2nd Battle of Cape Finisterre

14th October 1747
Part of : War of the Austrian Succession (1740/12/16 - 1748/10/18)
Previous action : Action of 1747-10-07 7.10.1747
Next action : Battle of Havana 12.10.1748


Royaume de France

French Line of Battle, Henri-François des Herbiers (Marquis de l'Etanduère ou de l'Estenduère) (1682-1750)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Intrépide (74) Chevalier Louis-Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil (1691-1763)
Le Trident (64) Claude-Thomas Renart de Fuchsamberg d'Amblimont (2nd Marquis d'Amblimont) (1690-1772) Captured
Le Terrible (78)  130 killed and wounded Captured
Le Tonnant (80)  Fleet Flagship
Le Monarque (74)   Captured
Severn (48)   Captured
Le Fougueux (64)   Captured
Le Neptune (74)  300 casualties Captured
Convoy Escort

252 merchantmen

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Content (64)  
Le Castor (26)  

Great Britain

British Line of Battle, Edward Hawke (1704/5-1781)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Devonshire (66)  Fleet Flagship
Defiance (60) John Bentley (1703-1772)
Monmouth (70) Henry Harrison (d.1759)
Kent (64) Thomas Fox (d.1763)
Edinburgh (64) Thomas Coates (1712-1767)
Yarmouth (64) Charles Saunders (1713-1775)
Eagle (60) George Brydges Rodney (1719-1792)
Lion (58) Arthur Scott (d.1756)
Nottingham (60) Philip Saumarez (1710-1747)
Princess Louisa (60) Charles Watson (1714-1757)
Windsor (60) Thomas Hanway (c.1715-1772)
Tilbury (58) Robert Harland (c.1715-1783)
Gloucester (50) Philip Durell (1707-1766)
Portland (50) Charles Steevens (1705-1761)
Ships not in the Line
Ship NameCommanderNotes



Previous comments on this page

Posted by Albert Parker on Thursday 4th of June 2020 04:19

Almost nobody, then or since, has given Hawke's ships below the line. Richmond, _Navy in the War of 1739-48_, III, map on p. 105, lists the following in addition to the ships of the line and 50s (type/gun rating from BWAS 1714-92)
Hector, 44
Weazle (as spelled in 1747), ship-sloop, 16
Vulcan, fireship, 8
Dolphin, fireship, 6
_Weazle_ was dispatched from the scene of the action direct to the West Indies to inform the commanders there (Pocock in the Leeward Islands after the death of Legge; Knowles at Jamaica) that a very large French convoy was on its way. These ships, were considered inadequate to take on an apparent remaining convoy escort that included a 26 and a "64."

Posted by Albert Parker on Thursday 4th of June 2020 03:18

P.S. The "Memoires des Hommes" Web site of the French Ministry of Defence, which has more detailed information about CdIO ships and their voyages, has been down for maintenance for a week or so (as of June 3, 2020).

Posted by Albert Parker on Thursday 4th of June 2020 03:11

On the date of the battle, French 64-gun ship of the line _Content_ was still being completed at the royal arsenal at Toulon (she had been launched earlier in the year). Earlier in 1747, the French government had sold a 60-gun ship of the line also named _Content_ to the Compagnie des Indes Orientales (CdIO), the French East India company. She was on her way to India and sailed in company with the convoy escorted by l'Étenduère's squadron. She was evidently part of a line of the largest or best-armed merchantmen that l'Étenduère designated to sail on the leeward side of the convoy to defend it against an attack from that quarter until the warships could swoop down from their proper position to windward. She followed the convoy, roughly when it made off ahead of frigate _Castor_. At some later time, she broke off and headed into the South Atlantic, stopping at Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil, from December 31, 1747 to January 1, 1748 (n.s.). The CdIO records I have about her do list her as having 60 guns, and that was her rate as a navy ship, but whether she actually had that many on her last voyage (she was disarmed at Ile de France [Mauritius] in 1749 and presumably broken up) is not certain. It was wartime, and the guns would have been helpful against a weak raider while she was proceeding independently, but would have compromised her merchandize and troop capacity. Her crew was smaller than her navy establishment, not counting an unknown number of company soldiers. The simultaneous existence of a navy 64 with the same name, and information that she was a 64 provided by French prisoners has confused many (but not all) naval historians and naval history writers for over 270 years. (l'Étenduère would have known the truth about her but unlike La Jonquière 5 months earlier, he wasn't captured; those who were might have been spoofing their captors, or might have been confused themselves.)

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