Nominal Guns64BWAS-1714
NationalityGreat Britain
OperatorRoyal Navy
PreviouslyBritish Third Rate ship of the line 'Northumberland' (1721) (70)
Keel Laid Down16.10.1740BWAS-1714
How acquiredPurpose builtBWAS-1714
ShipyardWoolwich Dockyard - Woolwich BWAS-1714
Ship Class1719 Establishment 70-GunnerBWAS-1714
Constructor John Holland (d.1752)BWAS-1714
CategoryThird RateBWAS-1714
Ship TypeShip of the Line BWAS-1714
Sailing RigShip RiggedBWAS-1714
BecomesFrench Third Rate ship of the line 'Le Northumberland' (1744) (64)


DimensionMeasurementTypeMetric EquivalentBWAS-1714
Length of Gundeck154' 1"Imperial Feet46.9397 
Length of Keel125' 3"Imperial Feet38.103 
Breadth44' 2"Imperial Feet13.4239 
Depth in Hold18' 11"Imperial Feet5.4896 
Burthen1,299 5694Tons BM 


7.10.1743Broadside Weight = 704 Imperial Pound ( 319.264 kg)BWAS-1714
Lower Gun Deck26 British 32-Pounder
Upper Gun Deck26 British 18-Pounder
Quarterdeck10 British 9-Pounder
Forecastle2 British 9-Pounder

Crew Complement

Date# of MenNotesSource
1741480Design Complement

1 Ship Commander

28.9.1743 - 8.5.1744Captain Thomas Watson (d.1744) ADM 6/16/221BWAS-1714

1 Commissioned Officer

23.9.1743 - 8.5.1744First Lieutenant Thomas Craven (c.1715-1772) ADM 6/16/221ADM 6/16

Service History

21.11.1743Completed at Woolwich Dockyard - Woolwich at a cost of £28342.8.9dBWAS-1714
8.5.1744Action of 1744-05-08
8.5.1744Taken by Le Content (60) off Ushant
8.5.1744Taken by Le Mars (64) off Ushant
8.5.1744Taken by La Vénus (26) off Ushant


Previous comments on this page

Posted by Albert Parker on Tuesday 23rd of February 2016 02:09

On the date of Northumberland’s capture, Vénus was hundreds of miles/kilometers away in the English Channel.
On the date of Northumberland’s capture, Comte d’Aché, given by many English accounts as the captain of Vénus, was in command of Auguste, 52.
When Northumberland came out of fog bank after separating from Rear-Admiral Charles Hardy’s fleet, her officers sighted three unknown ships that they took to be two French ships of the line and a frigate. At the same time, the officers of Mars and Content saw two ships in Northumberland’s direction. A first-hand account of the action by an educated member of Northumberland’s crew, A True and Authentick Narrative of the Action Between the Northumberland and Three French Men of War, describes the action between Northumberland on the one hand and Mars and Content on the other, but does not mention any involvement by a third French ship. After the capture, the author of this widely cited pamphlet describes the repairs to Northumberland and Content and the voyage back to Brest but does not mention a third ship. A similar account, probably by the same author, was published in the popular monthly, The Gentleman’s Magazine.
The name of “Vénus” for the supposed third French ship first appears in print in the 1750’s, and was continued in later British naval histories up through 1920. David Hepper, British Warship Losses, who read unpublished court-martial proceedings, does not claim a third French ship was involved. D’Aché as captain of Vénus first appeared later in the 18th century. A collection of French documents includes reports from the captains of Mars and Content, Hardy’s order of battle (captured on Northumberland), details of the damage to the French ships, and nothing from the captain of Vénus. A contemporary official list of the assignments of French warships in April 1744 has Vénus escorting coastal convoys between Le Havre and Brest, while d’Aché was cruising off the coast of Ireland in Auguste.
The “third French ship” is a mistake by the officers of Northumberland—probably a passing merchantman that got out of the area as quickly as possible. Whether the second British ship sighted by the French was the same merchantman or a second one is impossible to determine. It makes haughty Englishmen feel better to think that one of their ships of the line was captured by three instead of two enemy ships, but IT IS NOT SO!
Vénus was probably added to late 18th-century British accounts by writers who believed the “three ships” baloney but didn’t know what the third ship was because there was none. Vénus had been part of the French fleet that had sailed up and down the English Channel earlier in 1744, and Comte d’Aché had been her commander at that time. Both were good guesses, IF THERE HAD BEEN A THIRD SHIP; but there was not.

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