HMS Cornwallis (1801)

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HMS Cornwallis was a Royal Navy 54-gun Fourth Rate. Jemsatjee Bomanjee built the Marquis Cornwallis of teak for the East India Company.

The Company purchased her for the Royal Navy in 1801 shortly after she returned from an expedition against the Mahe Islands.

East Indies

Cornwallis was constructed by the Honourable East India Company in India as a ship that could be easily converted from an East Indiaman merchant ship to a large frigate. As a result she was much stronger in construction than equivalent size Royal Navy frigates. In 1801 she was purchased for service with the Royal Navy and in 1805 was under the command of Captain Charles James Johnson, serving off Bombay and engaged in the long-distance blockade of Île de France. In November 1806, Cornwallis participated in an unsuccessful attack on French shipping at Saint Paul on Île Bonaparte.


In February 1807, Cornwallis was ordered to Australia, reaching Port Jackson by sailing through the Bass Strait, the first Royal Navy ship to do so. After visiting Port Jackson, Cornwallis sailed to New Zealand and subsequently crossed the Pacific Ocean to the Juan Fernández Islands in the vain hope of finding enemy shipping.

Off Valparaiso, an accidental explosion caused serious damage and a number of casualties aboard the frigate, but she was still able to raid Spanish settlements in the region, capturing a number of sheep and pigs and a few small vessels on thePeruvian coast. In September, Cornwallis raided Spanish settlements and shipping near Panama and subsequently visited Acapulco and Hawaii before returning to Madras.

In 1808, command passed to Captain Fleetwood Pellew and in 1809 Captain William Montague took command. Montague was engaged in a number of operations off the Dutch East Indies, attacking forts on Celebes and Amboyna. In 1810, William Fisher took command and Cornwallis was deployed with Albemarle Bertie's squadron that forced the surrender of Île de France. Over the next four years, Cornwallis remained in the Indian Ocean under various commanders.


In 1814 she traveled to Britain for the first time. She laid up at Plymouth and was on harbour service from 1824 but was out of commission by January 1840. She was broken up in 1862.