Alan Stuart Hanckel


Alan Stuart Hanckel was born in 1837 in Charleston,South Carolina. He married a lady called Charlotte Heyward, but sadly, she died in 1860 He moved to Liverpool to work in the Fraser, Trenholm offices, along with Charles K. Prioleau, also from Charleston

When George Alfred Trenholm decided to test the Federal blockade of the Southern ports and prove them to be ineffectual, he selected Alan Stuart Hanckel as a ‘named’ owner of one of three ships, which Trenholm used to test the blockade. The use of different people as owners of these vessels was to try to fool the American consul in Liverpool who was doing his best to interfere with the operations of the Confederates in England, and especially those in Liverpool. Henceforth, Hanckel acted as an agent for the Trenholm business travelling between Liverpool and the Southern ports, and it was as he was rerturning to England from one such trip that a most famous incident occurred, and about which very little has been said of Hanckel`s involvement.

The South sent diplomats James Mason of Virginia, and John Slidell of Louisiana as respective ministers to Great Britain and France in the late summer of 1861. In Cuba, they boarded a British mail steamer, the Trent, for passage across the Atlantic Ocean to England, Alan S. Hanckel was also a passenger, returning to Britain. The United States authorities were aware that the two commissioners were aboard the Trent, and, on November 8 1861, the USS San Jacinto, halted the Trent 300 miles east of Havana with two shots across her bow. Upon seeing a boarding party approaching the Trent, Hanckel went to the cabins of both the commissioners, collecting from them, their official diplomatic papers. These were then hidden in Hanckel`s cabin, for safe keeping.
The boarding party from the San Jacinto seized the Confederate diplomats and their secretaries, but then allowed the Trent to resume its voyage. This decision to take the prisoners from a British ship, became a source of great controversy, with the British claiming that the San Jacinto had violated international law by removing persons from a ship without taking the ship to a prize court for adjudication. After much political wrangling, the United States acknowledged their wrongdoing, by releasing the prisoners on January 1, 1862. Mason and Slidell travelled to Europe at last, to take up their posts in London and Paris. They were no doubt very grateful that Hanckel had the foresight to come to their cabins and stop the United States coming into posession, of what were obviously very secret papers.

Hanckel and Bulloch.

Hanckel had also acted on behalf of James D. Bulloch on occasion, on the 4th June 1864 Bulloch wrote to Stephen Mallory:

Your dispatches have my strict attention and will be answered either by Lieutenant Fry or Mr. Hanckel, of South Carolina, who leaves for the Confederacy in a few days.

Further to that Bulloch wrote once more to Mallory, on the 15th July 1864:

I avail myself of the departure of Mr. Allan S. Hanckel, of South Carolina, for the Confederate States to send you duplicates of my dispatches dated Paris, June 10, ultimo, and Liverpool, July 8 instant, with account sales of Georgia and original of July 12, with extract from my letter to you of February 20, 1864. …. I beg to introduce Mr. Hanckel to you. He has promised to deliver my dispatches in person, and has on many occasions assisted me in matters wherein I could not have trusted anyone but a countryman.

Hanckel moved around and lived in various places,
Wavertree, at a house which he named Chicora after a Confederate blockade runner.
He also lived at 4 Derwent Square, Stoneycroft, at Pel Hill, Cronton before moving to Formby near Liverpool where he died at The Roselands, Liverpool Road, Formby on the 4th May 1894. Hanckel married Susan Marion Woods, who died whilst they were living in Cronton. Her name is however, recorded on the gravestone in Wavertree.

The probate record shows

Alan Stuart Hackel, of the Roselands, Liverpool Road, Formby, Lancashire, gentleman died 4th May 1894.

Probate, Liverpool 7th August to John Alexander Handy, Stock and Sharebroker,
and Lily Marion Hanckel, spinster,
Effects £273/11/0
Re-sworn August 1901, £8,981/13/6

Alan Stuart Hanckel is buried in Holy Trinity churchyard, behind the church itself. The grave is in need of repair and restoration.