HMS Furieuse (1809)

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The captured Furieuse is taken in tow, a print by Thomas Whitcombe
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Furieuse
Builder: Cherbourg
Launched: 1797
Captured: By the Royal Navy on 6 July 1809
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Furieuse
Acquired: 6 July 1809
Fate: Broken up in October 1816
General characteristics
Class and type: 38-gun fifth rate frigate
Tons burthen: 1,083 tons
Length: 157 ft 3 in (47.93 m)
Beam: 39 ft 1 in (11.91 m)
Draught: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: 284

38 guns:

  • Upper deck: 26 × 18 pdrs
  • Quarter deck: 12 x 32pdr carronades
  • Forecastle: 2 × 12 pdrs, 2 x 32pdr carronades, 1 x 18pdr carronade, 1 x 12pdr carronade

The Furieuse was a 38-gun frigate of the French Navy. The British captured her in 1809 and took her into the Royal navy as the Fifth Rate HMS Furieuse.

French career and capture

Furieuse was built at Cherbourg in 1797 to a design by Pierre-Alexandre Forfait.[1] She began as a Romaine class frigate but was completed as a Seine class frigate.[Note 1]

By 1809 Furieuse was in the Caribbean, sailing from Îles des Saintes on 1 April, carrying sugar and coffee to France.[2] She was capable of carrying 48 guns, but was armed en flûte, carrying only 20 at the time of her capture. Despite this she had a large crew, with 200 sailors, 40 soldiers and a detachment of troops from the 60th regiment of the line.[2] On her voyage to France she came across a large English merchant on 5 July. Furieuse was in the process of taking possession of merchantman when the 20-gun sloop HMS Bonne Citoyenne, commanded by Commander William Mounsey, came upon the scene.[2]

The Bonne Citoyenne was returning to a convoy she was escorting, but on seeing what was happening, Mounsey ordered the Bonne Citoyenne to close on the ships. As Bonne Citoyenne approached, Furieuse abandoned her prize and began to flee northwards.[2] Emboldened, Mounsey set off in pursuit; after an 18 hour chase Bonne Citoyenne had closed the range and brought Furieuse to battle.

The two ships exchanged broadsides for the next seven hours. Bonne Citoyenne was at a disadvantage early on. Not only was she much smaller, but three of her guns were quickly dismounted. She nevertheless fired 129 broadsides to the enemy's 70.[2] By the end of the battle Bonne Citoyenne had lost her top masts, her lower masts were badly damaged, and her rigging, sails and boats had been shot to pieces. Realizing that he was running out of powder, Mounsey decided to force the issue and prepared to board the French ship. Before he could do so, Furieuse surrendered and Mounsey took possession.[2]

The Furieuse had suffered heavy damage, with her masts shot away and five feet of water in the hold. She had also suffered 35 killed and 37 wounded. In contrast, Bonne Citoyenne had just one man killed and five wounded.[2]

British career

Bonne Citoyenne towed Fureiuse into Halifax, where both were repaired. The Royal Navy commissioned the captured frigate as HMS Furieuse and appointed John Simpson to sail her to Britain.[Note 2] (So far she has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name, though other ships have borne the English spelling, HMS Furious. [3])

On her arrival Furieuse underwent a more thorough repair. After the repairs she was commissioned in November 1811 under her captor, William Mounsey, who had received promotion to Captain for his victory.[2][4]

Furieuse was initially employed in escorting a convoy to the Mediterranean, after which she joined the fleet blockading Toulon under Admiral Edward Pellew. The French fleet sailed out in May 1812, consisting of 12 sail of the line and seven frigates, of which one ship of the line and two frigates began to chase the British inshore squadron, consisting of the Furieuse, and the frigates HMS Menelaus and HMS Havannah, and the brig HMS Pelorus. The French gave up the chase when the British made clear their intention to fight.[4]

On 9 November 1812 the Furieuse captured the French 4-gun privateer Nebrophonus. Then on 10 January 1813 she captured the 4-gun privateer Argus.

In February 1813 Mounsey supported Charles John Napier in HMS Thames in the capture of the island of Ponza. They landed troops on 26 February, under fire from shore batteries, which soon subdued resistance.[4] The capture of the harbour eliminated an infamous corsair haven, and provided an anchorage for Royal Navy ships watching Naples.

On 7 May boats from Furieuse captured the French Conception, towing her out to sea under heavy fire. One man was killed and another five wounded in this operation.[4]

File:Civitavecchia 1795.jpg
Civitavecchia in 1795, etching by William Marlow.

On 4 October a convoy was sighted off Civitavecchia. Although two gunboats and a shore battery of two long 24-pounder guns protected the convoy, Mounsey decided to launch a cutting out expedition. Furieuse landed her Marines who, together with the boat crews, stormed and captured a fort while Furieuse used her guns to provide covering fire. The enemy retreated to a nearby castle and continued to pour small arms fire on the landing party. Still, the British were able to sink the two gunboats and bring out 16 merchant ships. The Furieuse kept up a steady fire, preventing reinforcements from Civitavecchia from intervening. The landing party lost two men killed and 10 wounded in the operation.[4]

For the rest of 1813 Furieuse formed part of Admiral Sir Josias Rowley's squadron. She was present at the capture of Viareggio and the unsuccessful assault on Livorno in December.[4] In early March 1814, still with Rowley, Furieuse assisted in the occupation of La Spezia and the surrounding areas. On 17 April a squadron consisting of Furieuse, HMS Aboukir, HMS Iphigenia, HMS Swallow and HMS Cephalus supported the successful assault on Genoa.[4]

The end of the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1814 saw Furieuse sailing from Gibraltar to [{Bermuda]] with Capt. Andrew King's squadron, escorting a fleet of transports. Later she conveyed the 62nd regiment to Halifax. At the end of the War of 1812 she remained in the area to assist the British troops who had fortified the Castine Peninsula.[4]


HMS Furieuse was paid off in autumn 1815. She was sold for breaking up in October 1816 at Deptford.[3]


  1. Lyon & Winfield. Sail and Steam. pp. Chap. 1; p. 48. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "BONNE CITOYENNE (20)". Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. pp. 134. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "FURIEUSE (38)". Retrieved 2008-10-05. 


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