HMS Beagle (1804)

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
HMS Recruit
HMS Recruit, a warship of the same class as the Beagle
Career (England) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Beagle
Namesake: Beagle
Ordered: 22 May 1804
Builder: Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall Yard
Laid down: June 1804
Launched: 8 August 1804
Completed: By 7 October 1804
Commissioned: 1804
Out of service: 1813
Fate: Sold on 21 July 1814
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: 18-gun Cruizer-class brig-sloop
Tons burthen: 382 82/94 bm
Length: 100 ft (30.5 m) (overall)
77 ft 3.25 in (23.6 m) (keel)
Beam: 30 ft 6.25 in (9.3 m)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 10.5 in (3.92 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: brig-sloop
Complement: 121 (nominal)
  • 2 x 6pdr bow guns
  • 16 x 32pdr carronades

HMS Beagle was an 18-gun Cruizer-class brig-sloop of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1804, during the Napoleonic Wars. She played a major role in the Battle of the Basque Roads. In 1813, she was decommissioned and was subsequently sold from the Navy in 1814.[2][3] Like the other ships of her class, the 100 ft (30.5 m) Beagle was armed with 16 32-pounder carronades, giving her a significantly more powerful, albeit shorter ranged, broadside than similarly sized vessels armed with 9 pounder long guns.[1]


Beagle was commissioned in August 1804 under Commander John Burn, who sailed her to the Mediterranean. Burn was temporarily relieved by Commander George Digby between June and August 1805, after which she joined Sir John Orde’s squadron off Cadiz. Burn was replaced by Commander Francis Newcombe in February 1806, and Beagle remained in the Mediterranean until 1807, after which she moved to the Downs between 1808 and 1809. While under Newcombe's command Beagle captured three privateers in the English Channel, the 14-gun Hazard on 2 October 1808, the 16-gun Vengeur on 24 January 1809 and the 14-gun Fortune on 18 February 1809. In April 1809 she conveyed the fireships assigned to take part in operations in the Basque Roads.[3][2]

Participation at the Battle of the Basque Roads

The Beagle arrived at Basque Roads as one of the ships escorting the convoy of fireships to use in the attack on the French anchorage the next day.[4] HMS Beagle was the second ship (after the bomb vessel Aetna) to voluntarily arrive to aid Cochrane's HMS Imperieuse after the successful fireship attack, her crew reportedly giving Cochrane three cheers upon arriving. The prize crew that took possession, and later burnt, the French ship-of-the-line Calcutta, was under the command of a lieutenant from the Beagle and a midshipman from the Imperieuse. The Beagle also took part in the bombardment of the French ships Aquilon and Ville de Varsovie, skilfully manoeuvring to fire, unlike other British ships which were anchoring to engage.[2]

The Beagle was one of the few ships to accompany Cochrane in ignoring Rear-Admiral Robert Stopford's recall order, allowing her to take part in the foray upriver by the shallow drafted British ships. She was ordered by Cochrane to protect the vulnerable bomb ship Aetna during the upriver fighting, and to this end manoeuvred itself into a position between the Aetna and the grounded French battleships. In this endeavour, the Beagle took heavy damage to her rigging and expended nearly all of her powder. [2][3]

In recognition of his achievements and valour, the Beagle's Commander Newcombe was promoted to post-captain after the battle.[3][5]

Later years

Later in 1809 Commander William B. Dolling took command of the Beagle, following Newcombe's promotion. Under the command of Dolling, the Beagle took part in the Scheldt operations.

Commander John Smith took command of the Beagle in August 1811, and participated in the Siege of San Sebastián as part of the fleet under Captain George Collier assigned to help Sir Arthur Wellesley's campaigns in Portugal and Spain. After leading the charge to take the French battery on Saint Clara Island, Smith and his crew lugged long guns up the island from HMS Surveillante to assemble their own battery facing San Sebastian, allowing heavy guns to be brought to bear on the fort protecting it.[3]


Beagle was laid up in Ordinary at Plymouth in 1813. She was sold there on 21 July 1814 for the sum of £900.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Colledge, pg. 34
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Cordingly,pg. 197-200
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "The Age of Nelson directory page on HMS Beagle". Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  4. Cordingly, pg. 184
  5. Cordingly, pg. 208