Built in 1761, Deptford.
Wrecked in 1801.
Designed by Sir Thomas Slade, Chief Surveyor of the Navy, on the lines of AURORA. Built by Thomas West and launched 5 June 1761. Armed with 26 short (7') 12 pounders and six long 6 pounders.
- 1761 Capt. Walter STIRLING, from 1 August. (He continued in this ship for the remainder of the war).
Mainly employed escorting West Indies convoys until the end of the war in 1763.
- In May 1762 he destroyed two French prames off Graveline after killing or wounding many of the people on board.
- 1763 Capt. James BAKER, he was appointed in April and died in the West Indies in 1765, still in command.
- 1776-7 "Large Repair," virtually a rebuild.
- 1777 Capt. William LOCKER, West Indies station.
Sailed there with a convoy of 18 sail of merchantmen, arriving at Port Royal, Jamaica, in July. The young Horatio NELSON was her 2nd Lieutenant.
In November he boarded and took possession of an American privateer in a heavy seaway where the 1st. Lieutenant had already failed. He also commanded, as a tender, an American schooner renamed LITTLE LUCY after Locker's daughter. LOCKER returned to England in 1778 and LOWESTOFFE continued to serve through the American War of Independence on the Jamaica station under Hon. Capt. INDSOR, cruising and escorting convoys.
- 1779 Capt. Christopher PARKER (2). Jamaica. First coppered in Jamaica in this year.
In the autumn of 1779 the Baymen on the Musquito shore and in the bay of Honduras were threatened by Spaniards who had landed at St. George's Quay and plundered the inhabitants. LOWESTOFFE was with a small squadron under Capt. LUTTRELL in CHARON (24) which arrived off the Honduras coast on 15 October. They were accompanied by POMONA (28), the RACEHORSE, schooner and other small craft, and were hoping to intercept some treasure ships in the bay of Dulce. Here they found two Spanish ships which took shelter under the guns of the fortress of San Fernando de Omoa, and an unsuccessful attempt was made to capture the town from the sea. They were fortunate to fall in with the PORCUPINE sloop and some troop transports returning from driving the Spaniards from St George's, so this was followed on the 16th. by a landing some 9 miles away at Puerto Caballo by seamen and marines from the ships, a detachment of the Royal Irish Regiment and 250 Baymen to make an attempt on Omoa from the landward. They underestimated the difficulties of marching first through swamps, and then wild, mountainous country and only covered three miles during the night. However when they reached the town the following afternoon it soon fell, but they were unable to take the fort because the Baymen had dropped the scaling ladders they were carrying. During the attack they were supported by fire from CHARON and LOWESTOFFE, the latter being badly damaged when she grounded for a while as she tried to get closer.
The bombardment from the sea, supplemented by fire from some guns which had been landed from POMONA (28), continued on the night of the 19th., occupying the garrison which did not notice storming parties of seamen, marines and soldiers infiltrating the fort. The surprise was complete and there were only six British casualties. The treasure found in the fort and on board two treasure ships was worth some two million dollars. Two hundred and fifty quintals of mercury were also found in the fort. The fort itself was abandoned at the end of November.
- 1783 6 Repairing at Limehouse. This was another major rebuild
- 1790 Capt. Robert STOPFORD, (post captain 12 Aug. 1790) Channel. She was subsequently laid up until 1792 at Plymouth.
- 1793 Capt. William WOLSELEY, Fitting out at Plymouth.
To the Mediterranean where she took part in the occupation of Toulon under Vice Ad. Lord HOOD.
- In September she joined ALCIDE, COURAGEUX, ARDENT and NEMESIS, a squadron under the command of Commodore LINZEE, to assist General Paoli who was leading an insurgent party in Corsica.
On the 30th., believing stories of co-operation and the effects that the appearance of his force would have on the French, Commodore LYNZEE entered the Gulf of San Fiorenzo, but came under heavy fire which caused damage and casualties. LOWESTOFFE opened fire on a tower protecting the deep entrance to San Fiorenzo and after a couple of broadsides the French abandoned the tower and the three guns at the top. The design of this tower at Mortella formed the basis for the martello towers built along the south coast of England a few years later as an anti-invasion measure.
- In January 1794 ALCIDE, EGMONT, FORTITUDE, LOWESTOFFE and JUNO were sent with transports to take supplies and troops to Corsica. The tower at Mortella resisted a bombardment from FORTITUDE and JUNO on 9 February but surrendered to fire from artillery on shore. After a bombardment from three 18 pounders, which seamen had manhandled several thousand feet up a rocky crag a mile from the sea to overlook the Convention Redoubt, the French abandoned San Fiorenzo on the 19 February and retired to Bastia.
- In April 1794 Capt. Charles CUNNINGHAM of SPEEDY exchanged ships with Capt. WOLSELEY.
- Lord HOOD submitted plans to Gen. Dundas, who commanded the land forces, for the reduction of Bastia but these were rejected:
"I consider the siege of Bastia, with our present means and force, to be a most visionary and rash attempt." he was told.
So Lord HOOD resolved to use naval force alone and, leaving a small force to watch Toulon, he sailed to Bastia. After a siege of 37 days and talks lasting 4 days, the town and citadel surrendered on 22 May. During the blockade of Bastia LOWESTOFFE's boats cut out a vessel from under the battery on the island of Capraja which, with the vessel herself and numerous troops, kept up a continual fire as they approached. The vessel was laden with powder and her capture hastened the fall of Bastia. When troops arrived from Gibraltar the reduction of Calvi was undertaken and surrendered on 10 August after a siege of 51 days. Capt. CUNNINGHAM left Calvi on 11 August with Lord HOOD's dispatches and, travelling overland, arrived in London on 1 September.
To quote from them: "Capt. CUNNINGHAM has cruised with infinite diligence, zeal and perseverance, with many difficulties, for three month's past off Calvi. I beg to recommend him as an officer of great merit, and highly deserving of any merit that can be shown him."
- 1795 Capt. Benjamin HALLOWELL (act), whose "unremitting zeal and exertion" had been praised by Horatio NELSON during the siege was appointed to succeed Capt. CUNNINGHAM.
LOWESTOFFE was with Vice Ad. William HOTHAM's fleet of twelve sail of the line, two 64s and ten frigates and brigs, which sailed from Livorno on 9 March. During the following two days fifteen French sail of the line, with six frigates, were sighted working back to Toulon.
By the morning of the 13th. HOTHAM had decided that the French had no intention of fighting, so he made the signal for a General Chase. The French LE CA-IRA ran foul of the VICTOIRE and carried away her own fore and main-topmasts. She was engaged by INCONSTANT and CAPTAIN before VESTALE came back to take ŒA-IRA in tow and the British ships were recalled. By the morning the French fleet had abandoned the two vessels to their fate. They put up a desperate resistance and lost 400 men in exchange for 74 British killed and 284 wounded in CAPTAIN and BEDFORD. There were some actions between individual ships in light winds,LOWESTOFFE's stern came under distant fire from DUQUESNE, Capt. HALLOWELL cleared the upper deck of all except officers and the helmsman and LOWESTOFFE only suffered minor damage aloft. HOTHAM's fleet took the prizes and dismasted ships in tow and bore away for La Spezia, LOWESTOFFE arriving on the evening of the 20th.
- 1795 Capt. Robert Gambier MIDDLETON.
On the morning of 24 June, LOWESTOFFE and DIDO (28), Capt. George TOWREY, who was senior officer, having been sent by HOTHAM to Toulon to reconnoitre the French fleet, found themselves being approached by two French frigates, LA MINERVE (40), and L‘ARTEMISE (36) on a similar mission against HOTHAM. For the story of this action, which resulted in the capture of MINERVA, see DIDO.
LOWESTOFFE suffered no casualties and her first lieutenant, Joshua S. HORTON, was promoted to commander.
- At the end of September Commodore GANTEAUME escaped from Toulon with a small squadron and sailed for the eastern Mediterranean where they raised the blockade of Smyrna. Off the Dardanelles they learnt that a British squadron, which included LOWESTOFFE, was searching for them and sailed for Toulon, detaching BADINE (28), off Cape Matapan to mislead their pursuers. The British chased LA BADINE into the Gulf of Corin and GANTEAUME re-entered Toulon on 5 February 1786.
- 1798 Capt. Robert PLAMPLIN, Mediterranean.
LOWESTOFFE returned to England with the home bound-trade.
- 1799 Fitting out at Plymouth for the West Indies.
On 26 January William DAVIES, seaman, was tried for seditious expressions (described as almost too bad to repeat), He was sentenced by the court martial to receive 500 lashes around the fleet, and to be imprisoned in solitary confinement in the Marshalsea prison for two years. He was a member of the London Corresponding Society.
- 1800 Jamaica.
On 10 August 1801 she was returning to Europe with a convoy and, while working through the windward (Caycos) passage, was wrecked during the early hours of the following morning on the Great Heneaga (Inagua) with the loss of only a few lives.
At the court martial in Port Royal on 3 September it was decided that the loss of LOWESTOFFE, and some of the merchant ships with her, was due to a sudden change of current after dark. Capt. PAMPLIN and his officers were honourably acquitted of blame
- LOWESTOFFE was one of the fastest British-built frigates of her day, recorded as logging 13-14 knots in a strong quartering gale and up to 11 knots close hauled.
LI> Grateful thanks to Roger Marsh (Marlinter@aol. com) for his important contributions to this article.