On Tuesday evening June 11, a most distressing accident occurred, which threw a gloom over the whole school. Four King’s Scholars, Monckton, Stedman, Savile and Webber, went on the water on a small sailing boat belonging to Stedman, contrary to the advice of Roberts, who warned them of their danger for the wind at the time was blowing higher than the oldest inhabitants of London remembered. They had not proceeded far before the boat was upset by a sudden squall. Three of them swam away and were picked up. But the fate of the fourth, Webber, was not so fortunate. He made a few strokes but soon sunk. Boats from Lambeth immediately put off to his assistance with drags and succeeded in finding him after he had been underwater almost ten minutes. He was taken to the White Lion a public house on the Lambeth shore, where every possible remedy was made use of, but in vain. On the following day an inquest was held on the body when the jury found a verdict of ‘accidental death’. He died deeply regretted by the whole school and College in particular, who immediately went into mourning and attended his funeral. No blame at all is attached to Roberts, who advised them not to go on, but as the boat was a private one belonging to Stedman he could not actually prevent them. This is the first fatal accident that has occurred at Westminster on the water for upwards of 40 years. A subscription was raised by the TBs and KS, which amounted to 12 pounds to be distributed among the watermen who lent their assistance on regaining the body.
The Dean of Ripon expressed his gratitude for the manner in which the melancholy event was regarded throughout the School, and fully satisfied that no blame was attached to any one, said that if he had a son prepared he would send him to Westminster the very next day.
E U Sealy