Battle of the Lizard

10th October 1707
Part of : War of Spanish Succession (1701 - 1714)
Previous action : Battle of Toulon 29.7.1707 - 22.8.1707
Next action : Wager's Action 28.5.1708


Great Britain

British Squadron, Sir Richard Edwards
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Cumberland (80) Sir Richard EdwardsFleet Flagship Captured
Devonshire (80) John Watkins (d.1707) Exploded
Royal Oak (70) Baron Wylde (d.1735)
Ruby (50) The Hon. Peregrine Bertie (d.1709) Captured
Chester (54) John Balchen (1669/70-1744) Captured

Royaume de France

French First Squadron, René Trouin (Sieur du Gué) (1673-1736)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Lys (72)  Squadron Flagship
L'Achille (64) Charles de la Boische (Marquis de Beauharnois) (1671-1749)
Le Jason (58) de Coursérac (Chevalier de Coursérac)
Le Maure (50) Thomas Auguste Miniac (Sieur de la Moinerie ) (1676-1713)
L'Amazone (42) Joseph de Nesmond de Brie (1675-1751)
La Gloire (38) de la Jaille
French Second Squadron, Claude de Forbin (Comte de Forbin-Gardanne) (1656-1733)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Mars (54)  Squadron Flagship
Le Blakoual (52) Jean Alexandre de Tourouvre (d.1716)
Le Salisbury (50) Kerlo de l' Isle, Louis-Isidore Andigné (Chevalier de Vezins) (d.1707)
Protée (48) Henri Illiers (Comte d'Illiers) (1663-1727)
Le Gerze (42) François Cornil Bart (1677-1755)
Le Griffon (48) Pierre-Cesar de Brichanteau (Chevalier de Nangis)
La Dauphine (60) Jacques Aymar (Comte de Roquefuille (de Roquefeuil)) (1665-1744), de Goyon-Beaufort (Chevalier )
Le Fidèle (58) Hennequin

Notes on Action

Description of the actionTRN2

On October 9th, 1707, a fleet of about one hundred and thirty sail, bound for Lisbon with merchandise, warlike stores, and horses, sailed from Plymouth under convoy of the Cumberland, 80, Commodore Richard Edwards, Devonshire, 80, Captain John Watkins, Royal Oak, 76, Captain Baron Wyld, Chester, 50, Captain John Balchen, and Ruby, 50, Captain the Hon. Peregrine Bertie. By that time Du Guay Trouin, who had been cruising against the Portuguese in the Atlantic, and had also captured several British vessels, had returned to Brest with his six ships. There Forbin, returning from his northern expedition, had joined him; and the two commanders had received orders to put to sea together against the Portugal convoy. Forbin's division still consisted of eight of the nine men-of-war which had been engaged in the affair of May 1st; Du Guay Trouin's was made up of the Lys, 72, his own ship, Achille, 64, Jason, 54, Maure, 50, Amazone, 40, and Gloire, 38. The French had thus fourteen men-of-war to pit against the British five; and about six hundred guns to pit against the British three hundred and thirty-six.

The French fell in with the convoy off the Lizard on October 10th; and the British captains, in order to give time for the merchantmen to save themselves, engaged the enemy with great stubbornness, and studiously intercepted him. In point of fact very few of the merchantmen were taken; but in other respects the result of the action was most serious. The Cumberland struck to the Lys, the Chester to the Jason, and the Ruby to the Amazone. The Devonshire, after making a running fight with five vessels until the evening, blew up; and, of all on board, only two men were saved. As for the Royal Oak, she was run foul of by the Achille, each ship losing her bowsprit by the shock; and, having repulsed an attempt to board, she got away with a loss of but twelve men killed and twenty-seven wounded. Picking up a few straggling merchantmen, she reached Kingsale in safety with them.

Captain Edwards, after his release from captivity, was brought before a court-martial, which honourably acquitted him Captain Watkins perished with nearly nine hundred of his men; Captain Wyld, who was deemed to have misbehaved himself, especially in breaking the line, was sentenced to dismissal from the service; but was subsequently, and perhaps deservedly, restored to it. Captain Balchen returned to England, and was absolved by a court-martial from all blame for the loss of his ship. Captain Bertie did not live to return, but died while still a prisoner in France.

There seems to have been lack of good feeling and loyal cooperation between Du Guay Trouin and Forbin; and there is much reason to believe that, had they worked together better than they did, not a single ship, either of the escort or of the convoy would have escaped them.

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