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Author Topic: HMS Triumph (1764 - 1850)  (Read 5433 times)

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Offline smiler

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Re: HMS Triumph (1764 - 1850)
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2018, 09:14:46 »
All very interesting again Bilgerat thank you.  :) Photobucket good in its day but has a lot to answer for on forum.

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Triumph (1764 - 1850)
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 09:47:55 »
Another victim of Photobucket greed which I missed earlier. Updated with re-coded images.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline mikeb

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Re: HMS Triumph (1764 - 1850)
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2016, 17:09:48 »
Another masterly piece Bilgerat, thank you.

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Triumph (1764 - 1850)
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2016, 12:04:08 »
The purpose of this post is just to provide some clarification about the role of the young Horatio Nelson aboard HMS Triumph. Nelson's role in the ship would have been as a 'Midshipman in Ordinary'. Although HMS Triumph had her quota of Midshipmen aboard and there was no room for the young Horatio aboard the ship in that role officially, the captain of a large ship like HMS Triumph was entitled to have up to a dozen servants. For that reason, they often took boys of friends, family and anyone else they owed a favour to or were doing a favour for, aboard as Midshipmen-in-Ordinary.

The boys in this role were on the ships books as Captains` Servants, rated and paid as Able Seamen, but wore the uniform and did the job of a Midshipman proper, that is to assist a Lieutenant in his day-to-day duties. They also lived in the Midshipmens quarters, in the cockpit, located on the ships Orlop level. They would have continued in this role for two years until they gained two years sea service at which point the Admiralty would have appointed them as Midshipmen proper, enabling them to transfer (or be transferred) between ships in order to gain experience and to further their careers.
"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 Triumph (1764 - 1850)
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2015, 22:49:50 »
Part One

HMS Triumph was a Large Type, 74 gun, third rate ship of the line, built at the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich. She was sister-ship to the Chatham-built HMS Valiant, the subject of another post on this forum. With her sister-ship, the pair were the prototypes of the Large Type of third rate 74 gun ship of the line and were the first 74 gun ships of the line, designed as such from the ground up, to be built for the Royal Navy. Their descendants would become by far the most numerous type of ship of the line in the Royal Navy and would form the backbone of the Royal Navy's battlefleets until well into the 19th Century. Although only built in very small numbers initially, the Large Type were built in larger numbers in the early 19th century and superceded the smaller and more numerous Common and Middling Types, until the 74 gun ship began to disappear from the fleet altogether in the mid 1830s.

What was significant about these two ships was not the long list of significant naval battles they fought in, or that they were commanded by any particularly famous or infamous naval officers, but the political machinations which led to their being designed, ordered and built.

In 1689, a series of wars between Britain and France began, which became informally known as the Second Hundred Years War. Like the First Hundred Years War, it was not one single conflict, rather a series of wars interspersed with periods of peace. Unlike the First Hundred Years War, which was fought over the competing claims of the British and French crowns, the Second Hundred Years War had no single underlying cause. It started over French support for the Jacobite cause after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This had seen King James II forced to abdicate in favour of his daughter Mary and her Dutch-born husband, Prince William of Orange. Other causes of the wars were competing territorial claims in India, North America and around the Mediterranean, French support for the American colonists in the War of Independence and French attempts to export their Revolution throughout Europe. The wars were not to end until 1815.

From the 1730's, the French began to introduce to service a new type of ship of the line, one carrying 74 guns on two gundecks. The British soon found that the new French ships were bigger, faster, more manoeuvrable and more heavily armed than their own. The British, on the other hand, were struggling with their own problems, political rather than tactical or technological. The Royal Navy was at the time under the control of two seperate and distinct organisations. On one hand was the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, responsible for the organisation and deployment of the fleet. On the other hand was the Navy Board, responsible for the budget, the organisation and day-to-day running of the Royal Dockyards and the design and ordering and construction of new ships. The Navy Board was in favour of the standardisation and centralisation of ship designs and for that purpose, produced a series of 'Establishments'. An establishment was a set of standard drafts to be used by the Master Shipwrights in the Royal Dockyards and private shipbuilders, as templates for the design of new ships. An Establishment was produced in 1745 which called for two types of third-rate ship of the line, then as later, forming the backbone of the Fleet. One was a ship of 70 guns on two gundecks and the other was a ship of 80 guns on three gundecks. The War of Austrian Succession being fought at the time soon gave the Royal Navy the opportunity to try out the new designs and the result was not altogether good. The Royal Navy found that the new 70 gun ships, although tougher and able to spend much longer at sea, were still markedly inferior to those of the French in terms of firepower, speed and manoeuvrability. The British ships had more efficient rigging than the French, meaning they needed smaller crews. On the plus side, this meant that the ships were easier and cheaper to operate, but in action, ran the risk of being overwhelmed by the enemy's superior numbers. This was offset by the British tactic of firing into the enemy's hull at close range, maximising damage and casualties, cancelling out the French numerical superiority. The British ships however, had a fundamental and perhaps fatal flaw. Their lower gundecks were too close to the waterline. This meant that in ideal sailing conditions, they were unable to open their lower gundeck gunports for fear of sinking the ship. The 80 gun three-decker was found to be too cumbersome and only a very few of them were actually built.

On 14th May 1747, at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre, the British captured one of the finest of the French 74 gun ships, L'Invincible. On being taken into British service, L'Invincible was found to be capable of up to 16 knots in ideal sailing conditions; a good three knots faster than the best of her British counterparts. It was also found that in ideal sailing conditions, she could open her lower gundeck gunports with plenty of room to spare. The Admiralty began to pressure the Navy Board to do something about it, ideally, to produce a British 74 gun ship along the lines of the French ones. Instead, the 1745 Establishment 70 gunner was reduced to 68 guns in order to lighten the ship, in an attempt to increase the height of the lower gundeck above the waterline. The amended Establishment, the so-called 1752 Amendment had a negligable effect.

By the mid-1750's the last of the old guard in the Navy Board had either died or had been pensioned off. Their place was taken by more enlightened men, men such as Thomas Slade. One of his first acts on becoming Surveyor of the Navy was to produce a new design, the Dublin Class. These were based on the 1752 Amendment but were enlarged and pierced for 74 guns. Unfortunately, they suffered the same problems as the earlier 68 gun ships. Eventually, the Navy Board gave in to pressure from the Admiralty and ordered two new ships. These were essentially direct copies of L'Invincible, adapted for British use. One was ordered from the Royal Dockyard at Chatham and was to be called Valiant. The other, ordered from the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, was to be called Triumph.

In 1754, the first clashes in what was to become the Seven Years War occurred in what is now the United States, when British and French colonial militias became involved in territorial disputes. In 1756, war was declared and what is now regarded as the first real world war in the true sense of the phrase began in earnest. On 21st May 1757, Mr Israel Pownoll, Master Shipwright in the King's Dockyard at Woolwich received instructions to oversee the construction of a very large third rate ship, a vessel which was almost as big as a first rate ship. Under his supervision, the new ship's first keel section was laid at Woolwich on Monday 2nd January 1758. On 10th August 1759, HMS Triumph's sister-ship HMS Valiant was launched at Chatham. She had cost the phenomenal sum of 42,589.5s.10d, as opposed to around the 30,000 mark for a ship built to the old 1752 Amendment design. At this time, HMS Triumph was nowhere near finished. It was to be another five years before HMS Triumph was finally launched into the great River Thames, on Saturday 3rd March 1764.

On completion, HMS Triumph was an enormous ship for what she was. Very nearly as big as a first rate ship, HMS Triumph was 171ft 3in long on her upper gundeck and 138ft 8in long in her keel. She was 49ft 9in wide across her beams and her hold (between the orlop deck and the bottom of the ship) was 21ft 3in deep. Fully loaded, HMS Triumph was a ship of 1,825 tons. She was armed with 28 32pdr long guns on her lower gundeck, 30 24pdr long guns on her upper gundeck, 14 9pdr long guns on her quarterdeck and 2 9pdr long guns on her forecastle. She was manned by a crew of 650 officers, men, boys and Royal Marines. By the time she was finally completed, she had cost 33,250.3s.5d. Although she had come in at nearer what the Royal Navy expected to pay for a third rate ship of the line, HMS Triumph had taken almost seven years to build as opposed to the three years or so which the construction of a ship like her would be expected to take. This meant that by the time HMS Triumph was completed, the war for which she had been built was over. Despite this, HMS Triumph was to go on to have a very long career.

Valiant Class Plans

Orlop Plan:



Lower Gundeck Plan:



Upper Gundeck Plan:



Sheer Plan and Lines:



The Navy Board model of HMS Valiant. HMS Triumph was identical, apart from her figurehead and decorations:





Once the Seven Years War had been ended by the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the Royal Navy rushed to pay off the great first and second rate ships of the line and it would fall to ships like HMS Triumph to provide the heavy firepower for the peacetime navy. In May 1766, HMS Triumph was commissioned into the Channel Fleet under Captain Samuel Thompson and became the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet, Admiral Sir Edward Hawke. In November 1759, Hawke had commanded the Channel Fleet in the victory over the French at the Battle of Quiberon Bay. This battle had altered the course of the war at sea in the Seven Years War in that Hawke and his men had smashed the power of the French Atlantic Fleet. This had left the French unable to defend their overseas possessions. This in turn had led to the British taking Canada, making huge territorial gains in North America and the Caribbean and forcing France to sue for peace. In her role as Flagship, Channel Fleet, HMS Triumph had been based at Portsmouth and the Commissioner at that dockyard had complained about the difficulty in finding suitable berths for her at Spithead due to her size.

On 11th December 1766, Hawke left HMS Triumph and took up a new post as First Lord of the Admiralty in London. At the same time, Captain Thompson also left the ship to take up a new appointment in command of the 60 gun 4th rate ship of the line HMS Rippon. HMS Triumph was then paid off and went into the Ordinary at Chatham.

HMS Triumph was recommissioned in January 1771 under Captain Hugh Pigot as part of Britains response to the Falklands Crisis of 1770 and went into the Royal Dockyard to be fitted for sea. Captain Pigot left the ship in March 1771 and was replaced in command by Captain Maurice Suckling. By the time Pigot left the ship, he had made sure that her Midshipmen's berth was fully occupied and the ship was fully manned. This meant that when Suckling took command of the ship, there were no vacancies for Midshipmen. In turn, this meant that Captain Suckling's young nephew was forced to take up a position as his cabin servant with a nominal rank of Able Seaman. His young nephew had briefly served in Suckling's previous command, the brand-new 64 gun third rate ship of the line HMS Raisonnable as a midshipman because Suckling had been able to man that ship from scratch. His appointment in HMS Raisonnable had only lasted a month before his uncle had been ordered to take command of the much larger and much more powerful HMS Triumph. The young boy, aged just 12 when he joined his uncle aboard HMS Triumph, was Horatio Nelson.

HMS Triumph completed fitting for sea at Chatham in December 1771 at a cost of 3,979.12s.4d. and rejoined the Channel Fleet and was once more based at the Spithead anchorage. On 7th May 1773, Captain Suckling managed to find a vacancy as Midshipman for his nephew in the bomb-vessel HMS Carcass.

On 22nd June 1773, King George III visited Portsmouth and in addition to inspecting the Dockyard, a Review of the Fleet was held in which HMS Triumph participated. This painting by John Cleveley the Younger depicts this event, though the ship in the foreground is the 74 gun ship HMS Royal Oak. The three-decker to the right of centre flying the Royal Standard from her main mast is the Chatham-built second rate ship of the line HMS Barfleur. She is flying the Royal Standard because the King based himself aboard her for the duration of his visit. This would have been a spectacle to behold, as shown by the sheer numbers of small vessels jostling to get a glimpse of the King who is in the boat astern of HMS Royal Oak, also flying the Royal Standard.



Mr Midshipman Nelson's appointment in HMS Carcass came to an end in October 1773, when the vessel paid off at Sheerness and went into the Ordinary. He returned to Portsmouth and to HMS Triumph and once more took up the only position available to him, as Captain's Servant with a nominal rank of Able Seaman, on 15th October 1773. He wasn't to remain in the ship for long as his uncle found a vacancy as Midshipman aboard the 24-gun sixth rate post-ship HMS Seahorse, which he joined on 28th October. He was never to return to HMS Triumph.

HMS Triumph remained with the Channel Fleet until December 1774, when she paid off into the Ordinary at Sheerness.

Meanwhile, in Britain's American colonies, trouble had flared which began with protests and riots and escalated into a full-scale armed rebellion. The American War of Independence officially started on April 19th 1775, with the skirmishes between the Massachussetts Milita and regular British troops at Concord and Lexington. After forcing the British to withdraw from their stronghold at Boston in July 1776, the rebels issued the Declaration of Independence. From 1776, the French had been secretly supplying the rebels with arms and money and other military support. The French became concerned that the British would reconcile with the rebels and turn on France. Following the rebel victories in two battles at Saratoga (Freemans Farm on September 19th 1777 and Bemis Heights on October 7th) King Louis XVI became convinced that the Americans could win the war and concluded a Treaty of Alliance with the rebels which formally recognised the United States of America as an independent nation on 6th February 1778. On June 17th 1778, Britain responded by declaring war on France. In August 1778, HMS Triumph was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Sheerness and began to be fitted for sea. The ship formally recommissioned under Captain Phillip Affleck in October 1778 and the work to prepare her for sea was completed in March 1779. She must have been in a poor condition as not only did the work to fit her for sea take much longer than normal, it was also considerably more expensive at 8,470.17s.1d.

HMS Triumph was to remain in British waters until 31st March 1780, when she sailed for the Leeward Islands. Whilst HMS Triumph was en-route, the fleet which she was to join, under Sir  George Rodney, fought an inconclusive fleet action against a French fleet under the Compte the Guichen at Martinique on 17th April. Shortly after joining the fleet, HMS Triumph was present when the two fleets met again on 15th May 1780. In the Action of 15th May 1780, the British vanguard engaged the French rearguard and HMS Triumph did not take an active part in the action. The situation was repeated four days later in the Action of 19th May 1780 and once more, HMS Triumph did not play an active role in the Action.

HMS Triumph was to play no further part in the American War of Independence. She missed the strategically important battles at Chesapeake Bay in 1781 and The Saintes in 1782. The ship returned to the UK and paid off at Chatham in November 1781 and entered the Dockyard the following May for major repairs. The fact that the ship required major repairs may have been the reason why her active service in the American War of Independance was so short. The repairs to HMS Triumph took until November of 1782 and cost an enormous 18,321.1s.6d.

HMS Triumph didn't recommission until April 1783, when she was taken to Portsmouth to take up the role of Guardship there. In the role of Guardship at Portsmouth, the ship would have been fitted with all ther guns, masts and rigging, but would only have had half her normal crew. The ship was not expected to put to sea, which is why she didn't carry a full crew. Rather, her job was to provide security for the ships in the Dockyard and in the harbour and anchorages off St Helens, Isle of Wight and Spithead. In addition, her crew would have been required to perform a police-like role ashore, making sure that men ashore behaved themselves and intervening when they didn't.

In July 1789, the French Revolution occurred. The British initially supported it as it had led to the creation of a Constitutional Monarchy in France, similar to our own, where the previously absolute power of the French King was now limited by an elected body, the National Convention. Over the years following the Revolution, the King and the National Convention became involved in a power struggle which was becoming increasingly bitter and as it did so, hard-line Republicans of the Jacobin movement began to take control of the National Convention. As parts of France began to descend into civil war, with the Monarchists supported by the British, the Jacobins grew more and more anti-British and hard line.

In January of 1792, HMS Triumph was decommissioned and went into the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth for a 'Great Repair', which amounted to an almost complete rebuild.

In December 1792, the French monarchy was abolished and a Republic was declared. The following month, the French king and queen, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed and in February of 1793, the French declared war on Britain.

The work on HMS Trimph was completed in January 1795 and had cost 46,499, more than it had cost to build the ship in the first place. By now, HMS Triumph's upper gundeck 24pdr long guns had been replaced with smaller 18pdr long guns, while the rest of her armament remained as built. In this, HMS Triumph was unusual in that she was never fitted with carronades. HMS Triumph recommissioned under Captain Sir Erasmus Gower and joined the Channel Fleet under Vice-Admiral Lord Howe, affectionately known throughout the fleet as 'Black Dick'. Shortly after HMS Triumph joined the Channel Fleet, Lord Howe retired and was replaced by Vice-Admiral Alexander Hood, the Lord Bridport.

On 30th May 1795, HMS Triumph sailed from Spithead as part of the squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral the Honourable William Cornwallis, who was flying his command flag in the 100 gun first rate ship of the line HMS Royal Sovereign. In addition to HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Triumph, the squadron also comprised the 74 gun ships HMS Mars, HMS Bellerophon and HMS Brunswick, together with the 18pdr armed 38 gun frigate HMS Phaeton, the 12pdr armed 32 gun frigate HMS Pallas and the 18 gun brig-sloop HMS Kingfisher. At 10am on 8th June, the squadron sighted the Penmarcks and half an hour later, HMS Triumph signaled the flagship that she had spotted six sails. It was quickly established that the strange vessels were a French convoy. At noon, the French, having realised that the oncoming ships were British, made towards Belle Isle and the protection of the powerful shore batteries overlooking the harbour there. At 2pm, HMS Triumph, HMS Phaeton and HMS Kingfisher had closed the range sufficiently to open fire on the enemy. Now, at over thirty years old, HMS Triumph had at last fired her guns in anger at the enemy. The three ships, acting without the support of the rest of the squadron, were unable to prevent the French from getting into the harbour at Belle Isle, but at 4pm, sighted and chased two French frigates, one of which was towing a large, captured British merchant ship. After the tow was cast off, the two French ships were chased all the way into the harbour by HMS Triumph and her two smaller consorts, the British ships exchanging fire with the shore batteries as they got within range. HMS Triumph and HMS Phaeton broke off the chase due to the dangerously shallow water and rejoined the squadron. The squadron departed Belle Isle to escort what prizes they had captured back to Torbay.

News reached Vice-Admiral Villaret de Joyeuse, commanding the French Atlantic Fleet that a number of his ships were trapped at Belle Isle and were being blockaded by Cornwallis and his ships. M. Villaret set out with his entire fleet in order to break the blockade and rescue his ships. On 12th June, Villaret and his fleet, comprising nine ships of the line, including the massive 120 gun ship Peuple, departed for Belle Isle and on 15th, met up with the ships which had been stuck in Belle Isle. The French officer commanding those ships, Rear-Admiral Vence, had concluded that he was not being blockaded and left Belle Isle without waiting for the rest of the fleet to come and relieve him. Villaret's fleet now comprised eleven 74 gun ships in addition to the 120 gun Peuple. At 10:30 am on 16th June near the Penmarcks on their way back to Brest, the French discovered Cornwallis' squadron, by now making their way back to Belle Isle. At 11am, realising that he was outnumbered by the French, Cornwallis turned away from the enemy and ordered his ships to make all sail. The British squadron formed a line of battle in the following order:

HMS Brunswick, HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Bellerophon, HMS Triumph and HMS Mars.

At 9am the following morning, the British discovered that not only had the French caught up with them in the night, but they had formed into three divisions in order to envelop and surround them.

At 9am, the leading French ship, the Zele, opened fire on the rear-most British ship, HMS Mars from astern. HMS Mars also found herself being engaged from astern by one of the large French frigates and was suffering to the point where Cornwallis ordered to run ahead while he took HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Triumph to support HMS Mars. The manoeuvre was skillfully executed by all concerned and between them, HMS Triumph and HMS Royal Sovereign drove off the French force which was about to overwhelm and capture HMS Mars. In the action, HMS Triumph had not suffered any men killed but 12 of her crew had been wounded. In addition, most of the ship's stern had been destroyed by enemy fire and she had used some 5,000lbs of gunpowder, such had been the intensity of the action.

Cornwallis' Retreat of 17th June 1795 (from Clowes):



Cornwallis' Retreat of 17th June 1795 by Thomas Luny:

"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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HMS Triumph (1764 - 1850)
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2015, 22:47:47 »
Part Two

On the day that Villaret had left Brest, Lord Bridport had left Spithead with the rest of the Channel Fleet. Flying his command flag in the 100 gun first rate ship of the line HMS Royal George, Lord Bridport led the Channel Fleet out of Spithead to escort a convoy of troopships intended to land a French Royalist army at Quiberon Bay in order to launch a counter-revolution in France. At this stage, Bridport was unaware of what had been happening with Cornwallis and his squadron. After abandoning the pursuit of Cornwallis' squadron, the French had sought shelter from deteriorating weather in the anchorage at Belle Isle. In the meantime, Bridport sent the troopships ahead under the command of Commodore Borlase Warren while he stood his fleet offshore, anticipating the arrival of the French attempting to prevent the landings. One of Warren's frigates, HMS Arethusa (40) spotted the French as they were departing Belle Isle on their way back to Brest. On 20th June, Warren's force again met up with the Fleet and informed Viscount Bridport in HMS Royal George of their discovery. Bridport immediately manoeuvred the fleet to stand between Warren's landing force and the French Fleet. At 03:30 on 22nd June, lookouts on HMS Nymphe (36) spotted the French. On spotting the British, the French turned back towards the land. On seeing that the French did not intend to fight, Viscount Bridport ordered his fastest ships to give chase, so at 06:30, HMS Sans Pareil (80, previously captured at the Glorious First of June), HMS Orion (74), HMS Valiant (74), HMS Colossus (74), HMS Irresistible (74) and HMS Russell (74) broke formation to start the chase. HMS Royal George and the rest of the Channel Fleet followed as fast as they could. The British fleet also consisted of HMS Royal George's sister-ship HMS Queen Charlotte as well as no less than 7 98 gun 2nd rate ships. Surprisingly, the giant HMS Queen Charlotte caught up with the smaller ships and engaged the enemy at 06:00 the following day off the rocky island of Groix. In the melee that followed, the French lost three ships of the line and suffered 670 casualties. The British lost no ships and suffered 31 dead and 113 wounded. The French, caught between the rocky coastline and the seemingly invincible British, regrouped and fled into Brest. Viscount Bridport, concerned for his ships' safety so close to the rocks signalled a withdrawal. HMS Triumph had played no part in the Battle of Groix and went into Portsmouth to have her damaged stern repaired.

The beginning of May of 1797 saw HMS Triumph lying at the Nore, as part of the North Sea Fleet under Admiral Sir Adam Duncan. The 15th May saw the Great Mutiny at Spithead end peacefully after Lord Howe successfully negotiated a settlement which saw most of the men's demands met with full Royal Pardons granted to all those who took part. Communications between the mutineers at Spithead and the men at the Nore had probably taken place at some stage after 21st April with the intention on the Spithead Mutineers part of having the Mutiny spread to as many ships in home waters as possible, in order to increase the pressure on the Government to negotiate a settlement. Secondary Mutinies had broken out at Plymouth and Yarmouth on 26th and 30th April respectively. The Plymouth Mutineers sent delegates to the rest of the striking Channel Fleet and took an active part in the Mutiny and returned to duty with the rest of the Fleet on 15th May. The Mutiny at Yarmouth was put down. The Mutiny at the Nore was a different matter. It started on 12th May in the 90 gun 2nd rate ship HMS Sandwich at 9:30am and quickly spread to the other ships in the anchorage including HMS Triumph. Delegates were quickly appointed and they drew up the following rules to be obeyed by all the men participating in the Mutiny:

1) Unanimity is the is the only means of gaining the end in view.
2) Strict discipline to be maintained. No private licquor allowed.
3) Respect to senior officers. Duty to be carried out as before
4) An early communication with all delegates to bring about a speedy remedy.
5) No master or pilot to go ashore.
6) All unsuitable officers to be sent ashore as at Spithead.

At the end of this list appeared the following statement:

Any regulation which may occur among yourselves for the preservation of good order, you may add them to the above.

Most of the Fleet's officers were sent ashore, so each ship's company formed a committee of 12 men, one of whom was selected to be captain. In the case of HMS Triumph, Captain Gower was one of those put ashore. The men of HMS Triumph took solemn oaths never to serve under him again. The delegates quickly elected a seaman, Richard Parker, to be President of the Delegates. Parker had been previously been a Masters Mate and had served as an Acting Lieutenant before he had been disrated for disobeying orders. He had left the Navy in 1793 and had ended up in a Perth jail for debt. He was released into the Royal Navy under the quota system and had been in HMS Sandwich for 6 weeks before his election a President. As things progressed, the Mutiny at the Nore took on an altogether more militant form, with the sailors demands expanding to the dissolution of Parliament and an immediate peace with the French. What had started as a strike over pay and conditions had expanded into the beginnings of a revolution, something which the Government was not prepared to tolerate. Plans were laid to end the Great Mutiny at the Nore by force.

The new ships HMS Neptune (98), in company with HMS Lancaster (64) and HMS Agincourt (64), together with a fleet of gunboats were to proceed downstream from Gravesend and attack the mutinous ships at the Nore. This would have led to the awful spectacle of the Royal Navy at war with itself. Thankfully, news reached Gravesend that the mutineers had entered negotiations with Captain William Carnegie, the Earl of Northesk who commanded HMS Monmouth (64). In fact, the negotiations had entailed the mutineers presenting Lord Northesk with a list of their demands and an ultimatum that unless their demands were met within 54 hours, steps would be taken by the fleet which would "astonish the nation". The increasingly militant nature of the mutiny had led to several ships deserting the Nore. This in turn had led to increasing tensions between the leaders of the Mutiny and several of them, realising that it was not going to end well, fled abroad. The authorities placed a reward of 500 on Parker's head, having realised that the Mutiny was falling apart and suspecting that he would attempt to flee. The first cracks began to show on 30th May when the crew of the 18pdr armed 36 gun frigate HMS San Fiorenzo overcame the mutineers and took their ship to Harwich. On the same day, the crew of the 18 pdr armed 38 gun frigate HMS Clyde also took back control of their ship and took her to Portsmouth.

The Great Mutiny at the Nore really began to fall apart on 9th June when the deadline expired without a response from the Government. When Parker attempted to carry out his threat by hoising a signal that the fleet should weigh anchor and sail to join the French and Dutch at Texel, none of the remaining ships obeyed the signal.

On 14th June, HMS Sandwich weighed anchor and moved into Sheerness where Parker and the other ringleaders who had not already fled were arrested. The following day, the last of the mutineer controlled ships, HMS Director (64) and HMS Inflexible (64) finally surrendered. Parker's Court-Martial was held aboard HMS Neptune and he was hanged from the fore-yard of HMS Sandwich on the 30th June. Captain Gower had the satisfaction of seeing him hang, but was never to set foot on HMS Triumph again. Captain Gower was promoted to flag rank in April 1804 and spent from then until 1807 as Governor and Commander-in-Chief at Newfoundland. He retired in 1807 to Hambledon in Hampshire where he died a bachelor in 1814 aged 72.

Captain Sir Erasmus Gower was replaced in command of HMS Triumph by Captain William Essington whose previous appointment had been in command of the 64 gun third rate ship of the line HMS Sceptre.

In the meantime, while the mutiny at the Nore was underway, the Dutch fleet was making preparations to break out and join the French fleet at Brest. Admiral Duncan was ordered to immediately blockade them and ordered his ships to set sail for the coast of Holland. All but two of his ships disobeyed the order and joined the mutiny.  Nevertheless, Duncan set to his task with the handful of ships available to him and by a mixture of subterfuge and luck, kept the Dutch bottled up in Texel. While Duncan was at sea, the mutiny at the Nore fell apart and he was joined by more ships, including HMS Triumph. In October 1797, news reached the Admiralty that the Dutch had called off their plans to break out and the fleet was recalled to Yarmouth to refit and resupply. In accordance with his orders, Captain Essington took his ship into Yarmouth to resupply.

On 8th October however, the Dutch fleet under Admiral de Winter did indeed break out. They were followed by ships Duncan had left behind to watch them. This squadron was commanded by Captain Henry Trollope in HMS Russel (74) and also comprised HMS Adamant (50), the large 18pdr armed frigate HMS Beaulieu (40), the small, 9pdr armed 28 gun frigate HMS Circe and the 16 gun ship-sloop HMS Martin, together with the hired armed cutter Black Joke. When the Dutch fleet, consisting of four 74 gun ships, seven 64 gun ships, four 50 gun ships and four frigates, one of 44 guns, one of 40 guns and two of 32 guns, was seen putting to sea, the Black Joke was dispatched at once to Yarmouth to summon Admiral Duncan and the fleet. When the Black Joke was seen off Yarmouth in the early morning of 9th October flying the signal, all hell broke loose in Yarmouth as ships prepared to put to sea immediately.

By noon, Admiral Duncan was at sea with 11 ships of the line, HMS Venerable (74), HMS Monarch (74), HMS Montagu (74), HMS Triumph (74), HMS Bedford (74), HMS Ardent (64), HMS Belliqueux (64), HMS Lancaster (64), HMS Monmouth (64), HMS Veteran (64) and HMS Director (64). Later that day, the fleet was joined by HMS Powerful (74), HMS Agincourt (64) and HMS Isis (50). On the afternoon of the 10th October, the fleet was in sight of Texel and sighted 22 ships, mostly merchantmen. At 7am on 11th October, Duncan's fleet sighted Captain Trollope's squadron who were flying a signal 'Enemy in Sight to leeward'. At 08.30, the Dutch fleet was sighted.

Because of the widely differing sailing qualities of the British ships, Duncan's force was in a very loose order when the enemy was sighted. In order for his ships to take their alloted stations, Duncan's first signal was for his vanguard, or leading ships, to shorten sail. This was followed, at about 11:10, by signals ordering each ship to engage their opposite number on the enemy's line of battle and then for the British vanguard to attack the rear of the enemy fleet. De Winter, the Dutch commander for his part, on sighting the British, ordered his ships to go about and head closer to the shore, where his smaller, flatter bottomed ships would have the advantage in shallower waters than their larger round-bilged British opponents. Seeing the Dutch heading into shallower waters where he knew they would have the advantage, Duncan gave up trying to get his fleet into their proper order and instead issued signals to the effect that his fleet was to form into two rough divisions and sail towards the enemy line as best they could and engage the enemy in close action. The fleet formed into two uneven divisions with Duncan leading the Starboard division in his flagship HMS Venerable (74) and his Second-in-Command, Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Onslow leading the other division in his flagship, HMS Monarch (74).

Relative positions of the fleets at the start of the Battle of Camperdown, 11th October 1797:



HMS Triumph was part of Duncan's Starboard Division, second in line behind the flagship. Because of the lack of time, the British ships were all jockeying for position to get into the thickest part of the action. The battle started with Onslow's division getting stuck into the enemy first, when HMS Monarch cut the Dutch line between the Jupiter and the Haarlem, raking and seriously damaging both ships as she crossed between them. HMS Ardent found herself alongside the enemy flagship the Vrijheid (74) with HMS Venerable engaging the Dutch ship on the other side. Seeing their commander in trouble, other Dutch ships quickly came to De Winter's assistance and very quickly, HMS Venerable and HMS Ardent found themselves locked in combat with, in addition to the enemy flagship, the Dutch ships Brutus (74), Leijden (68) and Mars (44). Surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned, the crew of HMS Ardent fought like demons. The Dutch, unlike their Spanish and French allies, followed the British practice of firing into the hulls of enemy ships at close range. The French and Spanish ships tended to have significantly larger crews. Their tactic was to fire into the enemy's rigging and cripple the ship, then close the range and use their superior weight of numbers to board and overwhelm the enemy crew. The British and Dutch, having smaller crews, fired into the hull of their enemy, maximising damage and casualties and boarding the enemy ship before they could recover from the carnage below decks. Seeing HMS Ardent and HMS Venerable surrounded, Captain Essington took HMS Triumph into the heart of the battle and engaged the Dutch ship Wassenaer and her crew let the Dutch have it with everything they had. Wassenaer eventually surrendered to HMS Triumph and she moved on to directly support the damaged HMS Ardent in her action against the Dutch flagship, the Vrijheid.

The Vrijheid was eventually forced to surrender by HMS Director after having been dismasted and left helpless, crippled and alone. The British had won a spectacular victory. They had defeated a Dutch fleet within sight of their own coastline. In the Battle of Camperdown, HMS Triumph had suffered casualties of 12 men dead with 55, including Captain Essington, being wounded. She had suffered damage to her hull and masts and had had ten of her heavy 32pdr guns knocked off their carriages.

The Battle of Camperdown by Derek Gardner:



The same battle, painted by George Chambers Sr.



After the Battle of Camperdown, HMS Triumph returned to the Channel Fleet, where she remained, operating out of Portsmouth and Plymouth under various captains until she paid off for a refit in April 1804. Among her captains during this period was Captain Eliab Harvey, who was her commander between 1800 and 1801. Harvey went on to achieve lasting fame as the captain of the 98 gun second rate ship of the line HMS Temeraire, later known as 'The Fighting Temeraire', during the Battle of Trafalgar.

In May 1805, HMS Triumph recommissioned at Portsmouth under Captain Henry Inman. Once again, she commissioned into the Channel Fleet, by now under the command of Cornwallis, now a Vice-Admiral Lord Cornwallis. By this time, Horatio Nelson, last seen in our story as a young Midshipman, was now a Vice-Admiral, a Viscount of the Realm and was Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, flying his command flag in the now-rebuilt and as-new 104 gun first rate ship HMS Victory. After amazing victories against the enemy at the Battles of the Nile and Copenhagen, Nelson was the nation's hero. He had taken his fleet and pursued the French Vice-Admiral Villeneuve out of the Mediterranean to the Caribbean Sea, around the Caribbean and back across the Atlantic Ocean. It was known at the time, that Villeneuve was a decoy, intended by Napoleon to distract Nelson away from the Mediterranean and that Villeneuve was intended to join up with the Spanish Fleet from Cadiz and the French Brest Fleet and the Combined Fleet would then be able to overwhelm Lord Cornwallis' Channel Fleet with weight of numbers and control the English Channel for long enough for the French to get their 83,000 strong invasion army, encamped around Bolougne across the Channel and mount an invasion of Britain.

HMS Triumph was part of a squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Calder, flying his command flag in the 98 gun second rate ship of the line HMS Prince of Wales. The squadron was sent to blockade Ferrol, where about 10 French and Spanish ships of the line were bottled up. By 15th July 1805, Calders force had been reinforced to the point where it now comprised the 98 gun ships HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Glory, HMS Barfleur and HMS Windsor Castle, the 80 gun ship HMS Malta, the 74 gun ships HMS Thunderer, HMS Hero, HMS Repulse, HMS Defiance, HMS Ajax, HMS Warrior, HMS Dragon and HMS Triumph, the 64 gun ships HMS Agamemnon and HMS Raisonnable. By now, the British had received intelligence that Villeneuve's force was heading towards Europe and they also had a good idea why. Villeneuve had to be stopped and so Sir Robert Calder was ordered to lift his blockade of Ferrol and head towards Cape Finisterre in hopes of intercepting the Franco-Spanish force.

The two forces sighted each other at about 11am on 22nd July. At noon, Calder made the signal to prepare for battle and a few moments later, to form into two columns and to form lines of battle. At 13:15, the order was given to close formation. HMS Triumph was 3rd in the British line, behind HMS Hero and HMS Ajax. The enemy fleet also formed a line of battle. In poor visibility, the two fleets manoeuvred for advantage until about 17:15, when the action began in earnest. With the fog and gun-smoke, the action quickly became a confused melee in which several individual ships on both sides found themselves surrounded and outgunned by the enemy. HMS Malta was the most heavily engaged of the British ships, at one point in the battle, she was engaged against no less than five enemy ships, of which she forced two, the San Rafael (80) and the Firme (74) to surrender. HMS Triumph was also heavily engaged against superior numbers of enemy ships and suffered severe damage to her masts and rigging. By the time Sir Robert Calder signalled to discontinue the action at 20:15, HMS Triumph had suffered casualties of 5 dead and 6 wounded.

The Third Battle of Cape Finisterre by William Anderson:



On 26th July, HMS Triumph was detached from the fleet in order to chase away the heavy French frigate Didon. Although Calder was by now in a position to re-engage the enemy, he didn't and instead ordered the fleet return to the UK. For his failure to re-engage the enemy, Calder was forced to face a Court Martial in which Captain Inman gave evidence. When asked why he had not reported HMS Triumph's damage to his commander, Inman replied "I did not think that a proper time to trouble the admiral with my complaints".

HMS Triumph then participated in the Atlantic Campaign of 1806, in which she was a part of Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Strachan's squadron. This campaign saw the Royal Navy hunting down and destroy the remaining squadrons of French ships of the line after the Battle of Trafalgar. Captain Inman's health had never been robust and in May 1806 he fell ill and had to be replaced in command of HMS Triumph by Captain Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy. Hardy of course was by then famous for having commanded HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar. Strachan's squadron was to see no action during the Atlantic Campaign. Hardy remained in command until 1809, when he handed command to HMS Triumph's final commander, Captain Samuel Hood Linzee.

In March 1810, HMS Triumph was at Cadiz, when a severe storm struck the port. Among the ships driven aground during the storm was a Spanish ship of the line, La Purisima Conception. Aboard this ship were bladders of mercury. Over a succession of night time raids, Royal Marines from HMS Triumph took off some 130 tons of the mercury and it was stored in the hold of both HMS Triumph and an armed schooner, HMS Phipps. Many of the sailors aboard the ship would have been aware of the mercury's value and over a short period, many of the kidskin bladders, stored in small barrels, were intentionally ruptured and the mercury subsequently ran out into the ship. Sailors were very quickly trying to hide the mercury in pockets, handkerchiefs, clothes and every other nook and cranny in which the silver liquid could be contained. They were soon seen ashore trying to exchange the valuable mercury for alcohol. Of the 650 men aboard HMS Triumph, over 200 of them very quickly began to present with symptoms of mercury poisoning. This included copious salivation, skin ulcers, paralysis, bowel complaints and tooth loss. The sick men were removed to hospital, where two died from facial gangrene and three from pulminary disease.

HMS Triumph was ordered to Gibraltar, where she was to be cleaned from keel to upper deck to try to get rid of the mercury. All her stores and all the shingle ballast were removed. However, even after through cleaning, HMS Triumph remained contaminated. Mercury was appearing from within the timber and men who had been healthy were continuing to fall ill with mercury poisoning. Mr Henry Plowman, the ships Surgeon, soon noticed that the men who were falling ill were those who were quartered lower in the ship, where the vapour would have been at it's highest concentration. He deduced that it was the vapour, rather than any more direct exposure, which was making the men ill. In June 1810, a further 44 men were removed from HMS Triumph suffering with mercury poisoning. At Plowman's insistence, Captain Linzee ordered that windsails be put up to channel fresh air into the lower parts of the ship and that the lower gundeck gunports remain open when safe. Also, men were forbidden from sleeping on the orlop (the lowest deck) and sick men were forbidden from sleeping on the lower gundeck. These measures appeared to work, as by July 1810, there were no new cases of mercury poisoning.

By 1812 however, HMS Triumph had been condemned as being unfit for further service, possibly as a result of the contamination. Later that year, at the age of 48 years, HMS Triumph paid off for the last time at Plymouth. This was not to be the end for the veteran war-horse. In 1813, HMS Triumph was fitted out as a Lazaretto or quarantine hulk and was towed to Angle Bay, off Milford Haven.

Lazarettes or Lazaretto Hulks were principally used for the airing of cargoes of cotton coming from the Levant or the eastern Mediterranean. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Government was concerned with preventing the entry of plague and other diseases into the UK. Ships leaving the Mediterranean were inspected before departure and were given a clean or foul bill of health. If they had a foul bill, they were required to perform quarantine on arrival in the UK. The main quarantine station was at Stangate Creek in the River Medway. Others were established  on the Motherbank off Ryde on the Isle of Wight with smaller ones off or near the major British ports.

In 1805, it had been decided to set up a new quarantine station at Angle Bay off Milford Haven. It as formally established by an Order in Council dated 5th April 1805 and was intended to serve ships going into ports in Cornwall, Devon, the Welsh ports and as far north as Liverpool and the Isle of Man. This was intended to reflect the fact that those ports, particularly Liverpool, had grown in importance to the point where potentially infected cargoes were as likely to to go into Liverpool as they were into London.

Until 1813, ships with foul bills (where the crew themselves were sick) were still required to go to Stangate Creek, but in July, the Milford Haven Station was established as an alternative foul bill station to Stangate Creek. Ships which actually had plague aboard were still required to quarantine at Stangate Creek. The Milford Haven quarantine station reached its peak in 1825 when it had no fewer than nine lazaretto hulks, including HMS Triumph.

HMS Triumph after her conversion to a Lazaretto Hulk:



By January 1845, HMS Triumph was one of only three hulks remaining off Angle Bay and by 1850, she was the last of them. In 1849, HMS Triumph had been taken into Pembroke Dock to act as a floating hospital treating victims of a cholera outbreak. The following year, the ship was broken up. During the process of breaking up the ship, vast amounts of mercury were discovered in the spaces between her frames and although it was claimed by the Royal Navy, large amounts of it were taken by the workers. Mercury at the time was used in the manufacture of mirrors and by the end of 1850, almost every home in Pembroke Dock boasted a home-made mirror in the living room. In 1904, when "A History of Pembroke Dock" was written, a large number of mirrors containing mercury salvaged from HMS Triumph could still be seen in the town.
"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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