HMS Proserpine (1777)
The Proserpine Frigate Lost March 1799 off Newark Island in the Elbe
John Thomas Serres
|Career (Great Britain)|
|Ordered:||14 May 1777|
|Builder:||John Barnard, Harwich|
|Laid down:||June 1776|
|Launched:||7 July 1777|
|Completed:||23 September 1777 (at Sheerness Dockyard)|
|Commissioned:||25 July 1777|
|Fate:||Shot By Cannonin the Elbe 1 February 1799|
|Class & type:||28-gun Enterprise-class sixth-rate frigate|
|Tons burthen:||595 37⁄94 (bm)|
|Length:||120 ft 6 in (36.73 m) (overall)
99 ft 0 in (30.18 m) (keel)
|Beam:||33 ft 7 1⁄2 in (10.2 m)|
|Depth of hold:||11 ft 0 in (3.35 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full-rigged ship|
|Complement:||200 officers and men|
Proserpine was first commissioned in July 1777 under the command of Captain Evelyn Sutton.
On 16 March 1794 Penelope captured the French brick-aviso Goéland off Jérémie. Proserpine shared in the prize money, suggesting that she was in company with Penelope, or in sight. The Royal Navy briefly took Goéland into service as HMS Goelan.
Proserpine was wrecked off the Elbe on 1 February 1799. She was under the command of Captain James Wallis, and was taking the Honourable Thomas Grenville and his party to Cuxhaven, from where they were to proceed on a diplomatic mission to Berlin. By 4pm on 31 January the weather had worsened to such a degree that Proserpine had to anchor, four miles short of Cuxhaven. The weather worsened and by next morning the channels were blocked by ice. Wallis got under weigh to attempt to withdraw and reach a Danish port, but around 9:30pm she grounded. Attempts to lighten her failed. The next morning it became clear that she was aground on the Scharhorn Riff, near the island of Neuwerk, and completely blocked in by ice, which was increasing. At 1:30, all 187 persons on Proserpine left her and started the six-mile walk to shore, in freezing weather and falling snow. Seven seamen, a boy, four Royal Marines, and one woman and her child died; the rest made it to safety. The diplomatic party reached Cuxhaven a few days later. The master, Mr. Anthony took five men and returned to Proserpine on 10 February. They found her crushed. While they were on board, the ship, still encased in ice, was swept out to sea, before she grounded again on Baltrum Island. Anthony and his companions survived this shipwreck too.
- The London Gazette: . 30 August 1785.
- Demerliac (1996), p.69, #432.
- The London Gazette: . 22 December 1798.
- Hepper (1994), p.90.
- Proserpine Frigate – Official Account of the Loss of that Ship, in a Letter addressed by Captain Wallis to Vice Admiral Dickson, Feb 18, 1799 The Naval Chronicle, January–June 1799 (Bunney & Gold, London), pp.332–335
- Demerliac, Alain (1996) La Marine De Louis XVI: Nomenclature Des Navires Français De 1774 À 1792. (Nice: Éditions OMEGA). ISBN 2-906381-23-3
- Gardiner, Robert (1992) The First Frigates.(London: Conway Maritime Press). ISBN 0-85177-601-9.
- Hepper, David J. (1994). British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859. Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot. ISBN 0-948864-30-3.
- Lyon, David (1993) The Sailing Navy List. (London: Conway Maritime Press).ISBN 0-85177-617-5.
- Winfield, Rif (2007) British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1714 to 1792. (London:Seaforth Publishing). ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6.
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