HMS Milford (1759)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Carysfort cropped.jpg
Milford was built to the same design as HMS Carysfort, (pictured)
Royal Navy EnsignGreat Britain
Name: HMS Milford
Ordered: 19 September 1757
Builder: Richard Chitty, Milford
Laid down: November 1757
Launched: 20 September 1759
Completed: 28 December 1759
Commissioned: July 1759
Fate: Sold to be taken to pieces at Woolwich 17 May 1785
General characteristics
Class and type: 28-gun Coventry-class sixth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 588 7294 bm
  • 118 ft 3 in (36.0 m) (gundeck)
  • 97 ft 5 in (29.7 m) (keel)
Beam: 33 ft 9 in (10.3 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 200 officers and men
  • Upperdeck: 24 × 9-pounder guns
  • QD: 4 × 3-pounder guns
  • Also: 12 × ½-pdr swivel guns

HMS Milford was a 28-gun Coventry-class sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She was built at Milford by Richard Chitty and launched in 1759.[1] She was sold for breaking at Woolwich on 17 May 1785.


In sailing qualities Milford was broadly comparable with French frigates of equivalent size, but with a shorter and sturdier hull and greater weight in her broadside guns. She was also comparatively broad-beamed with ample space for provisions and the ship's mess, and incorporating a large magazine for powder and round shot.[a] Taken together, these characteristics would enable Milford to remain at sea for long periods without resupply.[2][3] She was also built with broad and heavy masts, which balanced the weight of her hull, improved stability in rough weather and made her capable of carrying a greater quantity of sail. The disadvantages of this comparatively heavy design were a decline in manoeuvrability and slower speed when sailing in light winds.[4]

Her designated complement was 200, comprising two commissioned officers – a captain and a lieutenant – overseeing 40 warrant and petty officers, 91 naval ratings, 38 Marines and 29 servants and other ranks.[5][b] Among these other ranks were four positions reserved for widow's men – fictitious crew members whose pay was intended to be reallocated to the families of sailors who died at sea.[5]

Service History[edit]

On 6 June 1776, Milford captured the American privateer Yankee Hero, a 14-gun, single-deck sloop, after a two-hour battle. The Americans had believed they were chasing a merchantman, but reversed course when they came close enough to recognize the British ship of war. Milford gave chase and caught up to the much smaller ship after about an hour, firing only bow chasers until she was able to come along and give a full broadside. Yankee Hero's sails were shredded and almost half her crew incapacitated. Her commander, Captain James Tracy ordered the surrender when they were no longer able to either fight or flee. Four or five of Yankee Hero's crew were killed and twelve or thirteen wounded, including the captain.[6]

Milford stands out as the British vessel that engaged the first American armed vessel, the USS Cabot (1775). In the Battle off Yarmouth (1777), under the command of Captain Joseph Olney, Cabot stood out of Boston weeks before on 23 March 1777 the vessel encountered HMS Milford (32). The vastly more powerful British ship chased Cabot and forced her ashore in Nova Scotia.[7] [8] While Cabot's captain and crew escaped into the woods unharmed, the British were later able to get the brig off, and refitted her for service in the Royal Navy.

On 15 March 1779, the British warships Apollo, Porcupine, and Milford captured the French privateer cutter Tapageur.[9] The Royal Navy took her into service under her existing name.

On 2 October 1779, Jupiter captured two French cutters, Mutin and Pilote, each of 14 guns and 120 men. The Royal Navy took both into service essentially under their existing names. Jupiter shared the prize money with Apollo,[10] Crescent,[11] and Milford.[12]


  1. ^ Milford's dimensional ratios 3.57:1 in length to breadth, and 3.3:1 in breadth to depth, compare with standard French equivalents of up to 3.8:1 and 3:1 respectively. Royal Navy vessels of equivalent size and design to Milford were capable of carrying up to 20 tons of powder and shot, compared with a standard French capacity of around 10 tons. They also carried greater stores of rigging, spars, sails and cables, but had fewer ship's boats and less space for the possessions of the crew.[2]
  2. ^ The 29 servants and other ranks provided for in the ship's complement consisted of 20 personal servants and clerical staff, four assistant carpenters an assistant sailmaker and four widow's men. Unlike naval ratings, servants and other ranks took no part in the sailing or handling of the ship.[5]


  1. ^ J D Davies (1 July 2013). Britannia's Dragon: A Naval History of Wales. History Press Limited. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7524-9410-4.
  2. ^ a b Gardiner 1992, pp. 115–116
  3. ^ Gardiner 1992, pp. 107–108
  4. ^ Gardiner 1992, pp. 111–112
  5. ^ a b c Rodger 1986, pp.348–351
  6. ^ "Privateer Yankee Hero". The Essex Journal. 22 August 1776. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  7. ^ The Sailing Navy, 1775-1854 By Paul H. Silverstone, p. 7
  8. ^ [ A History of the United States Navy, from 1775 to 1893, Volume 1 By Edgar Stanton Maclay, p.85]
  9. ^ "No. 12016". The London Gazette. 21 September 1779. p. 4.
  10. ^ "No. 12102". The London Gazette. 18 July 1780. p. 3.
  11. ^ "No. 12116". The London Gazette. 5 September 1780. p. 2.
  12. ^ "No. 12105". The London Gazette. 29 July 1780. p. 2.


  • Gardiner, Robert (1992). The First Frigates: Nine-Pounder and Twelve-Pounder Frigates, 1748–1815. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0851776019.
  • Rodger, N. A. M. (1986). The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870219871.
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships of the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Barnsley, United Kingdom: Seaforth. ISBN 9781844157006.