List of gun-brigs of the Royal Navy

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For brig-rigged sloops, see List of corvette and sloop classes of the Royal Navy
For gunboats, see List of gunboat and gunvessel classes of the Royal Navy

A gun-brig was a small brig-rigged warship that enjoyed popularity in the (British) Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, during which large numbers were purchased or built. In general these were vessels of under 200 tons burthen, and thus smaller than the more common Cherokee-class brig-sloops or the even larger Cruizer-class brig-sloops. The gun-brigs generally carried 12 guns, comprising two long guns in the chase position and ten carronades on the broadsides.

Development[edit]

The earliest gun-brigs were shallow-draught vessels. Initially they were not brigs at all, but were classed as 'gunvessels' and carried a schooner or brigantine rig. They were re-rigged as brigs about 1796 and re-classed under the new term 'gun-brig'. They were designed as much to row as to sail, and carried their primary armament firing forward - a pair of long 18-pounders or 24-pounders, weapons which in any practical sense could only be trained and fired with the vessel under oars.

The 1797 batch introduced means to improve their sailing ability. Each was fitted with a Schank drop keel,[Note 1] and lighter bow chasers replaced the heavy pair of guns firing forward over the bows; in later vessels one of the bow chasers would be moved aft to become a stern chaser, both of these guns then being mounted on the centreline and able to pivot. The broadside weapons consisted of 18-pounder carronades mounted on slides along both sides.

The later gun-brigs developed from this beginning into smaller versions of the brig-sloops with increased draught and seaworthiness, but were less suited for inshore warfare. Compared with the flat-bottomed hulls of the 1794-1800 designs, by the time of the Confounder class the hulls had achieved a relatively sharp cross-section, as performance under sail had become a more important consideration than ease of rowing. By now they were clearly seen as small versions of the brig-sloop rather than enlarged gunboats.

Deployment[edit]

The early gun-brigs were seen as inshore and coastal vessels, and saw their first service in coastal operations, notably in the Channel, where they sought out French coastal shipping. As their numbers grew and more seaworthy designs emerged, they were deployed world-wide, notably in the Baltic where many were involved in confrontations with the myriad of Danish gunboats during the Gunboat War, but also on such distant stations as the East Indies.

Complement[edit]

The purpose-built gun-brigs were all established with a complement of 50 men, and maintained this level throughout their main period of operation, although of course the actual number carried varied with availability. The final batch saw the complement raised to 60. Each gun-brig had a lieutenant in command (unlike brig-sloops, which were under commanders), and while he was the only commissioned officer aboard, he was assisted by a midshipman and a number of warrant officers - a master's mate (ranked as 'master and pilot') to share the watches, carpenter's mate, gunner's mate, boatswain's mate and surgeon's mate. Other petty officers included a ropemaker, sailmaker, clerk, quartermaster and quartermaster's mate. There were fifteen marines on board - a sergeant to command, a corporal, and thirteen privates. The rest of the crew were ranked as seamen - able seamen, ordinary seamen or landsmen.

Historical evaluation[edit]

The naval historian and novelist C.S. Forester commented in relation to the gun-brigs that:

In this criticism of the gun-brig, Forester was perhaps being a little unfair; the class had been designed largely as convoy escorts for coastal operations and it is little wonder they rolled heavily in the open sea. They performed sterling service in a wide range of conditions not envisaged by their designers, making them analogous in this respect to the Flower-class corvette of World War II; cheap, uncomfortable, over-crowded and lightly armed but completely essential.

List of gun-brig classes and their evolution[edit]

The following sub-sections describe the sequence of the gun-brigs built to individual designs from the earliest acquisitions of 1793 until the last gun-brigs joined the Navy in 1813.

1793 purchases[edit]

Three vessels of about 140 tons each were purchased in 1793, and armed with two 18-pounder long guns and ten 18-pounder carronades. They were numbered (not named) GB No. 1, GB No. 2 and GB No. 3.[Note 2] No further details were recorded, but their existence probably explains why the initial numbering of the Acute class below (prior to their being given names) began with GB No. 4.

Conquest class[edit]

Class overview
Name: Conquest-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1794 - 1817
Completed: 12
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 146 4194bm[2]
Length: 75 ft (23 m) (gundeck)
62 ft 3 18 in (18.977 m) (keel)
Beam: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Depth of hold: 7 ft (2.1 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 50
Armament:

2 x 24-pounder bow guns

10 x 18-pounder carronades

The first batch of twelve gun-brigs were all built by contract to a design by Surveyor of the Navy Sir John Henslow, and ordered on 6 March 1794; they were all named and registered on 26 May. They were designed to be rowed (with 18 oars) as well as sailed, for which purpose they carried a brig rig, though it was originally planned to rig them as schooners or brigantines. The initial plan was that they would mount a main armament of 4-pounder long guns, but this was rapidly substituted by a broadside battery of ten 18-pounder carronades, with two 24-pounders as chase guns in the bow and two 4-pounders as chase guns in the stern. The 4-pounders were soon deleted, making them all 12-gun vessels.

From March 1795 all twelve of the class were attached to the Inshore Squadron commanded by Captain Sir Sidney Smith.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Aimwell 6 March 1794 Perry & Hankey, Blackwall 12 May 1794 Broken up November 1811
Pelter 6 March 1794 Perry & Hankey, Blackwall 12 May 1794 Sold October 1802
Borer 6 March 1794 Randall & Co., Rotherhithe 17 May 1794 Sold 1810
Plumper 6 March 1794 Randall & Co, Rotherhithe 17 May 1794 Sold January 1802
Teazer 6 March 1794 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 26 May 1794 Sold October 1802
Tickler 6 March 1794 Hill & Mellish, Limehouse 28 May 1794 Sold May 1802
Swinger 6 March 1794 Hill & Mellish, Limehouse 31 May 1794 Sold October 1802
Force 6 March 1794 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet May 1794 Sold October 1802
Piercer 6 March 1794 Thomas King, Dover 2 June 1794 Sold June 1802
Attack 6 March 1794 John Wilson & Co, Frindsbury 28 June 1794 Sold September 1802
Fearless 6 March 1794 William Cleverley, Gravesend June 1794 Wrecked 20 January 1804
Conquest 6 March 1794 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury 29? July 1794 Sold April 1817

Acute class[edit]

Class overview
Name: Acute-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1797 - 1805
Completed: 15
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 1586394 bm[3]
Length: 75 ft (23 m) (gundeck)
61 ft 7 58 in (18.786 m) (keel)
Beam: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Depth of hold: 7 ft 11 in (2.41 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 50
Armament:

2 x 24-pounder bow guns

10 x 18-pounder carronades

A further design by John Henslow, to which fifteen vessels were ordered on 7 February 1797. In this design, the breadth was increased by a foot from the Conquest class, and the depth of the hold was increased by eleven inches. All were brig-rigged and received Schank sliding or drop keels.[3]

Initially these were intended to be classed as gunboats, and were given numbers (nos. GB No. 4 to GB No. 18)[Note 2] rather than names, but on 7 August they were re-classed as gunbrigs and given names. They carried the same armament as their predecessors.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Assault
(ex GB No. 4)
7 February 1797 John Randall, Rotherhithe 10 April 1797 Sold June 1827
Asp
(ex GB No. 5)
7 February 1797 John Randall, Rotherhithe 10 April 1797 Sold July? 1803
Acute
(ex GB No. 6)
7 February 1797 John Randall, Rotherhithe April 1797 Sold October 1802
Sparkler
(ex GB No. 7)
7 February 1797 John Randall, Deptford April 1797 Sold September 1802
Bouncer
(ex GB No. 8)
7 February 1797 John & William Wells, Deptford 11? April 1797 Sold April 1802
Boxer
(ex GB No. 9)
7 February 1797 John & William Wells, Deptford 11 April 1797 Sold July 1809
Biter
(ex GB No. 10)
7 February 1797 John & William Wells, Deptford 13 March 1797 Sold May 1802
Bruiser
(ex GB No. 11)
7 February 1797 John & William Wells, Deptford 11 April 1797 Sold January 1802
Blazer
(ex GB No. 12)
7 February 1797 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 14 April 1797 Sold January 1803
Cracker
(ex GB No. 13)
7 February 1797 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 25 April 1797 Sold December 1802
Clinker
(ex GB No. 14)
7 February 1797 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 28 April 1797 Sold October 1802
Crash
(ex GB No. 15)
7 February 1797 Mrs Frances Barnard & Co, Deptford 5 April 1797 Sold September 1802
Contest
(ex GB No. 16)
7 February 1797 Mrs Frances Barnard & Co, Deptford 11 April 1797 Wrecked 29 August 1799
Adder
(ex GB No. 17)
7 February 1797 Mrs Frances Barnard & Co, Deptford 22 April 1797 Broken up February 1805
Spiteful
(ex GB No. 18)
7 February 1797 Mrs Frances Barnard & Co, Deptford 24 April 1797 Broken up July 1823

Courser class[edit]

Class overview
Name: Courser-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1797 - 1803
Completed: 15
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 1675094 bm[4]
Length: 76 ft (23 m) (gundeck)
62 ft 2 58 in (18.964 m) (keel)
Beam: 22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 3 in (2.51 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 50
Armament:

2 x 24-pounder bow guns

10 x 18-pounder carronades

At the same time as John Henslow was designing the Acute class, his colleague, fellow-Surveyor Sir William Rule, was ordered to produce an alternative design. Rule's design too incorporated a Schank drop or sliding keel.[4]

Fifteen vessels to this design - the Courser class - were ordered at the same time as those to the Acute class. A sixteenth unit was added to the order a month later. Originally numbered GB No. 19 to GB No. 33, plus GB No. 45,[Note 2] the following sixteen vessels were all given names on 7 August 1797.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Steady
(ex GB No. 19)
7 February 1797 Hill & Mellish, Limehouse 24 April 1797 Renamed Oroonoko in 1805; sold 1806
Courser
(ex GB No. 20)
7 February 1797 Hill & Mellish, Limehouse 25 April 1797 Sold (probably to HM Customs) August 1803
Defender
(ex GB No. 21)
7 February 1797 Hill & Mellish, Limehouse 21 May 1797 Sold September 1802
Eclipse
(ex GB No. 22)
7 February 1797 Perry & Co, Blackwall 29 March 1797 Sold September 1802
Furious
(ex GB No. 23)
7 February 1797 Perry & Co, Blackwall 31 March 1797 Sold October 1802
Flamer
(ex GB No. 24)
7 February 1797 Perry & Co, Blackwall 30 March 1797 Sold April 1802
Furnace
(ex GB No. 25)
7 February 1797 Perry & Co, Blackwall 10 April 1797 Sold October 1802
Growler
(ex GB No. 26)
7 February 1797 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 10 April 1797 Captured by French privateers 21 December 1797
Griper
(ex GB No. 27)
7 February 1797 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 10 April 1797 Sold October 1802
Grappler
(ex GB No. 28)
7 February 1797 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet April 1797 Destroyed in action 31 December 1803
Gallant
(ex GB No. 29)
7 February 1797 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet April 1797 Sold October 1802
Hardy
(ex GB No. 30)
7 February 1797 William Cleverley, Gravesend 10 April 1797 Sold May 1802
Haughty
(ex GB No. 31)
7 February 1797 William Cleverley, Gravesend April 1797 Sold May 1802
Hecate
(ex GB No. 32)
7 February 1797 John Wilson & Co, Frindsbury 2 May 1797 Sunk as breakwater 1809
Hasty
(ex GB No. 33)
7 February 1797 John Wilson & Co, Frindsbury June 1797 Sold December 1802
Tigress
(ex GB No. 45)
March 1797 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, King's Lynn 11 September 1797 Sold January 1802

1797 purchases[edit]

The first ten of these small mercantile brigs were all purchased at Leith and fitted there for naval service, being registered on the Navy List on 5 April 1797. An eleventh vessel (Staunch) was purchased in frame in Kent and registered on 15 April 1797. These assorted vessels did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as procured as a group they are here treated similarly. Originally numbered GB No. 34 to GB No. 44,[Note 2] the following eleven vessels were all given names on 7 August 1797.

Name Purchased Former mercantile name Fate
Meteor
(ex GB No. 34)
March 1797 Lady Cathcart Sold February 1802
Mastiff
(ex GB No. 35)
March 1797 Herald Wrecked 5 January 1800
Minx
(ex GB No. 36)
March 1797 Tom Sold January 1801
Manly
(ex GB No. 37)
April 1797 Experiment Sold December 1802
Pouncer
(ex GB No. 38)
March 1797 David Sold September 1802
Pincher
(ex GB No. 39)
March 1797 Two Sisters Sold April 1802
Wrangler
(ex GB No. 40)
March 1797 Fortune Sold December 1802
Rattler
(ex GB No. 41)
March 1797 Hope Sold May 1802
Ready
(ex GB No. 42)
March 1797 Minerva Sold December 1802
Safeguard
(ex GB No. 43)
March 1797 unknown Sold September 1802
Staunch
(ex GB No. 44)
March 1797 none Sold late 1803

1799 purchase[edit]

Built in 1798 as a cutter, and re-rigged by the Navy as a brig, this was a very small vessel of only 60 tons, established with just 18 men and six 3-pounder guns. One should perhaps consider this vessel in practice simply as a gunboat, although she was rated as a gun-brig. In 1825 Malay pirates captured her and massacred her entire crew before wrecking her on Babar Island in the southern Moluccas.

Name Purchased Former mercantile name Fate
Lady Nelson 1799 Lady Nelson Wrecked February 1825

Archer class (1801 batch)[edit]

Class overview
Name: Archer-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1801 - 1815
Completed: 10 (in 1801 batch)
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 1773194 bm[5]
Length: 80 ft (24 m) (gundeck)
65 ft 10 14 in (20.072 m) (keel)
Beam: 22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)
Depth of hold: 9 ft 5 in (2.87 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 50
Armament: 2 x  18 or 32-pounder bow carronades + 10 x  18-pounder carronades

As in 1797, the two Surveyors were asked to produce alternative designs for the next batch of gun-brigs, which were lengthened by 5 feet from the previous classes. Ten vessels were ordered at the close of 1800 to Sir William Rule's design. One, Charger, received an 8" brass mortar in 1809.[5]

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Aggressor 30 December 1800 Wells & Co, Blackwall 1 April 1801 Sold 23 November 1815
Archer 30 December 1800 Wells & Co, Blackwall 2 April 1801 Sold 14 December 1815
Bold 30 December 1800 Wells & Co, Blackwall 16 April 1801 Broken up April 1811
Conflict 30 December 1800 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 17 April 1801 Captured by the French 24 October 1804
Charger 30 December 1800 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 17 April 1801 Sold 9 June 1814
Constant 30 December 1800 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 28 April 1801 Sold 15 February 1816
Locust 30 December 1800 Mrs Frances Barnard Sons & Co, Deptford 2 April 1801 Sold 11 August 1814
Mallard 30 December 1800 Mrs Frances Barnard Sons & Co, Deptford 11 April 1801 Captured by the French 24 December 1804
Mariner 30 December 1800 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 4 April 1801 Sold 29 September 1814
Minx 30 December 1800 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 14 April 1801 Captured by the Danes 2 September 1809

Bloodhound class[edit]

Class overview
Name: Bloodhound-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1801 - 1815
Completed: 10
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 1843994 bm[6]
Length: 80 ft (24 m) (gundeck)
65 ft 6 12 in (19.977 m) (keel)
Beam: 23 ft (7.0 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 50
Armament: 2 x  18 or 32-pounder bow carronades + 10 x  18-pounder carronades

Sir John Henslow produced his equivalent design to that of Rule's Archer batch, and ten vessels were ordered to this design just nine days after those of his colleague's design.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Escort 7 January 1801 Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall 1 April 1801 Sold to HM Customs August 1815
Jackall 7 January 1801 Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall 1 April 1801 Wrecked 30 May 1807
Bloodhound 7 January 1801 John Randall & Co, Rotherhithe 2 April 1801 Sold 18 September 1816
Basilisk 7 January 1801 John Randall & Co, Rotherhithe 2 April 1801 Sold 14 December 1815
Censor 7 January 1801 John Randall & Co, Rotherhithe 2 April 1801 Sold 11 January 1816
Ferreter 7 January 1801 Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall 4 April 1801 Captured by the Dutch 31 March 1807
Starling 7 January 1801 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard 4 April 1801 Destroyed in action 24 December 1804
Snipe 7 January 1801 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard 2 May 1801 Broken up May 1846
Vixen 7 January 1801 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard 9 June 1801 Sold 28 March 1815
Monkey 7 January 1801 John Nicholson, Rochester 11 May 1801 Wrecked 25 December 1810

1793-1801 ex-French prizes[edit]

During the French Revolutionary War, some twenty-one similar vessels were captured from the French (both naval vessels and privateers) and commissioned in the Royal Navy as gun-brigs. These assorted vessels did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as all were procured from the enemy during the French Revolutionary War they are here treated similarly.

  • Espiegle[7]
  • Actif
  • Requin
  • Dixmunde
  • Nieuport
  • Ostend
  • Resolue
  • Lacedemonian
  • Athenienne
  • Venom
  • Transfer
  • Deux Amis
  • Halifax
  • Fortune
  • Aventurier
  • Anacreon
  • Marianne, of 12 guns, captured by Tigre on 1 March 1799, recaptured by the French, recaptured by the British in November 1799 and sold September 1801 at the end of the campaign in Egypt.[8]

Captured together[edit]

Commodore Sir Sidney Smith in Tigre took a flotilla of seven vessels at Acre on 18 March 1799. The British took them into service.[9]

  • Negresse;
  • Foudre, of eight guns and 52 men; the French frigate Courageuse recaptured her in April, only to have the British recapture her in 1800; sold in September 1801.[8]
  • Dangereuse;
  • Maria Rose, of four guns and 22 men; no record of commissioning; disposed of in 1800.[8]
  • Vierge-de-Grâce, of 87 tons (bm), four guns, and 35 men; renamed to Dame-de-Grace; The French corvette Salamine captured her on 8 May 1799 and scuttled her;[10]
  • Deux Freres, of four guns and 23 men;
  • Torride.

One was lost in a gale at the Siege of Acre in 1799; the lost vessel was almost certainly Deux Freres as the others have a readily identifiable subsequent history.

1801 ex-Spanish prize[edit]

1796-1800 ex-Dutch prizes[edit]

During the French Revolutionary War, two similar vessels were captured from the Dutch and commissioned in the Royal Navy as gun-brigs. These vessels did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as both were procured from the enemy during the French Revolutionary War they are here treated similarly.

Archer class (1804 batch)[edit]

Class overview
Name: Archer-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1804 - post 1815
Completed: 48 (in 1804 batch)
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 1773194bm[11]
Length: 80 ft (24 m) (gundeck)
65 ft 10 14 in (20.072 m) (keel)
Beam: 22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)
Depth of hold: 9 ft 5 in (2.87 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 50
Armament: 2 x  chase guns (varying calibres) + 10 x  18-pounder carronades

Most of the early gun-brigs having been sold or broken up during the short-lived Peace of Amiens, in the first half of 1804, the Admiralty ordered a further batch of forty-seven gun-brigs to the 1800 William Rule design - twenty-five on 9 January, seven on 22 March and fifteen during June - with an additional one ordered from Halifax Dockard, Nova Scotia on 1 October. Many took the names of former gun-brigs.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Bruiser 9 January 1804 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 28 April 1804 Sold 24 February 1815
Blazer 9 January 1804 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 3 May 1804 Sold 15 December 1814
Cracker 9 January 1804 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 30 June 1804 Sold 21 November 1815
Haughty 9 January 1804 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 7 May 1804 Sold 11 January 1816
Wrangler 9 January 1804 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 28 May 1804 Sold 14 December 1815
Manly 9 January 1804 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 7 May 1804 Sold 11 August 1814
Pelter 9 January 1804 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 25 July 1804 Presumed to have foundered March 1809
Plumper (i) 9 January 1804 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 7 September 1804 Captured by the French 16 July 1805
Flamer 9 January 1804 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury 8 May 1804 Sold 16 September 1858
Firm 9 January 1804 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury 2 July 1804 Wrecked 29 June 1811
Furious 9 January 1804 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury 21 July 1804 Sold 9 February 1815
Griper 9 January 1804 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury 24 September 1804 Wrecked 18 February 1807
Contest 9 January 1804 William Courtney, Chester June 1804 Presumed to have foundered December 1809
Defender 9 January 1804 William Courtney, Chester 28 July 1804 Wrecked 14 December 1809
Steady 9 January 1804 Richards & Davidson, Chester 21 July 1804 Sold 9 February 1815
Biter 9 January 1804 William Wallis, Blackwall 27 July 1804 Wrecked 10 November 1805
Safeguard 9 January 1804 Robert Davy, Topsham, Exeter 4 August 1804 Captured by the Danes 29 June 1811
Swinger 9 January 1804 Robert Davy, Topsham, Exeter September 1804 Broken up June 1812
Acute 9 January 1804 Robert Adams, Chapel, Southampton 21 July 1804 Broken up 1864?
Attack 9 January 1804 Robert Adams, Chapel, Southampton 9 August 1804 Captured by the Danes 19 August 1812
Piercer 9 January 1804 Obadiah Ayles, Topsham, Exeter 29 July 1804 Transferred to Government of Hanover June 1814
Growler 9 January 1804 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard 10 August 1804 Sold 31 August 1815
Bouncer 9 January 1804 William Rowe, Newcastle 11 August 1804 Captured by the French February 1805
Staunch 9 January 1804 Benjamin Tanner, Dartmouth 21 August 1804 Presumed foundered June 1811
Pincher 9 January 1804 Joseph Graham, Harwich 28 August 1804 Sold 17 May 1816
Clinker 22 March 1804 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 30 June 1804 Presumed foundered December 1806
Tigress 22 March 1804 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 1 June 1804 Captured by the Danes 2 August 1808
Teazer 22 March 1804 John Dudman & Co, Deptford 16 July 1804 Sold 3 August 1815
Sparkler 22 March 1804 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea 6 August 1804 Wrecked 13 January 1808
Tickler 22 March 1804 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea 8 August 1804 Captured by the Danes 4 June 1808
Hardy 22 March 1804 R. B. Roxby, Wearmouth 7 August 1804 Sold 6 August 1835
Gallant 22 March 1804 R. B. Roxby, Wearmouth 20 September 1804 Sold 14 December 1815
Attentive June 1804 Bools & Good, Bridport 18 September 1804 Broken up August 1812
Cheerly June 1804 Bools & Good, Bridport October 1804 Sold 9 February 1815
Daring June 1804 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich October 1804 Destroyed to prevent capture 27 January 1813
Rapid June 1804 Robert Davy, Topsham, Exeter 20 October 1804 Destroyed in action 18 May 1808
Urgent June 1804 John Bass, Lympstone 2 November 1804 Sold 31 July 1816
Fervent June 1804 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard 15 December 1804 Broken up 1879
Fearless June 1804 Joseph Graham, Harwich 18 December 1804 Wrecked 8 December 1812
Forward June 1804 Joseph Todd, Berwick 4 January 1805 Sold 14 December 1815
Desperate June 1804 Thomas White, Broadstairs 2 January 1805 Sold 15 December 1814
Earnest June 1804 Menzies & Goalen, Leith January 1805 Sold 2 May 1816
Woodlark June 1804 Menzies & Goalen, Leith January 1805 Wrecked 13 November 1805
Protector June 1804 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea 1 February 1805 Sold 30 August 1833
Sharpshooter June 1804 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea 2 February 1805 Sold 17 May 1816
Dexterous June 1804 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard 2 February 1805 Sold 17 October 1816
Redbreast June 1804 John Preston, Great Yarmouth 27 April 1805 Sold 14 June 1850
Plumper (ii) 1 October 1804 Halifax Dockyard, Nova Scotia 29 December 1807 Wrecked 5 December 1812

1804 purchases[edit]

These four assorted vessels purchased in June 1804 did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as procured as a group they are here treated similarly.

Name Purchased Builder Launched Fate
Watchful (ex mercantile Jane) June 1804 Norfolk 1795 Sold 3 November 1814
Thrasher (ex mercantile Adamant) June 1804 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea 1804 Sold 3 November 1814
Sentinel (ex mercantile Friendship) June 1804 "Little Yarmouth" 1800 Wrecked 10 October 1812
Volunteer (ex mercantile Harmony) June 1804 Whitby 1804 Sold June 1812

Confounder class[edit]

Class overview
Name: Confounder-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1804 - post 1815
Completed: 21
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 1794894 bm[12]
Length: 84 ft (26 m) (gundeck)
69 ft 8 34 in (21.253 m) (keel)
Beam: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Depth of hold: 11 ft (3.4 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 50
Armament:
  • 2 x 12-pounder chase guns, on traversing carriages, one in the bow and one in the stern; on some vessels 6 or 9-pounder guns replaced the 12-pounder guns[12]
  • 10 x 18-pounder carronades

The Confounder class vessels were built to an 1804 design by William Rule. The design reflected learning from the experiences of the earlier gunbrig classes. As a result, the Confounder class vessels were more "sea-kindly" and better able to handle long voyages.[12] Two vessels were converted to mortar brigs in 1809.[12]

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Confounder 20 November 1804 Robert Adams, Chapel, Southampton April 1805 Sold 9 June 1814
Hearty 20 November 1804 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 12 April 1805 Sold 11 July 1816
Martial 20 November 1804 Charles Ross, Rochester 17 April 1805 Sold 21 January 1836
Resolute 20 November 1804 John King, Dover 17 April 1805 Broken up 1852
Exertion 20 November 1804 John Preston, Great Yarmouth 2 May 1805 Destroyed in action 9 July 1812
Indignant 20 November 1804 Bools & Good, Bridport 13 May 1805 Broken up June 1811
Encounter 20 November 1804 Robert Guillaume, Northam, Southampton 16 May 1805 Captured by the French 11 July 1812
Rebuff 20 November 1804 Richards & Davidson, Hythe 30 May 1805 Sold 15 December 1814
Starling 20 November 1804 William Rowe, Newcastle May 1805 Sold 29 September 1814
Inveterate 20 November 1804 Bools & Good, Bridport 30 May 1805 Wrecked 18 February 1807
Intelligent 20 November 1804 Bools & Good, Bridport 26 August 1805 Became a mooring lighter 1816 - final fate unknown
Dapper 20 November 1804 Robert Adams, Chapel, Southampton December 1805 Sold 29 September 1814
Fancy 20 November 1804 John Preston, Great Yarmouth 7 January 1806 Foundered 24 December 1811
Conflict 20 November 1804 Robert Davy, Topsham, Exeter 14 May 1805 Sold 29 September 1814
Strenuous 20 November 1804 William Rowe, Newcastle 16 May 1805 Sold 1 September 1814
Turbulent 20 November 1804 Benjamin Tanner, Dartmouth 17 July 1805 Captured by the Danes 9 June 1808
Havock 20 November 1804 Stone, Great Yarmouth 25 July 1805 Broken up 25 June 1859
Virago 20 November 1804 Benjamin Tanner, Dartmouth 23 September 1805 Sold 30 May 1816
Bustler 20 November 1804 Obadiah Ayles, Topsham, Exeter 12 August 1805 Captured by the French 26 December 1808
Adder 20 November 1804 Obadiah Ayles, Topsham, Exeter 9 November 1805 Wrecked 9 December 1806
Richmond 23 August 1805 Greensword & Kidwell, Itchenor February 1806 Sold 29 September 1814

1806 purchases[edit]

These two vessels were the former Revenue cutters Speedwell and Ranger respectively. These two assorted vessels did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as procured from the same source they are here treated similarly.

Name Purchased Builder Launched Fate
Linnet 1806 Cowes 1797 Captured by French Navy 25 February 1813
Pigmy 1806 (while building) John Avery, Dartmouth June 1806 Wrecked 2 March 1807

Bold (or modified Confounder) class[edit]

Class overview
Name: Bold-class gun-brig
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1812 - post 1815
Completed: 18
General characteristics
Type: Gun-brig
Tons burthen: 1794794 bm[13]
Length: 84 ft (26 m) (gundeck)
69 ft 8 34 in (21.253 m) (keel)
Beam: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Depth of hold: 11 ft 1 in (3.38 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 60
Armament:
  • 2 x 6-pounder bow guns
  • 10 x 18-pounder carronades

A revival of Sir William Rule's Confounder class of 1804, this final group of was built to a somewhat modified version of that design, and were commonly referred to as the Bold class. Twelve were ordered in November 1811, and a further batch of six followed in November 1812. Unlike earlier brigs of this size, most were re-rated as brig-sloops at or soon after their completion, and were under commanders (rather than lieutenants), at least until 1815-17, when they reverted to being gun-brigs.[13]

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Bold 16 November 1811 Tyson & Blake, Bursledon 26 June 1812 Wrecked 27 September 1813
Manly 16 November 1811 Thomas Hills, Sandwich 13 July 1812 Sold 12 December 1833
Snap 16 November 1811 Russell & Son, Lyme Regis 25 July 1812 Sold 4 January 1832
Thistle 16 November 1811 Mrs Mary Ross, Rochester 13 July 1812 Broken up July 1823
Boxer 16 November 1811 Hobbs & Hellyer, Redbridge, Southampton 25 July 1812 Captured by US Navy 9 September 1813
Borer 16 November 1811 Tyson & Blake, Bursledon 27 July 1812 Sold 12 October 1815
Shamrock 16 November 1811 Edward Larking, King's Lynn 8 August 1812 Sale notified 24 January 1867
Borer 16 November 1811 Thomas Hills, Sandwich 26 August 1812 Became dredger at Mauritius 1826-7
Conflict 16 November 1811 William Good, Bridport 26 September 1812 Sold 30 December 1840
Contest 16 November 1811 William Good, Bridport 24 October 1812 Presumed to have foundered 14 April 1828
Swinger 16 November 1811 William Good, Bridport 15 July 1813 Broken up March 1877
Plumper 16 November 1811 William Good, Bridport 9 October 1813 Sold 12 December 1833
Adder 2 November 1812 Robert Davy, Topsham, Exeter 28 June 1813 Wrecked December 1831
Griper 2 November 1812 Richards & Davidson, Hythe, Southampton 14 July 1813 Broken up November 1868
Clinker 2 November 1812 Robert Davy, Topsham, Exeter 15 July 1813 Sale notified 24 January 1867
Pelter 2 November 1812 Henry Tucker, Bideford 27 August 1813 Sold 8 August 1862
Mastiff 2 November 1812 William Taylor, Bideford 25 September 1813 Broken up May 1851
Snapper 2 November 1812 Hobbs & Hellyer, Redbridge, Southampton 27 September 1813 Sold 3 July 1861

1803-1808 ex-French prizes[edit]

During the early years of the Napoleonic War, some seventeen similar vessels were captured from the French (both naval vessels and privateers) and commissioned in the Royal Navy as gun-brigs. These assorted vessels did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as all were procured from the enemy during the Napoleonic War they are here treated similarly.

1804-1809 purchased vessels[edit]

  • Enchantress
  • Linnet
  • Pygmy
  • Rolla (ex-American merchant vessel) - Purchased 1806; sold 1810
  • Maria - Purchased 1807; captured by the French on 29 September 1808.
  • Nancy - Purchased 1809; sold 1813.

1805-1806 ex-Spanish prizes[edit]

During the Napoleonic War, two similar vessels were captured from the Spanish and commissioned in the Royal Navy as gun-brigs. These vessels did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as both were procured from the enemy during this war they are here treated similarly.

1807 ex-Danish prizes[edit]

During the Napoleonic War, two similar vessels were captured from the Danes and commissioned in the Royal Navy as gun-brigs. These vessels did not, of course, constitute a single class, but as both were procured from the enemy during this war they are here treated similarly.

1808-10 ex-Dutch prize[edit]

1813 ex-American prize[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ The Schank keel was invented by Captain (later Admiral) John Schank, and was known at the time as a "sliding keel". It was effectively a centreboard or daggerboard that the crew could raise to allow operations in shallow water under oars, or when sailing before the wind. In deeper water they could drop it to make the vessel weatherly when sailing to windward.
  2. ^ a b c d The letters "GB" were never stated to be an abbreviation for "gunboat". Certainly by 1797 the term "gun-brig" was used, and the letters "GB" more likely represented that title, but still the letters were not explicitly an abbreviation.
Citations
  1. ^ Forester, C.S.. The Age of Fighting Sail. New English Library. p. 79. ISBN 0-939218-06-2. 
  2. ^ Winfield (2008), pp.329-30.
  3. ^ a b Winfield (2008), pp.331-2.
  4. ^ a b Winfield (2008), pp.332-3.
  5. ^ a b Winfield (2008), pp.334-5.
  6. ^ Winfield (2008), pp.335-6.
  7. ^ Demerliac (1996), p.83, #544.
  8. ^ a b c Winfield (2008), p.337.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15149. pp. 609–610. 18 June 1799.
  10. ^ Hepper (1994), p.91.
  11. ^ Winfield (2008), pp.338-43.
  12. ^ a b c d Winfield (2008), pp.343-5.
  13. ^ a b Winfield (2008), pp.345-8.

References[edit]