A Philatelic History of the Royal Navy Pt 4 – 1793-1832

French Revolutionary Wars – 1792-1802 Cont’d

Striking the Colours

In describing battles in the age of sail reference is frequently made to a ship “Striking her Colours.” During the age of sail Striking the Colours was an indication to the enemy that the ship was surrendering, this was indicated by lowering the ensign (colours) on the jack staff. In some cases, the colours were nailed to the mast as an indication of a defiant refusal to surrender. However, there are occasions where a captain was forced to go to the mast and ‘un-nail’ the colours as surrender was the only option to the destruction of the ship and great loss of life. Hoisting a white flag is not a sign of surrender but a request for a truce in order to communicate with the enemy.

The Siege of Toulon – 1793

The Siege of Toulon occurred during the French Revolution when Republican forces under Napoleon Bonaparte fought in a military operation against a Royalist rebellion in the city of Toulon. The Royalists called for assistance from a British-Spanish fleet which was a serious blow to the Republicans as Toulon was a major naval base. In the aftermath of the siege, the French fleet was destroyed by the British, but the Republicans retook Toulon, with savage reprisals.

HMS Lutine
HMS Lutine

HMS Lutine was a French built vessel, handed over to the British during the siege. She was built in 1879 and was one of 14 vessels handed over to the British in 1793 to prevent them being seized by the Republicans. Lutine sank during a storm in 1799 among the West Frisian Islands. She was carrying a large shipment of gold, destined for Hamburg banks. These were funds to avoid a stock market crash and paying troops in North Holland. The failure of the gold to arrive precipitated the very crisis that it had been designed to prevent. Most of the gold has never been recovered.

The Lutine Bell

The rostrum at Lloyd's of London

The ship’s bell was recovered in 1858 and is hung in the rostrum of Lloyd’s of London. It is a mystery as to why the name engraved on the bell is St. Jean rather than Lutine. Traditionally the bell was rung before announcements of a ship overdue or lost at sea. Today the bell is used only for ceremonial occasions.

Capture of the French Frigate La Reunion – 1793

HMS Crescent, under Captain Saumarez of Guernsey, single handedly captured La Reunion off the Cotentin Peninsular as she was en-route to Cherbourg. Although Crescent was marginally at a disadvantage in size and guns, she was slightly faster. After a 2-hour battle, a badly damaged La Reunion surrendered to Crescent.

HMS Crescent
HMS Crescent – the capture of La Reunion.
Launched in 1784, wrecked in 1808. A 36-gun Flora-class frigate.
HMS Crescent
HMS Crescent

Anglo Spanish War 1796-1808

This was the second Anglo-Spanish war, which was fought during the French Revolutionary Wars, the first being from 1585-1604. There were two periods of conflict, 1796-1804 during the French Revolutionary War, and a second from 1804-1808 during the Napoleonic wars. Spain had previously been an ally of Britain but after being defeated by the French was forced to sign a peace treaty with France and thus became an enemy of Britain. The war ended with an alliance signed between Britain and the King of Spain, now under French invasion. A number of sea battles were fought during these periods of which the Battle of Trafalgar is the most famous. The war was a disaster for Spain with the British blockading its ports so preventing imports of large amounts of wealth from Spanish possessions necessary to pay down the substantial debts that Spain had incurred.

Battle of Cape St. Vincent – 1797

This was one of the opening battles of the Anglo-Spanish war (1796-1804) where the British fleet under Admiral Sir John Jarvis, in his flagship HMS Victory, defeated a larger Spanish fleet under Don Jose de Cordoba y Ramos off Cape St. Vincent on Spain’s southern coast.

HMS Victory
HMS Victory
This stamp contains traces of powdered wood from HMS Victory.

The British ships are in black, the Spanish ships in white

The Spanish fleet left Cartagena, Spain, escorting a large merchant convoy carrying mainly mercury, necessary for refining gold and silver. A fierce easterly wind pushed the fleet past Gibraltar and further out into the Atlantic than was intended. The fleet then worked its way back to Cadiz. The British fleet under Jervis was joined by reinforcements off Cape St Vincent and following this by Commodore Horatio Nelson in HMS Minerve who sailed unseen in fog through the Spanish fleet.  The battle began shortly with the British, who had maneuvered their ships into a single line of battle, sailing between two loose columns of Spanish ships.

During the battle that followed, Nelson had returned to his own ship, HMS Captain, which, under fire from six Spanish ships, became severely disabled with her wheel shot away and with the topmast having fallen over the side which made the vessel completely unmanageable. Nelson had the helm put over and hooked onto a Spanish vessel. He then boarded the Spanish vessel with the cry of “Westminster Abbey or Glorious Victory” and seized it and an adjoining Spanish vessel. This maneuver was so unusual and so admired in the Royal Navy that using an enemy ship to cross to another became known as “Nelsons patent bridge for boarding enemy vessels.”

After the battle ended, Nelson boarded Victory to be welcomed by Jervis who embraced Nelson and could not sufficiently thank him for his unusual maneuvers.

HMS La Minerve
HMS La Minerve
Captured from the French in 1795. A 40-gun Minerve-class frigate of the French Navy.
HMS Orion
Battle of St Vincent
HMS Orion, under Captain Sir James Saumarez engaging the Spanish ship Santissima Trinidad.
HMS Captain
HMS Captain
a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line. Launched in 1787, accidentally burned in 1813.

This was a great victory for the British – 15 ships had defeated a Spanish fleet of 27, whose ships had a greater number of guns and men. However, Admiral Jervis had trained a highly-disciplined force that was pitted against an inexperienced Spanish Navy, who fought without direction and was seriously lacking in training. On returning to Spain, Cordóba was arrested, taken to Madrid under military escort and dismissed from the Spanish Navy. He was also forbidden from appearing at court.

Jervis continued his blockade of the Spanish fleet in Cadiz which lasted for three years and largely curtailed the operations of the Spanish fleet until the Peace of Amiens in 1802.

Invasion of Trinidad – 1797

HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Prince of Wales
A 74-gun third-rate ship of the line. Launched in 1765, broken up in 1783.

A fleet under Admiral Henry Harvey, in HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Alarm together with 12 British ships, seized Trinidad from the Spanish. Harvey’s vessels arrived off Trinidad where a Spanish squadron was discovered at anchorage. Harvey anchored his ships in order of battle to insure no Spanish ships attempted to leave the harbour. It was not long before the British noticed flames coming from the Spanish ships which had been set on fire and scuttled. Troops were landed and they entered the capital with no opposition whereupon the Spanish governor duly surrendered.

Battle of St George’s Cay – 1798

St george's Cay
St George’s Cay

This was a short military engagement that lasted from the 3rd to 10th of September, 1798, off the coast of what is now Belize. Spaniards had on six previous occasions tried to expel the settlers and 1798 marked the final attempt by Spain to take over the area with an invading force from Mexico attempting to assert Spanish claims.

The British had entered the area in 1638 to harvest log wood and in particular mahogany with cutting rights granted to the settlers, who were known as Baymen. Although Spain never occupied Belize, they did lay claim to the country as part of their Central American Territories. In the Treaty of Paris, 1783, Spain recognized this trade, however, they attempted to assert Spanish claims which resulted in a battle between the Spaniards and the Baymen, who fought for their livelihood assisted by African slaves. After the final two-and-a-half-hour battle, the Spaniards, ravaged by sickness, withdrew and the Baymen declared themselves winners.

HMS Merlin
HMS Merlin
Launched in 1796, broken up in 1803. She was a 22-gun Merlin-class sloop.

As a prelude to hostilities, the colonists appealed to the Governor of Jamaica for assistance who then dispatched HMS Merlin with muskets and ammunition to the settlement. Merlin was accompanied by the sloops HMS Towzer and HMS Tickler. The Spanish fleet consisted of 32 vessels, including sixteen men-of-war. Some small Spanish vessels had been dispatched to Bacalar (close to the Belize border) to embark Spanish troops, however, the number of troops available was severely reduced by yellow fever and dissent in the Spanish army. The heavy Spanish men-of-war were at a severe disadvantage due to the shallow waters and their unmaneuverability. Also, the Baymen had removed stakes put down by the Spanish to mark channels. The Baymen had a number of small warships which were highly maneuverable and with a shallow draft were able to easily navigate the coastal waters.

The Spanish and British ships faced off against each other at St George’s Cay where the Spanish attempt to storm the Montego Caye Shoals. With guns blazing, the Merlin and the Baymen’s fleet swept forward and wreaked havoc among the heavy and crowded Spanish ships. The battle ended in defeat for the confused Spaniards who suffered heavy losses and fled in disorder.

Although conditions in Belize did not greatly improve, and slavery continued even though the slaves had fought alongside the Baymen, the threat of Spanish attacks significantly decreased.

Today the battle is celebrated as St George’s Cay day on the 10th of September and is considered a national and historic event recognizing the efforts of the Baymen and slaves as ancestors of Belize.

Napoleonic Wars – 1803-1815

Napoleon seized control of the French government in 1799 in a bloodless coup, replacing the failed Directory with the Consulate and transforming the republic into a de facto dictatorship. There is no consensus as to when the French Revolutionary Wars ended and the Napoleonic Wars started. Possible dates include 1799, when Bonaparte seized power, or 1803 when Britain and France ended a short period of peace, or 1804 when Bonaparte crowned himself emperor.

Although the Napoleonic wars did not officially start until 1803 or thereabouts, there were a number of naval battles fought prior to this date between the British and French Navies. The two major naval engagements during this period were the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Trafalgar; there were in addition to these major battles other minor actions that took place in various parts of the world.

Battle of the Nile – 1798

The Battle of the Nile was also known as the Battle of Aboukir Bay.

After Napoleon’s victory in the War of the First Coalition in 1797, Great Britain remained the only major European power still at war with the French. The Battle of the Nile was a major naval battle fought between the Royal Navy and the Navy of the French Republic. The battle was the climax of a three-month naval campaign that spanned across the Mediterranean as a large French convoy sailed to Alexandria carrying an expeditionary force under Napoleon Bonaparte, pursued by Rear-Admiral Nelson. The resulting battle was a decisive defeat of the French under Vice-Admiral Francois-Paul Brueys d’Aigalliers.

Background:
In 1797, Napoleon’s victories in northern Italy over the Austrian Empire secured victory for the French in the War of the First Coalition, with Britain remaining the only European power still at war with the French Republic. Despite significant efforts by the French Navy, British control of Northern European waters rendered any ambitions to invade Ireland or England impractical. However, the French Navy was dominant in the Mediterranean following the British withdrawal after the outbreak of war between Britain and Spain. This allowed Bonaparte to propose an invasion of Egypt as an alternative to confronting Britain directly.

This map clearly shows the French line of battle anchored far enough from the shore to allow British ships to sail on both the onshore and offshore sides of the French fleet.

Bonaparte believed that by establishing a permanent presence in Egypt, the French would obtain a staging point for future operations against British India, which might drive the British out of the war. The campaign would sever the chain of communication that connected Britain with India, an essential part of the British Empire whose trade generated the wealth that Britain required to prosecute a successful war. During the spring of 1798, Bonaparte assembled more than 35,000 soldiers in Mediterranean France and built a powerful naval fleet at Toulon. He did not reveal the intended target of the attack to insure complete secrecy.

HMS Orion
Battle of the Nile
HMS Orion, under Sir James Saumarez, giving the enemy ships ‘Le Peuple Souverain’, ‘Franklin’, and ‘ L’Orient’ a broadside.
HMS Vanguard
HMS Vanguard
Launched in 1787, broken up in 1821. A 74-gun third-rate ship of the line. She was Nelson’s flagship during the battle of the Nile.

Napoleon sailed across the Mediterranean, chased by Nelson in his flagship HMS Vanguard, who was a couple of months behind Napoleon’s fleet. Napoleon landed his army in Egypt undetected. His fleet then retired and anchored in Aboukir Bay some 32-km northeast of Alexandria. Brueys believed he had established a formidable defensive position in the bay, however he had anchored his ships too far from shore which allowed the British to sail on both sides of his line. When the British fleet arrived, Nelson ordered an immediate attack. His ships advanced and split into two columns, one cut across the head of the French column and passed between the anchored French and the shore whilst the other column engaged the seaward side of the French column. Trapped in a crossfire, the leading French ships were battered into surrender during a fierce three-hour battle, while the French centre managed to repel the initial British attack until reinforcements arrived. The centre then came under renewed attack and at 10:00pm the French Flagship Orient exploded and sank. Only two ships of the line escaped out of 17 ships, the remainder were captured or destroyed.

HMS Astrea
HMS Astrea – Launched in 1781, wrecked off the Virgin Islands in 1808. A 32-gun fifth-rate frigate. She captured various French ships and assisted in the landing of troop during the Battle of the Nile

HMS Astrea was active during the Battle of the Nile and was armed en flute (carrying limited armament for troop transport) and took part in landing troops.

The battle reversed the strategic situation between the two nations’ forces and entrenched the Royal Navy in the dominant position that it retained for the rest of the war. It also encouraged other European nations to turn against France. Bonaparte’s army was eventually trapped in Egypt and was defeated at the siege of Acre in 1799, after which Bonaparte returned to Europe. Although wounded in battle, Nelson was proclaimed a hero across Europe and was subsequently made Baron Nelson.

The Battle of the Nile has been called “the most decisive naval engagement in the great age of sail” although some may argue that the Battle of Trafalgar owns this honor.

Battle of Copenhagen – 1801

HMS Agamemnon
HMS Agamemnon
A 64-gun third-rate ship of the line, launched in 1781, wrecked in 1809.

This battle was fought off Copenhagen between Danish and British fleets.  The British fleet was under the command of Admiral Hyde Parker with Vice Admiral Nelson as second-in-command in HMS Agamemnon. HMS Ramilles was in the reserve squadron of Sir Hyde Parker and did not take an active part in the battle. Captain William Bligh, of the Mutiny of the Bounty fame, commanded HMS Glatton in this engagement. The battle ended in a truce, negotiated in Copenhagen by Nelson, whose ships were now in a position that would allow them to bombard the city. The Danes lost two ships sunk, one exploded and twelve were captured, no British ships were lost although several were badly damaged and three ran aground.

Following concern that neutral Denmark would side with Napoleon, Rear-Admiral Cochrane sailed a squadron to the West Indies to capture Danish possessions. The squadron included HMS Ramilles and HMS Canada. The expedition captured St. Thomas; the Danes did not resist.

2nd Battle of Algeciras – 1801

HMS Superb
HMS Superb’s figurehead
HMS Spencer
HMS Spencer
Launched in 1800, broken up in 1822. A 74-gun third-rate ship of the line. Captain Quilliam did not fight in this battle.

This was a battle between a squadron of Royal Naval ships and a larger squadron of ships from the Spanish and French Navies at anchor in the Gut (Straits) of Gibraltar. It followed the first Battle of Algeciras fought earlier in the year where the British suffered a defeat and heavy losses. The combined Spanish and French squadron departed Algeciras in the evening pursued by the British. The fastest ship was the relatively new HMS Superb which sailed through the Spanish rearguard as night fell and fired on the rearmost ships setting the 112-gun Real Carlos on fire. Unable to determine friend from foe and with cannon fire from Superb travelling through the Real Carlos and hitting the San Hermenegildo, confusion reigned which resulted in the Real Carlos inadvertently firing on the San Hermenegildo. Both ships got their rigging tangled up with each other and caught fire; they were subsequently destroyed in a huge explosion. There was enormous loss of life and this incident was one of the worst maritime disasters to this time.

HMS Spencer participated in both the first and second Battles of Algeciras.

The aftermath of the action was a victory for the British who had removed the stain of defeat at the first Battle of Algeciras and it re-established the British blockade of Spanish and French ships in Cadiz. The battle also confirmed British control of the Mediterranean Sea and contributed to Spain distancing itself from its alliance with France.

HMS Saint Lucia – 1803

HMS Saint Lucia was a brig-sloop, captured from the French in 1803, then recaptured by the French in 1807.

HMS Saint Lucia
HMS Saint Lucia

HMS Emerald captured the French schooner Enfant Prodigue after a 72-hour chase on 03 June 1803 off Martinique; the Enfant Prodigue had thrown all her guns overboard in an attempt to evade the British. She was taken into service as the brig-sloop HMS Saint Lucia, of 14 guns.

During her career in the Caribbean, she captured a number of French ships until in 1807 she was captured by two French privateers off Guadeloupe. Her subsequent fate is unknown.

HMS Amphion – 1798

HMS Amphion was a 32-gun fifth rate frigate, launched 1798, sunk as a breakwater in 1820.

Amphion fought in the Napoleonic wars.

HS Amphion
HMS Amphion

1803 – After a mission to Jamaica and time spent in the Mediterranean, she was commissioned to transport Nelson to the Mediterranean to take command. She was part of the fleet blockading Toulon and she was selected to hunt down and capture the Spanish treasure fleet.

1805 – The captaincy of Amphion was given to Captain Hoste and after the Battle of Trafalgar she was at the blockade of Cadiz.

Battle of Trafalgar – 1805

Cape Trafalgar, Spain

The Battle of Trafalgar was a naval engagement fought by the Royal Navy against the combined French and Spanish fleets off the Cape of Trafalgar in Southern Spain, north west of Gibraltar, during the Napoleonic war. Twenty-Seven British ships led by Admiral Nelson in HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships led by Admiral Villeneuve. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships without a single British ship lost. This was the most decisive naval battle of the war putting an end to any French plans to invade England.

Painting of Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar, by J.M.W. Turner
As seen from the Starboard mizzen of HMS Victory.
Admiral Nelson
Admiral Nelson
Born in 1758, died during the Battle of Trafalgar, 1805, aged 47.

Background:

The First French Empire under Napoleon Bonaparte was the dominant land power in Continental Europe whilst the Royal Navy controlled the seas. During the course of the war, the British implemented a naval blockade of France, which affected trade and severely hampered French naval resources from being used. Although the French did manage to run the blockade it failed to inflict any major defeats on the British who were able to attack French interests at home and abroad with relative ease.

When the Third Coalition (The Holy Roman Empire, Russia and Britain) declared war on France, Napoleon was determined to invade England, which had remained at war with France. To do so he needed to ensure that the Royal Navy would be unable to disrupt the invasion flotilla and so he had to have naval control of the English Channel.

The British possessed an experienced and well-trained corps of naval officers whereas the best officers in the French Navy had either been executed or had left the service during the French Revolution. Admiral Villeneuve showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for facing the Royal Navy and Nelson after the French defeat at the Battle of the Nile.

Napoleon’s plan was for the French and Spanish fleets in the Mediterranean to break through the blockade and join forces in the Caribbean. They would then return to assist the fleet in Brest to emerge from the blockade and clear the channel of English ships allowing for a safe passage of the invasion barges.

Villeneuve returned from the Caribbean but during the battle of Cape Finisterre he lost two ships and changed his mind and sailed back to Ferrol in northern Spain. There he received orders from Napoleon to return to Brest.

HMS Victory

One of the most famous of all Royal Naval ships. She was launched in 1765 and is still on active duty with the Royal Navy. She was built as a second-rate 98-gun vessel later converted to 100 guns. She first saw service in the two Battles of Ushant and later as the flagship of the supply fleet relieving the siege of Gibraltar. Her most famous action was as Nelson’s flagship in the battle of Trafalgar. Although badly damaged during the battle, she was returned to England for extensive repairs. In 1920, she was converted back to her appearance at the time of Trafalgar. This process of reconstruction was long and complicated, the decision to go ahead was made in 1912, but it took until 2005 to be completed; she is currently open to the public at Portsmouth. Victory is the oldest naval vessel still in commission and is the flagship of the First Sea Lord.

HMS Victory, by J.M.W. Turner

The Battle

HMS Victory & Admiral Nelson
HMS Victory and Admiral Nelson
HMS Victory & Lord Nelson
HMS Victory and Admiral Nelson

The Battle of Trafalgar was the most famous naval battle in the age of sail and ensured British naval superiority for many years. Instead of heading north to Brest, Villeneuve headed to Cadiz, concerned that the British were observing his maneuvers. Nelson returned to Britain from the Caribbean and shortly afterwards word reached the British of the combined French and Spanish fleet in Cadiz. Villeneuve’s fleet suffered badly from a shortage of supplies, partly due to the blockade, but also due to a lack of money to pay for supplies. With most French ships having been kept in harbor for years other than some trans-Atlantic voyages, the French crews were seriously lacking in experience and training, and gunnery practice had been neglected. These trans-Atlantic voyages had also consumed valuable supplies and news of Nelson’s arrival made Villeneuve reluctant to leave port; this decision was supported by his captains. During this time, Nelson’s main fleet was hove-to 50 miles offshore from Cadiz with some fast frigates keeping a watch on the enemy.  Villeneuve was order by Napoleon to leave for Cartagena to join up with other Spanish ships.

Battle of Trafalgar
French and Spanish fleet in Cadiz.
Battle of Trafalgar
The fleet attacking in two lines.
Battle of Trafalgar
HMS Entrepreante and HMS Belleisle
Belleisle was previously the French ship Formidable, captured earlier by the British. She is seen here being assisted by Entrepreante after being dismasted by French fire, the only British ship to suffer this level of damage.
Battle of Trafalgar
HMS Entrepreante and Achille
Rescuing French sailors from Achille.

Nelson’s plan was to approach the French/Spanish fleet in two columns sailing perpendicular to the enemy’s line. This is a similar maneuver that Admiral Jervis used in the Battle of Cape St Vincent with great success. Eventually Villeneuve changed his mind and decided to sail out of Cadiz harbour but as some captains were reluctant to leave port they failed to closely follow Villeneuve’s order. The result was a sprawling uneven formation. Although there was great consternation in the British ranks, the British ships broke through the sprawling formation and as more and more British ships approached, the enemy fleet became overwhelmed by superior firepower.

HMS Entrepreante
HMS Entrepreante
She was the smallest British ship and did not take part in the the fire fight. She did however rescue French sailors from wrecked ships.
This stamp contains traces of powdered wood from HMS Victory.
Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
HMS Pickle and Achille
HMS Agememnon
HMS Agamemnon
Launched in 1781, wrecked off the mouth of the River Plate in 1809. She was under the command of Nelson for three years and was regarded as his favorite ship. She fought in Trafalgar in Nelson’s ‘Weather Column’ and forced the surrender of the Spanish Santisima Trinidad.

The Death of Nelson

During the battle, Nelson was shot by a French sniper from the top rigging of Redoutable and died shortly afterwards. Vice admiral Villeneuve was taken prisoner aboard his own flagship and taken back to England. Nelson’s body was preserved in a barrel of brandy for the return trip the England. Victory was badly damaged and was towed to Gibraltar for repairs then on to England for a full refit. Pickle was the first ship to arrive in England with the news of the victory at Trafalgar and of Admiral Nelson’s death.

Nelson lies wounded on the deck of HMS Victory.
Thomas Swain catching Nelson on the deck of HMS Victory
Thomas Swain catching Nelson on the deck of HMS Victory.

Following the battle, the Royal Navy was never again seriously challenged by the French fleet in any large-scale engagement. Napoleon abandoned his plans of invasion which were never again revived. As it turned out, Trafalgar was the last great battle in the age of sail.

Nelson's body returned to England
Nelson’s body returning to England in a barrel of Brandy.

Nelson became then and remains today Britain’s greatest naval war hero and his statue rises over Trafalgar Square in London in recognition of his decisive victory at Trafalgar.

After Trafalgar, all of the main competitors to British trade had effectively been swept from the sea. The victory at Trafalgar led to the subsequent expansion of British Naval supremacy and to the growth of the British Empire to encompass a quarter of the world’s population, with English becoming the dominant global language. A loss at Trafalgar may well have seen the French enjoy naval supremacy and a global French Empire established in place of the British Empire, with French becoming the dominant language.

HMS Victory
This stamp contains traces of powdered wood from HMS Victory.

John Quilliam

HMS Victory & John Quilliam
With Victory’s wheel destroyed by cannon fire, steering the ship was done manually, overseen by John Quilliam.

John Quilliam was a farmer’s son from the Isle of Man. He was press-ganged into the Royal Navy in 1794, a common practice at that time for ‘conscripting’ sailors. Unlike most impressed sailors, he quickly rose through the ranks and due to his gallantry and calmness under fire, was made First Lieutenant by Nelson. During the battle he oversaw the manual steering of Victory from the gun room after the wheel had been destroyed.

Thomas Swain

Thomas Swain caught Nelson as he fell after being shot by a French sniper (Depicted on the ‘Tristan da Cunha’ stamp above). In 1826 he settled on Tristan da Cunha where his family still reside; one of the seven families who trace their ancestry back to the original settlers.

Commemorating the 1979 visit to Tristan da Cunha by RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, the envelope shows the signatures of the original seven families which include the Swain family (bottom right).

Battle of Montevideo – 1807

HMS Pheasant
HMS Pheasant
Launched in 1798, sold in 1827
A Merlin-class sloop.

The Battle of Montevideo was a battle between the Spanish and British empires and was a part of the British invasion of the river Plate. HMS Pheasant was based in the Leeward Islands and was involved in the Battle of Montevideo in the Rio de la Plata on 06 January 1807. A party of 800 seamen and marines were landed from naval vessels including the Pheasant. Due to the shallowness of the water off Montevideo these ships could not lend any effectual co-operation in the siege other than land troop, guns and supplies. The outcome of the battle saw Montevideo seized by British forces.

HMS Thetis – 1807

HMS Thetis was an 18-gun Thais-class fireship, launched in 1806, sold in 1818.

1807 – In the run-up to the Gunboat War with Denmark, Thetis captured three Danish vessels. This was the commencement of the First Battle of Copenhagen with Denmark using its naval force to protect her trade, an engagement that was part of the Napoleonic Wars with France, where Britain attempted to prevent Napoleon from seizing Danish naval vessels. Later that year, she sailed to the West Indies and participated in the capture of the Danish West Indies.

HMS Thetis
HMS Thetis

Between 1811 and 1813, she served in the West African Squadron attempting to suppress the slave trade. In 1813 she destroyed a factory and released 230 slaves to Sierra Leone; two English men were arrested and charged with slavery.

1816 – She escorted East Indiamen to the West Indies and visited St. Helena on the return journey.

HMS Ganymede – 1809

Ganymede was a sixth-rate frigate, captured from the French in 1809 and broken up in 1938. She was the former French frigate Hebe, captured enroute from Bordeaux to Santo Domingo carrying flour. She served with the Royal Navy before being decommissioned and converted to a prison hulk in 1819.

HMS Ganymede
HMS Ganymede

In 1811 there was a court martial on charges of cruelty against her captain, Robert Preston. This came about from a petition from the ship’s company. The charges were not proved against the captain but the board did recommend to Preston that he change his conduct.

The Walcheren Campaign – 1809

HMS Blake
HMS Blake
launched in 1808, sold in 1816
A 72-gun third-rate ship of the line.

During the War of the Fifth Coalition, HMS Blake Participated in the ill-fated Walcheren Campaign where Blake was one of some 40 British vessels which landed 40,000 troops and 15,000 horses together with field artillery on Walcheren Island in an attempt to seal the mouth of the Scheldt river. The campaign was aimed at destroying the French Fleet in Flushing whilst providing a diversion for the hard pressed Austrian troops. Within a month of landing, 8,000 British troop came down with malaria. Within four months only 5,500 troops remained fit for duty. During the expedition, more than 4,000 British troops died with only 109 deaths being due to combat.

HMS Daring
HMS Daring

HMS Daring also participated in this ill-fated adventure. She was later commissioned to the West Africa station. In 1813, her captain believed he was approaching three Brazilian slavers but they turned out to be two French warships escorting their prize. To evade capture, the captain was forced to beach Daring on the Island of Tamara, off the Guinea coast and burn her. The crew escaped to Sierra Leone on small trading boats.

HMS Kangaroo – 1808

HMS Kangaroo was an 18-gun sloop, launched in 1805 and sold in 1815.

She captured a number of French ships including the privateer Egayant in 1808.

She participated in the ill-fated Walcheren Campaign of 1809.

HMS Kangaroo
HMS Kangaroo

Kangaroo was put up for sale in 1815 and was purchased and renamed the Countess of Morley, and was sailed as a whaler.

In 1826 she became a merchantman and was active until 1828, when she was condemned at Sierra Leone.

Action off Nargue Island – 1809

HMS Victory
HMS Victory, commanded by Vice-Admiral Saumarez.

This was an action during the Anglo-Russian war, 1807-1812, to block the Russian fleet in the Gulf of Finland. The squadron is shown off Nargue Island near to Revel (now Tallinn), Finland. This war followed Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

The Stamp image shows the Squadron off Nargue Island where Vice-Admiral Saumarez and his flagship HMS Victory are giving a seven-gun salute to the Swedish Brig-Sloop Rose with baron Platen about to confer the grand Order of the Sword on Vice-Admiral Saumarez.

HMS Ajax

HMS Ajax was a 74-gun Third Rate Ship of the Line who saw action During the Napoleonic wars. In 1810 – Ajax attacked Palamos together with HMS Kent and HMS Cambria, destroying merchant vessels with supplies for the French army and their escorts.

HMS Ajax
HMS Ajax
Launched in 1809, scrapped in 1869.

In 1814, she captured the French frigate Alcyon near the Lizard. Alcyon was only 24 hrs out of Saint-Malo, provisioned for a three-month cruise when captured.

HMS Trinculo – 1811

HMS Trinculo was an 18-gun sloop, launched in 1808, broken up in 1841.

1811 – Trinculo was on convoy duties from England to the Baltic, during the Anglo-Russian war. She was later commissioned to the Mediterranean for further convoy duties.

HMS Trinculo
HMS Trinculo

1832 – Dispatched to Mauritius to combat the slave trade and deal with local unrest.

1833 – Arrived in Ascension Island on anti-slavery duties.

1841 – Trinculo was found unfit for duty and broken up.

War of 1812

The origins of this conflict can be traced back to the protectionist trading system that was entrenched by the British Parliament preventing American ships from trading between the West Indies and America. This protectionism blocked what had been a major American trade route prior to the revolution. Napoleon also cleverly manipulated Macon’s bill, which established restrictions on France or Britain if the other agreed to respect America’s rights, to turn American anger against Britain. Another contributing factor to the war was the degree of cooperation between Britain and Native Americans that was perceived as a threat and led to pressure for the seizure of Canada. However, it should be noted that there was considerable dissent within America about going to war against Britain and Canada, particularly by Federalists who were heavily represented in New England. The invasion and seizure of Canada was seen as a negotiating pawn to force Britain to change its maritime policy, and the object of a war with Canada being the means to redress previous ‘injuries.’

The problem of the defence of Canada by Britain was compounded by the war with Napoleon which required the commitment of most of the British army and many naval resources. However, prior to the war of 1812, France had suffered serious naval defeats, Trafalgar, and the Battle of the Nile, and had not been successful in rebuilding her Navy. This imbalance of naval power allowed Britain to put unopposed maritime pressure on America by mounting blockades and the seriously affecting the ability of France to send reinforcements to Canada. However, British Naval superiority did not extend to the Great Lakes where the Americans enjoyed a naval advantage.

Britain could not send any naval vessels up the St Laurence river to the Great Lakes as warships of any size could not pass the St Laurence rapids. Any ships that took part in engagements in the Great Lakes, had to be built in ports on the lakes. There were several naval engagements in the Great Lakes and the Americans eventually took control of Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, and Britain of Lake Huron. There were no decisive battles on Lake Ontario as neither side had been prepared to risk everything in a decisive attack and so the result of all of the construction effort on Lake Ontario to build vessels ended up as an expensive military draw, it has often been referred to as “The Battle of the Carpenters.”

With the American ships on the Atlantic coast bottled up by the Royal Navy, this provided for scope for more offensive actions. This included the raid on Washington led by Rear Admiral George Cockburn, the man who burned the White House and most of the other buildings in Washington. This action was in part retaliation for the American destruction of Port Dover, in Upper Canada.

The war ended with the treaty of Ghent, signed on 24 December, 1814. These events proved that Britain had the means to protect its foreign trade

These are some of the naval battles fought during the war

Bombardment of Cape Cod Towns

HMS Spencer
HMS Spencer and Captain John Quilliam.
Launched in 1800, broken up in 1822
A 74-gun third-rate ship of the line.

After sailing to North America, escorting a convoy to Canada, HMS Spencer patrolled the Gulf of Maine and bombarded lightly defended Cape Cod towns. Captain John Quilliam was the captain of HMS Crescent on the Newfoundland station.

The Blockade of Chesapeake Bay – Feb 1813

HMS Albion
HMS Albion
Launched in 1800, broken up in 1836
A 74-gun third-rate ship of the line.

HMS Albion was stationed off Chesapeake bay, part of a force that harried the coastline of Chesapeake Bay, where she operated all the way up to the Potomac and Patuxent rivers destroying large amounts of American shipping, as well as US government property. This operation ended when peace was finally declared in 1815.

USS Constitution engages HMS Guerriere – 17 July, 1812

HMS Guerriere
HMS Guerriere & USS Constitution

The USS Constitution, under Captain Isaac Hull, was heading south some 700 miles east of Boston when she was sighted by the 38-gun British frigate HMS Guerriere, captained by James Dacres, on her way to Halifax for repairs. For three hours Hull bore down on Dacres, until he decided to turn and fight. The Constitution’s broadside was superior to Guerriere’s, which was also seriously undermanned. After a remorseless gun duel, Constitution closed and shot away the Guerriere’s foremast and mainmast, soon she was completely disabled. Dacres struck his colours and the Guerriere, a perfect wreck, was burned the following day.

The Battle of Lake Erie – 10 Sept, 1813

Battle of Lake Eirie
US Artist Thomas Birch’s painting of the Battle of Lake Erie
US Navy Commander Oliver Perry’s victory on Lake Erie. “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”

The Battle of Lake Erie was fought on Sep 10, 1813 by the United States Navy, under Master Commander Oliver Perry, and the Royal Navy, under Commander Robert Barclay, in the Western part of Lake Erie off the Ohio coast. It was a defeat for the British who lost six ships captured by the Americans and this defeat in turn allowed the Americans to recover Detroit and win the Battle of the Thames. It was one of the biggest naval battles of the war. When war broke out, the British seized control of Lake Erie with a small force of ships, which included HMS Detroit. The Americans started building a squadron of ships in Presqu’isle, Pennsylvania, and by mid-July the squadron was almost complete. This squadron of 9 vessels outgunned the British fleet of 6 vessels. The battle was fought in Put-In-Bay and was an American victory, which had a disproportionate strategic import with the Americans controlling Lake Erie for the rest of the war. This victory accounted for much of the American’s successes on the Niagara peninsular and removed the threat of a British attack on Ohio and Pennsylvania. This American victory has been attributed to Perry’s leadership and the unfortunate fall of senior British officers early in the battle. Also, the guns intended for the Detroit had been seized by the Americans in their earlier raid on Fort York. It should also be noted that the Americans managed to build six ships in the same time frame that the Detroit was built.

Attack upon Wareham, Massachusetts – 13 June 1814

A Squadron under George Hilton in the HMS Superb, including HMS Nimrod, and accompanied by a brig privateer attacked Wareham destroying enemy shipping and a cotton factory. Wareham was involved in privateering efforts during the war, like most coastal ports, and so became a target for an operation by the British to quash this threat. The British landed troops to search for privateers and in turn burned the cotton factory.

HMS Pyramus – 1813

HMS Pyramus was a 36-gun, fifth-rate frigate, launched in 1810, broken up in 1879.

HMS Pyramus
HMS Pyramus

1813 – Pyramus was tasked with detaining American vessels near the English and French coasts.

1821 – She was commissioned and based in the West Indies.

From 1833 to 1879, she was a fixture of the Halifax, N.S. waterfront. She was used as a hospital ship during the 1866 Halifax cholera scare where the SS England, bound for Boston, suffered an outbreak of cholera and sought refuge in Halifax; there had been a previous epidemic of cholera in Halifax in 1834. Over 400 stricken passengers were transferred to the Pyramus.

Attack on Petapaug point – 1814

HMS Hogue
HMS Hogue
A 74-gun third rate ship of the line. One of forty Vengeur-class ships of the line, one of the most numerous class of ships ever built by the Royal Navy.

The ships’ boats from HMS La Hogue, HMS Endymion, HMS Maidstone and HMS Borer successfully sailed up the Connecticut River and attacked Petapaug Point, Connecticut (now the town of Essex). They seized stores, rum and two ships, burning several other ships including newly built Privateers.

Capture of USS President by HMS Endymion – 14 Jan, 1815

HMS Endymion
HMS Endymion
Launched in 1797, broken up in 1868.
A 40-gun fifth-rate ship of the line. The fastest Royal Navy vessel in the age of sail.

When the United States declared war on Great Britain in November of 1812, England ordered a naval blockade which was implemented in stages. In May of 1813, New York harbour and Long Island Sound were blockaded. The blockade of the American Atlantic coast caused the majority of American warships to be unable to put to sea and devastated the United States economy. The USS President had been stuck in New York harbour for several months due to the British blockade. On January 14th, Stephen Decatur decided to escape. He ran aground guiding his vessel through the outbound channel, which strained her hull when she was made free. HMS Endymion, which was regarded as the fastest ship in the age of fighting sail, sighted the President and soon overhauled the weakened American vessel. During the resulting engagement two British frigates closed to within range of the battle and so Decatur had no choice but to strike his colours.

Capture of HMS Cyane and HMS Levant by USS Constitution – 20 Feb, 1815

USS Constitution
USS Constitution
Launched in 1797, she is still a commissioned vessel.

This was an action that took place a couple of days after the war had ended with the ratification of the treaty of Ghent. In late 1814, the USS Constitution had broken out of the blockade of Boston and embarked on commerce raiding which took her to Bermuda, Madeira and the coast of Portugal. Returning to Madeira, she sighted two ships and set sail in chase. These ships were HMS Cyane, and HMS Levant and Constitution closed on them and the engagement commenced. The Constitution had the advantage of size and number of long guns which proved fatal to the two British ships. Both British ships surrendered and were escorted by Constitution to the Cape Verde Islands, which was neutral Portuguese territory.

Capture of HMS Penguin by USS Hornet – 23 March, 1815

USS Hornet captures HMS Penguin.
HMS Penguin
HMS Penguin
Launched in 1813, scuttled by captors in 1815
A Cruizer-class brig-sloop.
HMS Penguin
HMS Penguin

This was the last naval battle of the war and was fought a few months after the peace treaty had been signed, but this was not known by the adversaries. In 1814, the US Navy prepared a small squadron of ships in New York City with the intention of attacking British shipping in the Indian Ocean. On 15 January USS President had attempted to break through the British blockade but went aground, damaging her hull, and she was subsequently captured by the blockading frigates. The USS Hornet, together with USS Tom Bowline and USS Peacock, did later on break through the blockade during a gale and made for their pre-arranged rendezvous at Tristan da Cunha, which was being used by the Americans as a cruiser base. During the voyage Hornet lost touch with the other two vessels and reached the island alone on 22 March. About to drop anchor, the captain sighted another sail which turned out to be HMS Penguin. A battle commenced during which the Penguin was badly damaged, and with her foremast falling and breaking the bowsprit she was unable to manoeuvre and surrendered. Penguin was too badly damaged to be repaired and with the sighting of sails on the horizon, she was set on fire. Hornet gave up waiting for the President to arrive and so set sail for the West Indies. En route she narrowly escaped capture by HMS Cornwallis and only after jettisoning anchors, ballast, guns, capstan, cables and parts of the forecastle, and after a 2 ½ day chase did she manage to evade the British ship.

The Bombardment of Algiers – 1816

HMS Albion
HMS Albion
HMS Superb
HMS Superb

This was an attempt by the British and Dutch to suppress piracy and end the slave trade on the Barbary coast. An Anglo-Dutch fleet bombarded ships and the harbour defenses of Algiers in an attempt to force the Dey of Algiers to stop slavery and free the Christian slaves, many of whom were sailors. It was partially successful with some 3,000 European slaves being freed as a result of the bombardment. However, the practice of slavery did not end until the French conquest of Algeria in 1830.

Eighteen Royal Naval ships, which included HMS Superb and HMS Albion, and six Dutch ships, took part in the bombardment. After a day of bombardment, which caused a great deal of damage to the city and ships anchored in the harbour, the Dey was given an ultimatum to accept a condition of surrender or face further bombardment. The Dey accepted the terms, not realizing that the British had fired off nearly all of their ammunition, and a treaty was signed and the slaves were released. The Dey rebuilt Algiers using Jewish labour in place of slaves but the Barbary slave trade later continued under subsequent Deys but it did not include Europeans.

HMS Ariadne – 1816-1841

HMS Ariadne
HMS Ariadne

HMS Ariadne was a 20-gun Hermes-class sixth-rate post ship, a Wooden steam frigate, launched in 1816, scrapped in 1841.

Ariadne only entered service in 1923 after major modifications were made to her design. In 1924 she was assigned to the Cape of Good Hope Station where her captain, Isaac Chapman, was court-martialled and dismissed form the service after having purchased a female slave and brought her on board the ship.

Her next assignment was on the Mediterranean Station until 1928, when she was taken out of service.

HMS Julia – 1817

HMS Julia was a 16-gun brig-sloop of the Seagull-class, launched in 1806, wrecked in 1817.

HMS Julia
HMS Julia
The Wreck of HMS Julia

She saw action during the Napoleonic wars when she captured some French ships. She also saw action at the outset of the War of 1812 when she seized an American vessel off Spithead.

In 1816 she was stationed at Ascension Islands and received orders to sail to Tristan da Cunha. The weather was bad and she spend two days cruising before making anchor in Falmouth Bay. During the night a storm blew up and she dragged her anchor and went ashore where she broke up. Some men got ashore along a fallen mast but 55 men and one woman drowned.

HMS Myrmidon – 1819 – Anti-Slavery

HMS Myrmidon was a 20-gun sixth-rate post ship, later converted to a sloop, launched in 1813, broken up in 1823

HMS Myrmidion
HMS Myrmidon

Her first commission was in the Mediterranean. Following this she was commissioned to the Africa station from 1818 until her decommission in 1822. She was refitted at Ascension in 1821. During her time on the Africa station she was tasked with chasing and seizing slave traders.

In 1815 she accompanied HMS Bellerophon with Napoleon on board on the voyage to St Helena, where he was exiled. In 1821 she visited Ascension Island for a refit.

HMS Royal Adelaide – 1819

HMS Royal Adelaide was a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line, launched in 1819, scrapped in 1905.

HMS Royal Adelaide
HMS Royal Adelaide

She did not see action during her career. During her career, she was commanded by 13 Commanding Officers and 4 Flag Officers.

1871 – she became the Flagship of HMS Hamoaze, a naval base in Plymouth.

HMS Formidable – 1825

HMS Formidable was an 84-gun second rate ship, launched in 1825, sold in 1906

HMS Formidable
HMS Formidable

She became a training ship in Portishead in 1870 until she was sold out of the navy in 1906.

1841-1845 – Formidable spent these years in the Mediterranean.

1842 – Formidable ran aground west of Barcelona and damage was done which nearly had her “erased from the navy list.” She was refloated after throwing her guns overboard and pumping out water from the bilge.

1848 – Formidable returned to Sheerness to become the flagship.

1869 – Became a training ship in Bristol.

There is no record of Formidable having seen any action during her commission.

Capt. John Quilliam R.N. 1771-1829

John Quilliam was born on the Isle of Man in 1771. He took on the trade of Stone mason and worked as one until he was press ganged into the Royal Navy in 1796. Unusual in the Navy for a pressed sailor, Quilliam rapidly rose through the ranks. In 1797, he became a Lieutenant onboard HMS Amazon during the battle of Camperdown. His gallantry and calmness under fire caught the eye of Nelson who made him a First Lieutenant on HMS Victory.

Capt. John Quilliam
Capt. John Quilliam

Quilliam would serve a further ten years in the Royal Navy, commanding four ships – two line ships including as Flag Captain to Admiral Stopford aboard the 74-gun HMS Spencer, after which he was selected for Frigate command. Before moving to this later phase in his career, it is worth looking at his time in Spencer.

Stopford was promoted Rear Admiral on 28th April and Quilliam was appointment to the Spencer as Flag Captain on the 12th May, I suspect at Stopford’s request. The Squadron was responsible for blockading Rochefort and was repeatedly in action, being engaged both with the French batteries and frigates, several of which were driven ashore and destroyed.

Impressment or the “Press Gang”

Impressment began in 1694 and extended through to the early 18th century. The size of the Royal Navy required a large body of men to crew warships and as a result, the taking of men by compulsion was a method of providing warship crews, particularly during wartime and so the “press gang” was formed to force sailors to serve on naval ships. This procedure was not restricted to the navy in Britain as the American Continental Navy also impressed men during the American Revolutionary war.

HMS Medina – 1830

HMS Medina was a 20-gun sloop, launched in 1813, disposed of in 1832.

Medina started her career undertaking convoy duty between North America, the West Indies and England. Whilst in North America she was docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

HMS Medina
HMS Medina

1828 – She was commissioned for duty in the Atlantic searching for and seizing Spanish American and Brazilian slave traders on the African and South American coasts. The same year she visited Ascension Islands with a company of Royal Marines.

1821 – She was commissioned for duty in the Mediterranean supporting Greece against Turkey, intercepting Turkish supplies and reinforcements. 

HMS Saracen – 1832 – Anti-Slavery

HMS Saracen
HMS Saracen

HMS Saracen was a 10-gun Cherokee-class brig-sloop, launched in 1831, sold out of service in 1862.

She was part of the West Africa Squadron and was active on anti-slave trade patrols in the Atlantic, from West Africa to the Americas.

Between 1839 and 1841, she captured some 16 slave trade ships.

HMS Myrmidon – 1819 – Anti-Slavery

HMS Myrmidon was a 20-gun sixth-rate post ship, later converted to a sloop, launched in 1813, broken up in 1823. Her first commission was in the Mediterranean. Following this she was commissioned to the Africa station from 1818 until her decommission in 1822. She was refitted at Ascension in 1821.

HMS Myrmidon
HMS Myrmidon

During her time on the Africa station she was tasked with chasing and seizing slave traders.

In 1815 she accompanied HMS Bellerophon with Napoleon on board on the voyage to St Helena, where he was exiled. In 1821 she visited Ascension Island for a refit.

HMS Atholl – 1820 – Anti-Slavery

HMS Atholl was a 6th-rate 28-gun ship of the line, launched 1820, broken up 1863.

The ship was built of larch from the estate of the Duke of Atholl, from whom the ship’s name was derived. 

HMS Atholl
HMS Atholl

Atholl saw service off the Africa coast and in the West Indies.

1825 – Atholl was very active in capturing slave ships off the African and South American coasts and in the West Indies. As there was prize money awarded to captains who captured slavers, this became a very lucrative pursuit.

1827 – Atholl also saw service in the East Indies.

1930 – Visited Ascension Island.

1836 – Carried stores and provisions to Ascension Island on the way to Cape of Good Hope. 

1840 – Visited Quebec, carrying soldiers to and from Quebec and the West Indies. 

HMS Formidable – 1825

HMS Formidable was an 84-gun second rate ship.

Launched in 1825, sold in 1906.

HMS Formidable figurehead
HMS Formidable, figurehead

She became a training ship in Portishead in 1870 until she was sold out of the navy in 1906.

1841-1845 – Formidable spent these years in the Mediterranean.
1842 – Formidable ran aground west of Barcelona and damage was done which nearly had her “erased from the navy list.” She was refloated after throwing her guns overboard and pumping out water from the bilge.
1848 – Formidable returned to Sheerness to become the flagship.
1869 – Became a training ship in Bristol.
There is no record of Formidable having seen any action during her commission.

Capt. John Quilliam R.N. 1771-1829

John Quilliam was born on the Isle of Man in 1771. He took on the trade of Stone mason and worked as one until he was press ganged into the Royal Navy in 1796. Unusual in the Navy for a pressed sailor, Quilliam rapidly rose through the ranks. In 1797, he became a Lieutenant onboard HMS Amazon during the battle of Camperdown. His gallantry and calmness under fire caught the eye of Nelson who made him a First Lieutenant on HMS Victory.

John Quilliam

Quilliam would serve a further ten years in the Royal Navy, commanding four ships – two line ships including, as Flag Captain to Admiral Stopford, aboard the 74-gun HMS Spencer, after which he was selected for Frigate command. Before moving to this later phase in his career, it is worth looking at his time in Spencer.

Stopford was promoted Rear Admiral on 28th April and Quilliam was appointment to the Spencer as Flag Captain on the 12th May, I suspect at Stopford’s request. The Squadron was responsible for blockading Rochefort and was repeatedly in action, being engaged both with the French batteries and frigates, several of which were driven ashore and destroyed.

Impressment or the “Press Gang

Impressment began in 1694 and extended through to the early 18th century. The size of the Royal Navy required a large body of men to crew warships and as a result, the taking of men by compulsion was a method of providing warship crews, particularly during wartime and so the “press gang” was formed to force sailors to serve on naval ships. This procedure was not restricted to the navy in Britain as the American Continental Navy also impressed men during the American Revolutionary war.

HMS Medina – 1830 – Anti-Slavery

HMS Medina was a 20-gun sloop, launched in 1813, disposed of in 1832.

Medina started her career undertaking convoy duty between North America, the West Indies and England. Whilst in North America she was docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

HMS Medina
HMS Medina

In 1821 she was commissioned for duty in the Mediterranean supporting Greece against Turkey, intercepting Turkish supplies and reinforcements.

In 1828 she was commissioned for duty in the Atlantic searching for and seizing Spanish American and Brazilian slave traders on the African and South American coasts. The same year she visited Ascension Islands with a company of Royal Marines.

HMS Saracen – 1832 – Anti-Slavery

HMS Saracen was a 10-gun Cherokee-class brig-sloop, launched in 1831, sold out of service in 1862.

HMS Saracen
HMS Saracen

She was part of the West Africa Squadron and was active on anti-slave trade patrols in the Atlantic, from West Africa to the Americas.

Between 1839 and 1841, she captured some 16 slave trade ships.

Royal Navy Uniforms circa 1800

A typical uniform worn by seamen around the 1800s.

A Boatswain 1787 – 1807, undress uniform.

Captain 1795-1812, undress uniform

Admiral 1787-1795, full dress uniform

One thought on “A Philatelic History of the Royal Navy Pt 4 – 1793-1832

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