HMS Proserpine (1777)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other ships with the same name, see HMS Proserpine.
HMS Proserpine (1777) wrecked.jpg
The Proserpine Frigate Lost March 1799 off Neuwerk Island in the Elbe
John Thomas Serres
Royal Navy Ensign (1790-1866)Great Britain
Name: HMS Proserpine
Ordered: 14 May 1777
Builder: John Barnard, Harwich
Laid down: June 1776
Launched: 7 July 1777
Completed: 23 September 1777 (at Sheerness Dockyard)
Commissioned: 25 July 1777
General characteristics
Class and type: 28-gun Enterprise-class sixth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 595 3794 (bm)
  • 120 ft 6 in (36.73 m) (overall)
  • 99 ft 0 in (30.18 m) (keel)
Beam: 33 ft 7 12 in (10.2 m)
Depth of hold: 11 ft 0 in (3.35 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
  • Also:12 x swivel guns

HMS Proserpine was a 28-gun Enterprise-class sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1777 was wrecked in February 1799.


Proserpine was first commissioned in July 1777 under the command of Captain Evelyn Sutton.

On 29 November 1779 Proserpine recaptured Sphinx (or Sphynx).[1] She had been in French hands for three to four months.[2] On 16 March 1794 Penelope captured the French brick-aviso, Goéland, off Jérémie.[3] Proserpine shared in the prize money, suggesting that she was in company with, or in sight of, Penelope. The Royal Navy briefly took Goéland into service as HMS Goelan.


Proserpine was wrecked off the mouth of the Elbe on 1 February 1799. She was under the command of Captain James Wallis, and was taking the Honourable Thomas Grenville and his party to Cuxhaven, from where they were to proceed on a diplomatic mission to meet Frederick William III of Prussia in Berlin during the War of the Second Coalition. By 4pm on 31 January the weather had worsened to such a degree that Proserpine had to anchor, four miles short of Cuxhaven. The weather worsened, and by next morning the channels were blocked by ice. Wallis got under-weigh to attempt to withdraw and reach a Danish port, but around 9:30pm she grounded. Attempts to lighten her failed. The next morning it became clear that she was aground on the Scharhörn Sand near Newark Island in the Elbe, and completely blocked in by ice, which was increasing.

At 1:30, all 187 persons on Proserpine left her and started the six-mile walk to shore, in freezing weather and falling snow. Seven seamen, a boy, four Royal Marines, and one woman and her child died; the rest made it safely to Neuwerk where they took shelter in the tower there. The diplomatic party reached Cuxhaven a few days later.

The ship's master, Mr. Anthony, took five men and returned to Proserpine on 10 February. They found her crushed. While they were still on board, the ship (still encased in ice), was swept out to sea, before she grounded again on Baltrum Island. Anthony and his companions survived this second shipwreck too.[4][5]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 12678. p. 410. 30 August 1785.
  2. ^ Demerliac (1996), p.69, #432.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15092. p. 1240. 22 December 1798.
  4. ^ Hepper (1994), p.90.
  5. ^ Proserpine Frigate – Official Account of the Loss of that Ship; a letter addressed by Captain Wallis to Vice Admiral Dickson; Feb 18, 1799; "The Naval Chronicle"; January–June 1799; (Bunney & Gold, London); pp. 332–335.