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Nominal Guns52B028
NationalityCommonwealth of England
OperatorState Navy
How acquiredPurpose builtBWAS-1603
ShipyardDeptford Dockyard - Deptford B028
Peter PettBritish
Ship Builder
Service 1610-1672
CategoryThird RateB028
Ship TypeShip of the LineB028
Sailing RigShip RiggedB028


DimensionMeasurementTypeMetric EquivalentB065
Length of Keel116' 0"Imperial Feet35.3568 
Breadth34' 9"Imperial Feet10.4204 
Depth in Hold14' 4"Imperial Feet4.2926 
Burthen743Tons BM 
DimensionMeasurementTypeMetric EquivalentB032
Length of Keel116' 0"Imperial Feet35.3568 
Breadth34' 9"Imperial Feet10.4204 
Depth in Hold14' 4 ½"Imperial Feet4.2799 
Burthen745Tons BM 
DimensionMeasurementTypeMetric EquivalentBWAS-1603
Length of Keel116' 0"Imperial Feet35.3568 
Breadth34' 9"Imperial Feet10.4204 
Depth in Hold14' 4"Imperial Feet4.2926 
Draught Aft17' 6"Imperial Feet5.2034 
Burthen745 894Tons BM 

Crew Complement

Date# of MenNotesSource
28.2.1652/53350Actual complement at the [Battle of Portland]NRS037

4 Ship Commanders

26.8.1650 - 1650Captain
William PennBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1644-1670
John LawsonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1642-1665
1651 - 18.3.1651/52Captain
William PennBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1644-1670
1652 - 21.3.1652/53Vice-Admiral of the Red
John LawsonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1642-1665

1 Warrant Officer

11.1652 - 1652Purser
William CrispinBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1649-1681

Service History

1650Fought "2 or 3 severe actions in the Channel against French cruisers"BWAS-1603
30.11.1650Unable to sail with Penn as she was not completedTRN2
29.3.1651The squadron passed the straits into the MediterraneanTRN2
7.1651Arrived in MaltaTRN2
9.1651The squadron was in the StraitsTRN2
10.1651Near GibraltarTRN2
1.1652Convoy escort in the straitsW014
18.3.1651/52Arrived in FalmouthTRN2
18.5.1652In the DownsTRN2
19.5.1652Battle of Dover
24.11.1652The Council of State ordered that "That a letter be written to the commanders of the ships Fairfax and Swan to fall into the Downs to General Blake and receive his orders. ". The Fairfax must still have been at Chatham?NRS030
30.11.1652Battle of Dungeness
14.12.1652Action of 1652-12-14
27.12.1652Reported as having her full allocation of 160 barrels of gunpowder for her 56 gunsNRS030
1653Refitted as a 52 gun Third Rate
18.2.1652/53Battle of Portland
22.2.1652/53In Dover RoadsNRS037
4.3.1652/53Entered Dover with about 100 wounded following the Battle of PortlandW025
5.3.1652/53Moved to the DownsNRS037
31.3.1653Burnt by accident at ChathamNRS037


DatesFleetFleet CommanderSource
29.9.1654-8.1657Fleet for the Mediterranean
Robert BlakeBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1649-1657

Notes on Ship

From Evertsen's JournalNRS030
We learnt with certainty from a galliot of Rotterdam, sailing with letters of reprisal against the English, how that on the 4/14th and 5/15th of this month (December), Captain Hendrick Jansen Camp and Jan Gedeonsen Verburght, off Bebesier (Beachy Head), had engaged with two English Parliament's ships, the Fairfax of 56 to 60 guns, and another of 42 to 44, and that the Fairfax had had her masts shot away, as well as the ship of Captain Verburght; and so they parted with damage on both sides. Captain Camp had 12 men killed and 20 wounded, Verburght 20 killed and wounded, and afterwards one towed the other to Goeree
This evening the Fairfax came into this road. Captain Lawson, the commander of her, is well in his person, but hath lost and wounded about 100 of his company; his mast much wounded, and the ship very much shattered. He brought a prize with him, which is coming up towards this road, a stout ship of 38 guns, which he took on Saturday in the evening. She will be a good man-of-war.
State of the FairfaxNRS037
This day (5th March 1653) about noon I took a shallop and went on board the Fairfax in this road (Dover), which I found very much battered in her hull, and her masts much maimed, a necessity for a new fore-mast, mizen-mast, foretop-mast and main-yard; and upon debate with Captain Lawson he presently set sail and went for the Downs this evening, and awaits your Honours' commands in order to the bringing in of the frigate that being the fittest place in my opinion
Letter from Phineus PettNRS037

Right Worshipful, This night about ten of the clock the Fairfax became on fire and is almost burned down to the water ; by a great providence the Unicorn was preserved. I much doubt there was treachery in it for that she was the weathermost ship, the tide newly come, the wind easterly and the fire so sudden that it was discovered ashore before the ship's company were sensible of it. The Unicorn was not a cable's length from her, and was yare in cutting cables in the hawse, and so with a warp bowsed l ashore on the east side, the Greyhound and other ships did the like, and she drove ashore upon the west side. I dare assure you there is no danger of the other ships but she is irrecoverable, her lower tier of guns are out, and part of her upper and her powder taken out at Queenborough. I thought fit to give you this brief account and shall be more punctual when I shall see the event; in the meantime I crave leave to remain

At your command,


Chatham Dock, 22 March, 1652, at 1 in the morning. (1st April 1653 New Style)

Letter to the Admiralty CommissionersNRS037

Right Honourable, According to order we came this morning to this place. Immediately went to view the ruins of the Fairfax which is burnt down fore and aft to the lower futtock, only her bottom remaining wherein was the guns and other provisions left on board. And in the pursuance of your Honours' commands in order to a strict examination of the manner of burning the aforesaid ship and also the persons who are guilty or accessories thereof, we have accordingly used the best way and means to inform ourselves whether this said disaster happened by treachery or neglect of duty in those concerned in your trust, and have ripened matters in our thoughts ready for a farther prosecution; only have waited this day to see whether Dr. Walker come or not, but now, the evening being come, conclude that your Honours have seen cause to alter that resolution, and therefore in case we receive nothing to alter our purposes we are resolved in the morning to take such examinations that are material to the case, in meantime shall only give your Honours this general account of our apprehensions (that concurs with what one of us gave you last night) that there is no appearance of any design by treachery to destroy her, but only a thievish contrivement which occasioned the setting on fire some loose powder that was scattered in the powder room by the fall of a candle, and as to that part of neglect of duty we humbly conceive that cannot be excused, for upon examination we find that there was borne upon her book thirty men, whereas there was but fourteen on board and he that was the principal officer of trust (who was yeoman to the boatswain) was absent, and the gunner's mate and yeoman of the powder room, who were on board, we conceive will appear most deeply chargeable. We find by examination that no watch was kept on board; no boatswain or gunner belonging to her, nor any other care taken to prevent this untimely loss. We shall take boldness to represent matters clearly to your Honours as we apprehend, as also offer our thoughts thereupon when we have more fully acquainted ourselves therewith, which we hope to effect to-morrow, so for present crave leave to subscribe ourselves,

Right Honourable,

Your very faithful and humble servants,


Chatham, 24 March, 1652.


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