CLAIM: Three Ships Perished At The Same Location And All Had Only One Survivor

Adeyemi Okediran

On March 28, 2021, a picture was shared on a WhatsApp status owned by Tommy TV. The content on the picture read thus; Over a period of 200 years, 3 ships perished at the same location off the coast of wales, all on the same date (5th December), and all 3 had only one survivor, with the same name Hugh Williams (1664, 1785, 1820).


N-VA extracted the following claims from the image.

CLAIM 1: 3 ships perished at the same location off the coast of wales, and all of them had only one survivor, with the same name Hugh Williams.

CLAIM 2: All the 3 ships perished on the same date, December 5th respectively.



The content of the picture looks has the most bizarre coincidence of all time which makes it imperative to verify whether it is a form of misinformation or a true fact.

Also, the picture was posted by a popular Tv on WhatsApp known as TommyTv.


3 ships perished at the same location off the coast of wales, and all of them had only one survivor, with the same name, Hugh Williams.



According to a publication posted on History Daily under the weird history section, titled “Is this the most bizarre coincidence of all time.”

It read thus, “December 5 might just go down as one of history’s most coincidental days ever. On that day in 1664, a ship sank in the Menai Strait, located off the coast of North Wales. 80 passengers died – there was only one survivor, a man named Hugh Williams.

“That same day in 1785, another shipwreck occurred in the same strait. Once again, all passengers died except for a man by the name of Hugh Williams.

“By now it should come as no surprise that yet again in 1820, a third ship lost its battle against the sea, leaving only one survivor. His name? Hugh Williams.

“While there appears to be a clear connection between the Menai Strait and men named Hugh Williams, the coincidence might not be as sensational as you think.

“The Menai Strait is known for its rough waters year-round, but during the winter months, especially in early December, they can be unbelievably uneasy, and the weather is quite gloomy and rainy. Given this, and the fact that the strait is heavily trafficked, it should come as no surprise that it has seen its fair share of shipwrecks. It is believed that during the 200-year span between the three notable shipwrecks, there were upwards of 300 reported wrecks in the strait.

“Now that you know about the Menai’s shipwreck potential, let’s talk about those three survivors being named Hugh Williams. The last name Williams is quite prevalent in much of Wales, as is the first name, Hugh. The fact that the survivors all shared the same name is thus nothing more than an odd coincidence.


All the 3 ships perished on the same date December 5th respectively



According to a news story published on The Old Salt Blog on July 16, 2012, under the Lore of the sea section titled “The Unsinkable Hugh Williams – Truth Behind the Legend?”

The statement read in part, “There is a video bouncing around the web these days called “The Strangest Coincidence Ever Recorded?”  It tells the story of a ship that sank in the Menai Strait off the coast of Wales on December 5, 1664. All 81 passengers died, except one. His name was Hugh Williams.  Then on December 5th, 1785 another ship with 60 aboard sank in the Menai Strait. The only survivor – a man named Hugh Williams.   In 1820 on December 5th, a third vessel sank in the Menai Strait. All 25 aboard were drowned except, you guessed it, a man named Hugh Williams.

“An amazing tale, but is it history or just an oft retold sea story?  It could easily be a bit of each.

“One version of the story appears as a footnote on page 155 of Cliffe’s Book of North Wales, published in 1851. The story starts out the same with the sinkings on December 5, 1664, and 1785, with Hugh Williams, the only survivor.

“The story changes for the 1820 sinking. Hugh Williams is still the sole survivor but the sinking took place on August 5th, not December 5th.

“The footnote goes on to mention that, “Again on May 20th, 1842, a boat was crossing the Menai, near the spot where the above catastrophes happened, when she upset with 15 passengers,  and all perished save one; but in this instance, the name of the survivor was Richard Thomas.”

Another book, Guide to North Wales by Francis Coghlan published in 1860, repeats the story of the three shipwrecks with the August 1842 date.

There is documentary evidence for at least the 1785 version of the story.  Pages 281- 286 of Rev. William Bingley’s book “North Wales, including its scenery, Antiquities and Customs” 1804, Vol. 1. describe that Hugh Williams escaped from the shipwreck on December 5, 1785.

Another version of the story includes: On 10th July 1940, a British trawler was destroyed by a German mine – only two men survived, one man and his nephew – they were both called Hugh Williams.

According to the blog, the video version of the story on YouTube may have embellished the story as it reported that the third sinking happened in December, rather than August 5th, which pumps up the story while omitting Richard Thomas and Hugh Williams and his uncle, Hugh Williams, from the story.


According to the information extracted from multiple publications, the claim that 3 ships perished at the same location off the coast of wales, and they all had only one survivor, with the same name Hugh Williams is PARTLY TRUE as the history account for the first two wrecks were accurate but the last one has slight discrepancies.

The second claim that ‘All the 3 ships perished on the same date, December 5th’ is FALSE as history documentation revealed that the story may have been embellished.


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