Captain Richard Pierce, was among the 200 men and women who lost their lives when the East India Company's trading ship, the Halsewell, was shattered against the Seaford cliffs in 1786. This was Captain Pierce's third voyage and he was intending to retire, a rich man, on his return. The poem fed the public's appetite for news and comment on the disaster. It paints a picture of Pierce as a gallant hero, who forfeited his own life to stay with his two daughters in the sinking vessel. The somewhat histrionic footnote describes this act as a 'Glorious Sacrifice to Paternal Tenderness'.