Jamaica Hurricane, 1744


Fleet Formed20.10.1744TGM
Fleet Disbanded21.10.1744TGM

Introduction

Kingston Gazette, 27 October 1744

On the 20th instant, happened as dreadful a storm as ever was known in this part of the world. It began about six o'clock in the evening, and lasted till 6 o'clock in the morning; the wind was all that time due south. By this hurricane, the new fort at Mesquita point was demolished, many houses were blown down, roofs and piazza's blown off, and the wharfs of this town, Port Royal and Passage Fort destroyed, and a great part of the goods thereon washed away. 8 of his Majesty's ships and vessels, and 96 merchant vessels were stranded, wreck'd, and founder'd, so that out of one hundred and five vesels, only his Majesty's ship the Rippon rid it out, and she without masts.

The people in Port Royal were terribly afraid of a deluge, the town being two or three feet overflowed from the harbour, and the sea threatened destruction, which the wall most happily prevented. They have met with great damages in their house &c. In the country, several plantations, houses, works &c were destroyed; many people, both white and black, drowned, and cattle, sheep. poultry, and provisions in great quantities of all kinds destroyed by the fury of the tempest, and rapidity of the overflowing rivers. Of his Majesty's ships, the Prince of Orange, Bonetta, and Thunder bomb were wreck'd, but the people saved. The Montague aground, bulg'd, lost her top mast, people saved. The St Albans and Experiment ashore, the people saved, and both will be got off. The Greenwich sunk, and capt. Allen. and lieutenant Butterworth, and 70 men drown'd. The Lark hulk sank, and about 20 white men, and 90 negroes drown'd. The greater part of the merchant ships will get off, and most of their cargoes saved. Sir Chaloner Ogle , with several men of war, were abroad on a cruize.

The following information was kindly supplied by Albert Parker

The full reference is /Gentleman’s Magazine/, vol. 15 (March 1745), p. 163.  The same report appeared almost verbatim in the /London Magazine/ and /Scots Magazine/.  Admiral Ogle, who luckily was at sea when the hurricane hit Port Royal and Kingston (it went on to Cuba; probably, it then passed over the Bahamas and blew itself out in the Atlantic).  He did not send a report back to the Admiralty until November 24.  It was published in /London Gazette/, No. 8421 (April 9, 1745), p. 1.  This report was a little less grim than the newspaper article written only a few days after the storm.  Here are Ogle’s reports on each ship (O) and the ship’s fate as recorded in Admiralty records compiled in Winfield, /British Warships, 1714–1793/ (W):

•Bonetta, sloop, 8:  (O) ashore, stove to pieces; (w) wrecked

•Experiment, 20:  (O) not mentioned; Ogles said the “rest of the fleet” got off; (w) stranded, salvaged; paid off July 1745, then large repair

•Greenwich, 50:  (O) overset; (W) capsized, sank

•Lark, hulk (ex. 50):  (O) sank in 7 fathoms; (W) capsized, sank

•Montagu, 60:  (O) afloat, dismasted; (W) cast ashore, salvaged

•Prince of Orange, 70:  (O) not mentioned; Ogles said the “rest of the fleet” got off; (W) went ashore but salvaged, went home 1746

•Rippon, 60:  (O) afloat, dismasted; (W) no mention of hurricane; paid off, July 1745, repaired, reduced to 50 guns

•St. Albans, 50:  (O) ashore, not likely to get off; (W) wrecked, lost with all hands

•Thunder, bomb, 8:  (O) ashore, not likely to get off; (W) wrecked

So the ultimate effect was two 50s, one sloop, one bomb lost; one 70, two 60s, one 20 damaged.  This was much more than the French could have achieved in even a major victory at sea, and /at no cost to them/.  The two French warships in the West Indies on October 20/31, 1745, /Neptune/, 74, and /Fleuron/64/, were at Cap François (now Cap-Haïtien) on the north shore of Hispaniola, being blockaded, in fact, by /Cumberland/, 80, and /Falmouth/ and /Assistance/, 50s.  The hurricane turned north or northwest too far west to affect Cap François.  The three blockading ships returned to the scene of devastation on November 16/27.  /Neptune/ and /Fleuron/ sailed for home, unmolested, on November 27/December 8.  The hurricane evidently did not affect Havana, which was even farther west than Kingston and Port Royal.

 



ShipJoinedLeftCommanderNotes
Prince of Orange (70) 20.10.174421.10.1744Miles Stapleton (d.1750)Ran aground
Bonetta (8) 20.10.174421.10.1744George Elliott (c.1714-1795)Wrecked
Thunder (8) 20.10.174421.10.1744Cotton Dent (d.1761)Wrecked
Montagu (60) 20.10.174421.10.1744William Chambers (d.1753)Ran aground
Experiment (20) 20.10.174421.10.1744Henry Dennis (d.1757)Ran aground
Saint Albans (50) 20.10.174421.10.1744William Knight (d.1744)Wrecked
Greenwich (50) 20.10.174421.10.1744Edward Allen (d.1744)Capsized and sank
Lark Hulk 20.10.174421.10.1744 Capsized and sank
Rippon (60) 20.10.174421.10.1744James Rentone (1702-1747/48)Dismasted

Sources


IDNameAuthorType
TGMGentleman's MagazineVarious, Book

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