HMS Hecate (1839)
HMS Hecate (1839)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameHecate (1839)Explanation
Type2nd class sloop   
Launched30 March 1839
Builders measure817 tons
Displacement1096 tons
Ships book
Snippets concerning this vessels career
(January 1840)Out of commission at Chatham
14 September 1840
- 23 August 1843
Commanded by Commander James Hamilton Ward, Mediterranean (including operations on the coast of Syria in 1840)
(October 1843)Out of commission at Woolwich
23 December 1843
- 13 June 1845
Commanded by Commander James Paterson Bower, particular service
11 June 1845
- 1847
Commanded by Commander Joseph West, west coast of Africa
14 September 1847
- 25 September 1848
Commanded (until paying off at Portsmouth) by Richard Moorman, Mediterranean
20 September 1850Commanded by Commander George Sumner Hand, particular service
23 February 1855
- 14 October 1855
Commanded by Commander Hon. Henry Carr Glyn, West Coast of Africa (until Glyn was invalided home)
10 September 1855
- January 1857
Commanded by Commander Alexander Duff Gordon, west coast of Africa (until Gordon Died)
13 February 1857
- 3 July 1858
Commanded (until paying off at Woolwich) by Commander George Foster Burgess, west coast of Africa
15 May 1860
- January 1861
Commanded by Commander Anthony Hiley Hoskins, Pacific (to replace Plumper)
1 September 1860
- 1863
Commanded by Captain George Henry Richards, surveying Vancover Island
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Sa 8 January 1848


[The following appeared in a second edition of The Times of yesterday:—]
We have received advices from Malta to the 29th of December, which enable us to publish further particulars of the loss of the Avenger, communicated by our own correspondent.
A Neapolitan schooner arrived this morning, December 28, from Tunis, bringing news of the loss of Her Majesty’s steam frigate the Avenger, 650-horse power, at 10 o’clock p.m. of the evening of the 20th instant, on the Galita rocks.
The most melancholy part of the story is the supposed loss of all the crew, except Lieutenant Rooke and three seamen. These arrived safely in Tunis on the 24th instant in the launch, which when it left the ship had six men, the Lieutenant and doctor. She was, however, capsized near Bizerta, when the doctor and three men, out of the six, sank to rise no more. The Arabs gave the survivors every possible assistance. Faint hopes are, however, yet entertained that more of the ill-fated crew may be ultimately saved by boats, or on spars, but at present the above is all the news that has reached this island.
On the news of the accident reaching Tunis, the Pasha immediately sent out ships to afford assistance to the distressed seamen, and the French Consul despatched a steamer which plied between Tunis and Stora.
The Avenger was commanded by Captain Napier, a son of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier, in command of the Lisbon squadron, who lately superseded Captain Dacres. She was bound to Malta, and had some specie on board for private individuals.
On the news of the disaster reaching Malta, Rear-Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis, Bart., immediately despatched the Hecate steam-ship to the scene of the melancholy event.
The following is from the Malta Times, 28th of December:—
“When the vessel struck upon the rocks laid down on the chart, two boats were instantly lowered, one containing Lieut. Rooke, the surgeon, second master, and five others, who hoped to be in a situation to render assistance to their companions, but the sea running high they were driven out to a hopeless distance, from which they saw the vessel thrown upon her beam ends with the sea making clear breaches over her.
"The violence of the weather drove the boat ashore at Bizerta, and in the attempt to land, she was swamped, and only four persons beside Lieut. Rooke reached the land. Some friendly Arabs rushed through the surf to rescue the poor fellows, and carrying them on their backs provided them with refreshments and the means of getting to Tunis, from whence the news was despatched to this place. The French authorities lost no time in despatching aid to the scene of the wreck, and it is to be hoped that the remaining boat’s crews are in safety. Captain Napier, the son of the gallant Admiral Sir Charles Napier, commanded the unfortunate vessel, and a son of the celebrated novelist, Captain Marryat, is amongst the list of Lieutenants.
"The melancholy news was brought by a Tuscan brig schooner the Bella Maria, which arrived this morning with despatches for the Admiral. Sir Lucius Curtis immediately sent Her Majesty’s steamer Hecate to the scene of the disaster.
"It is needless to say that the utmost excitement prevails in Malta with reference to the appalling catastrophe; many rumours as to the cause of the dreadful loss of life are afloat, but we wait for authentic intelligence."

SOUTHAMPTON, Friday, Jan. 7.

With reference to the additional particulars that appeared under this head yesterday, it is discovered that an error has been made as to the date on which the Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamer Pacha and Her Majesty's ship Avenger were reported to have left Gibraltar. The date should have been the 17th of December, instead of the 19th; and, as the Avenger struck the Sorelle Rocks on the 20th of December, her loss on that day precisely coincides with the statement of yesterday that the Island of Galita is three days’ sail from Gibraltar, and the impossibility of the Avenger being off Galita in 24 hours from Gibraltar.
The Pacha saw the Avenger on the 20th of December . the exact position as follows — Cape Bugiaronii, bearing E. ¾ S., distant about 28 miles; the Avenger running to the eastward 9 or 10 miles to the northward of the Pacha. It may, therefore, be supposed that the Avenger could not have been in the vicinity of the Sorolle Rocks till the evening of the 20th, or could not have gone so much out of her course, unless she had been drifted by a powerful current to the southward, of the existence of which the commander and officers in charge were ignorant. Before the last overland mail (now due) left Malta it is expected fall particulars will have reached that island from the survivors at Tunis, and the same may, therefore, be shortly looked for viâ Marseilles.
The absence of information as to the names of the three officers and five seamen that were saved necessarily cause deep anxiety on the part of the friends and relatives of the officers and crew of the unfortunate ship.
Ma 21 February 1848A court-martial was held on Monday and Tuesday last on Lieutenant Bedingfield, of the Hecate steamer, on the following charge, brought by Commander Moorman:—
Charge.— For negligently performing the duty imposed on him by quitting the deck whilst in charge of the watch on the morning of the 6th of January, 1848.
The charge was proved, and the Court sentenced him under the circumstances (I use the words of the sentence) only to be severely reprimanded, and admonished to be more careful for the future.
Th 17 August 1848


The court-martial on Lieutenant Bedingfield, of the Hecate, ended on Saturday afternoon, when, after four hours' deliberation by the Court, the sentence was, that he should be dismissed his ship and put back one year on the Navy List. The charge which called forth this sentence was having gone on shore, whilst commanding-officer of the ship, against the Commander's written orders; but which order he (the prisoner) thought had been cancelled. Lieutenant Bedingfield has since been discharged into the Vengeance, there to await a passage to England, or to proceed home at his own expense.
Orders came hire by the Sidon for the Hecate to proceed home immediately to be paid off. She goes first to Malta, embarks the Duke of Parma, and with him goes to Leghorn, and thence she goes to Portsmouth.

Tu 22 August 1848Our Malta letter of the 12th inst, states that Cardinal Ferretti had arrived there by the last steamer from Rome. The Prince of Capua and the Prince and Princess of Parma were to proceed immediately to England by the Hecate steamer.
We 6 September 1848Our Gibraltar advices of the 30th of August inform us that on th3 26th Her Majesty's steamer Hecate arrived, having on board their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Parma, on a visit to his Excellency Sir Robert Wilson, the Governor of the garrison. Their Royal Highnesses remained at Gibraltar, inspecting the fortifications, &c., till the 31th, on which day they embarked on the Hecate, after having been hospitably received and entertained by the Governor.
Sa 8 December 1849

Portsmouth, Dec. 6.

In Port and Fitting

In the Harbour. - The Victory and Illustrious flag-ships, the Excellent gunnery ship; the Blenheim steam-guard-ship; the Eurydice, stripping to pay off; the Contest, fitting out; the Rolla apprentices' brig, laying up for the winter; the Fairy and Elfin, and Portsmouth yachts; the Flamer packet from Holyhead, and the Echo tug.
In Dock. - The Britannia, 120; the Dauntless, 24; the Fantome, 16; the Lily, 16; the Fox, 42; the Devastation, and the Birkenhead steam frigates.
In the Basin. - The Princess Charlotte, 104; the Actaeon, 26; and the Sprightly and the Bee steam-vessels.
In the Steam Basin, - The Ajax, 60; the Penelope, 22; the Sidon, 26; the Victoria and Albert royal yacht; the Urgent , the Pike, the Asp, and the Blazer.
Building. - The Royal Frederick, 120 [subsequently cancelled and later completed as Frederick William]; the Prince of Wales, 120; the Princess Royal, 90; the Argus, and the Furious steam sloops.
Sa 9 March 1850

Portsmouth, Friday.

In Port and Fitting

In Harbour. - The Victory, Illustrious, Blenheim, Excellent, Rolla, Fairy, Fanny, and Echo.
In Dock. - The St Vincent, Winchester, Fox, Fantome, and Penelope.
In the Basin. - The Lily.
In the Steam-Basin. - The Blazer, Birkenhead, Pike, Asp, Flamer, Comet, Elfin, Victoria and Albert, Hecate, and Termagant.
Sa 20 April 1850In Harbour. - The Victory, Excellent, Illustrious, Blenheim, Fanny, and Portsmouth tenders, the Echo tug, and the Locust steam-vessel.
In Dock. - The St Vincent, Winchester, Fox, Penelope, Rapid, and Electra.
In the Basin. - The Niger, Devastation, Fantome, Griffon, and Fairy.
In the Steam Basin. - Termagant, Hecate, Victoria and Albert, Bulldog, Blazer, Flamer, Pike, Asp, and Elfin.
Sa 22 November 1851The Sprightly steam tender, Acting-Master-Commander Allen, sails to-morrow for Plymouth, taking supernumeraries for Lisbon and the West Indies, to take passage respectively in the Rosamond and Hecate steam sloops.

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