1st Battle of Cape Finisterre

Combat du Cap Ortégal

3rd May 1747
Part of : War of the Austrian Succession (1740 - 1748)
Previous action : Action of 25 March 1747 25th March 1747
Next action : Action of 1747-06-20 20th June 1747


Royaume de France

French Fleet
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Le Diamant (50) 50 2/3 of the crew killed and wounded Captured
Le Philibert (40) 40Jacques Lars de Lescouet Captured East Indiaman
Le Vigilant (20) 20Pierre Bourau de Vaumulon Captured
Chimere (36) 36  Captured
Rubis (50) 26 Armed en-flute (26) Captured 40 killed, 30 wounded
Le Sérieux (64) 64 Fleet Flagship Captured
L'Invincible (74) 74Chevalier Jacques-François Grout (Seigneur de Saint-Georges)153 killed, 127 wounded Captured
La Thétis (22) 22  Captured
Modeste (18) 18  Captured
La Gloire (46) 46 75 killed, 100 wounded Captured Armed en-flute?
Ships not in the Line
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
L'Emeraude (28) 28  Armed en-flute (26)
Dartmouth (18) 18  Captured
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Le Jason (48) 24 

Great Britain

British Fleet, George Anson
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Devonshire (66) 66Temple WestSquadron Flagship
Namur (74) 74The Hon. Edward Boscawen
Yarmouth (64) 64Piercy Brett
Pembroke (60) 60Thomas Fincher
Windsor (60) 60Edward Legge, Thomas Hanway
Centurion (60) 50Peter Denis
Bristol (50) 50The Hon. William Montague
Ships not engaged
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Prince George (90) 90Sir John BentleyFleet Flagship
Monmouth (70) 70Henry Harrison
Prince Frederick (70) 70Harry Norris
Princess Louisa (60) 60Charles Watson
Nottingham (60) 60Philip Saumarez
Falkland (50) 50Thomas Grenville
Ambuscade (40) 40John Montagu
Falcon (10) 10Richard Gwynn
Vulcan (16) 8William Pettigrew
Kent (64) 64Charles Wyndham, Thomas Fox
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Defiance (58) 60Thomas Grenville

Notes on Action

Prelude to the actionRN
The projects of the French were known in England; and a squadron, under Vice-Admiral George Anson and Rear-Admiral Peter Warren, was specially fitted out to checkmate them. The French had with them a convoy, which brought the total number of their sail up to thirty-eight. M. de St. Georges left Groix in March, but, after suffering some losses from British cruisers and from very bad weather, had to put into the road of Isle d'Aix. La Jonquiere there joined him. and the two finally sailed on April 29th. Anson and Warren had left England on April 9th and had proceeded off Cape Finisterre, where, on May 3rd, the Cape bearing S.E., distant twenty-four leagues, they sighted the French. La Jonquiere thereupon caused twelve of his best ships to shorten sail and form a line of battle ahead, while the rest stretched to the westward and crowded every possible stitch of canvas. Anson also made signal for a line of battle, believing apparently that he was in the presence of a more formidable squadron than was really before him; but, at Warren's insistance, he substituted the signal for a general chase.
Description of the ActionRN

La Jonquiere was but ill-supported. Several of the French East India ships, especially the Vigilant and Modeste, and later the Thetis and Apollon, looked to nothing but the idea of saving themselves. It is useless to examine the tactical details of an action of this kind. Suffice to say, that, after a running fight lasting from 4 to 7 P.M., in which several of the French captains behaved with great courage and others conducted themselves with equal cowardice, all the ships which had remained in the French line struck. At 7 P.M. Anson brought to, and detached the Monmouth, Yarmouth and Nottingham in pursuit of the convoy, which then bore W. by S.W., distant about five leagues, and which had been followed and observed during the action by the Falcon. These ships captured the Vigilant, the Modeste and the Dartmouth, once a British privateer, together with six of the convoy. Night saved the rest.

The battle, considering its nature, was a costly one. The French lost about 700 killed and wounded, and the British, 520. Among the French officers killed was Captain de Saliez, and among those wounded were La Jonquiere himself and d'Aubigny, his flag captain. On the British side Captain Thomas Grenville, of the Defiance, was killed, and Captain Boscawen, of the Namur, wounded. The victors found specie to the value of 300,000 on board the prizes. For this service Anson was created a peer, and Warren, a K.B. All the men-of-war taken, and also the East Indiaman Thetis, were purchased into the Royal Navy. The name of the Serieux was changed to Intrepid, and that of the Diamant to Isis.


RN The Royal Navy (Official Site)The Royal NavyWeb Site

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Albert Parker on Tuesday 13th of August 2013 03:54

British sources seem to assign definite articles (le, la, l' in French) to French and Spanish warships more or less at random. French sources and accounts often prefix an article to every ship. Usually, ships of the line are masculine and thus "le <Shipname>," and frigates and smaller vessels are feminine and thus "la <Shipname>." There was nothing special about Jason, Diamant, Vigilant, Invincible, or Thétis that would merit and article while the other ships did not.
The British navy did not use French articles with the names of its own warships, such as Monmouth and Prince Frederick.

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