HMS Whiting (1805)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Whiting
Ordered: 23 June 1803
Builder: Goodrich & Co. (prime contractor), Bermuda
Laid down: 1803
Launched: November 1805

American privateer Dash 8 July 1812; released

By French privateer Diligent 22 August 1812
Fate: Unknown
General characteristics
Type: Ballahoo-class schooner
Tonnage: 70 41/94 bm
Length: 55 ft 2 in (16.81 m) (overall)
40 ft 10.5 in (12.5 m) (keel)
Beam: 18 ft 0 in (5.49 m)
Depth of hold: 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Schooner
Complement: 20
Armament: 4 x 12-pounder carronades

HMS Whiting (1805) was a Royal Navy Ballahoo-class schooner of 4 12-pounder carronades and a crew of 20. The prime contractor for the vessel was Goodrich & Co., in Bermuda, and she was launched in 1805.[1] She was a participant at the Battle of Basque Roads but was captured by a French privateer at the beginning of the War of 1812 after having been taken and released by the Americans in the first naval action of the war.

Napoleonic Wars

In 1805 Whiting was under the command of Lieut. John Orkney at Halifax on her way to Portsmouth for completion, which took place between 26 April and 19 May 1806. [1]

Whiting was commissioned in June 1806 under Lieut. George Roach for the North Sea.[1] In January 1808 Lieut. Henry Wildey assumed command. On 30 June she was in attendance when her sister ship Capelin hit the Parquette Rock off Brest, France and sank.[2]

At the beginning of March 1809 Whiting joined the fleet assembling for an attack on the French fleet in the Basque Roads. William Congreve, who had arrived with a transport, fitted Whiting and the two the hired armed cutters Nimrod and King George with rockets. On 11 April the three vessels took up a position near the Boyart (see Fort Boyard) Shoal while fireships made a night attack on the French ships. The next day all three, together with a number of other vessels, opened their fire upon the French ships Océan, Régulus, and the frigate Indienne, as those ships lay aground. The first two eventually escaped, and the last was one of four eventually destroyed, though by her own crew some days later to avoid capture.[3]

In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the issuance of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp “BASQUE ROADS 1809” to all surviving British participants in the battle.

On 13 April Whiting sailed for Portugal. For the next few years she sailed in the Channel, to the west, and to the coast of Spain going as far as Cadiz and Gibraltar. Wildey was promoted to Commander on 3 May 1810.

On 20 December 1811 Whiting left Plymouth for Padstow, to assist the gun brig Bloodhound, which had run on shore near there.

In 1812 Lieut. Lewis Maxey assumed command of Whiting. On 1 May he sailed for the Americas.

War of 1812

Whiting did not survive the opening months of the War of 1812. Having sailed from Plymouth, she entered Hampton Roads on 8 July 1812 with despatches for the American government, and lowered her anchor.[4] Unfortunately war had been declared about two weeks earlier. As Maxey was being rowed ashore, the American privateer Dash, under Capt. Garroway, was leaving port and captured her. Dash had one large gun on a pivot, and a crew of 80. Not only were a third of Whiting's crew in her boat, the rest were not at the guns as they were unaware that Britain and the United States were now at war.[5]

This was the first naval action of the war. However, Whiting was carrying official dispatches for the American government, which ordered her release.[6]

In mid-August, the US Revenue Cutter Gallatin led Whiting out to the Hampton Roads and turned over to Maxey her crew “at the place where they were taken”. The Americans then ordered Maxey to quit American waters with all possible speed.[7]


Unfortunately for Whiting, shortly after she left Hampton Roads for England, the French 18-gun privateer brig Diligent (or Diligence) captured her on 22 August.[1][4] On 8 September Diligent would capture the 10-gun schooner HMS Laura.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Winfield (2008), p.359.
  2. Gossett (1986), p.65.
  3. James (1837), Vol. 5, pp.103-122.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gossett (1986), p. 84 and 85.
  5. James (1837), Vol. 6, p. 91.
  6. Gardiner (1998), p.38.
  7. Niles' national register, containing political, historical, geographical, scientifical, statistical, economical, and biographical documents, essays and facts : together with notices of the arts and manufactures, and a record of the events of the times. Vol. 2, p.432.” [1]
  8. Grocott (1997), p.343.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: the complete record of all fighting ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham. ISBN 9781861762818. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Gossett, William Patrick (1986) The lost ships of the Royal Navy, 1793-1900. (London:Mansell).ISBN 0-7201-1816-6
  • Grocott, Terence (1997) Shipwrecks of the revolutionary & Napoleonic eras (Chatham). ISBN 1-86176-030-2
  • Gardiner, Robert (1998) The Naval War of 1812. (Annapolis, Maryland: The Naval Institute Press).
  • 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.