HMS Leven (1813)

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United Kingdom
Name: HMS Leven
Ordered: 18 November 1812
Builder: Jabez Bailey, Ipswich
Laid down: March 1813
Launched: 23 December 1813
Completed: By 5 March 1814 for ordinary
Reclassified: Hospital ship 1827, prison hulk 1830, receiving ship 1842
Fate: Broken-up, July 1848
General characteristics
Class and type: Cyrus-class sixth-rate post ship
Tons burthen: 4258894 bm
  • 115 ft 6 in (35.20 m) (gundeck)
  • 97 ft 2 in (29.62 m) (keel)
Beam: 29 ft 8 in (9.04 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 135
Armament: 20 x 32-pounder carronades

HMS Leven, was a 20-gun sixth-rate post ship (sometimes referred to as a sloop) of the Cyrus class, for the Royal Navy. She was built in Ipswich, and launched on 23 December 1813. She was notable as the survey ship that mapped large stretches of the coast of Africa in a voyage from 1821 to 1826, under the command of Captain William Fitzwilliam Owen. Leven Point near Cape Vidal in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is named after the ship.[1]

Napoleonic wars[edit]

After commissioning at Woolwich in October 1814, Leven was employed on the coast of La Vendee during Napoleon Bonaparte's final campaign,[2] under the command of Captain Buckland Stirling Bluett.[3]

Survey service[edit]

She was decommissioned at Chatham in 1816, and, in August 1818, she was transferred to the Royal Navy's Survey Service under the command of Captain David Ewen Bartholomew, who set off to survey part of the west African coast and the Cape Verde Islands. Bartholomew died at Porto Praya in Santiago on 19 February 1821; his first lieutenant, Robert Baldey, returned Leven to Spithead on 23 July, after an abortive attempt to map the River Gambia.[4]

Survey of the Cape of Good Hope by Lieut ATE Vidal of HMS Leven assisted by and under the direction of Captn WFW Owen

Command of the ship passed to Captain William Fitzwilliam Owen, who had risen to prominence following his surveys of the Great Lakes. In August 1821, in the company of the brig-sloop Barracouta, Leven departed for Africa again, with orders to map eastward from the Cape of Good Hope. Amending orders later extended the mission to include a survey of the entire east coast of Africa as well as southern Arabia, Madagascar, and several island groups in the Indian Ocean. On their return journey, long stretches of the west African coastline and the River Gambia were surveyed,[5] several slave ships were apprehended and support was given to British forces in the First Anglo-Ashanti War. By the time she returned home late in 1826, 30,000 nautical miles (56,000 km) of coast had been surveyed and 83 charts prepared.[4] This had been achieved at a terrible cost; half the crew of the two little ships had been killed by tropical diseases.[6]

Harbour duties[edit]

Leven was decommissioned in February 1827, and was fitted out as a hospital ship. By 1830, she was a prison hulk at Chatham and, in 1842, was the receiving ship at Limehouse. She was finally broken-up in July 1848.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "HMS Leven at the Naval Database website". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c "HMS Leven at the Age of Nelson website". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  5. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume VII
  6. ^ "The Hell-Borne Traffic", article by Jordan Goodman, Geographical, September 2007 Archived 7 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.