HMS Calypso (1805)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Calypso
Ordered: 15 October 1803
Builder: John Dudman, Deptford Wharf
Launched: 2 February 1805
Honours and

Naval General Service Medal

  • "OFF MARDOE 6 JULY 1812"
Fate: Broken up March 1821
General characteristics
Type: Cruizer-class brig-sloop
Tons burthen: 382 (bm)
  • Deck:100'
  • Keel:77'3.5"
Beam: 30'6"
  • Unloaded: 6'6"
  • Loaded: 11'
Propulsion: Sails

18 cannon

HMS Calypso was a Royal Navy Cruizer class brig-sloop. She was built at Deptford Wharf between 1804 and 1805, and launched in 1805. She served in the North Sea and the Baltic, most notably at the Battle of Lyngør, which effectively ended the Gunboat War. Calypso was eventually broken up in March 1821.[1]


Commander Matthew Foster commissioned Calypso and in February she was in the Downs.[1] Between 18 and 23 July 1805, she participated in attacks on French convoys off Calais, Wimereux, and Ambleteuse.

On 18 July, Calypso, Fleche (Captain Thomas White), and the 20-gun Sixth Rate Post-ship Arab (Captain Kieth Maxwell) and two or three gun-brigs drove on shore six French gun-vessels. However, the bank off Cape Grinez, and the shot and shells from the right face of its powerful battery, soon compelled the British to haul off from the shore. Arab suffered seven wounded and a great deal of damage. Fleche was the closest in shore owing to her light draft of water; she had five men severely wounded and damage to her rigging.[2] Forster received a severe shoulder wound and had to give up command of Calypso.[Note 1]

Commander Matthew Martin Bradby replaced Forster.[1] He commanded her off Dieppe and in the Downs until he received promotion to Post Captain in June 1810.

Commander Henry Weir was promoted out of the 10-gun Alban to take command of Calypso on 28 June 1810. On 14 June 1811 he captured a Danish privateer of ten guns off the coast of Jutland and destroyed another.[3] That autumn Calypso was caught in a storm in October or November in which she lost her top masts and suffered extensive damage. To survive, she had to throw her guns overboard.

Gunboat War

On 6 Jul 1812, during the Gunboat War, Calypso, still under Weir, was off Mardoe on the coast of Norway. She was together with the 64-gun Third Rate Dictator (Captain James Patteson Stewart), 14-gun brig-sloop Podargus (Captain William Robilliard) and gun-brig Flamer (Lieutenant Thomas England), when the squadron sighted and chased a Danish squadron. During the subsequent Battle of Lyngør Podargus went aground and Flamer stayed with her to protect her. However, Dictator and Calypso succeeded in destroying the new, 40-gun frigate Najaden and badly damaging the 18-gun brigs Laaland, Samsoe, and Kiel, as well as a number of gunboats. The British took Laaland and Kiel as prizes but had to abandon them after the two vessels grounded. The British did not set fire to either as the Norwegian vessels still had their crews and wounded aboard. The action cost Dictator five killed and 24 wounded, Calypso three killed, one wounded and two missing, and Flamer one killed and one wounded. Najaden lost 133 dead and 82 wounded and the Danes acknowledged losing some 300 men killed and wounded overall. Captain Weir was immediately, and Captain Robilliard in the ensuing December, promoted to post-rank; Dictator's first lieutenant, William Buchanan, was made a commander.[4] In 1847 the surviving British participants were authorized to apply for the clasp "OFF MARDOE 6 JULY 1812" to the Naval General Service Medal.

The cutter Nimble, sent to reconnoiter the situation several days later, could find only two vessels with 18 guns and two with 16 guns, all four lying at Christiansand, although there were still plenty of gunboats. The Battle of Lyngør effectively ended the Gunboat War.

Baltic and Azores

Cmdr. Thomas Groube replaced Weir in July 1812.[1] He conveyed Lord George Walpole to St. Petersburg where Walpole served as Secretary at the Embassy and minister ad int. Calypso participated at the siege of Danzig in 1813, which led to his promotion to Post-captain on 7 June 1814. Some accounts put Groube in Calypso at Faial in the Azores in late September. She took back to England some of the wounded from the debacle in which the American privateer General Armstrong, under Samuel Chester Reid inflicted a defeat and heavy losses on cutting out parties from the Third Rate Plantagenet, frigate Rota, and Carnation, a sister ship to Calypso.

Groube's successor in June 1814 was Cmdr. Charles Reid. Then in 1816 Lieut. John Sisson was acting commander.[1]


In April 1816, Lord Exmouth concluded treaties with the Regency of Algiers on the exchange of captives and slaves. Calypso carried to Genoa 40 Sardinians who had been slaves and brought back to Algiers some eight Algerine captives, together with the ransom for the freed Sardinians.[5]


Calypso was in Ordinary at Chatham from 1817-1820. She was broken up in 1821.[1]

Notable passenger

A future governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, who would replace William Bligh after the Rum Rebellion sailed on board Calypso from Kronstadt, (Russia) to Yarmouth (England) in September/October 1807. He briefly visited Copenhagen whilst in transit.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Winfield (2008), p.292.
  2. James (1837) Vol. III, pp.311-2.
  3. The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 171, p.204.
  4. James (1837), Vol. IV, pp.53-4.
  5. Playfiar (1884), p.254.


  • James, William (1837). The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV.. III & IV. R. Bentley. 
  • Playfair, R. Lambert (1884) The scourge of Christendom : annals of British... (London: Smith, Elder & Co.).
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1861762461. 

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