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Nominal Guns38BWAS-1714
NationalityGreat Britain
OperatorRoyal Navy
Keel Laid Down23.8.1779BWAS-1714
How acquiredPurpose builtBWAS-1714
ShipyardBristol - England BWAS-1714
Ship ClassMinerva Class (1778)BWAS-1714
Designed by
Edward HuntBritish
Ship Builder
Dockyard Staff
Service 1757-1786
James Martin HillhouseBritish
Ship Builder
CategoryFifth RateBWAS-1714
Ship TypeFrigateBWAS-1714
Sailing RigShip RiggedBWAS-1714
Broken Up5.1814BWAS-1714


DimensionMeasurementTypeMetric EquivalentBWAS-1714
Length of Gundeck141' 1 ½"Imperial Feet42.9895 
Length of Keel116' 10 ⅝"Imperial Feet35.3727 
Breadth39' 0 ½"Imperial Feet11.8999 
Depth in Hold13' 9 ½"Imperial Feet3.9751 
Burthen947 6394Tons BM 


10.4.1781Broadside Weight = 390.5 Imperial Pound ( 177.0921 kg)BWAS-1714
Upper Gun Deck28 British 18-Pounder
Upper Gun Deck14 British 1/2-Pound Swivel
Quarterdeck6 British 18-Pound Carronade
Quarterdeck8 British 9-Pounder
Forecastle4 British 18-Pound Carronade
Forecastle2 British 9-Pounder

Crew Complement

Date# of MenNotesSource
6.11.1778270Design Complement

10 Ship Commanders

28.3.1781 - 25.3.1783Captain
Sir Richard PearsonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1745-1805
ADM 6/22/268
10.5.1790 - 28.2.1793Captain
John StanhopeBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1756-1799
Transfered ADM 6/24/26
6.9.1793 - 21.12.1793Captain
The Hon. Seymour FinchBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1777-1794
ADM 6/24/266
21.12.1793 - 4.1795Captain
Sir Edward PellewBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1776-1814
ADM 6/24/292
4.1795 - 3.1796Captain
Mark RobinsonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1776-1830
3.1796 - 8.1801Captain
Sir Thomas WolleyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1777-1814
8.1801 - 1802Captain
James BowenBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1781-1825
4.1805 - 9.1808Captain
Charles BrisbaneBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1779-1819
9.1808 - 1811Captain
Sir Robert MendsBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1789-1790
1811 - 1813Captain
Francis Holmes CoffinBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1791-1813

3 Commissioned Officers

17.11.1797 - 29.4.1799Lieutenant
Frederick William BurgoyneBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1790-1846
Joseph Salvador MoriencourtBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1793-1799
1806First Lieutenant
John ParishBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1802-1817

5 Petty Officers

5.1805 - 10.1807Midshipman
John Henry BellairsBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1803-1814
7.1805 - 1806Master's Mate
Edward BoxerBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1798-1841
1806 - 10.1808Midshipman
John Williams AldridgeBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1805-1862
9.1808 - 20.3.1809Midshipman
George BackBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1803-1835
11.1809 - 1811Midshipman
James BurneyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1807-1835

1 Crewman

27.9.1805 - 18061st Class Volunteer
John Williams AldridgeBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1805-1862

Service History

10.4.1781building at Bristol - England at a cost of £12178.1.2dBWAS-1714
10.1781Began refitting at Plymouth Dockyard - Plymouth BWAS-1714
11.1781Completed refitting at Plymouth Dockyard - Plymouth at a cost of £5368.4.9dBWAS-1714
12.12.17812nd Battle of Ushant

Arrived at Spithead

14.1.1782Took the Unrated
Le Hardi (12) 1781-1782
French 12 Gun
17.2.1782Took the Brig
La Jeune Olympe (14) 1781-1782
French 14 Gun
Privateer Brig
24.2.1782Took the Cutter
Le Tartare (14) 1780-1782
French 14 Gun
Unrated Cutter
17.4.1782Sailed for NewfoundlandBWAS-1714
20.8.1782Took the Corvette
Le Thorn (14) 1781-1782
French 14 Gun
Unrated Corvette
after a chase of 25 hours

Paid off at Portsmouth

6.1790Began fitting at Portsmouth Dockyard - Portsmouth BWAS-1714
8.1790Completed fitting at Portsmouth Dockyard - Portsmouth at a cost of £5034.0.0dBWAS-1714
6.1792Began great repair at Portsmouth Dockyard - Portsmouth BWAS-1714
1.1794Completed great repair at Portsmouth Dockyard - Portsmouth at a cost of £21978.0.0dBWAS-1714
23.4.1794Action of 1794-04-23
23.4.1794Took the Corvette
Le Babet (24) 1793-1794
French 24 Gun
6th Rate Corvette

23.8.1794Destruction of the Volontaire
21.10.1794Capture of the Révolutionnaire
21.10.1794Took the Frigate
Le Révolutionnaire (42) 1794-1794
French 42 Gun
5th Rate Frigate

9.2.1796Sailed for the Leeward IslandsBWAS-1714
2.1797At TrinidadBWAS-1714
20.8.1797Took the Corvette
La Gaité (20) 1796-1797
French 20 Gun
6th Rate Corvette
1.4.1800Took the Cutter
Le Général Bernadotte (14) 1799-1800
French 14 Gun
Privateer Cutter
12.4.1801Took the Lugger
Le Brave (14) 1801-1801
French 14 Gun
Privateer Lugger
27.7.1801Took the Ship
L'Invention (24) 1801-1801
French 24 Gun
Privateer Ship
at 43°03' N, 11°42' W, off Cape Ortegal
2.1805Began repairs at Deptford Dockyard - Deptford BWAS-1714
6.1805Completed repairs at Deptford Dockyard - Deptford at a cost of £14148.0.0dBWAS-1714
12.12.1805Sailed for JamaicaBWAS-1714
1806Grounded on the ColoradosBWAS-1714
1.1.1807Present at the capture of CuracaoBWAS-1714
23.8.1808Took the Frigate
Pomona (34) 1794-1808
Spanish 34 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
off Havana

26.11.1808Took the Brig
Le Général Ernouf (16) 1806-1808
French 16 Gun
Privateer Brig
5.4.1809Capture of the Niémen
17.3.1810Took the Schooner
La Levrette (4) 1810-1810
French 4 Gun
Privateer Schooner
21.11.1811Sailed for JamaicaBWAS-1714
5.1814Broken up at SheernessBWAS-1714


Previous comments on this page

Posted by Gordon Chandler on Tuesday 11th of January 2022 14:17

Family history - transcription of original letter from one of my ancestors:

"Narrative of the Proceedings and the Capture
of the boats of HMS Arethusa on
the coast of Spain. Under the command of
Mr Thos Mantor (Master)

At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 2nd April 1809 we left H M Ship Arethusa then off Cape Machierco [Cape Matxitxako].
It blew a light breeze accompanied with rain, at 5 the breeze increased and shewed every sign of an approaching gale of wind. At 7 it blew one accompanied with very heavy rain.
We were on our hind, at 9 the Master hailed the barge in which Mr Rodmill & myself were to say he thought we had better bear up, as he expected then to fetch a small harbour called Ea in which he thought we might safely enter. But owing to the very thick weather we were mistaken & made the land about 2 miles to leeward of it. We therefore hauled our wind & after 2 hours entered the harbour of Ea, at the mouth of which we anchored, there not being water enough to go up to the town.
We immediately sent a Spaniard (for we were nearly half Spaniards) to ascertain whether there were any French troops there, or how near there might be any, he swam ashore & returned with the answer that there were none within some leagues of the place, at about ½ past 11 then half flood we proceeded up to the town, where after taking possession of a shed in which the fishermen kept their nets & having secured our firearms & placed our two carronades at the door of the shed, we placed our sentries & lit a fire to dry our clothes. We boiled some beef & the Spaniards sold us some ham, with this we made a good dinner. Mr Mantor, Crowe & Back (who were in the launch with him) Rodmill & myself dined together at one end of the shed & the men at the other end. We congratulated each other on being safe ashore & indeed we had great reason to do so for there was such a sea running that several times we nearly upset. We placed spies (Spaniards) whom we paid well to bring us intelligence on the approach of the French. Not withstanding all our precautions to the contrary the men got brandy of the Spaniards & several of them were drunk this night & one of them (Anderson) went so far as to strike Mantor, after a little difficulty we got him secured & had no reason to complain of his behaviour after. We relieved each other in the watch every two hours. We slept very comfortably that night in our shed & next morning about 10 o’clock our look outs came with information that there were 2 vessels lying to about 2 miles off the harbour’s mouth, Mantor immediately went with his glass & we very easily saw that the 2 launches (for such they were) were full of men. We did not doubt for a moment what they were, we knew them to be a sort of Gun Boat, & they afterwards proved to be manned with the very men who made us prisoners. We tried repeatedly to get out to them with the barge but owing to a strong tide setting in & a great swell at the mouth of the harbour we were not able to effect our purpose. They shortly after made sail running down to the westward.
In the afternoon about 5 o’clock (the weather being moderate) we left Ea to proceed to Hondara [Ondarroa] about 5 or 6 leagues to the eastern where the governor had detained 4 of our men that had been obliged to put into that port under stress of weather with a vessel (prize to us) we came abreast of Hondara about 11 o’clock & anchored, at 6 in the morning (Tuesday) we proceeded up to the town. Our Spanish pilot a very intelligent man took 20 Englishmen with him & went to the Governor’s house, but it seems that he had been previously informed of our arrival & had found it proper to withdraw. The pilot then made for the prison, the doors of which he broke open & released our men. After some consultation together Mantor directed him to seize three of the principal inhabitants and to bring them on board us He soon executed his commission. We told them that unless they were willing to satisfy us for the trouble we had been at & for the injury they had done us by seizing our vessel & imprisoning the men we should feel ourselves obliged to take them with us on board the frigate & therefore we must insist upon their either paying us for the vessel they had seized or upon their going with us. After a little time they agreed to pay us 500 dollars as the price of the vessel – this settled we let let them go & they very kindly sent us a good dinner & some wine thus settling the affair perfectly to our satisfaction.
At 3 o’clock in the afternoon Rodmell & myself with our pilot proceeded with 25 men by land to Montrico [Mutriku] about 2 leagues to the eastern, where there were about 20 Frenchmen who defended 2 forts of 3 guns each, had they have been resolute they might have kept the town in spite of all our endeavours to the contrary, but no sooner did they see us approach the town than they spiked their guns and took to their boat. On entering Montrico we beheld the French just quitting. Rodmell with 10 men made for the pier battery & I with the other men to the battery situate on a very high eminence the guns were all loaded with sound grape and the matches lighted lying beside them. One of the guns in the pier battery was pointed at the town & had they have fired it at our entering they must have done considerable mischief. But they appeared wholly intent of making their escape from us. Rodmell drew the spike of one of the guns (for in their hurry they had neglected to do it effectually) & fired at the boat, it was scarcely possible to have pointed better, the shot struck 2 or 3 yds astern of it. The officer who was in it at the time (& whom we saw afterwards) told us candidly how alarmed he felt on the occasion. Mantor now came around with the boats, but he was too late to see the French one. We threw the guns in the sea & having found 3 hundred lbs of powder served it in the like manner. We then placed spies at Ea, to put a watch in our boats, got some eggs for supper & slept pretty near round a good fire till morning.
At 7 in the morning (Wednesday) Rodmell & the pilot with 25 men went by land to a town called Deva [Deba] a league to the eastern where we had intelligence of 2 French luggers laden with brandy & destined for the support of the French army. Mantor & myself went round in the boats. On entering the harbour we saw the luggers at anchor, we made up for the 1st found her all right, I took her in tow with the barge & after some difficulty (owing to our being totally unacquainted with it) got her out of the harbour. We put 3 Englishmen & 5 Spaniards aboard her with positive orders to keep well off until they saw us come out in the boats. We found the other lugger empty but on going a little further up the harbour we discovered her cargo all lashed together & afloat. Rodmell arrived about this time with his men by land. He immediately apprised the governor of Deva that if he did not choose to pay the price of the brandy we intended to stave every one of the casks, but if he chose to redeem it by giving us 1000 dollars (which by the bye was far below the mark) we would leave it. He asked an hour to consult with the merchants of the town which we allowed him & in the mean time we placed our guards over it & I with 20 men proceeded to a fort of 7 guns at the entrance of the harbour. We spiked the guns & threw the shot into the sea, but owing to a want of handspikes were not able to throw the guns over. I then returned with the men to the town & found that Manton by means of our pilot had discovered where a quantity of arms were kept. We destroyed & rendered useless about 400 muskets & kept 100 with a barrel of ball cartridges which we also found & stored aboard the launch. The hour being expended the governor told us he could not muster more than 500 dollars, but that he would give us a note of hand for the remainder in a month. Our pilot after some talk with the governor advised us to take one bond assuring us that the governor would pay it when due. What became of it afterwards I would never learn. Some of the men having found handspikes, we returned to the fort & threw the guns into the sea. We had near finished our business here & intended to go immediately to Plencia [Plentzia] where we had information of 4 vessels laden with wool. Plencia was about 10 or 12 leagues to the western of us. We had come near enough to the French quarters, which were only 4 leagues off & therefore it seemed highly proper to proceed without delay to some place more out of their reach & the more so as we well knew they had information that we were at Deva. It was near noon. Circumstances however, which ought to have been, but which were not foreseen sended very materially to the unfortunate fate of our expedition. Our launch which was a large Spanish one drew so much water that we were unable to get her out till nearly flood tide which was at 6 o’clock. The barge we might have got out at 3. But not then reflecting how great a difference two or three hours might make in our circumstances, we thought it immaterial whether we got out at 2 or 6 o’clock. Now had we have left the launch outside the harbour which we ought to have done, I am persuaded that instead of the fate which attended us we should have made a very successful cruise of it. During our stay at Deva several of the men got liquor & shewed themselves very unruly. On Rodmell’s desiring one of them not to leave the boat & threat’ning to knock him down if he disobeyed, one or two of the men (Wood, Cowan) in it got up & pointing their muskets at Rodmell told him they would fire if he struck the man. They did not tho’ Rodmell struck him. This was not the only misconduct we had to regret during our stay here and, I am sorry to say that they were secretly encouraged to it by the Coxswain of the barge (Smith) who ought to have been the last to have done so. However it is but due, to say that there were others who behaved themselves remarkably well & proved themselves worthy of the greatest confidence (Hill, Pearson, Burgen, Graham, McAully, Phelan & Anderson). at 6 o’clock it being there dusk & blowing fresh, we got out of the harbour but at the very entrance of it we met the lugger we had sent to sea in the morning with orders to keep well off shore coming in. On asking the reason of the men on board why they had behaved directly contrary to their orders, they said that not seeing us come out as we said we intended & having no provisions on board their vessel. They had been induced (thinking that we intended to stay at Deva that night) to come into us for provisions. Manton then ordered Rodmell to go on board her with 4 good men & to make the best of his way to Montrico where we intended to anchor. And giving me the command of the barge he ordered me to make for Montrico as well as I could. It blew almost directly on shore notwithstanding which the launch & barge were able to fetch Montrico in 2 tacks. After leaving the lugger about 20 minutes I observed them fire 2 muskets, I directly put about for her in order to render her any assistance she might stand in need of. When I came alongside Rodmell asked me for 2 more hands & a few muskets, he told me at the same time he feared he should not be able to get into Montrico for some time as the lugger had no mizzen & that it was with difficulty that he could either tack her or make her keep the wind. I then wished him a good night & made sail for Montrico. I soon left him considerable astern & the leeward after leaving him for about three quarters of an hour he fired a musket. I hesitated to return a second time & the more so as Mantor had ordered me to proceed to Montrico as soon as possible & that it blew fresh with a heavy rain. I consulted the men who were of opinion that he had made for Deva finding himself unable to beat up to Montrico. We entered there about 11 o’clock. I told Mantor what had happened, he said it was all right & that the lugger had of course put into Deva. We then put a watch in the boats & kept round the fire till morning. Our spies told us that the lugger was at anchor in Deva & only waited our coming to tow her out. It struck us from what we had heard the preceding day, that French troops must have entered that town, yet placing the greatest confidence in our Spanish spies who assured us of the contrary we proceeded. I must not here forget to say that a well dressed Spaniard accosted me as I was about to get into the boat & I could plainly understand him to say “Francese Deva”. However we paid no no regard to that as we thought he might be interested in the lugger. Mantor went with me in the barge as she both pulled and sailed better than the launch & we intended to tow the lugger out with her and proceed immediately to Plencia. He then ordered the pilot to take charge of the launch & to keep of the harbour’s mouth until we came out. At 8 we left. On our entering Deva we perceived the lugger at anchor under a wall which ran in front of the town, we pulled up to her as fast as possible intending to lose no time in getting her out. When we had come within 40 or 50 yds of her the Coxswain sung out “there goes a French Officer we are all taken” I looked & I saw a man with a cocked hat & cloak similar to what I had seen Spaniards wear. I said it was no Frenchman but a Spanish Priest & at the same time cheered the men to pull on. We were now within 50 yds of the wall & not far from the lugger when on a sudden we perceived a body of French troops rise from under the wall & fire directly into us. I plainly saw the French Officer pointing his sword at us & supposed (as was the case) that he was telling them how badly as they had pointed. Mantor directly ordered the coxswain to put about but he from the surprise & confusion which so unexpected an occurrence naturally occasions put the helm the wrong way & in a few seconds we were ashore receiving another volley. We had grounded on a rock about 12 yds from the shore. The Spaniards who were in the barge on receiving the 1st discharge jumped overboard & now that we were ashore several Englishmen followed their example. We grounded stern to the French or we might otherwise have fired our carronade. The small arms were stored in the chest, so unprepared were we for such an event. After receiving two or three more volleys during which 5 or 6 Englishmen with Mantor & myself were endeavouring to get her off, Mantor said it was useless trying to do anything more, but that we had better get ashore as fast as we could & endeavour to escape that way. He with 4 others immediately did so. I was then stepping forward to the bow to follow him, calling at the same time named Harrop to wait a moment for me. He did so & I saw the Frenchmen at that moment to the number of about 20 shove off in a boat from under the wall. On their seeing us about to leave the barge, they fired & Harrop immediately fell without saying a word. I threw myself down in the boat until the volley was over & called to Harrop to ask him where he was struck, but hearing him make no answer I concluded he was dead. I then rose intending to jump ashore, but saw the French boat close along side us, they directly pointed their muskets at me & had not the French Officer not prevented them I have no doubt but it was all over with me. He asked me if I was wounded I said not then giving me in charge to some of his men, he & the rest went ashore after those who had escaped. He came up with Mantor & 5 Englishmen & took them & going up a little hill he saw the launch (though they had orders to the contrary) coming into the harbour. He then crossed the harbour with his men & they concealed themselves until the launch (who had heard no firing) came within a few paces of where they were hid. There were only 2 midshipmen (quite youngsters) & three other Englishmen in her. The rest were Spaniards who on seeing the French immediately jumped overboard. The French then boarded & loot her. the Spaniards who jumped overboard were all either shot or taken prisoner. I saw several sink as they swam for the other side. They then conducted us to a large room where we found Rodmell & eight Englishmen prisoners. They had been made prisoners in the following manner:
After Rodmell had been anchored about an hour on the Wednesday evening, a boat came from the shore, on being hailed by the watch on deck a man who was in her asked if they wanted provisions. Rodmell who had come on deck said they did & giving him some money desired him bring some aboard as soon as possible, he promised to do so & left them. About an hour after the watch hailed a boat, it was answered that it was the provisions coming aboard. They suspected nothing but on the boat coming alongside 40 men jumped up, knocked the men on deck down & fired their pieces down the cabin hatchway. Rodmell then cried out that they had struck. There was one man killed & another wounded very dangerously. They were the taken ashore & lodged where we found them in the morning. It seems that the French had come into Deva shortly after our quitting it on Wednesday evening & that the man who had come aboard the lugger offering to get provisions was a Frenchman. There were two killed and three wounded in the barge. It is impossible to know how many of the launch’s crew were killed, there were none killed or wounded aboard her but, if we may judge from the circumstances there must have been 7 or 8 Spaniards killed in the water in attempting to escape, there were no Englishmen. The French Officer behaved with the greatest civility. We lost 900 dollars which were in the launch & had every reason to suppose that the French Officer had taken them for himself. This however was perfectly just as the money did not belong to us but to the ship. This ended our expedition, which had it proved successful must have been highly beneficial to the interests of the ship as well of some consequence to the Spanish cause, by our intercepting the supplies destined for the support of the French Army in Spain, but which by unforeseen circumstances was attended by every reverse of what might have been reasonably expected. The treachery of the Spanish spies whom we employed & who gave us information directly contrary to what they must have known to be the case, the cowardice of the Spaniards in quitting the boats thus showing a dangerous example to those who were certainly inclined to act contrary & the fault of the coxswain putting the helm down the wrong way, seem to be the leading circumstances which occasioned our capture. But at the same time the imprudence of taking such a boat as the Spanish launch which drew so much water with us & the still greater folly of taking such a boat in the harbour of Deva (which is a bar harbour) was the cause of our not being able to quit that place till the evening & the consequence was, that the lugger which should have been stood miles off shore was just entering the harbour as we were coming out & instead of us proceeding as we intended to go to Plencia were were obliged to return next morning to Deva to look after the lugger.
About 12 o’clock the same day we left Deva & marched to Getaria where we remained all night closely guarded. Next day we went by sea to San Sebastian, the guns there firing in honour of the event, which was returned by the boats. After staying several days at San Sebastian in hopes of seeing the Frigate come off the coast & being able to effect an exchange between ourselves & some French prisoners that were on board her, during which time we experienced the greatest attention & politeness from Mr Fleury the officer who took us prisoner there, the French General would not allow 8 Spaniards who were taken with us to proceed any farther but claimed them as deserters & assured us positively that his orders were to shoot them which he intended to do in a few days. From San Sebastian we were marched under a strong guard to Bayonne where we arrived in 3 days. After being confined in the citadel there for 10 days we got some money from a French banker & permission to proceed to Verdun on our parole at which place we arrived on the 25th May 1809. The men left us at Bayonne to proceed by another road to Besançon.
Henry Thomas"

Posted by Tim Oakley on Friday 13th of January 2017 19:50

Circa Feb 1800 Lieut. Norman, late of the Cormorant, is appointed to the Arethusa38.

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Date postedByPage
Friday 20th of May 2022 12:42Paul McKee
Wednesday 18th of May 2022 23:55Daryl Beattie
Monday 16th of May 2022 06:45Cy
Sunday 15th of May 2022 21:56Albert Parker
Sunday 15th of May 2022 19:22Cy
Jan HalfhoornDutch
Naval Sailor
Service 1665