HMS Hornet (1794)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hornet
Ordered: 18 February 1793
Builder: Marmaduke Stalkart, Rotherhithe
Laid down: April 1793
Launched: 3 February 1794
Completed: 14 May 1794 at Deptford Dockyard
Commissioned: January 1794
Out of service: Sold 30 October 1817
General characteristics
Class and type: 16-gun Cormorant-class sloop
Tons burthen: 428 55/94 bm
Length: 109 ft 2 in (33.3 m) (overall)
91 ft 6.875 in (27.9 m) (keel)
Beam: 29 ft 8 in (9.0 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 Hornet was a 16-gun ship-rigged sloop of the Cormorant class in the Royal Navy, ordered 18 February 1793, built by Marmaduke Stalkart and launched 3 February 1794 at Rotherhithe. (Note: There was a second HMS Hornet (1796); she was a purchased Dutch hoy that was in service for about a year.)


In November 1796, Captain John Nash took command and took the Hornet to the West Indies. In 1800 she accompanied a convoy to the West Indies. While at Guadeloupe in October, a boat from Hornet attempted to press some men off the New Ceres, whose crew resisted, killing Hornet's second lieutenant, and wounding another crewman. The next day Hornet tried again, this time in force, but all the crew except the chief mate and steward had disappeared. Captain John Nash turned the two men over to the civil authorities.

On 15 January 1801, the 20-gun Daphne, Captain Richard Matson, 18-gun ship-sloops Cyane and Hornet, Captains Henry Matson and James Nash, and the Garland (a schooner serving as a tender), were at an anchor in the harbour of the Îles des Saintes. The British observed a convoy of French coasters, with an armed schooner as escort, sailing towards Vieux-Fort, Guadeloupe. At midnight the Garland, together with two boats from each of the other three vessels, attempted to cut out the convoy. However, all but one of the convoy's vessels were able to take shelter under the guns of Basse-Terre. The British were able to take the one French vessel that had anchored near Vieux-Fort.

On 17 January, boats from Hornet, together with boats from Daphne, set out to cut out a ship moored under the protection of shore batteries at Trois-Rivières, Guadeloupe. This was the Eclair, a schooner of 145 tons, 45 men, four long four-pounder guns and 20 one-and-a-half pounder brass swivels, and capable of carrying more guns. Fire from a schooner killed two men and wounded another. Still, a party from the Garland succeeded in taking her on the 18th, and the British added her as the 10-gun Eclair.

In March, Hornet participated in Rear Admiral Duckworth's successful attack on the islands of St. Bartholomew and St. Martin. On the 23 March, Hornet and the 16-gun hired lugger Fanny, later joined by 14-gun Drake, attempted to capture two privateers, a brig and a schooner, but were unsuccessful though they chased the privateers for some 24 hours. The 32-gun frigate Proselyte, Hornet and Drake stayed at St. Martin to secure the island and to embark the garrison on 26 March, while the rest of Duckworth's force went on to St Thomas.


Paid off in 1804 from active service, the Hornet was fitted at Plymouth between September 1804 and July 1805 for the Medical Military Staff, and was commissioned in June 1805 under Lieutenant Charles William as a hospital ship in the Isles of Scilly. She was paid off from this service and laid up at Plymouth Dockyard in May 1811. On 30 October 1817 she was sold to a Mr Bailey for £920.

Notable personnel

From November 1795 to September 1797, Richard Spencer, a future hero of the Napoleonic Wars and Australian pioneer, served as a midshipman on Hornet.


  • Colledge, J.J. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy From the Fifteenth Century to the Present. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987. ISBN 0-87021-652-X.
  • Winfield, Rif. British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing, 2nd edition, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.