HMS Lion (1709)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Lion.
Royal Navy EnsignGreat Britain
Name: HMS Lion
Builder: Rosewell, Chatham Dockyard
Launched: 20 January 1709
Honours and
Second Battle of Cape Finisterre, 1747
Fate: Sold, 1765
General characteristics as built[1]
Class and type: 1706 Establishment 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 914 bm
Length: 144 ft (43.9 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 38 ft (11.6 m)
Depth of hold: 15 ft 8 in (4.8 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
  • 60 guns:
  • Gundeck: 24 × 24 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 26 × 9 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 8 × 6 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 2 × 6 pdrs
General characteristics after 1738 rebuild[2]
Class and type: 1733 proposals 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1,068 bm
Length: 144 ft (43.9 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 41 ft 5 in (12.6 m)
Depth of hold: 16 ft 11 in (5.2 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
  • 60 guns:
  • Gundeck: 24 × 24 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 26 × 9 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 8 × 6 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 2 × 6 pdrs

HMS Lion or Lyon was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Chatham Dockyard to the 1706 Establishment and launched on 20 January 1709.[1]

On 17 October 1709 Capt. Galfridus Walpole, the youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, was appointed captain of LION (50 cannons). He maintained that post till 1714.[3][4]

While commanding HMS Lion, on 22 March 1711,a Walpole's ship was in Vado Bay on the Italian coast in the Mediterranean as lookout cruisers when they sighted four French enemy ships. Amongst those who gave chase and engaged the enemy for about two hours was HMS Lion who lost forty men. Walpole was so badly injured that his right arm was amputated by the ship's surgeon John Atkins who sat up for two nights with Walpole who gave the surgeon no thanks for the attention.[5][6] According to legend, Walpole's sword, used on the Lion, was given to a young Horatio Nelson who was apparently wielding it when he too lost his right arm in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 15 July 1797.[7][8]

In September 1712, together with HMS Cornwall, Mary and HMS Superb, assisted Admiral John Jennings with landing troops at Barcelona.[9]

On 9 December 1735 orders were issued for Lion to be dismantled and rebuilt according to the 1733 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Deptford, from where she was relaunched on 25 April 1738.

Sir Peircy Brett

During the Jacobite rising she saw action on the 9 July 1745, when she exchanged fire with the French ships Elizabeth and the Du Teillay.[10] The Lion is described as 58 guns with a crew of 400.[11] The Du Teillay at the time was carrying Charles Edward Stuart to Scotland with supplies and funds to support his cause. Prince Charles had boarded the French ship on 7 July at Saint-Nazaire bound for Ardmolich, they were joined by a French escort ship the ‘Elizabeth’ (L'Elisabeth). Two days later they were intercepted by the ‘Lion’, commanded by Captain Piercy Brett. A close action began at 17.00 between the ‘Lion’ and ‘Elizabeth’, with the ‘Du Teillay’ attacking the ‘Lion’ several times and, at 18.00, the ‘Lion’s’ mizzen topmast came down. By 20.00, The ‘Lion’ with her mizzen top and topmast shot away and hanging over the side was still in close action with the ‘Elizabeth’. The ‘Du Teillay’ shielded by the Elizabeth continued firing at the ‘Lion’ who returned fire with her stern guns. The ‘Lion’ continued firing at the ‘Elizabeth’ until the latter broke free at 22.00 to join the ‘Du Teillay’; by this time the ‘Lion’ was too damaged to follow (she had also taken extensive damage to the hull); with 45 of her men were dead and about 107 wounded. The ‘Elizabeth’ had lost about 57 men with 175 wounded, her commander, Captain Dau, among the dead. On 2 August 1745, the Du Teillay landed Charles Stuart at Eriskay, and then onto Loch nan Uamh, Scotland, before returning to France.

Captain Brett who was wounded in the battle was obliged to have the Captain of the Marines arrested for skulking on the poop under cover some bags, setting such a bad example that it encouraged most of his men to do likewise.[12]Dominic Serres painted a version of the event in 1860, from three drawings done at the time by Peircy Brett.

In April 1747 Lion was part of a small squadron under the overall command of Thomas Fox on HMS Kent, consisting of HMS Hampton Court, HMS Eagle, HMS Chester, HMS Hector, and two fireships. They cruised between Ushant and Cape Finisterre in an attempt to intercept a large merchant fleet that was sailing from San Domingo to France. After a month at sea they encountered the convoy, which consisted of some 170 ships carrying a cargo of cochineal, cotton, indigo and other valuable commodities. They were escorted by four French warships, who fled upon the approach of the British fleet. Fox's squadron captured 46 merchants, and dispersed the rest. Some were later captured by smaller British warships operating in the area.

In January 1748 Charles Watson (Royal Navy officer) was appointed commander-in-chief of the Newfoundland and North American station with his flag in HMS Lion.[13]

The Lion continued in service until 1765, when she was sold out of the navy.[2]

A ship of the period, c.1728 - (possibly the Lion herself)



  1. ^ a b Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p168.
  2. ^ a b Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p171.
  3. ^ "Galfridus Walpole (d. 1726)". Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Galfridus Walpole appointed Captain". WRECK site. WRECK site. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Clowes, William Laird (1898). The Royal Navy, a history from the earliest times to the present. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company. p. 531. 
  6. ^  Moore, Norman (1885). "Atkins, John". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 2. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  7. ^ The Naval Chronicle for 1805, Volume 14. London: I. Gold. 1805. pp. 92–93. 
  8. ^ Nevill, Lady Corothy (1894). Mannington and the Walpoles (PDF). London: Fine Art Society. pp. 13–14. 
  9. ^ "Florence, September 6th", The London Gazette (5053): 1, 20–23 September 1712 
  10. ^ National Maritime Museum
  11. ^ Perrin, William Gordon (1928). The Naval Miscellany Vol 63. Google Books: Navy Records Society. pp. 102, 103. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Peircy Brett letter to the Admiralty". 30 July 1745. 
  13. ^ "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography of Charles Watson". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 


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