HMS Fame (1759)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Fame
Ordered: 13 April 1756
Builder: Bird, Deptford
Launched: 1 January 1759
Renamed: HMS Guildford, December 1799
Honours and

Participated in:

Fate: Sold out of the service, 1814
Notes: Prison ship from December 1799
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: 74-gun third rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1565 tons (1590.1 tonnes)
Length: 165 ft 6 in (50.44 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 46 ft 7 in (14.20 m)
Depth of hold: 19 ft 10 in (6.05 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship

74 guns:

  • Gundeck: 28 × 32 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 14 × 9 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 4 × 9 pdrs

HMS Fame was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched at Deptford on 1 January 1759. She was designed by William Bateley, and was the only ship ever built to her draught.[1]

In 1762, while in company with Lion, she captured the French 10-gun ship Ecureuil.[citation needed]

In 1778, commanded by Captain Stephen Colby, she proceeded to the North American station in a fleet of 14 ships commanded by Vice-Admiral the Hon. John Byron with his flag in Princess Royal.[citation needed]

On 6 July 1779, commanded by Captain John Butchart, Fame took part in the Battle of Grenada against the French. The French fleet, under Admiral D’Estaing, consisted of 25 ships of the line and several frigates. The British fleet, under Vice-Admiral Byron, had 21 ships of the line and 1 frigate. The French were anchored off Georgetown on the south-west of the island, and the English approached during the night. D’Estaing weighed at 4 am and Byron chased. The British ships attacked in utter disorder and confusion. Fame and three other ships got separated from the main body, and were very badly mauled. The French lost no ships and eventually hauled off. The British lost 183 killed and 346 wounded. Fame lost 4 killed and 9 wounded. The French lost 190 killed and 759 wounded. This action reflected no credit on either side.[citation needed]

In 1782, commanded by Captain Robert Barbor, she was one of a fleet of 36 ships of the line under Admiral Sir George Rodney, who flew his flag in Formidable. They met in the West Indies between Dominica and Guadeloupe a French fleet of 33 ships of the line commanded by Vice-Admiral Comte de Grasse with his flag in Ville de Paris. The fighting was spread over several days, and the French were defeated.[citation needed]

The fleets first met on 9 April, and De Grasse at once detached his convoy into Guadeloupe. Two actions took place this day, one lasting an hour, and the other lasting an hour and a half. The British received some injuries and lay till that night for repairs. The French fled and the British pursued during the three following days.[citation needed]

The fleets met again on 12 April, and the French fired the first shot at 8 am. By 9 am the action was general, and the British fleet broke the French line in three places. The action was brought to a conclusion at 6 p.m. by the surrender of the French flagship Ville de Paris. Sir George Rodney’s conduct in not following up the victory by a pursuit was much criticised. Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood said that the 20 French ships would have been captured had the commander-in-Chief chased. The British lost 243 killed and 816 wounded, and 2 captains out of 36 were killed. The French loss in killed and wounded has never been stated, but must have been considerably higher than that of the British; of captains alone, 6 were killed out of 30. The British lost no ships, whilst the French lost five captured, and three crippled ships were dispatched to seek safety in friendly harbours.[citation needed]

On 17 April Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood was sent in pursuit of the enemy. He captured four French ships, two of which were crippled and in need of a secure harbour. Sir George Rodney was created a peer with £2000 a year settled on the title in perpetuity for this victory.[citation needed]

Explorer George Vancouver served as Lieutenant on this Fame under Captain Robert Barbor during this engagement. Vancouver later went on captain his own ship, HMS Discovery, on a voyage of discovery to the Pacific Northwest in search of the Northwest passage.[citation needed]

In December 1799, Fame was renamed Guilford and fitted as a prison ship. She was eventually sold out of the service in 1814.[1][2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p176.
  2. Ships of the Old Navy, Fame.


  • 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.
  • Michael Phillips. Fame (74) (1759). Michael Phillips' Ships of the Old Navy. Retrieved 31 August 2008.