HMS Belette (1806)

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Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Belette
Ordered: 16 July 1803
Builder: John King of Dover
Launched: 21 March 1806
Commissioned: April 1806
Honours and
Fate: Wrecked 24 November 1812
General characteristics [3]
Type: Cruizer-class brig-sloop
Tonnage: 3842694 (bm)
  • 100 ft 0 in (30.5 m) (gundeck)
  • 77 ft 2 78 in (23.5 m) (keel)
Beam: 30 ft 7 in (9.3 m)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 9 in (3.9 m)
Sail plan: Brig rigged
Complement: 121
Armament: 16 × 32-pounder carronades + 2 × 6-pounder bow guns

HMS Belette (or Bellette) was an 18-gun Cruizer-class brig-sloop, built by King at Dover and launched on 21 March 1806.[3] During the Napoleonic Wars she served with some success in the Baltic and the Caribbean. Belette was lost in the Kattegat in 1812 when she hit a rock off Læsø.


Belette was commissioned in April 1806 under Commander Richard Piercy for the North Sea.[3] Commander John Phillimore took command in September and sailed Belette in the English Channel and the Downs, taking part in Commodore Edward Owen's attack on Boulogne.[4][5][6]

Belette was occupied in early 1807 with conveying supplies to the besieged town of Kolberg. In June 1807 Belette was off Suffolk when she tried to land a M. Bedezee, a Prussian envoy carrying some important despatches. The boat overturned a few hundred meters off shore and Bedezee drowned, as did a midshipman and three crewmen. A master's mate and a crewman were saved, but the despatches were lost.[7]

Next, she was attached to Admiral James Gambier's fleet which returned to the Baltic to attack Copenhagen again in 1807.[4][5][6] Phillimore distinguished himself during the battle, particularly in an engagement at the end of August, when Belette became becalmed off the Danish coast. Sixteen Danish gunboats attacked Belette, which sank three of them before boats from other British ships arrived and towed her clear.[4][6] Gambier rewarded Phillimore for his courage by giving him the honour of carrying Gambier's despatches to the Admiralty. As a result, Phillimore received a promotion to post-captain on 13 October; however he remained with Belette.[4][6]

The expedition to Copenhagen resulted in prize money for Bellette both for warships and merchant vessels. Belette was one of seven British warships sharing in the proceeds of the capture on 28 August of the Danish merchant vessel Sally.[8] Then Belette is listed among the vessels sharing in the prize money for the ships and provisions that the British captured at Copenhagen.[9][Note 1] Bellette also shared with Gallant and a number of other warships in the captures of several merchant vessels: the Aurora (30 August), Paulina (30 August), Ceres (31 August), Odiford (4 September), and Benedicta (12 September).[10] On 19 November Belette, with the gun-vessels Tigress and Safeguard in company, recaptured the ship Lively.[11]

Belette brought the British ambassador, Lord Hutchinson back to Britain in February 1808.[6] While sailing to Gothenburg he encountered a Danish Navy two-decker, but was able to escape by sailing into shallower waters.[4]


In February 1808 command passed to George Sanders who sailed her on the North Sea station.[Note 2] He then took her to the Leeward Islands, sailing on 3 May 1808.[12]

Belette captured a privateer on 2 July after a pursuit of 12 hours that ended some 70 miles SE of Barbados. The privateer was the Jalouse, which was armed with four 12-pounder guns and had a crew of 75 men. Sanders described her as sailing remarkably fast and as having done "much Mischief to the Trade." Before running afoul of Belette, Jalouse had captured the Mary and the Lark, both of Halifax, and the General Green, of Surinam, which last some other British warship had since recaptured.[13][Note 3]

Around this time Belette captured the privateer Franchise, of nine guns and 70 men. Belette captured Franchise windward of Barbados and carried her into Barbados.[15]

In August Belette captured the French privateer Joséphine, which the Royal Navy took into service as Morne Fortunee.[16] In British service she was armed with eight 18-pounder carronades and two 6-pounder guns, and had a crew of 55 men.{{refn|Some accounts give the privateer's name as Morne Fortunee,[17] and report that she originally carried 14 guns.</ref>

Admiral Lord Collingwood received intelligence that the French corvette Rapide was on her way from Bayonne with dispatches and he asked Admiral Lord Alexander Cochrane to attempt to intercept her. On 8 August Belette captured the Rapide and took her into Barbados, but Rapide's captain had managed to throw the dispatches overboard before Belette captured her.[18][Note 4] On 23 July duplicates of the dispatches and much besides were found concealed aboard the cartel Phoenix, which had sailed from Cayenne and had stopped in Barbados. She had aroused suspicion, leading Cochrane to having her searched. Because carrying these documents was a violation of the cartel (truce) flag, the British seized the Phoenix and sent the seized documents in Subtle.[19]

On 23 August Belette captured the French privateer schooner Confiance, of seven guns (though pierced for 16) and 70 men. She was three days out from Cayenne.[20][Note 5] The Royal Navy took Confiance into service as Skipjack.[22]

On 5 December 1808 Belette captured the French letter of marque brig Revanche, of six 12-pounder guns and 44 men. Revanche was taking provisions from Bordeaux to Guadeloupe when she encountered Belette. Sanders described her as having been "a very successful Privateer all this War, and was intended for a Cruizer in those Seas."[23] Belette sent Revanche into Antigua.[24]

In February 1809, Belette participated in the combined naval and military assault and capture of the French-held island of Martinique.[3] This qualified those of her crew still alive in 1847 for the Naval General Service Medal (NGSM) with clasp "Martinique". Belette was among the 42 warships that shared in the proceeds for the capture of Martinique.[25] She then participated in the capture of Guadeloupe (January - February 1810), which earned for her crew the clasp "Guadaloupe" to the NGSM, as well as further prize money, which she shared with 49 other vessels.[26][Note 6] The medal data indicates that David Sloane took command after Martinique and before Guadeloupe. He may, in fact, have sailed her back to the Leeward Islands from Britain.

North Sea & Baltic[edit]

In 1811 Sloane took Belette back to home waters. Danish records suggest that in the summer of 1811 she was in the North Sea.

Unknown to the British, Danish Captain Hans Peter Holm had returned to Egersund (SW Norway) with Lolland and four other brigs.[28][29] On 1 May 1811,[30] the British sent four boats from Belette, Cherokee and Clio,[31] into the western end of the sound, expecting to capture some shipping or do other mischief. The circumstances of locality and wind did not permit the Danish brigs to enter the sound from the further end, but Holm sent the Danish ships' boats under Lieutenant Niels Gerhardt Langemach [32] up the sound to oppose the British. Some of the Danes landed to set an ambush from the cliff tops, whilst the armed boats were hidden behind a skerry. As the British rowed boldly in, they met unexpected fire from howitzers and muskets; they immediately withdrew, with the Danish boats in pursuit. The Danes captured one of the British boats and her crew of an officer and 17 men, who had come from Belette. The Danes would have captured more but for the confusion that an explosion of a powder keg on one of the Danish boats caused. The confusion enabled the remaining British boats to reach the protection of their squadron.

By 1812 Belette was in the Baltic.[3] On 24 May, Belette and Helder captured the Danish sloop St. Jorgen.[33]

After the outbreak of the War of 1812, the British navy seized a number of American ships in British ports or that had otherwise not received the news. Belette was among the vessels sharing in the capture, on 12 August, of the Cuba, Caliban, Edward, Galen, Halcyon, and Cygnet.[Note 7]

On 30 October, Belette was protecting the rear of a convoy when her acting master, Mr. James Turnbull, took her yawl and off Romsø captured a Danish rowboat armed with two 2-pounder guns and small arms. The Danes put up a short but spirited resistance before surrendering. Five men of the Danish crew of a lieutenant and 15 men were severely wounded.[35][Note 8]


On 24 November 1812 Belette, under Sloane, was in the Kattegat leading Russian ships through the south-west passage of Anholt towards Gothenburg when she went aground on a sunken rock called "John" (or "Fannot") off Læsø.[36] She filled with water and broke in two. The shoals were shallow enough that her rigging remained above water. Her crew took to the rigging but during the night many died of exposure or fell into the sea when they lost their grip. Only six of her entire crew of 120 or so men and boys escaped death from exposure or drowning.[37]

Notes, citations, and references[edit]


  1. ^ The prize money for an ordinary seaman was £3 8s 0d.[9]
  2. ^ Sanders had commanded HMS Falcon in the Baltic the previous year
  3. ^ A first-class share of the prize money was worth £36 3s 11d; a sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth 15s 6¾d.[14]
  4. ^ A first-class share of the prize money was worth £13 9s 0d; a sixth-class share was worth 5s 6¾d.[14]
  5. ^ A first-class share of the prize money was worth £38 7s 6¾d; a sixth-class share was worth 15s 10½d.[21]
  6. ^ A first-class share of the prize money was worth £113 9s 1¾d; a sixth-class share, was worth £1 9s 5½d.[27]
  7. ^ A first-class share was worth £360 2s 3d; a sixth-class share was worth £3 11s 7d.[34]
  8. ^ The letter in the London Gazette gives the name of Belette's captain as Swan. This is probably a mistake, or Swan was temporary.


  1. ^ "No. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 242.
  2. ^ "No. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 243.
  3. ^ a b c d e Winfield (2008), p. 292.
  4. ^ a b c d e Tracy. Who's who in Nelson's Navy. p. 292.
  5. ^ a b The Gentleman's Magazine. p. 652.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Phillimore, Sir John (1781–1840)". Dictionary of National Biography. 1892. p. 183.
  7. ^ Burke, Edmund (1807) The Annual register of world events: a review of the year. (London: Longmans), Volume 49, p.447.
  8. ^ "No. 16598". The London Gazette. 28 April 1812. p. 812.
  9. ^ a b "No. 16275". The London Gazette. 11 July 1809. p. 1103.
  10. ^ "No. 16728". The London Gazette. 11 May 1813. p. 924.
  11. ^ "No. 16166". The London Gazette. 26 July 1808. p. 1037.
  12. ^ "NMM, vessel ID 380764" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol v. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 30 July 2011.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "No. 16175". The London Gazette. 23 August 1808. p. 1156.
  14. ^ a b "No. 16967". The London Gazette. 20 December 1814. p. 2490.
  15. ^ Lloyd's List, no. 4278,[1] - accessed 10 February 2015.
  16. ^ Winfield (2008), p. 349.
  17. ^ Colledge & Warlow (2006), p. 233.
  18. ^ Southey (1827), Vol. 3, p.413.
  19. ^ National Register, (11 September 1808), p.584.
  20. ^ "No. 16217". The London Gazette. 10 January 1809. p. 46.
  21. ^ "No. 17531". The London Gazette. 2 November 1819. p. 1945.
  22. ^ Winfield (2008), p. 365.
  23. ^ "No. 16217". The London Gazette. 31 January 1809. p. 147.
  24. ^ Lloyd's List №4325.
  25. ^ "No. 16678". The London Gazette. 5 December 1812. p. 2454.
  26. ^ "No. 16794". The London Gazette. 26 October 1813. p. 2122.
  27. ^ "No. 16938". The London Gazette. 24 September 1814. p. 1924.
  28. ^ Topsøe-Jensen, Vol 1, p.599.
  29. ^ Wandell (1915), p.368.
  30. ^ O'Bryne (1849), p.274.
  31. ^ Marshall (1835), Vol. 4, Part 2, p.14.
  32. ^ Topsøe-Jensen, Vol 2, p.68.
  33. ^ "No. 16807". The London Gazette. 16 November 1813. p. 2274.
  34. ^ "No. 17076". The London Gazette. November 1815. p. 2209.
  35. ^ "No. 16676". The London Gazette. 1 December 1812. p. 2420.
  36. ^ Gossett (1986), p. 86.
  37. ^ Hepper (1994), p. 143.


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