HMS Spencer (1800)
|Ordered:||19 September 1795|
|Builder:||Adams, Bucklers Hard|
|Laid down:||September 1795|
|Launched:||10 May 1800|
|Fate:||Broken up, 1822|
|General characteristics |
|Class & type:||74-gun third-rate ship of the line|
|Tons burthen:||1917 (bm)|
|Length:||180 ft 10 in (55.12 m) (gundeck)|
|Beam:||49 ft 3 in (15.01 m)|
|Depth of hold:||21 ft 10 in (6.65 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full-rigged ship|
HMS Spencer was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 10 May 1800 at Bucklers Hard. Her designer was the French émigré shipwright Jean-Louis Barrallier. She served in two major battles, Algeciras Bay and San Domingo, and in a number of other campaigns. She was broken up in 1822.
Battle of Algeciras Bay
By July 1801 Spencer was at the Rock of Gibraltar in the squadron under the command of Rear Admiral James Saumarez in Caesar On 6 July Saumarez sailed from Gibraltar with Caesar, Pompee, Spencer, Venerable, Hannibal and Audacious with the intention of attacking Admiral Linois's squadron of three French line-of-battle ships and a frigate, which were lying a considerable distance from the batteries at Algeciras. As Venerable, the leading ship, approached the wind dropped and she was forced to anchor. Pompee managed to get into action but Hannibal grounded and was forced to strike. In the battle the British drove two of the French ships ashore and badly damaged the rest. The total loss in the British squadron was 121 killed, 240 wounded, and 14 missing. The Franco-Spanish force lost 317 men killed and some 3-500 wounded.
On 8 July a squadron of five Spanish ships-of-the-line, a French 74, three frigates and a large number of gunboats reinforced the French ships. Hard work repaired all the British ships at Gibraltar, except Pompee in time for them to follow the Franco-Spanish fleet when it sailed on 12 July. In the subsequent second phase of the Battle of Algeciras Bay, the two first rates Real Carlos and Hermenegildo fired upon each other during the night, caught fire and exploded, with tremendous loss of life. The British captured the third rate St Antoine. In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the issue of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Gut of Gibraltar 12 July 1801" to all surviving claimants from the battle; 192 medals were issued.
In May 1803 Captain Robert Stopford recommissioned Spencer. On 28 August Spencer recaptured the East Indiaman Lord Nelson. On 28 May she recaptured the Castle Douglas, and the next month, on the 10th, she recaptured the Lord North. On 20 November Spencer captured the Virgin del Brien Consiglio, and then nine days later, the Nostra Senora del Carmen, J. de Moro, Master.
Spencer joined Admiral Nelson off Toulon in August 1804. Spencer was then part of a squadron off Cadiz under Vice-admiral John Duckworth, when news reached Duckworth that two French squadrons had sailed from Brest in December 1805. Duckworth took his squadron to Barbados to search for them, eventually sighting Leissègues' squadron off San Domingo on 6 February 1806. Duckworth organised his ships into two lines, the weather line consisting of Superb, Northumberland and Spencer, while the lee line consisted of Agamemnon, Canopus, Donegal and Atlas. The lines moved to attack the French ships and the battle broke out.
During the battle, Superb badly damaged the French 74-gun Indivisible, leaving her adrift, her rigging shot off and her rudder destroyed. Spencer then took Indivisible. The battle was a victory for the Royal Navy, and Stopford and the other captains received a Naval Gold Medal for their actions. In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the issue of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "St. Domingo" to all surviving claimants from the battle; 396 medals were issued.
Raid off Kristiansand
Spencer arrived off Kristiansand, Norway on 18 September 1807 with two other ships. The ships withdrew after they were fired on by Christiansholm Fortress. The ship's commander decided to occupy the abandoned Fredriksholm Fortress in the Kristiansand fjord, and demolish it. Charges were laid but after waiting some time for the explosion, men were sent back to check if the fuses had gone out. They had not, and four of the men were killed in the resulting explosion.
War of 1812
Spencer underwent major repairs at Plymouth from October 1811 until March 1814. Captain Richard Raggett recommissioned her in January 1814 and during the American War of 1812-15 sailed her to North America escorting a convoy to Canada. Later in 1814 he patrolled in the Gulf of Maine. After a failed and embarrassing September attempt to gain ransom from a little coaster out of Boston, Raggett turned his wrath on lightly defended Cape Cod towns. Eastham coughed up over $1,200 and Brewster paid $4,000 to avoid bombardment. Bolder people resided in Barnstable and Orleans. The two towns rejected Raggett's demands and prepared to resist. Raggett decided to move on, but locals tagged his ship with the nickname "Terror of the Bay".  Earlier, Spencer shared in the capture of the American brigantine Superb.
After a successful cruise in the summer of 1814 during which she captured the Royal Navy schooner Landrail, the American privateer Syren returned to the United States but as she approached the Delaware River the British blockading ships gave chase. To escape the boats of Spencer and Telegraph, on 16 November Syren ran ashore under Cape May. Her crew set her on fire before making their escape.[Note 1]
From August 1815, Spencer served as a guardship in Plymouth under the command of Captain William Robert Broughton. On 16 March 1817, Wolf, a tender to Spencer, captured two smuggling boats, the Albeona and the Two Brothers, and their cargo. Wolf was in company with the revenue cruiser Vigilant.[Note 2] In 1818 Captain Sir Thomas Hardy replaced Broughton.
Spencer was broken up at Plymouth in April 1822.
Notes, citations, and references
- The London Gazette: . 26 January 1849.
- The London Gazette: . 26 January 1849.
- Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p185.
- Winfield (2008), p.68.
- James (1837), Vol. 3, p.113.
- James (1837), Vol. 3, p.118.
- The London Gazette: . 3 Aug 1801.
- James (1837), Vol. 3, p.128.
- The London Gazette: . 27 March 1804.
- The London Gazette: . 28 July 1804.
- The London Gazette: . 26 May 1807.
- [Hauschild Fredriksen, Karl: Hærens Artilleri i Kristiansandsområdet 1556-1995, 2007 in Norwegian]
- Ellis (2009), pp.217-220.
- The London Gazette: . 27 July 1816.
- Maclay (1899), p.472.
- The London Gazette: . 16 May 1815.
- Maclay (1899), p.482.
- The London Gazette: . 18 May 1827.
- "NMM, vessel ID 376159" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol iv. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 11 October 1817.
- The London Gazette: . 21 October 1817.
- Ellis, James H. (2009) A Ruinous and Unhappy War: New England and the War of 1812. (New York: Algora Publishing). ISBN 978-0-87586-691-8
- Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.
- Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.