HMS Rook (1806)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Rook
Ordered: 11 December 1805
Builder: Thomas Sutton, Ringmore, Devon
Laid down: February 1806
Launched: 21 May 1806
Commissioned: July 1806
Honours and
Battle of Copenhagen (1807)
Captured: 18 August 1808
Fate: Burnt by captors, 18 August 1808
General characteristics
Class and type: Cuckoo-class schooner
Tons burthen: 75 35/94 bm
Length: 56 ft 3 in (17.15 m) (gundeck)
42 ft 4.25 in (12.9096 m) (keel)
Beam: 18 ft 3.5 in (5.6 m)
  • Unladen: 4 ft 4 in (1.32 m)
  • Laden: 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 6.5 in (2.604 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: 20 officers and men
Armament: 4 × 12 pdr carronades

HMS Rook (1806) was a Royal Navy Cuckoo-class schooner, that Thomas Sutton built at Ringmore (Teignmouth) and launched in 1806. She had a crew of 20 and her armament consisted of four 12-pounder carronades.[1]


She was commissioned by Lieut. Joseph Griffiths for the North Sea. With her he was present at the Battle of Copenhagen (1807).[2]

In 1808 Lieut. James Lawrence took command.[1] On 28 June, under orders from Admiral Young, she sailed from Plymouth to the West Indies. After refitting and taking on specie, on 13 August she left Port-Royal (Jamaica) for Britain with despatches. A French schooner shadowed her for two days, but Rook chased her off.[3]

On 18 August Rook had the misfortune to meet with two French privateers off Cape St. Nicholas (San Domingo).[4] The larger enemy schooner carried 12 guns and the smaller carried 10 guns. A shot by Lawrence killed the captain of the largest privateer. After an hour-and-a-half's hard fighting the enemy succeeded in killing Lawrence and taking Rook by boarding. In all, she had three crew members killed (including Lawrence) and 11 wounded (including the Master's Mate - the second in command).[5] The French stripped the survivors naked, including the wounded, and put them into a boat. Fortunately, the four unwounded men were able to bring the boat to land where they encountered hospitable natives. [3]


The Rook herself was so damaged that the French could not get her into port. Instead, they set fire to her.[3]


In 1810, James Auchie & Co., London, sued their insurers for six cases of specie, each containing $2000, carried on Rook and consigned to the company. However, as Lawrence had signed the Bill of Lading (B/L) "contents unknown" and as there was no other evidence beyond some notations in the margin of the B/L, the judge dismissed the suit.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Winfield (2008), p.361.
  2. Allen (1856), p.90.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Grocott (1997), p.260.
  4. Gossett (1986), p.66.
  5. James (1837), p.46.
  6. Taunton, William Pyle. Reports of cases argued and determined in the Court of common pleas, and other courts, from Michaelmas term, 48 Geo. III. 1807, to [Hilary term, 59 Geo. III. 1819] both inclusive. With tables of the cases and principal matters. Great Britain. Court of Common Pleas. P. 303.
  • Allen, Joseph (1856) The new navy list : and general record of the services of officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. (London: Parker, Furnivall, 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
  • Grocott, Terrence (1997) Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary & Napoleonic eras. (Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books). ISBN 9780811715331
  • James, William (1837). The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV.. 5. R. Bentley. 
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1861762461.