HMS Magpie (1806)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Magpie
Ordered: 11 December 1805
Laid down: January 1806
Launched: 17 May 1806
Captured: 18 February 1807
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Magpye or Magpie
Acquired: 18 February 1807 by capture
Renamed: Colombe 26 July 1814
General characteristics
Class and type: Cuckoo-class schooner
Tonnage: 75 69/94 bm
Length: 56 ft 2 in (17.12 m) (overall)
42 ft 9 in (13.0 m) (keel)
Beam: 18 ft 3 in (5.56 m)
  • Unladen: 4 ft 3 in (1.30 m)
  • Laden: 7 ft 10 in (2.39 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 1 in (2.46 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Schooner
Complement: 20
Armament: 4 x 12-pounder Carronades

HMS Magpie (1806) was a Royal Navy Cuckoo-class schooner that William Rowe of Newcastle built and launched on 17 May 1806. Like all her class, she was armed with four 12-pounder carronades and had a crew of 20. She had been in British service for less than a year when she grounded on the coast of France, which led to her capture. She then served in the French navy until about 1828, including a few years as a prison ship.


Lieut. Edward Johnson commissioned her in 1806. She grounded in a storm off Perros (Brittany) where French troops took her and her crew captive on 18 February 1807.[1][2]

French service

The French took her into service as Magpye and commissioned her at Brest under lieut. de vaisseau Arnous-Dessaulsays.[3][Note 1] By 1809, she was carrying messages for Admiral Willaumez when on 21 February he attempted to escape Brest with a large French fleet. The British blockade squadron drove them to shelter under the Île d'Aix.[4] Lieut. Arnous commanded Magpie for 38 months before removing to the corvette Echo. His biographer avers that during this time Magpie escorted convoys in the Channel and had numerous engagements with the British without, however, suffering any harm or casualties.[5]

On 19 June 1811, Captain Proteau took command of the 17th coastal team at Brest with Magpie as his "flag" ship. On 17 August he became commander of the 3rd squadron of the Imperial coastal flotilla at Boulogne, including the 17th team. He removed to the pram Ville-de-Rouen. The flotilla was laid up in March 1812.[6]

On 26 July 1814 the French changed her name to Colombe. During the Hundred Days her name reverted to Magpye, only to revert to Colombe on 15 July 1815. She was paid off on 20 August but recommissioned 5 April 1816 for Senegal. [3]

Around 1820 she participated at Brest in trials of three new types of rudder.[7] In 1821 she may have been engaged in fisheries protection.[8] In December 1823 she sailed from Lorient to Rochefort under the command of enseigne de vaisseaux Dagorne, and arrived in January 1824. A French Parliamentary report from 1826 notes that she is mentioned in the national accounts for 1824 as being laid up at Rochefort with a two-man crew.[9]


In 1826 Colombe became a prison ship at Brest. By 1829 she is no longer listed.[3]


  1. Gossett (1986), p.57.
  2. Winfield (2008), p.361.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Roche (2005, p.292.
  4. James (1837), Vol. V, pp.94-8.
  5. Sarrut (1835-41), Vol. 4, p.118-9.
  6. Gignon (1895), p.88.
  7. Monthly magazine and British register, Volume 49, p.433.
  8. Revue de Paris, April 1851, Vol. 4, p.2.
  9. Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860: recueil complet des débats ... (France: Assemblée nationale, Chambres des Députés), 26 April 1826, p.470.


  • Gignon, Fabien (1895) Un marin soldat : le général vicomte Proteau (1772-1837). (Paris: H. Charles-Lavauzelle).
  • Gossett, William Patrick (1986) The lost ships of the Royal Navy, 1793-1900. (London:Mansell).ISBN 0-7201-1816-6
  • James, William (1837). The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV.. V. R. Bentley. 
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005) Dictionnaire des Bâtiments de la Flotte de Guerre Française de Colbert à nos Jours. (Group Retozel-Maury Millau), pp.292-3.
  • Sarrut, Germain (1835-41) Biographie des hommes du jour, industriels,--conseillers-d'Etat ..., Volume 4. (Paris: H. Krabe).
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1861762461. , p.361.

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