HMS Minerva (1780)

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Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Minerva
Operator: Royal Navy
Ordered: 1778
Builder: Woolwich Dockyard
Laid down: 1778
Launched: 3 June 1780
Commissioned: 6 July 1780
Fate: 1798 renamed Pallas, troopship
Broken up March 1803
General characteristics
Class and type: Minerva-class frigate
Tons burthen: 940
Length: 141 ft 0 in (42.98 m)
Beam: 38 ft 10 in (11.84 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 9 in (4.19 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Complement: 270 (raised to 280 on 25 April 1780)
  • Upper deck: Twenty-eight 18-pounder guns
  • Quarterdeck:Eight 6-pounder guns
  • Focsle: Two 6-pounder guns

HMS Minerva was a 38-gun fifth-rate Royal Navy frigate. The first of four Minerva-class frigates, she was built at Woolwich Dockyard, England, in 1780, launched on 3 June 1780, and commissioned soon thereafter. In 1798 she was renamed Pallas and employed as a troopship. She was broken up in 1803.

Active duty

Recommissioned in 1790 under Captain Robert Sutton, she sailed for the East Indies on 27 December. In the beginning of November, 1791, Minerva, Commodore William Cornwallis, accompanied by the 36-gun frigate Phoenix, Captain Sir Richard Strachan, and Perseverance, Captain Isaac Smith, was in the road at Tellicherry, a fort and anchorage situated a few leagues to the southward of Mangalore. Phoenix was ordered to stop and search the French frigate Résolue, which was escorting a number of merchant ships believed to be carrying military supplies to support Tippu Sultan. The Résolue resisted the Phoenix and a brief fight ensued before the Résolue struck her colours. The French captain insisted on considering his ship as a British prize, so Cornwallis ordered Strachan to tow her into Mahé and return her to the French commodore.

In 1793, Captain J. Whitby took command of Minerva, which was flying Rear Admiral Cornwallis's flag.

From 1 August 1793, together with three East IndiamenTriton, Warley, and Queen CharlotteMinerva blockaded the Port of Pondicherry while the army besieged the fort. The governor initially refused to surrender, so on 20 August the British began to bombard the town. The governor finally capitulated on 23 August. During the siege, Minerva, with the admiral on board, chased off the French frigate Sybile, which had attempted to reach the town.[1] She was paid off in April 1794.

In July 1795, Captain Thomas Peyton recommissioned her for service in Strachan's squadron, which was attached to the main British fleet. On 13 November 1796, she, together with Melampus, destroyed the 18-gun Etonnant off Barfleur.

On 19 April 1797, Diamond, Minerva, Cynthia, Camilla, and the hired cutter Grand Falconer captured the American ship Favourite. Later that month, Diamond and Minerva grounded near Cape Barfleur and both had to be docked for repairs when they returned to port.

Between July 1797 and May 1798, Minerva, was converted into a troopship, being armed en flûte to enable her to carry troops. Captain John Mackellar recommissioned her in February 1798.

In May 1798, she participated in the army's expedition to Ostend. The British force landed troops to destroy the locks and sluice gates on the Bruges canal to prevent the French from moving gunboats and transports from Flushing to Ostend and Dunkirk for an invasion of Britain. Although the British succeeded in damaging the sluice gates, the damage was temporary, and the evacuation of the troops failed due to bad weather. During the debacle the French captured John Mackellar and his boat crew.[2] Commandeer Joseph Edmunds took over as captain in July.


Minerva was renamed HMS Pallas when she was converted to a troopship in 1798. HMS Pallas, the lead ship of the Pallas-class frigates, had just been wrecked, freeing the name.


Pallas, the former Minerva, was paid off in May 1802 and put into Ordinary. She was broken up at Chatham in March 1803.


  1. Cornwallis & Ross (1859), 224-5.
  2. James & Chamier (1837), 117-9.
  • Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis & Charles Derek Ross (ed.) (1859). Correspondence of Charles, first Marquis Cornwallis. (London: J. Murray)
  • Gardiner, Robert (1994) The Heavy Frigate. (London: Conway Maritime Press).
  • James, William & Frederick Chamier (1837) The naval history of Great Britain: from the declaration of war by France in 1793 to the accession of George IV. (London: R. Bentley).
  • 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.