HMS Hazard (1794)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hazard
Ordered: 18 February 1793
Builder: Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury
Laid down: May 1793
Launched: 3 March 1794
Completed: 8 June 1794
Commissioned: April 1794
Struck: sold 30 October 1817
General characteristics
Class and type: 16-gun Cormorrant-class sloop
Tons burthen: 426 14/94 bm
Length: 108 ft 7 in (33.1 m) (overall)
91 ft 0.625 in (27.8 m) (keel)
Beam: 29 ft 9 in (9.1 m)
Depth of hold: 9 ft (2.74 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Sloop
Complement: 121
  • Upper deck: 16 x 6pdrs + 12 x ½pdr swivels

HMS Hazard was an 16-gun Royal Navy Cormorant class ship-sloop built by Josiah & Thomas Brindley at Frindsbury, Kent, and launched in 1794. She served in the French Revolutionary Wars and throughout the Napoleonic Wars, capturing numerous prizes, participating in a notable ship action against Topaze, and in several other actions. She was sold in 1817.


The Hazard was one of the initial batch of six ship-rigged ship sloops that the Admiralty ordered in February 1793, shortly after the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, to a joint design by Sir John Henslow and William Rule. She was laid down in May 1793, launched there in March 1794, and then taken down the Medway to Chatham Naval Dockyard, where she was masted and completed in June.

French revolutionary Wars

She entered service in 1794 under Commander John Loring. Command passed rapidly to Commander Robert Dudley Oliver the following year and Commander Alexander Ruddach in 1796.[1] Under Ruddach she captured the French 14-gun privateer Terrible on 16 July off Cape Clear Island. Then on New Year's Day 1797 she took Musette. The 18-gun Hardi followed on 1 April. Both of these captures took place off the Irish coast.[1]

Cmdr. William Butterfield took command in July 1798. On 7 August he captured an American snow that a French privateer had taken three days earlier. From the intelligence the American master gave him, Butterfield set out to find her. On 12 August he encountered a French privateer of 24 guns and gave chase. The chase lasted two days before the French vessel jettisoned her guns and escaped. As she did so, Butterfield sighted another vessel that seemed suspicious and approached her.

She turned out to be the French warship Neptune with a crew of 53 and 270 soldiers on board, sailing form Île de France to Bordeaux. She was pierced for 20 guns but only carried 10. A two-hour engagement ensued during which Neptune fought all ten guns on one side and attempted to board Hazard. Eventually Neptune surrendered after she had suffered 20 to 30 killed and wounded; Hazard had 6 men wounded.[Note 1][2] As she returned to port with Neptune, Hazard saw a French privateer with an English prize, the Britannia, in tow, and directed a British frigate to the scene.

In 1800 and 1801, Hazard was employed on the convoy route between Britain and Newfoundland and subsequently between Britain and Belfast. During the Peace of Amiens, Hazard was used to convoy Dutch soldiers from Britain back to the continent. On 18 July 1801 a court martial on board Gladiator at Portsmouth dismissed Lieut. John Alexander Douglas of Hazard from the service for absenting himself without leave.

On 25 August 1802 Constance and Hazard, Cmdr. Robert I. Neave (Neve) received orders to collect Dutch troops from Lymington and take them to Cuxhaven. They sailed two days later and passed through Spithead on their way to the Elbe, reaching there on 31 August.

Napoleonic Wars

In 1803, at the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars, Hazardcarried despatches for the Channel Fleet and then operated as part of the blockade squadron off Northern Spain. While on this duty a rumour circulated that four French frigates had captured Hazard and that the French had taken her into service.

O 28 May 1803, boats from Hazard, together with boats from Naiad, cut out a new brig from among the Penmark Rocks off Brest while under fire from French batteries. They also cut out and sank a chasse-maree.

Later, on 6 August, Neave sent two prizes into Plymouth - a Danish brig from the West Indies and another brig which he retook after a privateer had captured her as she sailed from Livorno to London with a cargo of hemp, marble and oil. Hazard also kept with her as a tender a French privateer of 16 guns which she had taken.

Late in 1803, Hazard returned to Britain and operated along the Northern French coast, capturing small French commercial vessels off Quiberon, Rochefort and Bordeaux.

In the spring of 1804 Hazard was stationed off St Ives, Cornwall, where French privateers would loiter to catch vessels sheltering in the bay. In the summer Hazard's boats cut out a French coasting sloop off Quiberon and sent her into Plymouth on 6 August. She was laden with wheat.

Command passed to Commander Charles Dilkes in February 1806 and he continued these operations.[1] Hazard, with consorts, captured nine chasse-marées on 27 June 1807 in the Pertuis Breton.[1]

On 2 October 1807 the first lieutenant, William Berry, was court martialed for committing a homosexual offense with Thomas Gibbs, a boy from the ship. He was found guilty and hanged from Hazard's starboard foreyard-arm in Plymouth Sound on 19 October. Unfortunately the knot twisted under his chin and, in spite of a 32-pound shot tied to his legs, he slowly strangled for 15 minutes. He was 22 years old. On 16 November Hazard sailed for the West Indies.

In early 1809, Hazard was sent to the West Indies to operate as part of the squadron under Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane and command passed to Cmdr. Hugh Cameron, late of Achates, while Dilkes removed to the flagship, Neptune.

On 22 January, Hazard spotted the French frigate Topaze off Guadeloupe. Hazard was initially unable to catch up with Topaze but eventually took part in the Action of 22 January 1809 at which Cleopatra, with the assistance of several other vessels, captured the French ship. Topaze was taken into the British navy as Jewel.

Hazard was subsequently involved in the Invasion of Martinique. Then, with a number of small vessels, Hazard carried out a blockade of the Îles des Saintes where a French force of three ships of the line and two frigates was waiting for an opportunity to move across to Guadeloupe. This led to the the Action of 14 April 1809.

On 14 April British troops from Martinique under Major General Maitland landed in the Saintes and the French squadron made preparations to sail during the night. They were spotted by Lieut. Robertson, in a boat from Hazard and he signaled the blockading ships with lights and rockets. In the morning Pompee and Recruit chased the French and succeeded in crippling Hautpoult until Pompee and Castor could capture her. Hazard joined in the chase leaving Robertson and his crew to fend for themselves for 53 days.

On 16 October Hazard and Pelorus, cruising off Guadeloupe discovered a French armed schooner moored under the battery of St. Marie in the bay of Point-a-Pître. That night they each sent two boats try and cut her out. However darkness, rain and their inability to find a channel through the coral reefs defeated them. The following day the two sloops stood in close to provide covering fire while they tried again. The boats advanced under fire form the schooner's 18-pounder and two swivels, but as the British came alongside the French crew fled ashore, from where they kept up small arms fire. The schooner was aground and when the boarding party tried to set her on fire she blew up. In all, six British were killed in the attack, including three from Hazard, and eight wounded.

On 17 December Hazard was part of a squadron that engaged a French reinforcement convoy at Basseterre. The French failed to reach Guadeloupe and the next day Blonde and Thetis entered Anse de la Barque and attacked both the 20-gun Seine (1808) and the 20-gun Loire (1809). After putting up a strong defense, the French crews set fire to their vessels to keep them out of British hands.[3] Cameron was killed in the engagement.[1] The action earned the British participants the Naval General Service Medal. James Robertson was appointed to be in temporary command of Hazard until Capt. Cameron's successor arrived from Halifax; unfortunately for Robertson, Cmdr. William Elliott. removed from the brig Pultusk at his own request to take over Hazard on 25 December.

In early 1810, Hazard took part in the Invasion of Guadeloupe. During the invasion, Lieut. Robertson and a boarding party of marines boarded the burning schooner Mouche. By the time they succeeded in bringing her off, part of the deck had burnt away and all her guns had discharged themselves in the intense heat. The boarding party salvaged from the flames French signal books and other important documents. Hazard was then sent back to Britain with dispatches and Elliott was promoted. Command passed to Commander John Cookesley in 1811.

War of 1812

Cookesley took the ship to Halifax and the West Indies during 1812 where reportedly she took a number of American vessels as prizes. At the end of the wars in 1815 Cookesley brought her back to Spithead. In 1816, Hazard sailed to Newfoundland, but returned the following year.


Hazard was sold to Mr. Sprately for £1,010 at Portsmouth on 30 October 1817.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Winfield (2008), p.254.
  2. James (1837) vol. II, p.230.
  3. Roche (1805), pp. 410 and 284-5.


  • Ships of the Old Navy
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005) Dictionnaire des Bâtiments de la Flotte de Guerre Française de Colbert à nos Jours. (Group Retozel-Maury Millau).
  • Winfield, Rif, British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1793-1817 (Seaforth Publishing, 2007) ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.

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