HMS Medea (1778)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Medea.
HMS Medea (1778) plan.jpg
Plan of Medea dated 1778
Royal Navy Ensign (1707-1801)Great Britain
Name: HMS Medea
Ordered: 14 May 1776
Builder: James Martin Hillhouse, Bristol
Laid down: June 1776
Launched: 28 April 1778
Completed: 15 September 1778 (at Plymouth Dockyard)
Commissioned: May 1778
Fate: Sold to break up 1805
General characteristics
Class and type: 28-gun Enterprise-class sixth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 604 7794 (bm)
  • 120 ft 9 12 in (36.817 m) (overall)
  • 99 ft 4 in (30.28 m) (keel)
Beam: 33 ft 10 in (10.3 m)
Depth of hold: 11 ft 0 12 in (3.366 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 200 officers and men
  • Upper deck: 24 × 9-pounder guns
  • QD: 4 x 6-pounder guns + 4 x 18-pounder carronades
  • Fc: 2 x 18-pounder carronades
  • 12 × swivel guns

HMS Medea was a 28-gun Enterprise-class sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. Medea was first commissioned in May 1778 under the command of Captain William Cornwallis. She was sold for breaking up in 1805.


In July 1778, Medea started to cruise in the North Sea and the Channel. Off Cape Finisterre on 20 October 1778, being in company with the ship-of-the-line Jupiter under Captain Francis Reynolds, she met Triton under Captain Comte de Ligondès, but Medea got so badly damaged that she was forced to break off the action with the loss of one man killed and three wounded. She later, with HM hired ship Countess of Scarborough, shared in the capture, on 17 June 1779, of the French privateers Compte de Maurepas and Due de la Vauguyon.[1] Medea captured Due de la Vauguyon (or Duc de Lavaugnon) of Dunkirk, a cutter of 14 guns and 98 men, after a fight of an hour. The fight cost the French four men killed and ten wounded; Medea had no casualties. The Royal Navy took Duc de la Vauginon into service under her existing name.

Duc de la Vauguyon had captured and ransomed a lobster smack sailing from Norway to Britain. The master of the smack informed Captain James Montague of Medea that the privateer had had a consort. Medea's rigging was too cut up for her to pursue the consort, so Montague sent Countess of Scarborough, Captain Thomas Piercy, after her. Piercy caught up with Compte de Maurepas, of Dunkirk, after a few hours and the privateer struck without resistance. She was armed with fourteen 4-pounder guns and had a crew of 87 men.[2]

On 5 May 1781 Medea assisted Roebuck in the capture off Sandy Hook of Protector, a 28-gun frigate of the Massachusetts State Navy. The prisoners were taken off to the prison hulk Jersey.[3]

On 7 September 1781 Medea captured Belisarius, "a fast sailing frigate of 26 guns and 147 men, belonging to Salem". Medea captured her off the Delaware River. Amphitrite and Savage shared in the capture.[4] The Royal Navy took her into service as the sixth rate HMS Belisarius, but then sold her in 1783, after the end of the war.

Medea made a number of other captures in summer 1781. These included the ship Phoenix (1 June), the ship Rover (20 June), the schooner Neptune (30 July; with Amphitrite and General Monk), and the brig Marianne (3 August).[4]