HMS Landrail (1806)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Landrail
Ordered: 11 December 1805
Builder: Thomas Sutton, Ringmore, Devon
Laid down: January 1806
Launched: 18 June 1806
Captured: 12 July 1814
Recaptured September 1814
Fate: Sold c.1818
General characteristics
Class and type: Cuckoo-class schooner
Tonnage: 75 35/94 bm
Length: 56 ft 3.5 in (17.158 m) (overall)
42 ft 4.25 in (12.9 m) (keel)
Beam: 18 ft 3.5 in (5.575 m)
  • Unladen: 4 ft 6 in (1.37 m)
  • Laden: 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 7 in (2.62 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Schooner
Complement: 20
Armament: 4 x 12-pounder Carronades

HMS Landrail was a Cuckoo-class schooner built by Thomas Sutton at Ringmore Teignmouth. Like all her class she carried four 12-pounder carronades and had a crew of 20.[1] She had a relatively uneventful career during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 until 1814 when she was taken in a notable action, and then retaken. She was sold in approximately 1818.


The first mention of her service occurred in 1812 when she operated in the Channel under the command of Lieutenant John Hill.[1] On the afternoon of 18 December 1812 Landrail joined the 18-gun ship-sloop Albacore, 12-gun schooner Pickle and 12-gun brig-sloop Borer in a chase of the French 40-gun frigate Gloire.[2] Gloire had found herself becalmed in the midst of the British ships off The Lizard at daybreak. Albacore and Pickle had commenced to harry the French frigate when Borer and Landrail arrived. In the exchange of fire Albacore suffered one man killed and six or seven wounded before she pulled back. Eventually, the frigate managed to outrun the four small vessels. In the engagement Landrail did not actually fire her guns. As James put it, “for the Landrail to have fired her 12-pounders would have been a farce.”[2]

In 1813 Landrail performed a number of duties, including accompanying a convoy to the Baltic and carrying dispatches to Heligoland.

On 6 January 1814 Landrail arrived at the Isles of Scilly where she was put under quarantine. She brought with her the ship Duck, bound from Newfoundland to Portugal, which also carried the crews of a number of merchant vessels that two French frigates had captured.[3] On 22 March she arrived at Falmouth from Bordeaux with a French officer with dispatches. On 21 June Lieutenant Robert Daniel Lancaster took command.[1]

Capture and recapture

On 12 July Landrail was in the Channel[4] on her way to Gibraltar with dispatches when she encountered the American privateer Syren under Captain J.D. Daniels. Syren carried seven cannons, one long 12 on a travelling (pivoting) carriage, four long 6-pounders and two 18-pounder carronades, and a crew of 50 men.[Note 1] This gave her a broadside of 42 pounds, compared to Landrail 's 24 pounds, and a crew two and a half times larger.[5]

The Syren had had a successful cruise, capturing six British vessels, and she gave chase.[6] Lancaster attempted to escape, keeping up a running fight of a little over an hour, and a close action of 40 minutes. Eventually Landrail struck. She had suffered five to seven men wounded.[5] Her sails were riddled with shot-holes and her hull had taken many hits. The Syren had three men killed and 15 wounded.[5] Some American reports give the Syren’s losses as only three men wounded.

On 28 August, the Cruizer-class brig-sloop Wasp, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Crawford (acting Commander), recaptured Landrail while she was on her way to the United States. Wasp took Landrail into Halifax.[6][7] However, the officers and crew of Landrail remained in captivity in the US.[8]

Syren returned to the United States but as she approached the Delaware River the British blockading ships gave chase.[6] Syren ran aground and her crew set her on fire before making their escape.[9]

In late 1814 or early 1815, while on the Halifax station under Lieutenant (Gustavus) Robert Rochfort, Landrail successfully beat off a force of five American privateers.[10] The American vessels were the 10-gun Charles Stewart of Boston, the 4-gun Cumberland of Portland, the 4-gun Fame of Thomastown, the sloop Jefferson of Salem, and a schooner, name and armament unknown.[11] Landrail was on her way to join a convoy to Castine, Maine, then in British possession. The fight lasted some two hours though there is no report of casualties on Landrail. Reportedly, the American privateers did suffer a number of killed and wounded.[11]


Landrail was paid off October 1816. She was sold in or about 1818.[1]


Landrail’s flag went to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis where it hangs with a number of other captured flags.[12]


On 11 July 1896, almost exactly 92 years after the first Landrail's capture by Syren, the torpedo gunboat HMS Landrail rammed and sank the clipper merchant ship Siren. The Siren was a large four-masted vessel carrying a cargo of wool and tallow from Sydney to Britain. The accident occurred on a clear night, some thirty miles from Portland Bill. There were no lives lost on either vessel and Landrail herself suffered trifling damage.[13] The owners of the Siren put their loss at £86,529.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Winfield (2008), pp.361.
  2. 2.0 2.1 James (1837), Vol. 6, p.7.
  3. Naval Database
  4. Grossett (1986), p.93.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 James (1817), pp.180-1.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Maclay (1899), p.472.
  7. Nova Scotia Vice-admiralty Court (1911), p.132.
  8. Index of names
  9. Maclay (1899), p.482.
  10. Allen (1846), p.89.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Snider (1928), p.229.
  12. Washburn (1913), p.27.
  13. Owen (1914), pp.107-8.
  14. The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879-1954), Wednesday 20 January 1897, p.5.


  • Allen, Joseph (1846) The New Navy List and General Records of the Services of Officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. (London: Parker, Furnival, and Parker, Military Library, Whitehall).
  • Gossett, William Patrick (1986) The lost ships of the Royal Navy, 1793-1900. (London:Mansell). ISBN 0-7201-1816-6
  • James, William (1817) A full and correct account of the chief naval occurrences of the late war between Great Britain and the United States of America. (London: T. Egerton).
  • James, William (1837). The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV.. 1. R. Bentley. 
  • Maclay, Edgar Stanton (1899) A history of American privateers. (New York : Franklin).
  • Nova Scotia. Vice-admiralty Court (Halifax). (1911) American vessels captured by the British during the Revolution and War of 1812; the records of the Vice-admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Salem, Mass., Essex Institute).
  • Owen, Douglas (1914) Ocean Trade and Shipping. (Cambridge: Cambridge University).
  • Snider, G.H.J. (1928) Under the Red Jack: Privateers of the Maritime Provinces of Canada in the War of 1812. (London: Martin Hopkinson & Co.).
  • Washburn, Harold Connett (United States Naval Academy; 1913) llustrated case inscriptions from the official catalogue of the trophy flags of the United States Navy. (Baltimore, Md.: The Lord Baltimore Press).
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1861762461. 

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