HMS Antelope (1703)

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Career (Great Britain) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Antelope
Builder: Taylor, Rotherhithe
Launched: 13 March 1703
Fate: Sold out of the service, 30 October 1783
General characteristics as built[1]
Class and type: 50-gun fourth rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 684 long tons (695.0 t)
Length: 131 ft 5 in (40.1 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 34 ft 4½ in (10.5 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 9 in (4.2 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Armament: 50 guns of various weights of shot
General characteristics after 1741 rebuild[2]
Class and type: 1733 proposals 50-gun fourth rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 860 long tons (873.8 t)
Length: 134 ft (40.8 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 38 ft 6 in (11.7 m)
Depth of hold: 15 ft 9 in (4.8 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship

50 guns:

  • Gundeck: 22 × 18 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 22 × 9 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 4 × 6 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 2 × 6 pdrs

HMS Antelope was a 50-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched at Rotherhithe on 13 March 1703.[1] She was rebuilt once during her career, and served in the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War.

Orders were issued on 9 January 1738 for Antelope to be taken to pieces and rebuilt according to the 1733 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Woolwich, from where she was relaunched on 27 January 1741.[2]


On 16 June 1756, she sailed from England for Gibraltar with Vice Admiral Sir Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke and Rear Admiral Charles Saunders. She arrived there on 3 July with an order to supersede Admiral John Byng. Antelope returned to England with Byng, sailing on 9 July and arriving at Spithead on 26 July, where Byng was arrested before being landed on 19 August. His trial started on board Monarch on 27 December.

On 30 April 1757, Captain Samuel Hood took command of Antelope. On 15 May, after a short action off Brest, France, the French Aquilon, 50, was driven on to the rocks in Audierne Bay where she was wrecked. Then, on 31 October 1758, off Barnstaple, Antelope took Belliqueux, 64, one of a French squadron returning from Quebec.

Not every action was a success. In 1759, under the command of Captain James Webb, Antelope was attached to Commodore William Boys' squadron, which had been blockading François Thurot in Dunkirk throughout the summer and early autumn. On 15 October, when the squadron had been driven off station during a gale, Thurot made his escape with six frigates and corvettes carrying 1300 troops and sailed to Gothenburg.

In 1762, Antelope was stationed in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, under the command of Commodore Thomas Graves, who was the Colony's Naval Governor. A French fleet from Brest, under M. de Ternay, with 1500 troops commanded by the Comte d'Haussonville, sailed into St. John's and captured the town on 24 June. Captain Graves immediately sent word to Commodore Lord Colville at Halifax who joined him in blockading the French, and brought troops over from Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island on 11 September. During a gale on 16 September de Ternay evaded the blockade and, abandoning the troops, sailed back to France.

On her way home to England Antelope encountered Marlborough, under Captain Thomas Burnett, which had sailed from Havana as part of the escort of a convoy of prizes and transports, but had become separated in very heavy weather. She was leaking so badly that her guns had to be thrown overboard and the pumps kept working. Antelope took all her people off on 29 November when she started to founder and she was allowed to sink.

Later, in 1780, Antelope was again patrolling the Labrador coast and intercepted the American ship Mercury. As the vessels came to close quarters, a package was thrown overboard from the latter. One of the sailors on Antelope dived from the deck and rescued the package, which contained details of secret negotiations then being conducted between the United States and the United Provinces. Antelope Harbour, Labrador, is named for this incident.

Antelope was sold out of the service on 30 October 1783.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p166.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p171.


  • Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.