Nominal Guns8BWAS-1714
NationalityGreat Britain
OperatorRoyal Navy
Keel Laid Down12.1780BWAS-1714
How acquiredPurpose builtBWAS-1714
ShipyardIpswich BWAS-1714
Ship ClassTisiphone Class
ConstructorStephen TeagueBWAS-1714
Ship TypeFireship
Sailing RigShip Rigged
Sold for Break Up30.7.1825BWAS-1714


DimensionMeasurementTypeMetric EquivalentBWAS-1714
Length of Gundeck108' 10"Imperial Feet32.9184 
Length of Keel90' 8"Imperial Feet27.6352 
Breadth29' 7"Imperial Feet8.859 
Depth in Hold9' 0"Imperial Feet2.7432 
Burthen422 694Tons BM 


19.3.1782Broadside Weight = 48 Imperial Pound ( 21.768 kg)BWAS-1714
Gun Deck8 British 12-Pounder

9.1791Broadside Weight = 133 Imperial Pound ( 60.3156 kg)BWAS-1714
Gun Deck14 British 18-Pound Carronade
Gun Deck2 British 6-Pounder
Gun Deck4 British 1/2-Pound Swivel

2.1807Broadside Weight = 48 Imperial Pound ( 21.768 kg)BWAS-1714
Gun Deck8 British 12-Pounder

Crew Complement

Date# of MenNotesSource
177955Design Complement

16 Commanding Officers

9.3.1782 - 15.11.1782CommanderRobert Mostyn (d.1784)BWAS-171415.11.1782 - 17.1.1783CommanderThomas Byard (d.1798)BWAS-17145.1790CommanderRobert WatsonBWAS-17143.1791 - 9.1791CommanderThomas Francis Fremantle (1765-1819)BWAS-17149.1791 - 9.2.1793CommanderJohn Woodley (d.1796)BWAS-17149.2.1793 - 24.6.1793CommanderPhilip Charles Calderwood Henderson Durham (1763-1845)BWAS-171424.6.1793 - 1.1794CommanderJames Cook (d.1794)BWAS-17141.1794 - 10.1794CommanderJohn ClementsBWAS-171410.1794 - 1796CommanderAmherst MorrisBWAS-17141796 - 11.8.1800CommanderMichael SeymourBWAS-171411.8.1800 - 1804CommanderRobert Keen (d.1835)BWAS-17141.1803 - 4.1803CommanderCharles BartholomewBWAS-17142.1806 - 2.1807CaptainWilliam Green (d.1811)BWAS-17142.1807 - 1808CommanderHenry Samuel ButtBWAS-17141808 - 1814CommanderJohn EllisBWAS-17141814 - 5.1815CommanderJames Robert DaltonBWAS-1714

2 Commissioned Officers

2.10.1800 - 12.9.1804LieutenantRobert Bloye (d.1847)NBD184921.2.1808 - 7.7.1808LieutenantJohn Donaldson Boswall (1790-?)NBD1849

Service History

3.1782Commissioned for Channel ServiceBWAS-1714
21.4.1782Began coppering and fitting at Sheerness Dockyard BWAS-1714
18.7.1782Completed coppering and fitting at Sheerness Dockyard at a cost of £3391.17.0dBWAS-1714
4.1783Paid offBWAS-1714
7.1783Began fitting for ordinary at Sheerness Dockyard BWAS-1714
8.1783Completed fitting for ordinary at Sheerness Dockyard BWAS-1714
5.1790Recommissioned and paid offBWAS-1714
5.1790Began fitting at Sheerness Dockyard BWAS-1714
6.1790Completed fitting at Sheerness Dockyard at a cost of £519.0.0dBWAS-1714
4.1791Began fitting at Sheerness Dockyard BWAS-1714
5.1791Completed fitting at Sheerness Dockyard at a cost of £1749.0.0dBWAS-1714
9.1791Paid offBWAS-1714
9.1791Recommissioned as a sloopBWAS-1714
9.1791Refitted as a 16 gun Unrated  
2.1793Took the Privateer Cutter L'Afrique (22)

The last cruise of Captain Durham, of the Spitfire, though more harrassing to the enemy, was less successful to himself and ship's company than the former. On the 19th he came up with a sloop rigged privateer, and two other sloops, close under Treepore, a small distance from Dieppe. He had but a few minutes sent out his boats to take possession of the prizes, when a body of 2000 troops, with field-pieces, &c. commenced an heavy fire from the shore, and, being within musket shot of the boats, it was found impossible to bring the prizes off. He, however, under this storm of bullets, knocked the privateer to pieces, and stove in, and set fire to the other two vessels, one of which was deeply laden with fine Cognac brandy.

3.1793Destroyed the privateer La Marguerite BWAS-1714
3.1793Took the Privateer Le Saint Jean
12.1.1797Took the Unrated Storeship L'Allègre off Ushant
2.4.1797Took the Privateer Les Bons Amis (6) off Eddystone
5.1797Took the Privateer La Trompeuse (6)
1.5.1797Took the Privateer L'Aimable Manet (14) in the Channel
15.9.1797Took the Privateer L'Incroyable (3) off the Lizard
1.1798Began refitting at Plymouth Dockyard BWAS-1714
2.1798Completed refitting at Plymouth Dockyard at a cost of £2449.0.0dBWAS-1714

Retook the merchant Sybille of Dartmouth off the Start

28.12.1798Took the Unrated Transport Le Wilding (14) in the Bay of Biscay

Arrived at Plymouth in company with the merchant Sybille of Dartmouth and the prize Wilding


Sailed from Plymouth for the coast of France


Off Plymouth


Arrived at Plymouth

31.3.1799Took the Privateer Brig-Corvette La Résolue (14) off Scilly bearing N. N . W . 14 leaguesBG

Sailed from Plymouth


Arrived at Plymouth


Put into Plymouth for orders


Arrived at Plymouth "with a smuggling lugger called the Providence, having a cargo of 90 ankers of spirits, and twenty-six bales of tobacco."



Sailed from Plymouth

17.4.1800Took the Privateer Brig L'Heureuse Societé (14) at 2 P.M. , Cape Levy , bearing S. S. W . distant 4 leaguesBG
19.6.1800Took the Privateer L'Heureux Coureur (14) in the Channel
4.1805Began middling repair at Sheerness Dockyard BWAS-1714
4.1806Completed middling repair at Sheerness Dockyard BWAS-1714
29.12.1806Took the Privateer Les Deux Frères (4) in the Channel
2.1807Recommissioned as a fireshipBWAS-1714
2.1807Refitted as a 8 gun Unrated Fireship
23.5.1810Sailed with a convoy to QuebecBWAS-1714
1811At PortsmouthBWAS-1714
1813In GreenlandBWAS-1714
1814Off West AfricaBWAS-1714
5.1815Laid up at PortsmouthBWAS-1714
30.7.1825Sold at Portsmouth to Mr Ranwell for £1,205 to break upBWAS-1714

FromUntilFleetFleet CommanderSource
18051806American Mediterranean Squadron 1805-1806John Rodgers (d.1838)


BWAS-1714British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714 - 1792Rif WinfieldBook
NBD1849A Naval Biographical Dictionary 1849O'BrienDigital Book
TNCThe Naval ChronicalVariousPeriodical
BGThe London GazetteOfficialWeb Site

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Tim Oakley on Sunday 18th of February 2018 18:45

23 Jul 1801 a few days ago a Court Martial was held on board the Cambridge, flag ship, in Hamoaze, on Mr. Banfield, purser of his Majesty's sloop of war, Spitfire16 sloop Commander Robert Keen, on a charge of disobedience of orders to his Captain. The charge was fully proved but on account of the excellent character given Mr. Banfield by several respectable Naval Officers, he was only mulcted by the Court in one year's pay, and reinstated as Purser of the Spitfire.

Posted by Tim Oakley on Friday 20th of July 2012 21:19

1791 May 27 Spitfire 8 fire ship commander Thomas Francis Fremantle at Spithead
1791 Jun 26 Spitfire 8 guard ship off Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
1791 Sept Spitfire 8 paid off
Ref : not Rif Winfield

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