HMS Alligator (1787)
|Career (Great Britain)|
|Ordered:||7 May 1782|
|Builder:||Philemon Jacobs, Sandgate|
|Laid down:||December 1782|
|Launched:||18 April 1787|
|Completed:||By 18 July 1790|
|Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Egypt"|
|Fate:||Sold on 21 July 1814|
|General characteristics |
|Class & type:||28-gun Enterprise-class sixth rate frigate|
|Tons burthen:||59942⁄94 bm|
|Length:||120 ft 6 in (36.7 m) (overall)
99 ft 5 in (30.3 m) (keel)
|Beam:||33 ft 7 1⁄2 in (10.2 m)|
|Depth of hold:||11 ft (3.35 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full-rigged ship|
|Armament:||Fc: 2 × 18-pounder carronades|
HMS Alligator was a 28-gun Enterprise-class sixth rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She was originally ordered during the American War of Independence but was completed too late to see service during the conflict. Instead she had an active career during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
Commissioned during the last few years of peace prior to the outbreak of war with France, Alligator served in British waters, making trips as far afield as the Mediterranean and the North American coast. During the period of conflict that began in 1793, Alligator spent a considerable amount of time in the West Indies under a number of commanders, and was effective in anti-privateer operations. Despite this she was laid up for a period starting in 1795, and was reduced to a 16-gun troopship in 1800. Further service followed in the West Indies, supporting the fleet and army movements around the islands, and taking part in the capture of several French frigates. She was again laid up, and as the end of hostilities approached, was deemed surplus and was sold in 1814.
Construction and commissioning
Alligator was one of the third batch of Enterprise-class ships to be ordered by the Admiralty, with the contract to build her being awarded to Philemon Jacobs, of Sandgate on 7 May 1782. She was laid down there in December 1782 and launched on 18 April 1787. With there being no immediate need for a large number of ships in the navy after the end of the war with America, Alligator was gradually completed between 20 April 1787 and 18 July 1790, at first at Deptford Dockyard and then at the civilian yards of Randall & Co, at Rotherhithe. She cost a total of £2,771 with £4,330 spent on fitting costs and expenses incurred at Deptford. She commissioned under her first commander, Captain Isaac Coffin in June 1790.
Coffin commissioned Alligator during the period of tensions known as the Spanish Armament and commanded her over the three years leading up to the outbreak of war with Revolutionary France. At one point, while Alligator was anchored at the Nore, one of her crew fell overboard. Coffin jumped into the water to rescue him, and succeeded in recovering the man before he drowned, but in doing so experienced a serious rupture while carrying out the rescue, that would dog him in later life. From the Nore Coffin moved to Spithead, and then to Ceuta, where Alligator briefly carried the flag of Admiral Philip Cosby. Superseded by the arrival of HMS Fame, Alligator was sent to cruise off Western Ireland. In 1792 Coffin sailed to Canada and returned carrying Lord Dorchester. Alligator then underwent a refit at Deptford for £2,895 and recommissioned in December 1792.
French Revolutionary Wars
From February 1793 her commander was Captain William Afleck, who served briefly in the North Sea, achieving success against French privateers in the region. On 12 February 1793 he captured the Sans Peur, followed by the Prend Tout on 21 February. Afleck left Britain bound for the Leeward Islands on 18 March 1793.
He stopped at Halifax, where the schooner Diligent joined him. From there they sailed, with three transports carrying an artillery detachment and 310 troops primarily from the 4th Regiment of Foot, all under the command of Brigadier General James Ogilvie, to St Pierre and Miquelon on 7 May. They captured Saint Pierre on 14 May without firing a shot. They also captured 18 small vessels carrying fish, and two American schooners with provisions and naval stores. Trepassey joined them a day later and then sailed to Miquelon to complete the conquest. Prize money for the capture of the islands was paid in October 1796.
On 11 December 1793, Alligator captured the French ship Triomphant in St Marks Bay, in the island of Hispaniola. Next, Alligator captured the French 14-gun Liberté near Jamaica on 28 March 1794. On 14 June, Alligator was among the vessels that participated in the capture of Port-au-Prince. In October that year command passed to Captain Thomas Surridge. Captain Thomas Afleck succeeded Surridgein January 1795, and paid Alligator off the following month.
Alligator was laid up at Portsmouth for five years, until being refitted there as a 16-gun troopship between February and March 1800. She was recommissioned in February under Captain George Bowen, under whom she took part in operations off Egypt during the French campaign there. While supporting the landing of troops in Abu Qir Bay had one man killed and three wounded. On 17 July she recaptured the Anchor. Because Alligator served in the navy's Egyptian campaign between 8 March 1801 and 2 September, her officers and crew qualified for the clasp "Egypt" to the Naval General Service Medal that the Admiralty authorised in 1850 to all surviving claimants.[Note 1]
In April 1803, however, Alligator was sailing from Gibraltar to Britain in company with Dragon and the store ship Prevoyante when they sighted two French ships of the line off Cape St. Vincent. The French ships veered off rather than engage the British vessels. Later that year Alligator went out to the Leeward Islands and on 27 September was one of a number of ships that captured the 18-gun Dutch ship Hippomenes at Demerara.[Note 2]
Alligator formed part of Commodore Samuel Hood's squadron at the capture of Surinam River in 1804. The squadron consisted of Hood's flagship Centaur, Pandour, Serapis, Unique, Hippomenes, Drake, and transports carrying 2000 troops under Brigadier-General Sir Charles Green. Both British and Dutch casualties were light.[Note 3]
In November, Alligator recaptured from a French privateer the Danish brig Hoff, which was carrying a cargo of slaves. On 24 June 1805, Alligator captured the Spanish brig Santo Chritle, which was carrying brandy from Spain to Havanna.
Henderson was succeeded by Commander Augustus Collier in 1806, who returned her to the Leeward Islands. There in March 1806 she came under the command of Captain Hugh Pigot.
Captain Robert Bell Campbell replaced Pigot from 1807. Campbell returned Alligator to Britain, where she was laid up at Plymouth in April 1807. She was offered for sale there on 21 July 1814 as the Napoleonic Wars drew to a close. She was sold that day for the sum of £1,760.
- A first-class share of the prize money awarded in April 1823 was worth £34 2s 4d; a fifth-class share, that of an able seaman, was worth 3s 11½d. The amount was small as the total had to be shared between 79 vessels and the entire army contingent.
- Alligator was among the vessels that in July 1811 shared in a grant of £6000, which was the first portion of the "booty, etc.", taken at Demarara, Essquibo, and Berbice. The second grant, of £3000, was paid in March 1812. The fourth and final payment occurred in July 1815. A first-class share of the prize money was worth £74 2s 6d; a fifth-class share, that of an able seaman, was worth 12s 4¼d.
- In February 1808, the members of the British force shared in a grant of £32,000, representing part of the proceeds from the capture of Surinam. A second grant of £16,000 followed in November.
- The London Gazette: . 15 March 1850.
- Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. p. 232.
- Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 11.
- Tracy. Who's who in Nelson's Navy. p. 84.
- "Coffin, Sir Isaac (1759-1839)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 36. 1893. p. 217.
- Clarke. The Naval Chronicle. p. 10.
- The London Gazette: . 3 March 1795.
- The London Gazette: . 29 June 1793.
- The London Gazette: . 11 October 1796.
- The London Gazette: . 14 September 1802.
- The London Gazette: . 5 May 1801.
- The London Gazette: . 19 February 1811.
- The London Gazette: . 3 April 1823.
- Naval Chronicle, Vol. 9, p.337.
- The London Gazette: . 26 November 1803.
- The London Gazette: . 16 July 1811.
- The London Gazette: . 7 March 1812.
- The London Gazette: . 8 July 1815.
- The London Gazette: . 19 June 1804.
- James (1837), Vol. 3, pp.288-90.
- The London Gazette: . 20 February 1808.
- The London Gazette: . 8 November 1808.
- The London Gazette: . 2 April 1805.
- The London Gazette: . 4 March 1806.
- The London Gazette: . 9 July 1814.
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.
- Clarke, James Stanier (1805). The Naval Chronicle 12. London: J. Gold.
- Laughton, J. K. (1893). "Coffin, Sir Isaac (1759-1839)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 36. Oxford University Press.
- Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships of the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-295-X.
- Robert Gardiner, The First Frigates, Conway Maritime Press, London 1992. ISBN 0-85177-601-9.
- David Lyon, The Sailing Navy List, Conway Maritime Press, London 1993. ISBN 0-85177-617-5.
- Rif Winfield, British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1714 to 1792, Seaforth Publishing, London 2007. ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6.