HMS Kingfisher (1804)

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HMS Kingfisher was a Royal Navy 18-gun Merlin class ship sloop, built by John King and launched in 1804 at Dover. She served during the Napoleonic Wars, first in the Caribbean and then in the Mediterranean.

Active service

Under Commander Richard Cribb, Kingfisher sailed to the Leeward Islands and initially operated from Barbados. In January she captured the 6-gun privateer Les Deux Amis. On 11 April 1805, her boats cut out the 4-gun Spanish privateer Damas from an anchorage under Cape St. Juan. Damas had left Cumaná, Venezuela, with a crew of 57 men, for a cruise off Demerara.

From July Kingfisher was under the command of Commander Nathaniel Day Cochrane. On 16 December captured the French privateer Elisabeth, out of Guadaloupe after a 12-hour chase. Elizabeth was armed with 10 long 6-pounder guns and four 9-pounder carronades. That same day Kingfisher and Hyaena captured a Spanish polacca bound for Vera Cruz with merchandise. On 28 December Kingfisher and Heureux captured the Spanish merchant brig Solidad taking brandy and wine from Cadiz to Vera Cruz.[1]

In 1806, Kingfisher was attached to the British squadron that fought in the Battle of San Domingo, and was highly commended for her services in the aftermath of the action, with Cochrane being promoted to post captain. His successor on Kingfisher was George Francis Seymour, who had been severely wounded while serving in Northumberland in the battle off San Domingo. She then sailed for the Channel. On 14 May she towed Pallas after Pallas had rammed into Minerve in the Basque Roads.

In July, Seymour was posted into Aurora and Commander William Hepenstall took command of Kingfisher. On 27 September she was with Admiral Sir Thomas Louis's squadron when the 40-gun French frigate President struck to the 18-gun Cruizer class brig-sloop Dispatch, assisted by the 74-gun Third Rate Canopus.

In October, Hepenstall sailed Kingfisher to the Mediterranean. Here, she was operating off the Turkish coast near Caramania, when on 27 June 1808 she captured the French privateer Hercule after an hour-long fight. The Hercule, under Gerome Cavassa, was carrying a cargo of cotton from Aleppo and Cyprus. She was armed with 12 guns, ranging in size from 12-pounders to 18-pounders and had a crew of 57 men, of whom one was killed and two were wounded. Kingfisher suffered extensive damage to her rigging but had only one man slightly wounded.

In 1809, under Commander Ewell Tritton, on 12 March she participated with the 38-gun Fifth Rate frigate Topaze in an action in the Adriatic with the 40-gun Flore and the 4-gun Danaé. In 1810, a midshipman from Kingfisher, together with a corporal of marines and four boys, captured a trabaccolo that turned out to have some 100 French soldiers aboard. Kingfisher conveyed them to Malta.[2]

In 1811, Kingfisher was in the Adriatic, participating indirectly in the Action of 29 November 1811. On 2 February 1813, her boats captured one trabaccolo and ran nine ashore at St. Catherine's, Corfu. Five trabaccalos were destroyed. Kingfisher lost two men killed and seven severely wounded.


Between 1814 and 1816, Kingfisher was placed in reserve at Portsmouth before being sold.


  1. [1] Michael Phillips - Ships of the Old Navy
  2. Giffard (1852), p.76.
  • Giffard, Edward (1852) Deeds of naval daring; or, anecdotes of the British Navy. (London: John Murray).
  • Winfield, Rif. British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing, 2nd edition, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.
  • Ships of the Old Navy