to you the following circumstance.

Yesterday morning I was called to James Heeps, master of a small vessel called the Commerce, of Hull, lying above Bridge. The said Master was coming through the centre arch of London Bridge with two casks in a boat, when the oar by some means struck against some part of the bridge, and threw him completely out into the river, where he was driven down with the tide for a considerable distance, and frequently under water.

When taken up he was conveyed to a public-house, called the Waterman’s Arms, Pickle Herring, apparently dead. I being the first Medical Assistant, I did everything in my power to relieve him.

Several minutes after, a neighbouring Apothecary came in (Mr Bentall; we exerted ourselves to the utmost of our power; and by using the means recommended by the Humane Society, we felt ourselves happy in recovering him to his friends.

I beg leave to say that great praise is due to Mr Floyd, landlord of the Waterman’s Arms, for his great and humane exertions in carrying the patient up two pair of stairs, and furnishing us with bottles of warm water etc.

I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, your most humble servant John Evans, Apothecary

PS The above can be attested by a number of respectable inhabitants of this parish.


On the same date, April 18th, 1809, James Heeps, who was saved by Mr Evans, wrote him this letter.

I James Heeps, aged 18, of Hull, was going from Bank-side to Hayes’s Wharf, with empty casks about nine o’clock on Monday the 17th of April, when, just below London Bridge, on the South side, I was suddenly knocked overboard from the surge taking the flat part of the oar. I was alone in the boat; cannot swim the least; and recollect nothing that happened from the time I was taken on-board the wherry until I found myself in be, where I was told I had been above an hour.

My first recollection was attended with considerable pain all over my body, particularly the head, which appeared as if the brain was turned.

James Heeps.

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