Capture of Spanish Treasure Ships

15th October 1799 - 17th October 1799
Part of : The French Revolutionary Wars (1793 - 1802)
Previous action : Action of 1799-10-12 12.10.1799
Next action : Action of 1799-11-24 24.11.1799


Great Britain

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Ethalion (38) James Young (1762-1833)
Naiad (38) William Pierrepont
Alcmene (32) George Johnstone Hope (1767-1818)
Triton (32) John Gore (1772-1836)


Ship NameCommanderNotes
Santa Brigida (34)   Captured
Tetis (34)   Captured

Notes on Action


On October 15th, the British frigate, Naiad, 38, Captain William Pierrepont, cruising in the bay, sighted the two Spanish frigates, Santa Brigida, 34, and Thetis, 34, with treasure from Mexico on board to the value of 600,000. She at once gave chase, and early next morning saw another ship, the Ethalion, 38, Captain James Young, which also joined in the chase. A third British frigate, the Alcmene, 32, Captain Henry Digby, and a fourth, the Triton, 32, Captain John Gore, arrived on the scene after day broke. The two Spaniards then separated and took different courses. The Ethalion pursued the Thetis, passing the Santa Brigida and firing into her. At 11.30, the Ethalion brought the Thetis to action, and, after a running fight of an hour, captured her.

Meantime the Sta. Brigida doubled Cape Finisterre, closely pursued by the Triton. The latter was so unfortunate as to strike a reef, but was quickly got off, and at 7 A.M. brought the Spaniard to action. At the same time the Alcmene, steering so as to cut off the Sta. Brigida from the shore, engaged her on the other side. Thus assailed, the Sta. Brigida, after a vigorous resistance, hauled down her flag. All the three frigates and the Naiad were amongst the rocks, whence they succeeded in extricating themselves on a breeze springing up opportunely from the shore.

The Spanish frigates and their captors arrived at Plymouth on the 21st and 22nd. The treasure was in due course removed to London, and divided amongst the captors in the following proportion: Captains, £40,730 18s. each; Lieutenants, £5091 7s. 3d.; warrant-officers, £2468 10s. 9d.; Midshipmen, £791 17s. 0d.; seamen and Marines, £182 4s. 9d. The Spanish frigates were not purchased for the Navy.

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