HMS Gaiete (1797)

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Name: Gaieté or Gayette
Builder: Bayonne
Laid down: October 1793
Launched: 1796
Fate: Captured by Arethusa, 10 August 1797
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Gaiete
Acquired: By capture, 10 August 1797
Commissioned: June 1798
Fate: Sold, 1808
General characteristics [1]
Type: Corvette
Tons burthen: 514 2094 (bm)
Length: 120 ft 3 12 in (36.7 m) (overall); 100 ft 0 34 in (30.5 m) (keel)
Beam: 30 ft 1 in (9.2 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 8 in (2.6 m)
  • French service: 186
  • British service:125
  • French service: 20 × 8-pounder guns
  • British service:
  • 18 × 32-pounder carronades
  • 2 × 9-pounder chase guns

HMS Gaiete (also Gayette) was a French Bonne Citoyenne-class corvette that the British frigate HMS Arethusa captured off Bermuda in 1797. She then served the Royal Navy until she was sold in 1808.


Gaité initially sailed from Bayonne to Rochefort. She then received the mission to carry passengers and supplies to Cayenne. Her mission completed, she proceeded to patrol the Antilles.[2]

At daybreak on 10 August 1797 44-gun Arethusa, under the command of Captain Thomas Wolley, was in the Atlantic Ocean at 30°49′N 55°50′W / 30.817°N 55.833°W / 30.817; -55.833 when she sighted three ships to windward. At 7:30 a.m. one of the ships bore down to within half-gunshot, and opened fire. She proved to be the 20-gun Gaieté, under the command of Enseigne de vaisseau Jean-François Guignier. She had been out of Cayenne about four weeks when she encountered Arethusa.

With Gaieté having taken on a ship twice her size, there could only be one outcome. The British captured Gaieté within half an hour. She had sustained considerable damage to her sails and rigging, and lost two seamen killed and eight wounded, including Ensign Dubourdieu.[3] Arethusa lost one seaman killed, and the captain's clerk and two seamen wounded.[4][5]

The French brig Espoir observed the engagement and then sailed away.[4] The Royal Navy captured Espoir in September, in the Mediterranean.

Royal Navy service[edit]

Gaiete was commissioned into the Royal Navy in June 1798 under Commander Edward Durnford King for service in the North Sea.[1][6] IN 1799 she was serving in the Channel.

On 4 March 1799 she sailed for Jamaica.[7] She and the frigate Unite left Portsmouth as escorts to a convoy for the West Indies.[8] Next, Gaiete captured the brig Rose on 7 April.

Then on 11 January 1800 Gaiete captured the sloop Santa Christa.[9]

Between February and May 1800, Gaiete captured or detained several vessels:[10]

  • schooner Speculator, 60 tons (bm), sailing from Guadeloupe to Copenhagen with a cargo of sugar and coffee (10 February);
  • ship Albion, of six guns and 500 tons (bm), sailing from Sunderland to Jamaica with a cargo of coals (retaken 16 February);
  • schooner Seaflower, of five men, sailing from Guadaloupe to Saint Thomas in ballast (18 February);
  • ship Daedalus, of six guns, 17 men and 300 tons (bm), sailing from Deptford to Martinique with provisions for the government (retaken 28 February);
  • brig Good Fortune, of six men and 70 tons (bm), sailing from Liverpool, North America, to Antigua with a cargo of fish (retaken 5 March);
  • French schooner Success, of two guns, 60 men and 60 tons (bm), sailing from Saint Bartholomew to Guadeloupe (6 March);
  • brig Renwick, 150 tons (bm), sailing from Norfolk, North America, to Antigua with a cargo of wheat and flour (captured 4 March and retaken 16 March);[11]
  • schooner Betsey, of nine men and 69 tons (bm), sailing from Leghorn to Charlestown with a cargo of wine, oil, etc., (retaken 2 May);
  • schooner Elianne and Delphine (French tender), of ten men, sailing from Guadeloupe to Saint Bartholomew with a cargo of wine and sugar (6 May).

On 22 August, Gaiete captured the Petite Fortuné (alias Fortuna).[12]

In late 1800, after Durnford King was promoted to Acting-Captain of Leviathan[13] Commander Richard Peacocke became captain.[7] Peacocke received a promotion to post captain on 4 June 1801.[14]

In April 1802, Gaite was at Dominica with the 74-gun ships Magnificent and Excellent, and the frigate Severn to assist in suppressing a mutiny that had broken out on 9 April in the 8th West India Regiment. The soldiers had killed three officers, imprisoned the others and taken over Fort Shirley. On the following day, HMS Magnificent, which was anchored in Prince Rupert's Bay under Captain John Giffard's command,[15] sent a party of marines ashore to restore order. The mutineers fired upon Magnificent with no effect. On 12 April, Governor Cochrane entered Fort Shirley with the Royal Scots Regiment and the 68th Regiment of Foot. The rebels were drawn up on the Upper Battery of Fort Shirley with three of their officers as prisoners and presented arms to the other troops. They obeyed Cochrane's command to ground their arms but refused his order to step forward. The mutineers picked up their arms and fired a volley. Shots were returned, followed by a bayonet charge that broke their ranks and a close-range fire fight ensued. Those mutineers who tried to escape over the precipice to the sea were exposed to grape-shot and canister fire from Magnificent.[16]


By 1807 Gaiete was in ordinary at Blackwall.[7] The ship was offered for sale at Woolwich Dockyard on 8 July 1808,[17] and sold on 21 July.[1]

Sources and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Winfield (2008), pp. 233-4.
  2. ^ Fonds, Vol. 1, p.191.
  3. ^ Levot, p.129
  4. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 14045. p. 881. 12 September 1797.
  5. ^ James (1837), Vol. 2, pp.87-8.
  6. ^ Marshall (1824), Vol. 2, pp. 325-7.
  7. ^ a b c "NMM, vessel ID 367313" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol i. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Naval Chronicle, Vol. 1, p.345.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15513. p. 962. 7 September 1802.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15295. pp. 1084–1085. 20 September 1800.
  11. ^ Williams (2009), p.302.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15810. p. 709. 25 May 1805.
  13. ^ Durnford-Branecki, Cynde (2011). "Other Famous Durnfords". Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Marshall (1824), Vol. 2, p. 416.
  15. ^ McArthur, J., & Clarke, J. S. (1805). The naval chronicle: Volume 14, July–December 1805: Containing a general and biographical history of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom with a variety of original papers on nautical subjects: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from
  16. ^ The 8th West India Regiment Revolts. Retrieved from
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 16162. p. 981. 12 July 1808.
  • Fonds Marine. Campagnes (opérations; divisions et stations navales; missions diverses). Inventaire de la sous-série Marine BB4. Tome premier: BB4 1 à 209 (1790-1804) [1]
  • James, William (1837). Naval History of Great Britain. Vol. II. London: Richard Bentley. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  • Levot, Prosper (1866). Les gloires maritimes de la France: notices biographiques sur les plus célèbres marins (in French). Bertrand. 
  • Marshall, John (1823-1835) Royal naval biography, or, Memoirs of the services of all the flag-officers, superannuated rear-admirals, retired-captains, post-captains, and commanders, whose names appeared on the Admiralty list of sea officers at the commencement of the present year 1823, or who have since been promoted ... (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown).
  • Williams, Greg H. (2009) The French Assault on American Shipping, 1793-1813: A History and Comprehensive Record of Merchant Marine Losses. (McFarland). ISBN 9780786438372
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1. 

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