Naval snippets from The Times newspaper
Naval snippets from The Times newspaper

Royal NavyVaria

Snippets from The Times newspaper
Ma 28 July 1834 On Monday His Majesty's frigate Pique, of 36 guns, was launched at Plymouth Dockyard, She was built upon the plan of the present surveyor of the navy, Captain W. Symonds, who has now, we believe, had the construction of ten ships of war upon his fundamental principles, as a naval architect — that great breadth imparts to a vessel greater stability, or a capability of sustaining an inclined force at the least angle of inclination. This position must be undoubtedly true to a certain extent; but it is contended that its development has been carried to a degree of extravagance from which no desirable advantage whatever has been experienced, while the expense has been enormous; that previous scientific knowledge embraced, to an equal extent, the desirable qualities of swift sailing, upon all points, with capacity for stowage, good quarters for the men, without such excess of breadth as has been displayed in the Vernon and other ships. whose expense of "wear and tear," as well as original construction, is excessive. Captain John Hayes, C.B., has been permitted by the Admiralty to construct a ship of the same class as the Pique, upon his principle, to be called the Inconstant, in which, we under- stand, he contends that, having a breadth of four feet eight Inches less than the Pique, she will engross all the stability possessed by her competitor. If we are to take as our guide in the matter the opinions of practical seamen ,as the result of all competitions in ship-building, we should say, that we have not yet heard of any ship having been built which possesses all the qualities desirable in a perfect man of war, but each and every one of them possesses some superior quality at the expense of another — that the science of ship-building is not yet come to its perfect state of maturity. The dimensions of the Pique are — length of lower deck 160 feet, breadth extreme 44 feet, depth of hold 13 feet 9 inches, tonnage 1,400 tons. She has been constructed under the able directions of Thomas Roberts, Esq., the veteran ship-builder of Plymouth dockyard, who has now completed the 50th man-of-war launched since his advancement to his present honourable rank, to which professional ability alone raised him. The Pique was christened by Miss Ross, the daughter of Captain Superintendant Charles Ross, C.B., with a savoire faire that included about a dozen gentle, men in the wine-sprinkling ordinance.
Ma 20 April 1835The Firebrand steamer is ordered to bring round from London, Lord Amherst’sExternal link baggage. The Pique frigate, Hon. Captain Rous, which it to convey his Lordship to Quebec, will be ready for sea on Thursday. It is expected the Pique will go to New York, and remain to bring his Lordship to England again, as his mission will not occupy more than three months.
Ma 4 May 1835The Pique, 36, Hon. Captain Rous, is ready for sea at Spithead, but no day is fixed for Lord Amherst's embarcation as Commissioner to Canada.
Ma 6 July 1835The Imogene, 28, Captain Blackwood, arrived at the Cape on the 10th of May, on her way to England. She brings home Lieutenant Stovin, and all the officers and crew of his Majesty's brig Algerine, to be tried by courts-martial, upon different charges, there not being the means of doing so in India; the Alligator, 28, Captain Lambert, would follow shortly. This case, we find, is of a most extraordinary character; it is no less than that of the mate, the third in command, finding himself necessitated to take upon himself the command of the Algerine, putting the commander (Lieutenant Stovin) under arrest, the master having previously placed himself in voluntary arrest, and in this dilemma taking the vessel into the Cope of Good Hope, where of course he threw himself on the Admirals protection.
Ma 6 July 1835The Pique, Hon. Captain Rous, will sail on the 9th instant with the newly appointed Commissioners to Canada.
Ma 20 July 1835

(From the Hampshire Telegraph.)

Lieut. G.C. Stovin, late in the command of the Algerine brig, will be tried by court martial on Tuesday next, on board the Victory in this harbour, on a charge of repeated acts of drunkenness. It will be recollected that Lieutenant Stovin, on his passage to the Cape of Good Hope, was displaced in the command of his brig, and put under arrest by Mr. Cardew, the mate, and third in seniority in the vessel; who, having assumed the command, carried her into the Cape of Good Hope. This novel proceeding in the British navy created so much difficulty in the East Indies, that Sir John Gore took every person out of her, and brought them to England; nor did even a court martial take place which had been ordered at Bombay on Lieutenant Stovin, on the same charges which he is now to be tried for. The proceedings cannot but be interesting.
Ma 20 July 1835The Pique, 36, Hon. Captain Rous, will sail on Tuesday, with the Commissioners, to Canada. Sir G. Gipps, and Mr. Elliot, the Secretary, are already arrived at the George Inn. Lord Gosford and Sir C. Grey will be here on Monday.
Ma 27 July 1835The court-martial ordered on Lieutenant Stovin, late of His Majesty's brig Algerine, on charges of repeated drunkenness and unofficerlike conduct, promoted by the mate and master of the vessel, commenced on Tuesday last on board His Majesty's ship Victory in Portsmouth harbour, Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Maitland, K.C.B., President. The evidence for the prosecution occupied Tuesday and Wednesday last, the principal points of which were, that the commander had been repeatedly drunk, and at one time charged the master (Mr. Heath) with an unnatural offence, and threatened to shoot him. In consequence of which the master declared himself under an arrest, and the mate, Mr. Garden, took upon himself the command of the vessel, and ordered the Lieutenant into arrest. The defence commenced on Friday morning, and the evidence has occupied till Saturday evening, and is not now concluded. The prisoner's witnesses deny the charges in toto, inserting that the commander was never tipsy, and that any appearance of it was the result of ill health. The contrariety of evidence is most extraordinary; on one occasion in particular, when the Governor of Tenerife and the British Consul came on board and lunched with Lieutenant Stovin, the prosecuting witnesses declare that he fell dead drunk on the table, before the Consul and Governor rose from lunch, while the prisoner's own witnesses swear as positively that he accompanied his guests to the quarter-deck, and shook hands with them on their going over the side. It is supposed that no sentence will be given until the Consul has been inquired of as to those matters. Whatever may be the result of the present trial, it is expected that the mate and master will both be tried for depriving their superior officer of his command. The trial has excited considerable interest in the naval world on account of the novelty of the circumstances. - Portsmouth Herald.
Ma 3 August 1835COURT-MARTIAL ON LIEUTENANT STOVIN. - FRIDAY, July 31. - On the opening of the court this morning the Judge Advocate read from the minutes "that the Court, having received the opinion of the law officers of the Crown on the case stated, have determined to deliberate on the evidence already before them, with a view of framing their sentence accordingly." The court was then closed for three hours, when it was re-opened, and the following sentence delivered: - "The Court having heard and examined the evidence in support of the prosecution, and having heard what the said Lieutenant George Charles Stovin had to allege in his defence, and having heard the evidence adduced by him in support thereof, and having carefully and deliberately weighed and considered the whole, the Court is of opinion that the said charges have been proved in part, particularly the most unjustifiable conduct of the sail Lieutenant G.C. Stovin in allowing the command of His Majesty's brig Algerine to be taken from him by an inferior officer on the 4th November last, and which command the said Lieutenant Stovin, notwithstanding his then ill state of health, ought to have exerted himself to the utmost to retain, and to have commanded the officers and crew of the said brig to support him in so doing to the last extremity; but in consequence of the ill state of health in which the said Lieutenant G.C. Stovin was stated to be at the time of the said proceeding, and in consequence of the former active and intrepid services tendered by the said Lieutenant G.C. Stovin, and of his general good character prior to his joining His Majesty's ship Algerine, the Court doth only order and adjudge that the name of the said Lieutenant G.C. Stovin shall be placed at the bottom of the list of lieutenants of the royal navy, and shall not be raised therefrom; and that he the said Lieutenant Stovin shall not be again employed in active service, and he the said Lieutenant G.C. Stovin is hereby so sentenced accordingly." The evidence on this prosecution, Mr. Cardew, Mr. Heath, John Maynard, and Alexander Robertson, are ordered to be kept on board the Victory, as prisoners at large. - Hampshire Telegraph.
Ma 10 August 1835

PORTSMOUTH, Saturday, Aug. 8.
(From the Hampshire Telegraph.)

A court-martial will be held on Monday next on board the Victory, in Portsmouth harbour, to try Mr. Charles Cardew, mate, and Mr. Michael Heath, master, both lately belonging to the Algerine brig, for charges of a serious nature, arising out of the circumstance of Mr. Cardew having found himself compelled to take upon himself the command of that vessel, on her passage from England to the Cape of Good Hope, first putting his superior and commanding officer under arrest, and depriving him of the power and authority to command and conduct his vessel. Mr. R.W. Missing, barrister, and Mr. W. Minchin, are retained as the legal advisers of Mr. Cardew, and Mr. G.L. Greetham will similarly assist Mr. Heath. The words of the charge on these two officers are as follow: - 'The said Charles Cardew, for having on or about the 4th day of November, 1834, he being then mate of His Majesty's brig Algerine, of which Lieutenant George Charles Stovin was Commander, been guilty of mutinous conduct on board the said brig, in forcibly placing and confining the said Lieutenant, his superior officer and commander, under arrest, and unlawfully depriving him of the command of the said brig; and the said Michael Heath for having connived at and aided and abetted the said Charles Cardew in the commission of the said crime."

Ma 17 August 1835

(From the Portsmouth Herald.)

The court-martial on Mr. Cardew, late mate of the Algerine, for mutiny in depriving Lieutenant Stovin of the command, and Mr. Heath, the master, for aiding him therein, commenced last Monday. Lieutenant Stovin was the first witness examined, and he stated, that when put under arrest Mr. Cardew placed his hand on his (Lieutenant Stovin's) shoulder, and the corporal laid hold of his arm, and that when he attempted to address the ship's company a hand was thrust over his mouth, but it was too dark to see whose it was. He further stated, that before Mr. Cardew took away his pistols, and when he gave them to the corporal to load, he said he intended to try and recover the command of the ship, and hoped the marines would stand by him. These were the most important points in the evidence for the prosecution, which closed on Tuesday at noon, and the Court agreed to allow the prisoners till Friday morning for the preparation of their defence. On the opening of the Court on that day, the prisoners put in their defences, Mr. Cardew's being read by his counsel, Mr. R. Missing, and Mr. Heath's by his solicitor, Mr. George L. Greetham. Both defences were very able documents, pointing out the cases in which the evidence for the prosecution had been at variance with itself, as well as those cases where it would be contradicted by the witnesses on the defence, and more particularly dwelling on the discrepancies in the evidence of Lieutenant Stovin himself. The hinging point of Mr. Cardew's defence was the uncertainty of Mr. Stovin's actions, it being impossible, on account of his repeated inebriety, to place any reliance on his conduct, especially as he had once chased a vessel which he believed to be a slaver without serving out any arms to the crew. (This fact was afterwards stated in evidence by Mr. Roberts.) Under these circumstances. Mr. Cardew declared that a desire to promote the interests of the service had alone induced him to pursue the course he had, which, as his mind was free from any mutinous intent, he hoped would be considered by the Court a mere error in judgment. Mr. Heath's defence ably urged his want of motive to concur in the arrest, as no end which he could have in view could be promoted by it, and his previous high certificates removed the suspicion of his being actuated by a spirit of insubordination. The only evidence of importance adduced for the defence was that of Commander Booth, late of the Trinculo, and who, as the superior officer at the Cape, had inquired into the circumstances of Lieutenant Stovin's arrest, when the Algerine arrived there. Commander Booth stated distinctly, that when he asked Lieutenant Stovin if he had made any resistance to the arrest, he answered in the negative, nor did he say anything about his statement to the corporal, that he hoped the marines would stand by him. The case for the defence was then speedily closed, and the court cleared, and after two hours' deliberation the court reopened, and the Judge Advocate read the sentence: - that the charge had been proved, but in consideration of the prisoners' previous good character they were only sentenced to be dismissed the service, and to be imprisoned for three calendar months in the Marshalsea. A vast deal of interest had been excited by this trial, it being doubted by naval men whether the Court would consider the mitigating circumstances, or award the full penalty attached to the crime. The general opinion is, that the sentence is extremely lenient.
Ma 24 August 1835

PORTSMOUTH, Saturday, Aug. 22.
(From the Hampshire Telegraph.)

A Court Martial will assemble on Tuesday,on board the Victory, to try Dr. M'Diarmid, late surgeon of the Algerine, for haying been guilty of acts of drunkenness and other unofficerlike conduct, on board His Majesty's brig Algerine, at various times between the 6th of September, 1834, and the 30th of November following, and particularly for having been drunk on the 4th of November, 1834; and secondly, for having, on the 4th of November 1834, administered liquor to and made drunk Alexander Robinson, the steward of Lieutenant George Charles Stovin, on board the said brig.
Ma 19 October 1835

(From the Hampshire Telegraph.)

The Pique frigate, Hon. Captain Rous, arrived on Tuesday, from Quebec, which city she left on the 17th September. Five days after the Pique left Quebec she reached the entrance of the Straits of Belle Isle, having taken that passage from the force of the southerly winds; and it is not a little singular, that she entered the St. Lawrence through that unusual passage on her way out with Lord Gosford, having been driven to the northward from the same cause. On the evening of the 22d the wind was on her quarter, and she was making rapid progress; but the wind freshening about 9 o'clock, the studding-sails were taken in, and the courses hauled up. At half-past 10 o'clock the fore-topsail was on the cap, and the men were lying out to reef the sail, when Captain Rous (who was on the lee gangway) saw breakers close to the ship and ahead. The helm was instantly put down, and the ship readily answered it; but in doing so she struck with great violence on the rocks, and, excepting being lifted by the sea as the waves came in, she was immovable. She was going about seven knots at the time, and the weather was thick and foggy, and though the ship was not 50 yards from the rocky beach, the land was not discernible till day-break. It was about half ebb when she struck, but as the tides do not rise or fall much, she continued to lift and strike, with the exception of perhaps an hour, until she was hove off on the following morning, at 9. Here the beauty of Captain Symonds's system was eminent, for had she been a common flat-floored ship she would have bilged; but as she is constructed, all the mischief was spent on her false keel and kelson. On her first striking, the boats were got out, and the master sounded round her, and two or three anchors were got out astern; 20 guns were thrown overboard, as was the most considerable part of her shot, and about 100 tons of fresh water were started and pumped up. The crew was very active, but such was the order observed, that they piped to breakfast as usual the next morning, and they had not been down more than a quarter of an hour when Captain Rous found the ship move a little; the cables astern had been hauled taught, the men were turned up, the capstans quickly manned, and she was hove off with apparent ease, and subsequently was got into Ance au Loup, or Wolf's Cove, and by the next morning was put to rights, and went to sea. On the following Sunday, the wind blowing fresh, a violent sea struck the rudder, some of the pintles and gudgeons of which must have been broken while thumping on the rocks, and tore it from the stem-post. In a short time, however, a temporary one on Captain Symonds's plan was got ready, but it was found to strike so violently against the stempost and counter, that it was cut away, and the carpenter soon made a second, on Pakenham's plan, which was fixed, and the ship was steered by it for some days, when that was obliged to be cut away, from the ragged state of the bottom, the copper having chafed, and cut the guys, which were led forwards. The ship was now steered without a rudder for 1,400 miles, and when she rolled much, made more than three feet water an hour; and from the time of her getting off the rocks until her arrival in this harbour, never less than 20 inches. On Sunday evening last, a north-north west wind had driven her over to the coast of France, but as an excellent reckoning had been kept of her longitude, they made the Caskets lights (within a mile of where they were expected to be seen), 10 miles distant; at 9 o'clock that night she came to an anchor in 40 fathoms, with a good range of cable out; and on Monday morning sent a vessel, which offered her assistance, into Guernsey, for any steamer that could be found. Soon after noon, however, the wind being southerly, she weighed, and providentially reached St. Helen's anchorage early on Tuesday morning, steered only by a cable astern, with a gun-carriage attached to the end of it. Her signals for assistance were quickly answered from the dockyard, and Mr. E.M. Hepburn, with three dock lighters, and the Admiral's tender, went immediately to her help. An attempt was made to tow her into harbour that morning, but the halsers breaking, she brought up again before she reached Spithead, and on Wednesday she was towed into harbour by the Brunswick, Plymouth steamer, there being no Government steamer here. The Pique saw only four French brigs during her distress; two of them passed her unheeded — the third, having hove too near her at a time when the Pique leaked freely, and without a rudder, it was determined to put Lord and Lady Aylmer, and the sick, with some soldiers' wives, on board of her, she bring bound to Bordeaux; but on the carpenter going on board to examine her, and finding her in as leaky and helpless a state as the Pique, they separated. The fourth vessel promptly rendered assistance and towed round the Pique’s head, so as to put her before the wind; she had then been lying some hours in the trough of the sea, and attempts had in vain been made to get her in the position desired; but no sooner had the brig put her in that position, than the Pique shot ahead, and thereby frustrated any further assistance from the brig, which could not keep way with her. To be ready for the worst, the boats were made as seaworthy as possible; a quantity of pork was cooked and coopered up in small casks, as were also bread, water, and spirits; and to ease the labouring of the ship, four additional guns were thrown overboard in the Atlantic. No words can describe the admirable conduct of the crew during all this difficulty and danger; they worked hard and willingly; they saw that promptitude only could preserve the ship and their lives, and they had confidence in their officers. The self-command of Captain Rous throughout the whole was pre-eminent, and had such a moral influence over the subordinates, that his orders were at once understood and obeyed; indeed, the safety of the ship mainly depended upon the exercise of great coolness and decision. She will be taken into dock on Monday, when the full extent of the injury she has sustained will be learned. It will scarcely be believed that after the millions spent on our dockyard, this frigate could not be taken into dock yesterday from want of depth of water.
Ma 26 October 1835The Pique was taken into dock on Monday, and the crowds of people who have since visited the yard to inspect her bottom have been astonishing. She has lost her false keel entirely, and, upon an average, 8 inches of her keel are gone, fore and aft. The most considerable damage, however, is forward, her stem and fore-foot being completely gone, leaving the apron and stemson exposed; and the planking forward, where it is rabbeted into the solid stem, is left wholly unsupported; close to the keel on the larboard side, just abaft the foremast, is a terrific place, of about 13 feet in circumference, where she must have ground against a rock, the centre of which has rubbed through the planking, and within two inches of the inner side of the floor timbers. About 15 feet further aft is another place nearly the same size, but not so deep, also close to the keel. A third place has the most awful appearance; it is under the bread-room, and in the fore part of the dead wood. The ship must have had her keel upon a rock, and have hung, as it were, upon a pivot, for it is nearly circular, and of a conelike shape, about 16 feet in circumference, and hollowed out to the height of about three feet from the outer surface of the false keel. There was no damage on the starboard side, except a little ruffling of the copper. The decks do not appear to have been strained, and we cannot understand that her iron knees have at all loosened. She will take about two months to repair; in the meantime she will be paid off, orders having been received to that effect, and she will most probably be then again commissioned. We should not omit to mention, that two of Captain Lihou's patent rudder pintles were left in the gudgeons when the rudder was carried away, a small twist in each having prevented them from dropping out, which they ought to have done.
Tu 27 October 1835


The result of the following court-martial has already appeared in our columns, but as considerable interest has been excited relative to the voyage of the Pique, we have borrowed from the Hampshire Telegraph a more detailed report of the proceedings:—
A court-martial was held on Tuesday on board the Victory (hulk to the Britannia), in Portsmouth harbour, composed of Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Maitland, K.C.B., President; and Captains Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, Vidal, Williams, Eden, Beechey, and Hastings, with James Hoskins, Esq., Judge-Advocate, to try Captain the Hon. H.J. Rous, and Mr. Hemsley, master of His Majesty's ship Pique for having, on the 22d of September, run that ship on Point Forteau, on the coast of Labrador, on her passage to England from Quebec. The proceedings commenced by the Judge-Advocate reading the following letter, addressed by Captain Rous to the Secretary to the Admiralty:—
"His Majesty’s Ship Pique, Oct. 13.
"Sir,— I beg you will acquaint my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that I left Quebec on the 17th of September, with Lord and Lady Aylmer and suite on board. On the 21st, off Anticosti, wind southerly, I bore up for the Belleisle Passage, and being close in with St. John's Head, Newfoundland, at 6.30. p.m., on the 22d, I stood over to the Labrador side, to avoid the low shore and islands on the opposite coast. At 10 p.m., the weather petting foggy, wind moderate at west, shortened sail, and steered a channel course E. by N. At 10.20., whilst the officer of the watch was in the act of reefing topsails, the master and myself looking out, breakers were reported under the bows; put the helm hard a-port the ship immediately struck, and hung; clewed up everything and the ship swung with her head to the northward; made sail again, and hove all aback: she tailed off, but the tide catching her, wedged her in between two rocks; furled sails and sent the master to sound; down royal and top-gallant yards and masts, the ship striking heavily.
"The master reported hour-and-a-half and five fathoms round the ship, excepting a rock with three fathoms under the larboard main chains and 17 feet abreast the starboard chesstree, deep water outside; the weather being thick and rainy, we could only discover a low rocky ledge, extending about 50 fathoms E.1/2.S. parallel to the ship, distant about 60 yards; out all boats, laid out the stream E.S.E. and hove a heavy strain. The ebb tide made about 11 o'clock; employed starting water, heaving shot and guns overboard, and pumping ship. At 2 o'clock a.m., wind freshened from W.S.W., boats were obliged to lay under her larboard fore chains for shelter; frigate striking very heavily, and the masts threatening to fall at every blow.
"On the flood tide again making, laid out a kedge S.E. by S., and warped out the launch, carrying a bower anchor, with the cutters and jolly-boat buoying up a 100-fathom cable, hove a taught strain. 7.30, wind shifted to W.N.W., a point off the land; set the foresail, bracing forward the head-yards. 8, piped to breakfast; 8.15, the ship forged ahead a few feet (set the fore topsail), and heaving alternately heavy strains, and the ship's company running forward on the bowsprit. At 9.13. she wormed herself out from her bed of rocks, and ran into Ance or Loup-bay. and anchored, frigate making 13 inches of water per hour. This misfortune was owing to the flood-tide setting us to the N.W., as we stood over to the N.E. from the coast of Newfoundland. The following morning we were under all sail for England. The leak increased gradually until the 26th of September — viz., to 23 inches per hour. On the 27th lost our rudder. in lat. 50. 10, long. 40. 6. September 28 shipped a temporary rudder, which was carried away by a heavy sea on the 29th. September 30, not being able to wear ship in a heavy gale from the northward, we were obliged to heave to, with our head to the W.; ship labouring very much, and the foremast working in the step, got topgallant mast on deck, cut away best bower anchor, and cleared out everything from the fore part of the ship. On the 1st of October fell in with the French brig Suftren, of St. Maloes, who offered us every assistance in her power. Sent by her the particulars of our situation, lat. 48. 48., long. 30. 30. October 4, the carpenter successfully stopped up a leak in her forefoot, and mended one of the chain pumps which had worn through. On the 6th rigged a Pakenham rudder, being the first fine day we had experienced. A heavy sea carried away this rudder on the 10th, and we again broached to in a heavy N.W. gale, with our head to the S.W.; on the 11th it moderated, wore round. At 8 p.m., on the 12th, were obliged to anchor in 41 fathoms to the westward of the Caskets, not being able to weather them with a northerly wind, and at 2 p.m.. yesterday got under weigh, and anchored at St. Helen's at 4 o'clock a.m., and the ship having run l,500 miles without any rudder, and the ship requiring to be pumped every hour. 1 have great pleasure in recommending to their Lordships' notice the gallant and steady conduct of every officer, seaman, and marine, under all these trying circumstances. It is not in my power to do justice to their merits, and I am happy that no loss of life or serious injury has befallen any one.
"I have, &c.,
"H.J. Rous. Captain.
"To Charles Wood, Esq., &c." Evidence being then gone into, whereby the whole of the facts stated in Captain Rous's letter were confirmed, the following testimony was given —
Mr. Thomas Harby examined. — I am the master of a merchant vessel, and have passed up and down the river Lawrence upwards of 50 times. If I was on the eastern point of Anticosti, the wind hanging to the southward, I should most certainly consider it a safe course to proceed through the Straits of Belleisle, instead of going the southern passage. If I was off the Bay of St. John's, and had a good view of the land, and perfectly knew my position, I should certainly have no doubt of the propriety of running through the straits in the night. There is a very strong current running in the Straits of Belleisle from the eastward in mid-channel, which is very much affected by the winds, which, by taking a ship on cither bow, would be very likely to throw her out of her course. I have found it so. I have observed that the compasses are affected in the straits, and in every part of the Gulf and River St. Lawrence. 1 do not believe the latitudes laid down in the charts to be correct; and Captain Bayfield is of the same opinion; so much so, that last year, when he came down to the Straits of Belleisle, he was unable to proceed on the survey on finding the headlands laid down so inaccurately.
The Right Hon. Lord Aylmer examined. — I beg to state to the Court that, in the course of a long professional life, l have often been on board of His Majesty's ships, and have witnessed the conduct of officers and seamen under most varieties of the service; the result has been to inspire me with the highest admiration of His Majesty's naval service; but until the late events on board His Majesty s ship Pique l had no conception of what British naval officers and seamen were capable of doing. The intrepidity, coolness, decision, and if I may be permitted, not belonging to the profession, to say so, the seamanlike qualities displayed by Captain Rous far surpassed anything of which I had previously formed an idea. Every difficulty appeared to me to find a ready remedy in his mind, and to judge by what I saw I should have imagined that the perilous situation of His Majesty ship Pique must have been a matter of daily occurrence, from the emergency as it occurred. I beg leave to add that he appeared to me to be most ably and efficiently seconded by his officers and ship's company; his orders were readily and punctually obeyed, and in no instance did it appear to me that the discipline of the ship was in any way affected by the perilous circumstances in which she was placed.
The evidence for the prosecution having here ended. Captain Rous made the following defence: —
"Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court, — I appear before you to answer for the cause and circumstance of His Majesty's ship under my command grounding on the coast of Labrador, on the night of the 22d of September. At 10 o'clock that evening it appeared to Lieutenant Estcourt, Lieutenant Richardson, Mr. Hemsley, and myself, we could command a distance of two miles with our night-glasses; every precaution was taken, the mainsail was hauled up. both anchors clear for running, and the watch in the act of reefing the topsails preparatory to heaving to, the ship steering a channel course E. by N. At 10. 20., when, from the recent departure from St. John's Head, our distance was estimated five miles, and we considered the ship in perfect safety, breakers were seen a-head, and we struck the rocks. Twenty yards further to the southward the ship would have been clear of danger. I can only account tor this misfortune by the local attraction of the compass, which is always experienced in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the current setting us to the N.W. With reference to the report I had the honour to transmit to the Secretary of the Admiralty, I hope the Court is of opinion that every step in a seaman-like point of view was taken for the preservation of His Majesty's ship, and that no blame can be attached to Mr. Hemsley, who acted under my responsibility. I am happy to say such a mutual confidence existed, that Lord and Lady Aylmer, and the rest of the passengers, although offered a passage to St. John’s or Halifax, preferred the dangers of a home ward voyage with their old companions in misfortune. It is my duty to add, that during the night of the 22d, when the destruction of His Majesty's ship appeared inevitable, nothing could exceed the activity, coolness, and devotion of every officer, seaman, and marine, by whose exertion the Pique was restored to His Majesty's service — that the same high spirit carried them cheerfully through the fatigues and difficulties of bringing a leaky ship across the Atlantic, with out a forefoot, without a keel, without a rudder, working every hour for three weeks at the pumps, and steering by the sails; and if it had pleased the Almighty that the Pique should have stranded on the rocks, or sunk silently in the deep, the survivors would have proved to our King and country that she was not lost until it was out of the power of man to save her.”
Mr. Hemsley called on Commander Dilke, of the Wanderer, to speak to his character. Commander Dilke said he considered him a zealous, attentive, and efficient officer. Mr. Hemsley having handed in written testimonials to the same effect, the court was cleared, and shortly afterwards re opened. when the following sentence was read:—
"The Court is of opinion that from some cause, which has not been accounted for in the evidence, His Majesty's ship Pique was four miles to the northward of the situation that the course and distance run between 25 minutes after 6 o'clock, when the ship's position was carefully determined, and 20 minutes after 10 o'clock, would have placed her in, by which means she ran upon Point Forteau, when those on board had every reason to suppose that the ship was four miles distant from the land. The Court is further of opinion that no blame is attached either to the said Captain, the Hon. H.J. Rous, or to the said Mr. William Hemsley, for their conduct on that occasion, inasmuch as they had a personal knowledge of the Straits 0f Belleisle, having beat through them on the passage to Quebec, and ascertained the coast of Labrador to be safer to approach than the opposite shore. The Court does therefore fully acquit both the said Captain, the Hon. H.J. Rous, and Mr William Hemsley, and they, the said Captain, the Hon. H.J. Rous, and Mr. William Hemsley, are hereby fully acquitted accordingly."
We 13 April 1836


(From the Jersey News.)

We are indebted to the kindness of an officer on board for the following particulars: - Left Falmouth on Wednesday, March 23, with a mail for Lisbon, wind W.N.W.; bore up in a gale from the S.W., and came in sight of the Lizard. The wind veered to the N.W., blew fresh, and continued until Sunday afternoon. About 3h. 30m. It shifted again to the S.W., and blew a heavy gale; towards night, the sea running very high, and the sky having a threatening aspect, both wind and sea increased. On Monday morning, the gale still increasing, took the bonnet off the trysail; found the longboat gone, having broken adrift from the davits; at 4 turned the hands up, reefed trysail, sheets having been repeatedly carried away. At 4h. 30m., then about 50 leagues S.W. Of Ushant, an awful sea struck the vessel on the larboard beam, capsized and nearly filled her with water, sweeping the deck and washing overboard two officers and 22 seamen, together with three guns, one anchor, tanks, both binocles, compasses, &c., in fact, everything on decks, and carrying away every spar, except the bowsprit, the mainmast having gone in three pieces, leaving about 14 feet standing from the deck. The bulwarks were laid level with the deck; the hatches washed off; and the ballast hurled out of the hold, which, in its course, burst up the cabin deck, and forced the locks off the after-holds and spirit-room, making as complete a wreck below as the sea had made above. The chain cables were thrown out of the lockers, as well as the ballast to the larboard side, causing a great list to port; and, extraordinary to relate, five pigs of iron ballast, weighing 5 cwt., were hurled into one of the officers' beds, and another pig of ballast was actually thrown into the upper shelf of Lieutenant Bisson's buffet in his cabin. In the midst of this awful scene of devastation, they fortunately saved the two officers and six of the seamen; but, alas! 16 fine fellows perished, leaving 10 widows and families! The larboard quarter of the ship was now even with the water's edge, the sea making a clear breach over her, and rushing down the three hatchways, which had been left exposed by the hatches being carried away. About eight feet of water below, vessel filling rapidly, and apparently settling by the stern. At this time the survivors relinquished all hopes of being saved, as they expected any moment the vessel would founder; though severely bruised, they exerted themselves to the utmost in covering the hatchways with beds and blankets; the pumps having been rendered totally unavailable, both officers and men worked hard the whole of the day in baling out the water with tin kettles, &c.; and, blessed be God for his mercy, these apparently hopeless means at last proved successful. Every thing in the ship was thrown together in one heap, and all property, both public and private, was totally destroyed. The officers and men messed in common, having only one pot which they could render serviceable. In the afternoon of that day (Monday) saw two sail, and endeavoured to attract their attention by making signals of distress, but did not succeed. In the night the gale moderated, and on the following morning (Tuesday) succeeded in making a sail on the stump of the mast, by setting a foresail as a trysail, and a spitfire gib. In the afternoon saw a ship to leeward, and ran down towards her and spoke her; she proved to be a French brig, said she could not hoist her boat, but would remain by the Quail until morning. About 9h. 30m. Spoke an English brig, which, in attempting to send to the Quail's assistance, unfortunately lost a boat and two men (drowned). She also promised to remain by the Quail until morning. At daylight on Wednesday it blew strong from the south-west, with thick hazy weather and a heavy sea; saw the English brig a long distance off, soon after which she disappeared. At 4 p.m. Observed breakers to leeward, and found they were in the vicinity of the Saintes Rocks, near Ushant, and in the Race. Wind continued light until midnight, when a fine breeze sprung up again from the south-west; ran before it until 4 p.m. On Friday, when the wind veered to the north-west, and blew so hard from that quarter that they were unable to reach the English coast. Saturday, continued sailing, but making little progress. On Sunday two large ships passed the Quail, and although many signals of distress were fired from their remaining gun, no notice was taken of them. On Sunday night, at 7h. 30m., saw the Casket Lights; and on Monday morning saw the island of Alderney. At 6 a.m. Saw the Speedy packet, of Jersey, from Southampton, off Alderney; fired signals of distress, and perceived the Speedy bearing down towards them. At 8 came within speaking distance, when the Speedy lowered a boat to get on board the Quail; there still being a rough sea, it took them an hour and a hall to make fast to the wreck; had it in tow all night, tacking on and off the wind, and arrived in the port of St. Heller between 6 and 7 o'clock on Tuesday morning.

The two officers who were washed overboard and regained the cutter were Mr. Paul, the master, and Mr. Knox, master's assistant.

Tu 19 September 1837On Thursday last the Gorgon, a steam-frigate, built for Her Majesty?s Government, was launched from the Royal Dockyard, Pembroke. This vessel is of a new construction, being intended either for steaming or sailing; for the former she is fitted with engines, &c., and for the latter she is rigged as a brigantine. She has rows of guns between decks, and on deck she has two immense pieces of ordnance on swivels, which are calculated to do great damage to an enemy in action. ? North Wales Chronicle.
Tu 19 September 1837The Gorgon, steamer, recently launched at Pembroke, arrived on Tuesday at Sheerness, under charge of Mr. Walker, of Devnport. to be docked for placing the blowing-off pipes and holding down-bolts in her bottom.
Ma 16 October 1837The Gorgon Steam Frigate.? This splendid vessel, which was launched at Pembroke in August, has been fitted with two engines of 110 horse power each. Her armament has also been completed, and consists of 14 long 32-pounders, and two 84-pounders, on circular sweeps. She will either steam or sail. ? Hereford Journal.
We 3 January 1838The largest steamer in Her Majesty?s navy is the Gorgon, recently built, being of 1,150 tons, builders? measurement, She will carry 20 days? coal, 1,000 troops, 156 crew, with stores and provisions for all for six months. The engines are 320 horse power, and the vessel is so constructed that the steam-machinery can scarcely be reached by shot.

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