HMS Lichfield (1746)

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Career (Great Britain) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Lichfield
Ordered: 1 June 1744
Builder: John Barnard, Harwich
Launched: 26 June 1746
Fate: Wrecked, 1758
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: 1741 proposals 50-gun fourth rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 979 long tons (994.7 t)
Length: 140 ft (42.7 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 40 ft (12.2 m)
Depth of hold: 17 ft 2½ in (5.2 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship

50 guns:

  • Gundeck: 22 × 24 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 22 × 12 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 4 × 6 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 2 × 6 pdrs

HMS Lichfield was a 50-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Harwich to the dimensions laid down in the 1741 proposals of the 1719 Establishment, and launched on 26 June 1746.[1] She was wrecked on the Barbary Coast of North Africa on 28 November 1758.[2]


Lichfield was built as a replacement to the previous HMS Lichfield which had been broken up in 1744, and used some of the timbers from that vessel.[2] In June 1756, under Captain Matthew Barton, Lichfield captured the French ship of the line Arc-en-Ciel off Louisbourg, Nova Scotia during the Seven Years War. The ship left Cork Harbour, Ireland on 11 November 1758 along with four larger ships of the line, and six smaller vessels.[3] Under the command of Commodore Augustus Keppel in HMS Torbay, the squadron was bound for the west coast of Africa to capture the island of Gorée from the French, and carried troops for this purpose.[4][5]


HMS Lichfield ran aground at around 6 am on 30 November 1758 on the Barbary Coast during a squall. 220 of the 350 crew managed to reach the shore, but were held as slaves for 18 months until ransomed with other Europeans for 170,000 dollars in April 1760.[6]

According to the account of Lieutenant Southerland:

The voyage was prosperous till the 29th, when at eight in the evening I took charge of the watch, and the weather turned out very squally, with rain. At nine, it was extremely dark, with much lightning, the wind was varying from S.W. to W.N.W. At half past nine, had a very hard squall. Captain Barton staid till ten; and then left orders to keep sight of the Commodore, and what make sail the weather would permit. At eleven the Commodore bearing south, but the squalls were coming so heavy, we were obliged to hand the main top-sail, and at twelve o' clock, we were under our courses.

November 30th, at one in the morning, I left the deck in charge of the first lieutenant; the light, which we took to be the Commodore's, right ahead, bearing S. wind W.S.W. blowing very hard. At six in the morning I was awakened by a very great shock, and a confused noise of the men on deck. I ran up, thinking some ship had run afoul of us, for by my own reckoning, and that of every other person on the ship, we were at least 35 leagues distant from land; but, before I could reach the quarter-deck, the ship gave a great stroke upon the ground, and the sea broke over her.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p172.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ships of the Old Navy, Lichfield.
  3. The ships in the squadron were: Torbay (80), Nassau (70), Fougueux (64), Dunkirk (60), Lichfield (50), Prince Edward (44), Experiment (24), Roman Emperor (8) (fireship), Saltash (14), Firedrake (12) and Furnace (8) - both bomb vessels. Naval and military memoirs of Great Britain; Ships of the Old Navy.
  4. Bending Family History.
  5. Naval and military memoirs of Great Britain.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Remarkable Shipwrecks, p109-120.