HMS Unicorn (1748)

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Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Unicorn
Operator: Royal Navy
Ordered: 29 April 1747
Builder: Plymouth Dockyard
Laid down: 3 July 1747
Launched: 7 December 1748
Christened: 29 May 1747
Completed: 17 July 1749
Fate: Broken up December 1771 at Sheerness Dockyard
General characteristics
Class and type: Lyme-class frigate
Tons burthen: 581 50/94 BM
Length: 117 ft 10 in (35.92 m)
Beam: 33 ft 8 in (10.26 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 160 (increased to 180 on 22 September 1756, and to 200 on 11 November 1756)
Armament: UD: Twenty-four 9-pounder guns;
QD: four 3-pounder guns;
FC: Nil.
Also 12 Swivels.

HMS Unicorn was a 28-gun, sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. Originally ordered as a 24-gun ship to the draft of the French privateer Tyger. The third vessel of the Royal Navy to bear the name, the Unicorn, as well as the Lyme which was a near-sister, were the first true frigates built for the Royal Navy. They were actually completed with 28 guns including the four smaller weapons on the quarterdeck, but the latter were not included in the ship's official establishment until 22 September 1756. The two ships differed in detail, the Unicorn having a beakhead bow, a unicorn figurehead , two-light quarter galleries and only five pairs of quarterdeck gunports, while the Lyme had a round bow, a lion figurehead, three-light quarter galleries and six pairs of quarterdeck gunports.

The Unicorn was first commissioned in March 1749 under Captain Molyneaux Shuldham, under whose command she spent her first commission in the Mediterranean until returning home to pay off at Deptford in June 1752. After repairs, she was recommissioned in January 1753 under Captain Matthew Buckle, and sailed for the Mediterranean again in April 1753. In February 1756 command passed to Captain James Galbraith, then in that September to Captain John Rawling. After active and continuous service during the Seven Years War, she finally paid off in late 1763, and was broken up in 1771.


  • David Lyon, "The Sailing Navy List", Brasseys Publications, London 1993.
  • Rif Winfield, "British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1714 to 1792", Seaforth Publishing, London 2007.