HMS Magnet (1807)

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Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Magnet
Ordered: 1 October 1806
Builder: Robert Guillaume, Northam, Southampton
Launched: 19 October 1807
Fate: Wrecked 1809
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Cruizer-class brig-sloop
Tonnage: 382 4194 bm
  • 100 ft 0 in (30.5 m) (gundeck)
  • 77 ft 3 12 in (23.6 m) (keel)
Beam: 30 ft 6 in (9.3 m)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 9 in (3.9 m)
Sail plan: Brig rigged
Complement: 121
Armament: 16 x 32-pdr carronades + 2 x 6-pdr long guns

HMS Magnet was a Cruizer-class brig-sloop built at Robert Guillaume’s yard at Northam and launched in 1807.[1] She served in the Baltic, where she took two prizes, one an armed privateer, before wrecking in 1809.


She was commissioned under Lieutenant George Morris, who sailed her for the Baltic.[1] During the Finnish War or (Russo-Swedish War of 1808-1809) Sweden and Britain were allies and Britain had stationed a squadron there with as its main objective preventing the Russian high seas fleet from putting to sea.

On 2 June 1808. Magnet was in company with the frigate Salsette when they, together with the boats of Centaur and Implacable, captured four Russian vessels carrying corn. They also captured the boat Humbug.[2]

On 20 August, Salsette, the ship sloop Ariel and Magnet joined the squadron under Samuel Hood in Centaur, which was blockading the Russian fleet in Rogerwick Bay.[Note 1] On 30 August Sir James Saumarez arrived in Victory, together with a number of other ships of the line and Cruizer, Magnet's sister and the name ship of their class. A number of other smaller vessels also arrived the next day.

The British made preparations to send in Baltic and Erebus as fire ships but when that proved impossible made no real attempt to attack the Russians. On 30 September the British raised the blockade and sailed for Karlskrona; the Russians immediately sailed for Kronstadt. The bulk of the British fleet, including Saumarez, then departed Karlskrona for Britain, arriving in the Downs on 8 December. Magnet was one of the ships that stayed behind in the Baltic for trade protection purposes.

On 5 December, Magnet took the Danish privateer Paulina after encountering her off the island of Bornholm.[3] Morris had in some manner disguised Magnet and so succeeded in luring Paulina out from her inshore shelter. Magnet then pursued Paulina throughout the afternoon and finally caught up with her at dusk about two miles off the north end of Bornholm. During the chase Paulina's crew of 42 men tried to lighten their vessel by throwing overboard all but three of her ten 4 and 8-pounder guns. Paulina was 12 days out of Copenhagen and had not captured anything.[3]


On 23 December 1808, Magnet left Karlskrona as part of the last convoy of the year, in company with four other British warships -Salsette, the brig-sloop Fama, the gun-brig Urgent, and the cutter Salorman - three Swedish naval vessels, and twelve merchant vessels.[4][Note 2] Unfortunately, the convoy left after an unusually severe winter had set in. Furthermore, a storm coming from the north drove already formed ice onto the convoy.[5]

Fama parted company and was wrecked on the north-east point of Bornholm Island.[6] The convoy sought shelter off Falsterbo on Christmas Day and remained there until 6 January 1809 when the vessels set sail in an attempt to reach Malmö.

Salorman, under the command of Andrew Duncan, was wrecked around 23 December at Ystad. She lost one man but the rest of her officers and men were saved.[7] Urgent left with dispatches for the Baltic on 28 December and survived.[4]

Ice blocked the entrance and the Swedish frigate Camilla and six ships of the convoy went aground.[8] Magnet and three other ships of the convoy grounded on the Saltholm Shoal on 11 January. Magnet was refloated but ran into further difficulties in the ice before her crew finally ran her ashore at Örö, west of Malmö, where she sank.[9][10] Morris managed to get his entire crew of 120 safely ashore and they eventually arrived in Gothenburg; Magnet was a complete loss.[9][Note 3] The teak-built Salsette escaped after being stuck in the ice for more than two months.


Thirty-four years later, in July 1842, Magnet was refloated and taken into Malmö.[10] Her masts, sails and rigging were in good condition. Three skeletons and the well-preserved body of a sailor were found in the ship.[12] A quantity of woolen clothes were reported to have been found in good condition; linen clothes had rotted. Three silver watches found on the ship were deemed repairable.[10]

Notes, citations, and references[edit]


  1. ^ Rogerwick was also known as Rogerswick, Ragervik, Ragersvik, Roghervik and Port Baltic. It is about 20 miles west of Reval, the present day Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
  2. ^ The Naval Chronicle lists the gun-brig as Ardent, but there was no gun-brig by that name and other sources give the name as Urgent. It is difficult to read the name of the cutter and other sources give the name as Sacorman or Saloman.
  3. ^ Grocott reports, apparently erroneously, that the crew was rescued by ships in company.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Winfield (2008), p.299.
  2. ^ "No. 16303". The London Gazette. 3 October 1809. p. 1595. 
  3. ^ a b "No. 16217". The London Gazette. 10 January 1809. p. 46. 
  4. ^ a b Naval Chronicle, Vol. 21, Jan-Jul 1809, pp.251-2.
  5. ^ Ross (1838), Vol. 2, p.130.
  6. ^ Gossett (1986), p.68.
  7. ^ Gilly (1851), p. 328.
  8. ^ Gossett (1986), p.69.
  9. ^ a b Hepper (1994), pp127-8.
  10. ^ a b c "Supposed Wreck of the Magnet Sloop of War". The Times (18045). London. 26 July 1842. col C, p. 6. 
  11. ^ Grocott (1997) p.270.
  12. ^ "Her Majesty's Sloop Magnet". The Times (18089). London. 15 September 1842. col D, p. 5. 


  • Gilly, William Stephen, William Octavius Shakespeare Gilly (1851) Narratives of shipwrecks of the Royal Navy: between 1793 and 1849. (J.W. Parker).
  • Gossett, William Patrick (1986) The lost ships of the Royal Navy, 1793-1900. (London:Mansell). ISBN 0-7201-1816-6
  • Grocott, Terence (1997). Shipwrecks of the revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Chatham. ISBN 1-86176-030-2. 
  • Hepper, David J. (1994) British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859. (Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot). ISBN 0-948864-30-3
  • Ross, Sir John (1838) Memoirs and correspondence of Admiral Lord De Saumarez: From original papers in possession of the family. (R. Bentley)
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.