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Author Topic: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)  (Read 7260 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2018, 14:47:14 »
Not cheap foreign rubbish then  :)
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Melville

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2018, 13:38:02 »
I forgot to mention that although the watch is 224 years old, and the original guarantee ran out quite a while ago, the watch is still in good working order and keeps time to within a couple of minutes a day.

They don't make them like they used to.

Offline Melville

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2018, 19:54:33 »
Thanks for your reply and help.  I now have a copy of John MacDonald's last Will and Testament!

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2018, 17:46:13 »
A beautiful piece and, I think, of some historical significance.

The Carpenter of a ship was not just a common seaman, he was an educated, senior Warrant Officer, who would have been appointed into the ship by the Navy Board. I say educated meaning that he was a time-served and fully qualified shipwright. He was responsible for the repair and maintenance of the ship's hull, frames and decks and had his own crew of a Carpenters Mate and five Able Seamen. Also reporting to the Carpenter was the Caulker, another Warrant Officer who was responsible for ensuring that the hull and decks remained watertight.

To be appointed into a ship as her Carpenter, he would have had to obtain a Warrant from the Navy Board, who wouldn't have issued it until they saw proof of his qualifications. When a ship was commissioned from new, the Carpenter was appointed from amongst the shipwrights who built her, thus staking his own life on the quality of the workmanship. Answerable to the First Lieutenant, he was one of the ship's Standing Officers, that is, he would remain with the ship whether she was in commission or not. He was a man of some importance, evidenced by the fact that he had his own cabin under the forecastle and was entitled to have two of the ships boys as cabin servants. He was quite well paid too, at 3.6s per lunar month, plus his share of prize and head money.

You should be able to find his records in the National Archive. It might be that the watch was presented to him by Captain John Trigge, who according to 'Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy'  by David Bonner Smith, left the ship in June of 1794. That's not necessarily when he actually left the ship, it was more likely that was the date when the orders for him to leave the ship were issued. Again, the National Archives should be able to help with that. Indeed, a quick search of the National Archive online catalogue turned this up:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D326744

Best of luck.....
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Melville

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2018, 14:03:27 »
This post has been a great deal of help to me regarding the history of HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815.)
I am a collector of old pocket watches and think that perhaps this may be of interest.

I have a silver pair cased pocket watch by John Rugless of London and the case dates the watch 1792/93.

The case is inscribed around the top edge:-

"A small token and mark of merit to Mr. John Macdonald"


In the centre is an engraving of a ship and below it MERMAID JULY 1794


Around the lower edge is inscribed:-


"Carpenter of his Majesties Ship"


I have only had the watch a short time and have so far not been able to trace John Macdonald.




Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2017, 12:25:48 »
Updated with some plans and a connection I found between one of her captains and John Henniker, the First Baron Henniker of Stratford upon Slaney, who had owned a shipyard in Chatham where a number of ships had been built for the Royal Navy.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2013, 11:25:46 »
While researching the career of HMS Leviathan, Chatham Dockyard built ship of 74 guns, I came across some numbers for British warships lost between February 1793 and October 1801 and they break down as follows:

Ships captured by the enemy - 5 ships of the line (3rd rate and above), 37 ships under the line (4th rate and below)

Ships wrecked - 9 ships of the line and 73 ships under the line.

Ships lost in fire related accidents - 6 ships of the line and 4 ships under the line.

Off topic I know, but the question was asked and deserved an answer.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline smiler

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2013, 12:19:12 »
Thank you matey  :) look forward to your next ship. You seem to have learnt a lot down in them bilges, only thing I ever learnt was try to keep dry and get out as soon as possible.  :)

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2013, 10:51:36 »
I take it all these captured ships would have been brought back to an English port. We seem to take a lot of French ships have you any record of how many in total during these wars, and how many of ours they took.

They were taken back to a British held port, yes. A captured ships fate depended on what kind of ship it was. Merchant vessels (and privateers are included in this) were usually sold into merchant service, either as cargo ships or to British privateers. Warships were taken into the Royal Navy, depending on how badly damaged they were. Of the nine French ships captured at the Battle of the Nile in 1797, only three were in good enough condition to be repaired and put into Royal Naval service. Tonnant and Spartiarte joined the Royal Navy under their original names and went on to fight at Trafalgar, while Franklin was renamed to HMS Canopus. The other six ships were hulked.

As far as how many enemy ships were captured by the Royal Navy, I have no idea. A lot, is all I can say right now. The French navy in particular was comprehensively defeated during the wars which followed the French Revolution, for a number of reasons. They did capture British ships, mostly smaller ships, but I couldn't say how many. I know that one of Saumarez's ships surrendered at the First Battle of Algeciras, HMS Hannibal (74), which remained in French service for the rest of her career.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline smiler

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2013, 09:31:17 »
Well done Bilgerat another cracker, appreciated  :) I take it all these captured ships would have been brought back to an English port. We seem to take a lot of French ships have you any record of how many in total during these wars, and how many of ours they took.

petermilly

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2013, 07:45:50 »
Thanks for making that clear.
Always look forward to your posts.  :)
P

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 18:33:03 »
If a commander was successful, yes, but it was recognised that the success of a commander was dependent on the skill and efforts of the whole ship, from the First Lieutenant down to the ships boys and everyone in-between. A successful ship's 1st Lieutenant usually found himself rewarded with a command of his own, as well as the captain going on to bigger and better things.

Commanders could go to smaller ships, depending on the circumstances. For example, William Bligh was a successful captain in command of HMS Director (64) but went from that ship to HMS Glatton (50). You might think that moving to a smaller ship, particularly a 50 gun 4th rate ship, was a demotion. However, HMS Glatton had been fitted entirely with carronades as an experiment and the Navy needed an experienced and respected commander to try her out.

An unsuccessful commander would just not be given another appointment, or would be sent somewhere out of harms way. Successful commanders who had the patronage of a famous senior officer could have spectacular careers. The obvious example of this is Nelson, who counted giants such as John Jervis (the Earl St Vincent) and Lord Hood amongst his patrons. An officer who was competent, but not spectacularly successful (the majority) went from appointment to appointment, gaining seniority and moving up the Navy List until they attained Flag Rank by virtue of their seniority.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

petermilly

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Re: HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 13:53:31 »
Thanks Bilgerat, once again a very interesting read.
Tell me, how come the captains changed ship so often, was it always promotion to a bigger more prestige ship?  :)
P

Offline Bilgerat

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HMS Mermaid (1784 - 1815)
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2012, 19:27:40 »
HMS Mermaid was a 12pdr-armed 32 gun 5th rate frigate of the Active class, built by the Royal Dockyard at Sheerness.

The Active Class was a group of eight frigates designed by Edward Hunt, Co-Surveyor of the Navy and HMS Mermaid was the only one to be built in a Kent shipyard. The 12pdr-armed 32 gun frigate was, along with the 9pdr-armed 28 gun ship, the dominant type of frigate in the Royal Navy from the 1750s to the 1790s, when they began to be replaced by larger frigates carrying 18pdr guns. The increase in size and firepower of the Royal Navy's frigates happened in response to larger and more powerful French and Spanish frigates which were encountered during the American War of Independence. Despite being obsolete from about 1790, some of the older frigates went on to have very long service careers, serving into the 19th century.

HMS Mermaid was originally ordered from the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich on 27th August 1778 and was laid down there the following month. At the time, France had intervened in the American War of Independence and as a result, the war was rapidly escalating from an effort to put down an armed rebellion to a full-scale, all-out war between the superpowers of the day.

Construction of HMS Mermaid proceeded at Woolwich until the Navy Board cancelled the order and re-ordered the ship from the Royal Dockyard at Sheerness. The reasons for this are unclear and it is unclear whether the incomplete ship was broken up on the slipway at Woolwich, her timbers moved to Sheerness and re-assembled there, or whether the ship built at Sheerness was built from scratch. Whatever the case may be, 1,807 had been spent on the ship at Woolwich before the order was cancelled.

HMS Mermaid was laid down again at Sheerness on 29th July 1782 and the ship was launched there on 11th November 1784. By the time the ship was launched, she had cost 12,854. At the time of her launch, the war for which she had been built was over. Instead of having her masts, rigging and guns fitted, the ship was secured to a mooring buoy in the Swale with her hatches and gunports sealed shut and under the care of a skeleton crew, entered the Ordinary.

In June 1790, HMS Mermaid was taken into the dockyard at Sheerness and fitted for sea, with her masts, rigging and guns being fitted. The reason was that Britain and Spain were on the brink of war in what is now known as the Spanish Armament Crisis. This happened as a result of British attempts to establish trading posts on the western coast of Canada, at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. This was in defiance of a Spanish territorial claim to the entire western coastline of both American continents.

HMS Mermaid completed fitting in August 1790 and was commissioned under Captain Cuthbert Collingwood. He came to fame later in his life when he was Second in Command to Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when he led the British fleet to eventual victory after Nelson had been killed in action. When she was complete, HMS Mermaid was a ship of 692 tons. She was 126' 2" long on her gundeck and 35' 5" wide across the beam. The ship was armed with 26 12pdr long guns on her gundeck, 4 6pdr long guns and 4 24pdr carronades on her quarterdeck with 2 6pdr long guns and 2 24pdr carronades on her forecastle. She was manned by a crew of 250 men, officers and marines.

Active Class Plans

Framing Plan:



Sheer Plan and Lines:



A model of HMS Mermaid showing the ship ready for launching:



HMS Mermaid was sent to the Caribbean to reinforce protection for British possessions there should war break out and departed from Sheerness later in August 1790. The Spanish Armament Crisis was resolved peacefully when the new National Assembly in post-revolution France decided that they would not go to war. This forced the Spanish to negotiate and a series of agreements were reached with the British whereby the British would be free to establish trading posts but Spain would retain sovereignty over the area. As a result of the peaceful settlement of the crisis, military tensions eased and HMS Mermaid was recalled from the Caribbean in April 1791 and laid up in the Ordinary once more, this time at Portsmouth.

Up until the end of 1792, the French Revolution had had little impact on Britain, in fact, the British Government supported it, hoping that it would lead to the establishment of a Constitutional Monarchy in France, along the lines of our own. King Louis XVI was an unwilling participant in this and rioting began to break out in French major cities, which escalated to fighting in the Vendee region along the French Biscay coast. With the Republican Jacobin movement headed by Maximilien Robespierre gaining power, the British began to support Royalist forces in France and King Louis attempted to flee Paris to join them. He was caught and imprisoned. Tried and convicted of treason, the King and Queen were executed in Paris in January 1793. The British expelled the French ambassador in protest and France declared war on 1st February.

HMS Mermaid was recommissioned that month, taken into the dockyard at Portsmouth and refitted for sea. The work was complete in May 1793 and on 22nd, HMS Mermaid departed for the Mediterranean under Captain John Trigge. On 27th May 1793, HMS Mermaid captured the French privateer Le General Washington of 20 guns in company with the 28 gun 6th rate frigate HMS Tartar. Three days later, in company with the 32 gun frigate HMS Castor, she took the 16 gun French privateer L'Angelique. The following month, HMS Mermaid took an unknown French privateer of 14 guns.

In August 1793, HMS Mermaid joined a fleet under Admiral Lord Hood supporting French royalist forces holding the city of Toulon. In December 1793, the British were forced to evacuate the city after French republican forces penetrated the defences and took the city.

HMS Mermaid sailed for the Caribbean on 5th May 1794 under a new commander, Captain Henry Warre. On 10th October 1795, HMS Mermaid, in company with the 16 gun ship-sloop HMS Zebra took the French brig Le Brutus of 10 guns. This success was followed up four days later when she took the French lugger Republicain of 18 guns.

The capture of le Brutus by HMS Mermaid.



In February 1796, Captain Charles Davers replaced Captain Trigg, but he only remained in command for two months before he was replaced by Captain Robert Otway. On 8th August 1796, HMS Mermaid caught and engaged the larger French frigate Vengeance of 40 guns off Basseterre, Guadeloupe. The two ships fought each other until HMS Beaulieu, a 40 gun frigate under Captain Francis Laforey approached the scene to render assistance. The Vengeance retired to the protection of the shore battery at Basseterre, but not before she had lost 12 men killed with 26 wounded. HMS Mermaid suffered no casualties.

On 10th December 1796, HMS Mermaid in company with the 28 gun 6th rate frigate HMS Resource took the 16 gun French vessel General Leveau off San Domingo. On 7th March 1797, she took the French privateer La Liberte General.

On 20th April 1797, HMS Mermaid's boats, together with those from HMS Hermione (32), HMS Quebec (32), HMS Drake (14) and HMS Penelope (16), took part in a cutting out operation against French shipping in the harbour at Jean-Rabel in Haiti. Between them, they succeeded in capturing nine enemy ships, without suffering any casualties.

Later in 1797, Captain Davers was replaced in command by Captain James Newman Newman and the ship was reassigned to join the blockade of Lorient in modern day Brittany, France. The new year of 1798 got off to a good start for HMS Mermaid when she captured the 12 gun French privateer Aventure of 12 guns on New Years Day.

On June 29th 1798, HMS Mermaid was patrolling near Belle Isle in company with HMS Jason (38) and HMS Pique (36), when they spotted the French frigate Seine of 38 guns. The enemy ship was returning home from Mauritius with 400 soldiers aboard. The Seine was attempting to make landfall when she spotted the British frigates, which immediately gave chase. HMS Mermaid and HMS Jason headed inshore to prevent the Seine from heading into Lorient while HMS Pique continued after the French ship. At 21:00, HMS Pique opened fire. The two ships then engaged in a running fight until Pique came alongside the Seine at 23:00. The Pique and the Seine then fought it out at point blank range until 01:30 when the British ship's main topmast was shot away. HMS Jason joined the fight, taking over from HMS Pique which was ordered to anchor as she was in danger of drifting ashore. This order was disobeyed and as a result, HMS Pique ran aground. A short while later, HMS Jason also ran aground. On striking the shore, HMS Jason's stern swung around and faced the enemy's broadside, leaving her vulnerable to be raked.  At the same time, the Seine also ran aground and came under fire from HMS Pique. Captain Newman, seeing that HMS Jason and HMS Pique werein serious trouble, approached the scene and on seeing the British frigate approaching, the Seine struck her colours and surrendered. The Seine was taken by HMS Mermaid and although HMS Jason was refloated, HMS Pique was damaged beyond repair and was abandoned.

HMS Jason and Seine fight it out.



In the action, HMS Pique suffered 2 men killed with 6 wounded and HMS Jason suffered 7 killed and 11 wounded. Once again, HMS Mermaid suffered no casualties. The Seine suffered terribly in the action with 170 killed and 100 wounded.

On 24th March 1799, HMS Mermaid was in action again, capturing the unarmed French packet vessel Golondrevia off Corunna. That was Captain Newman's last success in command of HMS Mermaid. The following month, he was replaced in command by Captain Robert Oliver and on 1st June 1799 the ship was sent to the Mediterranean. Exactly a year later, patrolling as part of the blockade of Toulon, HMS Mermaid captured the French vessel La Cruelle of 6 guns.

By this time, 12 pdr armed 32 gun frigates like HMS Mermaid were considered obsolete by the Royal Navy and were being progessively replaced by more powerful 18 pdr armed 38 gun frigates. HMS Mermaid was recalled to the UK when the war was ended by the Treaty of Amiens and paid off into the Ordinary at Woolwich in August 1802. The peace was not to last long. The Napoleonic War broke out in May 1803 and in June, HMS Mermaid was refitted for sea. The work was completed in September 1803 and the ship recommissioned under Captain Askew Hollis and sailed for Jamaica. HMS Mermaid had a mostly quiet time on the Jamaica Station. In 1807, Spain joined France in the war and the declaration of war left a number of British merchantmen trapped in the harbour at Havana. HMS Mermaid forced an entrance to the harbour and successfully escorted the merchantmen out without having to fire a shot.

In August 1807, HMS Mermaid was recalled to Woolwich and underwent repairs before recommissioning under the 28-year old Captain Jacob Major Henniker in March 1809. Jacob Major Henniker was the grandson of John Henniker, who had died in 1803 and is buried in Rochester Cathedral. He had been a wealthy timber and furs merchant who had also owned a shipyard at Chatham where a number of ships had been built for the Royal Navy. On 12th June 1809, HMS Mermaid departed to escort a troop convoy to Portugal to support British efforts to drive the French from the Iberian Peninsular in what is now known as the Peninsular War.

Between October 1810 and February 1811, HMS Mermaid was refitted at Chatham and was converted into an 18 gun troopship. She served in this role in the Mediterranean until she was recalled to Plymouth in 1815 at the end of the war. She was broken up there in November 1815.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

 

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