was the lead ship of the Hermione-class
, a six-ship class of 32-gun fifth-rate frigates
of the Royal Navy
. She was launched on 9 September 1782 at Bristol
was commissioned and then paid off
a number of times during the 1780s. She underwent repairs between October 1790 and June 1792, followed by a period spent refitting at Chatham Dockyard
until January 1793. She was recommissioned in December 1792 before sailing to the Jamaica
in March 1793. Hermione
served in the West Indies
during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars
, participating in the British attack on Port-au-Prince
, where she led a small squadron that accompanied troop transports.
In February 1797 — the year of the Spithead and Nore mutinies
— Captain Hugh Pigot
took command of Hermione
. She saw action in 1797 under Pigot including leading a squadron that cut out nine ships at the Battle of Jean-Rabel
without suffering any casualties. Pigot was a cruel officer who meted out severe and arbitrary punishments to his crew. This treatment of the crew led to the bloodiest mutiny
in British naval history in September 1797 which saw Pigot and most of the officers killed. The mutineers
then handed the ship over to the Spanish Empire
on 27 September 1797 and the Spanish renamed her Santa Cecilia
. On 25 October 1799, Captain Edward Hamilton
, aboard HMS Surprise
, cut her out
of Puerto Cabello
harbour. She was returned to Royal Navy service under the name Retaliation
and the Admiralty later renamed her Retribution
on 31 January 1800. She returned to Portsmouth in 1802, and in October 1803 she was fitted for service for Trinity House
. She was broken up at Deptford
in June 1805.
was the lead ship of a six-ship class of frigates designed by Edward Hunt and termed the Hermione
She was 129 ft 0 in (39.3 m) long with a 106 ft 101
in (32.6 m) keel, a beam
of 35 ft 51
in (10.8 m), a draft
of 9 ft 2 in (2.8 m), and a hold depth of 12 ft 8 in (3.9 m). She was 714 70/94(bm
) tons burthen. She was ordered 20 March 1780, and the keel was laid down in June 1780.
She was launched on 9 September 1782 from Teast's
, having cost £
to build, with a further £4,570.2s.2d spent on dockyard expenses, and £723.16s.9d on fitting out.
was commissioned initially under Captain Thomas Lloyd, who commanded her until she was paid off
in April 1783. She recommissioned that same month under Captain John Stone, who sailed her to Nova Scotia
on 17 October,
after which she was paid off in 1785. Hermione
may have then been recommissioned under Captain William H. Ricketts during the Spanish Armament
of 1790, though this is uncertain.
She did, however, undergo a repair between October 1790 and June 1792, followed by a period spent refitting at Chatham Dockyard
until January 1793. She was recommissioned in December 1792 under Captain John Hills, under whom she sailed to Jamaica
on 10 March 1793.
served in the West Indies
during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars
. On 4 June 1794, under Hills, the ship participated in the British attack on Port-au-Prince
, where she led a small squadron that accompanied troop transports. Hermione
had five men killed and six wounded in the attack. The British captured the port and its defences, and in doing so captured a large number of merchant vessels. Hermione
was also among the vessels that shared in the capture on 17 July of the Lady Walterstasse
Hills died from yellow fever
at Port Royal
in September 1794.
Captain Philip Wilkinson replaced Hills and was himself replaced in February 1797 — the year of the Spithead and Nore mutinies
— by Captain Hugh Pigot
Pigot was a cruel officer who meted out severe and arbitrary punishments to his crew. During a nine-month period, as captain of his previous command HMS Success
he ordered at least 85 floggings
, the equivalent of half the crew; two men died from their injuries.
The disrating of Midshipman
David Casey, an experienced junior officer who had distinguished himself to Captain Pigot during the previous months, was one of the primary triggers to the mutiny. About a week before the mutiny, Casey was at his station on the main top
, and Pigot noticed that a gasket
, one of the ties that held the sail securely, had not been tied by one of the sailors under Casey's supervision. Brought before Pigot, Casey apologised and took responsibility for the oversight. Pigot demanded that Casey apologise on his knees, an unacceptable and debasing demand of a gentleman. When Casey twice refused to be humiliated in such a way, the captain ordered that he receive 12 lashes (more commonly a sailor's punishment than that of a junior officer), and he was disrated, which would effectively end his career as a naval officer.
Casey was a popular officer amongst the crew and they felt that he was punished unfairly. The topmen
began to plot mutiny.
Pigot had also developed the practice of frequently flogging the last sailor down from working aloft
On 20 September 1797, he ordered the topsails to be reefed after a squall
struck the ship. Dissatisfied with the speed of the operation because "these would be the yard-arm
men, the most skilful topmen"
he gave the order that the last men off the yard would be flogged. This policy was particularly unreasonable as the men would be spaced along the yard, and the two whose stations were furthest out would always be the last down. Three young sailors, in their haste to get down, fell to their deaths on the deck. One of the sailors hit and injured the master
, Mr. Southcott. Pigot ordered their bodies thrown into the sea with the words "throw the lubbers
overboard"; a particularly offensive insult in the seaman's vocabulary
. He then instructed two boatswain's mates
to flog the rest of the topmen when they complained. The topmen were also flogged the next morning.[Note 2]
The combination of the humiliation of Casey, the deaths of the topmen, and the severe punishment of the rest of the sailors appears to have driven the crew to mutiny. These factors, however, were arguably the final events in a series of harsh and brutal punishments by Pigot. Dudley Pope
, in his book The Black Ship
, argues that it was not Pigot's cruelty that drove the men to mutiny but the general injustice that he showed in his favouritism to some and overly harsh punishment of others. Had Pigot remained more even-handed in his leadership, the mutiny might have been avoided.
On the evening of 21 September 1797, a number of the crew, drunk on stolen rum, rushed Pigot's cabin
and forced their way in after overpowering the marine
stationed outside. They hacked at Pigot with knives and cutlasses
before throwing him overboard.
The mutineers, probably led by a core group of just 18 men, went on to murder another eight of Hermione'
s officers: the first lieutenant, Samuel Reed; the second lieutenant, Archibald Douglas; the third lieutenant, Henry Foreshaw; the marine commander, Lieutenant McIntosh; boatswain William Martin; purser
Stephen Turner Pacey; Surgeon H.T. Sansum; and the captain's clerk
. Two midshipmen were also killed, and all the bodies were thrown overboard.
testimony by a surviving midshipman describes the behavior of the mutineers as "truly savage and brutal".
Pigot and a number of other victims were still alive when they were thrown overboard, while the marine commander McIntosh was dying of yellow fever when the mutineers dragged him from his bunk.
Third Lieutenant Foreshaw had fallen on a mizen chain whaler platform extending from the side of the ship but was hacked to death when he regained the deck.
The majority of the crew emerged leaderless from their sleeping quarters to a scene of chaos. No effort was made to oppose those actively involved in the mutiny, even by the sailors whom Pigot had brought with him from his previous ship and generally favoured.
Three warrant officers
survived: the mutineers refrained from killing the gunner and carpenter because they were considered useful to the ship, and Southcott the master was spared so he could navigate. Southcott lived to be a key witness, along with Casey, who was also spared, and their eyewitness accounts and testimony were critical to the trials of many of the mutineers.
Three petty officers
joined the mutiny together with one midshipman, Surgeon's Mate
Cronin, and Master's Mate
Fearing retribution for their actions, the mutineers decided to navigate the ship toward Spanish waters. One reason the master's life was spared was that Turner could not navigate the ship properly without his help. The Hermione
sailed to La Guaira
, where the mutineers handed the ship over to the Spanish authorities. The mutineers claimed they had set the officers adrift in a small boat, as had happened in the mutiny on the Bounty
some eight years earlier.
The Spanish gave the mutineers just 25 dollars each in return, and presented them with the options of joining the Spanish colonial army, heavy labour, or being employed in refitting their ship.
The Spaniards took Hermione
into service under the name Santa Cecilia
; her crew included 25 of her former crew, who remained under Spanish guard.
Only one of the small detachment of marines on board participated in the mutiny.
While the half-dozen remaining were too outnumbered and taken by surprise to fulfill their role of shipboard police and oppose the mutineers, they did insist on being treated as prisoners of war by the Spanish and were accordingly exchanged six months later, along with the surviving warrant officers. Some of the mutineers were later captured
on a French privateer by HMS Valiant
Recapture and renaming
Meanwhile, news of the fate of HMS Hermione
reached Admiral Sir Hyde Parker
when HMS Diligence
captured a Spanish schooner
. Parker wrote to the governor of La Guaira, demanding the return of the ship and the surrender of the mutineers.
Meanwhile, he despatched HMS Magicienne
under Captain Henry Ricketts to commence negotiations.
Parker also set up a system of informers and posted rewards that eventually led to the capture of 33 of the mutineers, some of whom were tried aboard HMS York
, and at least one aboard HMS Gladiator
Of these, 24 were hanged
, one was transported
, and eight were acquitted or pardoned
To Parker's fury, Admiral Richard Rodney Bligh[Note 3]
had issued pardons to several crew members. These included Pigot's elderly servant and the servant's twelve-year-old son, who Bligh concluded could not reasonably have been expected to resist armed mutineers. Acting against regulations, Parker forced Bligh to resign his command and return to Britain in the summer of 1799.
, under the command of Captain Don Ramon de Chalas, had meanwhile sat in Puerto Cabello
until Captain Edward Hamilton
, aboard HMS Surprise
, cut her out of the harbour on 25 October 1799.
Hamilton led a boarding party to retake Hermione
and, after an exceptionally bloody action, sailed her out of danger under Spanish gunfire.
The Spanish casualties included 119 dead; the British took 231 Spaniards prisoner, while another fifteen jumped or fell overboard. Hamilton had eleven men injured, four seriously, but none killed.
Hamilton himself was severely wounded.
Return to British service
Parker renamed Santa Cecilia
. In late 1799 or early 1800, Retaliation
captured four vessels. These were the two American brigs Gracey
, sailing from Trinidad
bound for Baltimore with a cargo of sugar, honey, and hides; the Peggy
, sailing from Cartagena to New York with a cargo of sugar, coffee, cotton, fustick
, and hides; and the Danish sloop Sisters
, which was sailing from Jamaica to Baltimore with a cargo of sugar, and which had just left St Thomas
The Admiralty then renamed her Retribution
on 31 January 1800.
She was recommissioned in September 1800 at Jamaica under Captain Samuel Forster. Apparently before that she detained an American schooner sailing from Port Republic with a cargo of coffee and logwood.
In early 1801 Retribution
detained the Spanish schooner La Linda
, which was sailing from Campeachy
, and the American schooner Sea Horse
, which was sailing from Porto Cavello to New York. Retribution
sent both into Jamaica.
On 1 October Melampus
, and Retribution
were in company when they captured the Aquila
arrived at Portsmouth
in the third week of January 1802.
She was subsequently fitted at Woolwich
in October 1803 for service for Trinity House
at a cost of £484, equal to £44,524.9 today. She was broken up at Deptford
in June 1805.
Notes, citations, and references
- ^ The initial design was modified after the first two ships to raise the waist, and all were officially referred to as the Andromeda Class.
- ^ However, Casey's account to the Admiralty does not contain this detail.
- ^ A cousin to Captain William Bligh of Bounty mutiny notoriety.
- ^ While Hamilton was on his way back to England in April 1800, a French privateer captured the packet in which he was sailing; however, he was soon exchanged for a French officer. Later, a court-martial would dismiss Hamilton from the Navy for having administered excessive and illegal punishment to the gunner and gunner's mates on Trent, which he captained. Hamilton was later reinstated.
- ^ Head money was paid in 1829. A first-class share was worth £33.18s.3½d; a fifth-class share, that of a seaman, was worth 2s 4¼d.
- ^ a b c d e f Winfield (2007), pp.208–9.
- ^ Winfield (2008) link
- ^ a b c "NMM, vessel ID 368485" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol i. National Maritime Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
- ^ "No. 13684". The London Gazette. 17 July 1794. pp. 724–725.
- ^ "No. 15249". The London Gazette. 19 April 1800. p. 379.
- ^ The Gentleman's Magazine (1850). Vol. 188, p.662.
- ^ a b c d e f g Woodman 2005, pp. 124–133
- ^ Clowes et al., (1897-1903), pp. 334-5.
- ^ James (1837), Vol. 2, p.100-1.
- ^ "No. 14067". The London Gazette. 21 November 1797. p. 1113.
- ^ a b c d e Tracy. Who's who in Nelson's Navy. p. 294.
- ^ a b c Miller. Dressed to kill. p. 80.
- ^ Pope, Dudley (1988). The Black Ship. Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-436-37753-5.
- ^ Guttridge. Mutiny. pp. 77–8.
- ^ a b Dye. The Fatal Cruise of the Argus. pp. 203–4.
- ^ Guttridge. Mutiny. pp. 78–80.
- ^ a b Woodman 2005, p. 130
- ^ Woodman 2005, pp. 128–130
- ^ Woodman 2005, p. 131
- ^ a b Grundner. The Ramage Companion. pp. 96–7.
- ^ a b Zerbe, Britt (2013). The Birth of the Royal Marines 1664–1802. p. 152. ISBN 9781843838371.
- ^ Guttridge. Mutiny. p. 80.
- ^ Pyle. Extradition. p. 29.
- ^ a b Tracy. Who's who in Nelson's Navy. p. 44.
- ^ The Naval Chronicle. p. 427.
- ^ "No. 15223". The London Gazette. 18 January 1800. pp. 61–62.
- ^ Lavery 1994, p. 74
- ^ Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 162.
- ^ Jeans. Seafaring Lore and Legend. p. 170.
- ^ a b c d Stephen & Lee (1890), Vol. 24, pp.145-6.
- ^ "No. 20741". The London Gazette. 4 June 1847. p. 2051.
- ^ "No. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 239.
- ^ "No. 15253". The London Gazette. 29 April 1800. p. 421.
- ^ Colledge (2006), p.162.
- ^ "No. 15295". The London Gazette. 20 September 1800. p. 1083.
- ^ Lloyd's List, no. 4149, - accessed 27 May 2014.
- ^ a b "No. 18590". The London Gazette. 3 July 1829. p. 1246.
- ^ Lloyd's List, no.4223, - accessed 27 May 2014.
- Clowes, W. Laird, et al. (1897–1903) The royal navy: a history from the earliest times to the present. (Boston: Little, Brown and Co.; London: S. Low, Marston and Co.).
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
- Dye, Ira (1994). The Fatal Cruise of the Argus: Two Captains in the War of 1812. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-175-0.
- The European Magazine, and London Review. London: Philological Society of London. 1797.
- Grundner, Tom (2007). The Ramage Companion: The Companion Book to the Ramage Nautical Adventure Series. Fireship Press. ISBN 978-1-934757-05-5.
- Guttridge, Leonard F. (2006). Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-348-9.
- James, William (1837). The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV. R. Bentley.
- Jeans, Peter D. (2004), Seafaring Lore and Legend: A Miscellany of Maritime Myth, Superstition, Fable, and Fact, Camden, Me: McGraw-Hill Professional, ISBN 0-07-143543-3, OCLC 54079892
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Pigot, Hugh (1769-1797)" . Dictionary of National Biography. 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Miller, Amy (2007). Dressed to Kill: British Naval Uniform, Masculinity and Contemporary Fashions 1748–1857. National Maritime Museum. p. 80.
- Lavery, Brian (1994), "Jack Aubrey's Ships", in Cummingham, A.E. (ed.), Patrick O'Brian: Critical Essays and a Bibliography, New York: W.W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-03626-X, OCLC 30951257
- Long, William H. (1895) Medals of the British navy and how they were won: with a list of those officers, who for their gallant conduct were granted honorary swords and plate by the Committee of the Patriotic Fund. (London: Norie & Wilson).
- Paine, Lincoln P. (1997). Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-71556-3.
- Pope, Dudley (1988). The Black Ship. Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-436-37753-5.
- Pyle, Christopher H. (2001). Extradition, Politics, and Human Rights. Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-823-1.
- Tracy, Nicholas (2006). Who's who in Nelson's Navy: 200 Naval Heroes. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-244-5.
- Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships of the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-86176-295-5.
- Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817. Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.
- Woodman, Richard (2005). A Brief History of Mutiny. Running Press. ISBN 0-7867-1567-7.
Audio of a talk on HMS Hermione mutiny by Niklas Frykman for Bristol Radical History Group
Last edited on 30 March 2021, at 12:23
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