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Précis of activities of the 4th Superb between 1798 & 1826

Anchor 4

 SUPERB 74. (1798 Northfleet. Broken up 1826) 


Type: 3rd rate ; Armament 74 

Launched River Thames: 1798 ; 

Disposal date or year : 17 April, 1826 Broken Up


Captain. John SUTTON, Admiral With the Channel fleet.




17 Jan 1799

dropped down to St. Helen's in preparation for a cruise off Brest ;


20 Jan 1799

remains at St. Helen's.

28 Jan 1799,

Portsmouth, sailed with the squadron under Queen Charlotte, for a cruise off Brest.

27 Feb 1799,

Plymouth, sailed for Torbay with the Formidable, Canada, Dragon, and Lancaster.


25 Apr 1799 

cruising off Brest.


8 Jun 1799,

reports received here advise that 16 ships of the line and 4 frigates were detached by Lord Bridport for the Straits.

7 Jul 1799 

joined the Mediterranean fleet off Minorca. 

27 Nov 1799,

arrived the Prince, Superb, Pompee and Agamemnon, from the Channel Fleet.

1 Dec 1799,

arrived from Lord Bridport’s fleet.



24 Apr 1800,

Torbay, sailed with the Channel Fleet, under the command of Sir Alan Gardner.

5 July

She returned to Plymouth to refit and reported that the troops General Maitland had landed on the French islands of Howat and Hedie had been re-embarked when he discovered that the garrison on Belle isle numbered 10,000 men.

12 Oct 1800,

Plymouth, arrived from the secret expedition (The troops went to Minorca).

Circa 1 Nov 1800,

Lieutenant Folvil, of the Superb, is promoted to the rank of Commander, and appointed to the Sally armed ship.

refitted in Portsmouth at the end of November



25 January

She sailed from Portsmouth to join the Channel fleet


12 March.

Returned to Plymouth


Captain Richard Goodwin KEATS.

31 March 

SUPERB, VENERABLE and CAMBRIAN sailed with the East Indiamen which had arrived off Portsmouth in a large convoy from the Downs. The first two seeing them as far as Madeira, the CAMBRIAN going on to the Cape.


17 April

On the three frigates, lying in wait for a Spanish 74, armed "en route", with money, captured the Spanish ship CARMEN and a brig deeply laden with hides and tallow from the Rio de Plata. The prizes arrived in Plymouth on 23 May.


SUPERB and VENERABLE returned to Portsmouth on 27 April.


After taking a convoy at Cape Verde, SUPERB returned to Sir James SAUMAREZ's squadron off Cadiz.


13 Jun 1801 

chased the two French 40-gun frigates Libre and Indienne in to the road of Cadiz. 

1 Jul 1801 

detached to watch the entrance of the river Guadalquivir, but on the 5th 1801 recalled to join the squadron, but was becalmed and unable to rejoin in time for the action in Algeciras roads. 


She was blockading the river Gualdalquivir when Lieutenant. Richard JANVRIN from Gibraltar arrived on board CAESAR on 5 July 1801 with the news that a French squadron from Toulon was at Algeciras. Sir James sent PASLEY to recall Captain KEATS and on the 7th VENERABLE, POMPEE, AUDACIOUS, CAESAR, SPENCER and HANNIBAL stood into Algeciras Roads while SUPERB, THAMES and PASLEY continued to watch Cadiz.


In the resultant action between the English ships and the French squadron and shore batteries, HANNIBAL was taken by the enemy and the other ships were badly damaged but the French losses were also high and Admiral Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand Linois asked the Spanish at Cadiz for help.


8 Jul 1801

A Spanish squadron of five line-of-battle ships and a frigate came out at daylight from Cadiz on the 9th and, preceded by the three British vessels, set sail for the Straits of Gibraltar to warn the Admiral.



Sir James was warned of their arrival by PASLEY and great efforts were made to refit the British ships while SUPERB and THAMES anchored in the Bay.


On the morning of the 12th the enemy got under way and, by noon, two of the Spanish three-deckers were off Cabritta Point. CAESAR was still receiving powder and shot but by 7 o'clock the whole British line was in pursuit.


At 9.30 the Admiral hailed Captain KEATS and directed him to make sail ahead to try and bring the enemy's rearmost ships to action. In less than two hours SUPERB, now out of sight of the rest of the British squadron, opened heavy fire on the quarter of the 112-gun REAL CARLOS.


Some of SUPERB's shot hit the SAN HERMENEGILDO giving the Spaniard the impression that her consort was the enemy. She too opened fire on REAL CARLOS until that ship was on fire. The two Spanish ships then collided and the fire spread to the SAN HERMENEGILDO.


Because of the weather SUPERB was unable to send any assistance as the two 1st Rates were destroyed. SUPERB was then in action with the SAN ANTONIO,74, and when the enemy struck, her first lieutenant, Mr Samuel JACKSON, took possession of the prize with one boat's crew, one Marine officer and four marines. his boat was stove in and sunk as he boarded.


There were 30O French seamen and soldiers on board and 50O Spaniards. As the prize approached Cape Trafalgar some of the prisoners considered retaking her but the French officers, considering that they had been fairly captured in battle, informed Lieutenant JACKSON and he disarmed the prisoners.


When the French and Spaniards started to quarrel the lieutenant put the Spaniards below and gave the French the task of guarding them.


The next day SUPERB towed the SAN ANTONIO towards Gibraltar and she was later taken into the Royal Navy but, being an old vessel, she never left Portsmouth after her arrival. Lieutenant JACKSON was promoted to commander but Captain KEATS received no particular praise for his conduct.



In October 1802, while SUPERB, DRAGON, TRIUMPH and GIBRALTAR were on passage from Gibraltar to Malta, mutineers took possession of the latter ship and ran her under the stern of the others, cheering them, in the hope that their crews would join.


When they were disappointed in this the mutiny was easily suppressed and three of the ringleaders were taken and hanged in Gibraltar after a courts martial.



8 Jul 1803 

with the blockading fleet off Toulon.


24 Oct 1803, 

sailed for the Magdalena islands for water etc., returned Toulon 23 Nov.

November, 1803, 

Of the weak and ill-provided state of several of his ships, Lord Nelson, in his letters to the admiralty, complained very bitterly, and, as it appears, not without reason. " The Superb, " says his lordship . . . . .

" is in a very weak state, but Keats is so superior to any difficulties, that I hear but little from her. The Kent is gone to Malta, fit only for a summer passage. Every bit of twice-laid stuff belonging to the Canopus is condemned, and all the running rigging in the fleet, except the Victory's. We have fitted the Excellent with new main and mizen rigging: it was shameful for the dock-yard (Portsmouth) to send a ship to sea with such rigging. "

The severity of the weather, coupled with the inefficient state of his squadron, compelled the British admiral, about the 12th of December, to enter the bay of Palma ; where the ships remained until the want of water sent them, on the 21st, a second time to Agincourt sound. In this commodious harbour, Lord Nelson and his squadron lay at anchor at the close of the year ; the port of Toulon, and the force within it, being carefully watched by Captain Ross Donnelly, of the Narcissus, with another frigate or two in company.

12 Dec 1803, 

whilst the Narcissus watched Toulon the Fleet sailed for the bay of Palma and thence to the Magdalena islands for water etc.


4 Jan 1804 

sailed from Sardinia with the Fleet ; on the 9th detached to Algiers, where on the 18th he re-joined the Fleet and returned, with the Fleet, arriving back at Sardinia on 27th. 1 Feb cruised on the French coast, anchoring off Cabrera on the 8th ; cruised again from the 19 Feb to 25 Mar. 

3 Apr 1804 

cruised off the French coast apart from returning briefly to the Magdalena islands to water from 11 to 19 May. 

19 Jul 1804 

following the receipt of supplies from England the fleet sailed for the gulf of Palma to store ship ; returned 26 Aug. 

25 Dec 1804 

detached from the British fleet off Toulon. 




15 Jan 1805 

rejoined the Mediterranean fleet from Algiers.

19 Jan 1805 

whilst watering at Agincourt sound the Mediterranean fleet was informed that the Toulon fleet was at sea, and sailed in search. It was discovered on 14 Feb that the French fleet had returned to Toulon. 


28 Mar 1805 

victualled at Palma and on the 3 Apr sailed to water at Pulla bay, but on the 4th received the signal from the Phoebe that the Toulon fleet was at sea again : the search began again. 


4 May 1805 detached from the Mediterranean fleet to Tetuan for cattle, fruit, and vegetables, but following a change in the wind the fleet sailed


5 May,

the Superb leaving her cargo of cattle and vegetables etc. on the beach. Having provisioned for 5 months on the 10th rendezvoused on 12th at Cape St.-Vincent with a convoy of troops from England and detached the Royal-Sovereign to the convoy, following which Nelson sailed for Madeira and the West Indies.

15 May 1805 

arrived Madeira :


4 Jun

 with news that the French fleet was in the West Indies : was joined by the Spartiate



arrived Antigua and sailed for Europe. 

17 Jul 1805 

arrived off Cape St.-Vincent and sailed for Gibraltar, and having watered etc. proceeded west and north. 15 Aug received news from Admiral Cornwallis off Ushant, before Victory and Superb sailed for Spithead, the latter "not having been in a home-port since the 16th of January, 1801, was in a very crazy state."

Circa 23 Dec 1805 

the squadron under Vice Admiral Duckworth, having lifted the blockade of Cadiz, was between Madeira, Canary isles, where it was reported a French Squadron had molested one and chased another convoy.


25 Dec

The French squadron was sighted and chased, but after 30 hours was discontinued and the squadron sailed for the West Indies.


Flagship of Vice Admiral Sir John Thomas DUCKWORTH commanding a squadron of ships in the West Indies. (NORTHUMBRTLAND, CANOPUS, SPENCER, DONEGAL, ATLAS and AGAMEMNON


12 Jan 1806 

arrived Barbados. 14th sailed for St. Christopher to water. 21 Jan joined by the Northumberland and Atlas.


1 Feb

Kingfisher joined Superb with intelligence that a French squadron had been seen steering  to the south of Santo-Domingo Duckworth lost no time in getting through the Mona Passage and learned from MAGICIENNE that the French had ten sail of the line with the same number of frigates and corvettes.


3rd February

Was joined by the Epervier off Saint-Thomas. 5th Magicienne joined confirming the intelligence. 


5th February

On the afternoon of the 5th SUPERB sighted five sail of the line, a frigate and a corvette sailing in line for Cape Nisao to the windward of Ocoa Bay. The Admiral telegraphed the squadron to attack and engage the enemy as they came up. SUPERB closed the ALEXANDRE but after three broadsides she sheered off and SUPERB was able to open fire on the French Admiral in IMPERIAL which had been causing much damage to Rear Admiral COCHRANE's NORTHUMBERLAND.


By the end of two hours three sail of the line, ALEXANDRE, JUPITER and BRAVE, had been captured and two, IMPERIAL and DIOMEDE, destroyed. (Because of tremendous seas they were burnt after removing all the living.) It took until the afternoon of the 7th to shift the prisoners and put the ships in a manageable state then SPENCER, DONEGAL and ATLAS were sent with the prizes to Jamaica.


SUPERB lost 6 killed, 3 seamen and 3 marines. 56 were wounded including Lieutenant Charles PATRIARCH, William PICKERING, master, and Messrs Charles WALLINGTON, Thomas JACKSON, Joseph BULLEN and James WILCOX, midshipmen.


The grand total in the seven ships of the squadron was 74 killed and 264 wounded.


In his public letter Admiral DUCKWORTH condemned the dishonourable conduct of Captain Henry of the DIOMEDE for running his vessel ashore after she had surrendered and allowing some of the crew to escape.


Captain Henry and his officers denied that the ship had surrendered and insisted that, although the ensign had been shot away, the pendant was always flying. After investigation the charges were withdrawn in a letter of the 16 February. 1807 Captain D. M'CLEOD, the Flagship of Rear Admiral KEATS.


27-28 Jul 1806 

Mars, Superb and Africa, a part of a squadron under Commodore R. G. Keats, in lat. 47° N., long. 7° west when the Mars sighted and went in chase of a French frigate squadron, but were unable to keep the Mars in sight ; after a long chase the Mars captured the French frigate Rhin, which was purchased into the service. 


November 1806

In November Mr GRIFFIN, gunner of SUPERB, was sentenced by court martial to be dismissed the service for drunkenness.



5 Aug 1807 

arrived Copenhagen and was present from 15 Aug - 20 Oct 1807 for the siege and bombardment of Copenhagen and capture of Danish Fleet by Admiral Gambier. 



At the beginning of 1808 Captain Samuel JACKSON, newly promoted to post rank, returned to his old ship and accompanied Sir Richard STRACHAN's squadron to the Mediterranean in pursuit of French ships which had escaped from Rochfort.


Circa 1 Feb 1808 

Having, due to bad weather, been unable to maintain a watch off Rochefort, Rear Admiral Strachan's squadron, on being informed of the escape of the French squadron, probably bound to the Mediterranean, sailed in pursuit. 

Circa 4 Feb 1808 

Off Ferrol, spoke Sir R. King's squadron ; on the 9th was off Cadiz, passed the Rock on the following day, and joined Vice Admiral E. Thornborough's squadron in Palermo bay on the 21st. 

2 March, 1808 

Joined Lord Collingwood's squadron off the island of Maritimo.


6 March

Received news that the French fleet had been at sea for a month and sailed in search, which continued for a week or two after the French fleet had returned to Toulon.


10 April

Leaving Vice-admiral Thornborough with a sufficient force to blockade Toulon, Lord Collingwood sailed for Gibraltar and Cadiz, to contribute his aid to the cause of the Spanish patriots. 

[Would appear to have perhaps returned to the UK or Atlantic waters prior to the end of the previous operation since on.....]

May - Oct 1808 

Was in the Baltic with a fleet under Vice Admiral Sir J Saumarez. 

8th August

On the 8 August Rear Admiral KEATS left SUPERB and went in his barge to the BRUNSWICK off Nyborg


11 August

Following Spain's change of sides after the French invasion of that country Nearly 6000 Spanish troops were embarked from Nyborg. The same day 1000 joined by sea from Jutland and another 1000 were put into Langeland to strengthen the post held there by the Spanish forces. Two Danish vessels, the Fama, 18, brig, and the Sailorman , 12, cutter, which were moored across the harbour of Nyborg refused to surrender and, the Spaniards being unwilling to act against the Danes, Captain McNAMARA of EDGAR attacked and took them.


Lieutenant HARVEY of SUPERB was wounded.

She spent the winter of 1808 frozen up in Gottenburg and returned to England the following spring.




12 Nov 1812

Arrived Falmouth with convoys bound to the Mediterranean and Lisbon.


SUPERB took part in the expedition to Walcheren and returned from there in such a bad state of repair that she was put out of commission at Portsmouth until the end of 1812 when she was fitting out under the command of Captain Charles PAGET.




22 Apr 1813

Has detained and sent in the Magdalen of New York, and the American schooner Viper, both from Nantz.


18 May 1813

Sailed on a cruise.


14 Jul 1813

Sailed for the Westward.


During a cruise in the Bay of Biscay he took several prizes; among them being the American brig STAR,6, and the letter of marque VIPER,6.



In 1814 Captain PAGET commanded a squadron off New London. The boats of SUPERB and NIMROD, under the command of Lieutenant James GARLAND of the former, attacked Wareham and destroyed 2,50O tons of shipping together with a valuable cotton mill belonging to Boston merchants.


1 Feb 1814

Sailed for the Halifax station.

6 Mar 1814,

the Asia arrived Bermuda from Portsmouth, Vice Admiral Sir A. Cochrane, Captain Paget, with the Superb, Captain Wainwright.

14 Apr 1814 

ships' boats of the Superb and Nimrod destroyed vessels as measured in the aggregate 2522 tons and a large cotton manufactory, &c., valued at $500,000, at Wareham, at the head of Buzzard's bay in the state of Connecticut. 

19 Jun 1814,

 arrived Halifax, the Spanish sloop Candalina, from Havanna, to Boston, sent in by the Superb.

22 Jul 1814,

arrived Halifax, a Jebacca boat, from N. York, with a cargo of flour etc., detained by the Superb.

19 Oct 1814,

arrived Halifax, from the Chesapeake.



15 Jan 1815

reported to be off New York.


24 May 1815

sailed for the westward.

28 May 1814

the Curlew arrived Halifax, N.S., with a convoy of many vessels including the Spanish brig Catherine from St. Domingo, for New Bedford, sent in by the Superb.



17 Jul 1815

Has detained and sent in the French schooner Jennie, from Oleron for L'Orient, with timber.


26 Aug 1815




1816 Captain Charles EKINS, 9/15, Plymouth.



13 Jul 1816

Preparing for the forthcoming Algerine Expedition.

28 Jul 1816 sailed as a part of a fleet of 19 vessels from Plymouth Sound, for Gibraltar and the bay of Algiers. 

9 Aug 1816 

The fleet arrived at Gibraltar, where it joined the Dutch squadron, which had arrived the previous evening, and which, it was agreed, would join the expedition. Whilst at Gibraltar the fleet was victualled and preparations made for the forthcoming battle, with gunnery practice &c. taking place. 

27 Aug 1816 

circa 1400 hours, no reply having been received to Lord Exmouth's demands, the ships of the fleet took up their stations and the Battle of Algiers commenced, ceasing about 2200 hours. Account of casualties. Account of powder and shot expended. Conferences &c. held with the Dey following the battle regards the demands of the allies and settlements made : honours and awards. See also p. 226 at

3 Sep 

the fleet sailed from Algiers for Gibraltar and England. 

Medals granted to surviving officers, seamen and marines (and soldiers who served as marines) per order of 7th June, 1848


5 Oct 1816

Arrived from Algiers and Gibraltar and put under quarantine.





7 Aug 1818

Arrived from a 2 month cruise and exercises in the Channel.


24 Jul 1819

To sail to South America in the near future, having been equipped for sea and is at present awaiting her complement.

26 Jul 1819


 - it reported that the Superb is to be sent from Plymouth to South America for 10 months to augment the forces already there, and on return will continue as Guard Ship at Plymouth. She is at present increasing her crew to her seagoing complement of 540 and is fitting out for foreign service.

Rio Janeiro

24 Oct 1819

Arrived from Plymouth.




1820 Captain Thomas WHITE, 8/19, South America. 1822 Captain Adam M'KENZIE, 


21 July

 South America. SUPERB rounded Cape Horn during the shortest days of winter. He was reappointed to her in June 1823 when she was stationed as a guard-ship at Plymouth.

Captain MACKENZIE died in November 1823


Rio Janeiro

20 Aug 1820

 In the river Plate.



27 Nov 1821

Is in commission and based in the Brazils.




23 October

Captain Sir Thomas STAINES,

In November SUPERB carried part of the 12th regiment of foot from Portsmouth to Gibraltar. She then visited Barbados, St. Vincent's, Dominica and Bermuda before being stationed at Lisbon.





25 May 1825

Refitting in the Tagus.

19 Nov 1825

Sailed for Portsmouth.


 30 Nov 1825

Arrived from the Tagus, having been relieved by the Albion. She is to be paid off and re-commissioned.




1823 Captain Sir Thomas STAINES, 10/23. In November SUPERB carried part of the 12th regiment of foot from Portsmouth to Gibraltar. She then visited Barbados, St. Vincent's, Dominica and Bermuda before being stationed at Lisbon.


SUPERB paid off on 19 December 1825





16 Jan 1826 In the harbour.


17 April Broken up.



For the literary minded Keats and the "Superb" have cameo mentions in Patrick O'Brian's "Master & Commander"


Forester's "The Commodore" is based roughly on the "Superb's service in the Baltic.

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