HMS Brazen (1808)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Brazen
Ordered: 6 November 1794; cancelled 1799 and re-instated later
Builder: Portsmouth Dockyard, M/Shipwright Nicholas Diddams
Laid down: 15 June 1807
Launched: 26 May 1808
Fate: Broken up July 1848
General characteristics
Class and type: Britten class
Type: Ship sloop
Tonnage: 421 57/94 bm
Length: 110 ft 3 in (33.60 m) (overall)
90 ft 9.875 in (27.7 m) (keel)
Beam: 29 ft 6.5 in (9.004 m)
  • Unladen: 8 ft 0 in (2.44 m)
  • Laden: 11 ft 9 in (3.58 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Propulsion: Sails
  • UD=18 x 32-pounder carronades
  • QD=6 x 12-pounder carronades
  • Fc=2 x 12-pounder carronades + 2 x 6-pounder guns

HMS Brazen (1808) was a Bittern class 18-gun Royal Navy sloop, launched in 1808.[1] Though she served during the Napoleonic Wars, she appears to have missed any combat whatsoever, and to have taken no prizes. However, in the 1820s she served with the West Africa Squadron working to suppress the slave trade. In this service she captured numerous slavers and liberated over 2000 slaves. Blazer ended her career as a floating chapel and was broken up in 1848.

Napoleonic Wars

She was commissioned by Commander Lewis Shepard in July 1808, for the Jamaica station.[1] Shepard was promoted to Post-captain on 21 October 1810. From October 1810 she was under the command of Richard Plummer Davies, still on the Jamaica station.[1]

Between June 1812 and August 1818 she was under the command of Commander James Stirling and for most of that time served in the West Indies.[2] After suffering damage in a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico during an attack on New Orleans in the War of 1812, she was recalled to England for a maintenance survey, mooring at Spithead on 9 February 1813.

She sailed again on 4 June as escort for a convoy carrying stores and settlers to Churchill in Hudson Bay. On her return to England she received a commission in December to take the Duke of Brunswick to Holland. Then, between March and December 1814, she patrolled the Irish Sea and the Outer Hebrides in search of American vessels, leaving at the end of the year to return to the West Indies.

Brazen arrived at Barbados early in February and at the end of the month received a commission to take the news of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, to Fort Bowyer, which had been captured by British forces, and to carry British troops under Lieutenant Harry Smith (later General Sir Harry Smith) to Havana and then back to England.[2] Her arrival at Fort Bowyer forestalled a British attack on Mobile.

Brazen left Mobile on 25 March 1815 and sailed from Havana on 4 April, returning home with General Sir John Lambert and a party of the 95th. Regiment, landing them at Portsmouth on 6 May.


Between November 1816 and January 1818, Brazen took part in surveys of the Venezuelan coast and a trading arrangement with Simon Bolivar's insurgents may have been agreed on board.[3] On 21 July 1818 she arrived in Portsmouth from Barbados, having made the voyage in 31 days.

Between December 1818 and January 1820 Brazen was at Portsmouth undergoing repairs and being fitted for sea.[1] She was recommissioned in December 1819 under Capt. William Shepheard.[1]

In 1820 and 1821 she served at St Helena and Ascension Island before returning to England. She arrived at Portsmouth on 31 October.

In January 1823 Captain George W. Willes took command.[1] On 18 March 1825 she was at Bognor, having chased on shore a tub boat and galley with cargoes of gin, tea, and tobacco.

Suppressing the slave trade

By November 1825, while under the command of Willes, Brazen was serving with the West Africa Squadron. On her way out she had brought with her the British explorer Hugh Clapperton and his party. Also, on his way out he had taken on 25 October the French schooner Eclair, out of Nantes and bound for Havana with 169 slaves aboard. Eclair had embarked the slaves at the River St Paul's near Cape Mount, but had lost a third of them in the surf during the process of embarkation.

On 22 January 1826 Brazen was in Sierra Leone, having sent in the Malta, of Liverpool, which had dealt in slaves, and the Iberia, of Havana, with 423 slaves on board. On 15 May 1826, she seized the schooner Fortunée with 245 slaves. On 11 June she seized San Benedicto but the British and Portuguese Court of Mixed commission at Sierra Leone ruled that the ship and her cargo were to be returned to her master, presumably due to a lack of evidence of her involvement in the slave trade. Then on 6 July she captured the Brazilian slave ship St. Benedict, fitted out for 690 slaves, but with only 25 on board.On 16 July she was at Cape Coast Castle, having recently captured the Portuguese slave schooner Fortuna, with 250 slaves on board, 45 of whom died en route for Sierra Leone. On 23 September she seized the brigantine Snelheid with 23 slaves.

On 28 November she was at Badagry, having arrived from Wydah. She reportedly had captured the Spanish slave schooner Clara, with 36 slaves, and the brigantine Ninfa, of 150 tons, with 231 slaves onboard.

In addition Brazen had boarded the following vessels:

  • Modeste, 67 tons, of St Pierre, Martinique, De Gournay master, 269 slaves;
  • Constance, 27 tons, of St Pierre, Martinique;
  • Felix Africano, Brazilian, licensed to carry 567 slaves;
  • Magico, 130 tons, of Havana, Juza master;
  • Eliza, Portuguese, 80 tons;
  • Bienfaisant, of Rochelle, not fully fitted;
  • Active, 149 tons, of Pernambuco, Josa Pinto master; and
  • Orestes, 102 tons, Spanish.


From May to September 1827 Brazen was at Chatham being fitted as an Anglican Floating Church in the Pool of London.[4] On 10 February 1828 she was delivered to the Committee of the Floating CHurch at Deptford.[1]. The Committee returned her in 1846 and she was broken up at Deptford in July 1848.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Winfield (2008), p. 254.
  2. 2.0 2.1 James Stirling, Admiral and Founding Governor of Western Australia, Pamela Statham Drew, 2003. ISBN 1 876268 94 8
  3. Admiral Sir James Stirling, Stuart Stirling, 1974, p.4
  4. Portcities UK
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1861762461.