HMS Sceptre (1802)
|Ordered:||4 February 1800|
|Laid down:||December 1800|
|Launched:||11 December 1802|
|Fate:||Broken up, 1821|
|General characteristics |
|Class and type:||Repulse-class ship of the line|
|Tons burthen:||1727 tons (1754.7 tonnes)|
|Length:||174 ft (53 m) (gundeck)|
|Beam:||47 ft 4 in (14.43 m)|
|Depth of hold:||20 ft (6.1 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full rigged ship|
HMS Sceptre was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built by Dudman of Deptford after a design by Sir William Rule. She was launched on 11 December 1802 at Deptford. On 20 June 1803, after a shakedown period, she came into Plymouth for a refit, sailing again on 28 June under the command of Captain A. C. Dickson to join the Channel fleet.
In July 1803, she sailed for the East Indies station. On 21 December 1803, in the eastern Indian Ocean, Sceptre and Albion captured the French ship Clarisse, 12 and her crew of 157 men. In 1804, Captain Joseph Bingham, formerly of St. Fiorenzo, assumed command of Sceptre. On 11 November 1806, HMS Sceptre and Cornwallis under Captain Johnston made a dash into St. Paul's Bay, Isle of Bourbon, and attacked the shipping there, which consisted of the frigate Sémillante, three armed ships and twelve captured British ships. (The eight ships that had been earlier taken by Sémillante were valued at one and a half million pounds.) However, what little breeze there was soon failed, and the two ships found it difficult to manoeuvre and were unable to recapture any prizes.
In 1808, Sceptre, in company with Cornwallis, engaged and damaged Sémillante, together with the shore batteries that she sought to protect. She served for six years in the East Indies before transferring to the Caribbean. During the passage from England Captain Samuel James Ballard trained his crew in the use of the broadsword. This later proved of value when they were used ashore. He arrived off Martinique with Alfred and Frejus under his orders, to find that four French frigates had captured and burnt Junon, belonging to the Halifax squadron, about 150 miles to the windward of Guadaloupe.
On 18 December, Sceptre, Blonde, Thetis, Freija, Castor, Cygnet, Hazard, Ringdove, and Elizabeth proceeded to attack two of the enemy frigates, Seine and Loire, anchored in Anse à la Barque ("Barque Cove") about nine miles to the northwest of the town of Basse-Terre. Blonde, Thetis and the three sloops bore the brunt of the attack but forced the French to abandon their ships and set fire to them. Captain Cameron, who was killed in the attempt, landed with the boats of Hazard and destroyed the shore batteries. Sceptre and Cornwallis, much affected by scurvy, retired to Madagascar for their crews to recuperate. Sceptre then returned home in 1808 accompanied by two homeward-bound Danish East Indiamen captured by Captain Bingham off the Cape of Good Hope.
Sceptre was paid off but, after repair and refitting, was recommissioned by Captain Bingham and joined Sir Richard Strachan in the expedition to the Scheldt in 1809. Towards the end of January 1810 Sceptre escorted a division of the troops destined for the attack on Guadaloupe from St. Lucia to the Saintes. While other troops were landed on the island he created a diversion off Trois-Rivières before landing his troops and marines between Anse à la Barque and Basse-Terre. Until the surrender of the island, Captain Ballard commanded the detachment of seamen and marines attached to the army. Sceptre visited most of the West Indian islands before sailing from St. Thomas in August with the homebound trade.
She arrived at Spithead on 25 September 1810 and was docked and refitted. Sceptre was employed in the Channel watching the enemy in Brest and the Basque Roads until January 1813. In 1813, Captain C. Ross, took command of Sceptre as the flagship of Rear Admiral (Blue) Sir George Cockburn for operations against the United States. On 11 July 1813, Sceptre, with Romulus, Fox, Nemedis, and Conflict, and the tenders Highflyer and Cockchafer, anchored off the Ocracoke bar, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They had on board detachments of troops under the orders of Lieutenant Colonel Napier. An advanced division of the best pulling boats commanded by Lieutenant Westphall and carrying armed seamen and marines from Sceptre attacked the enemy's shipping. They were supported by Captain Ross with the rocket-boats. The flat and heavier boats followed with the bulk of the 102nd Regiment and the artillery.
The only opposition came from a brig, Anaconda, 18, and a privateer schooner, Atlas, 10, which were the only armed vessels in the anchorage. When they were attacked by Lieutenant Westphall and some rockets, the brig was abandoned and the schooner struck. The troops took possession of Portsmouth Island and Ocracoke Island without opposition. Her final years were spent in the Channel in the blockade of the French fleet. In 1815, Sceptre was decommissioned at Chatham. After a period in the fleet reserve, she was finally broken up at Chatham in 1821.
- Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p185.
- Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.