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CENTURION (50) 4th rate Built in 1732, Portsmouth.
Broken up in 1769.

  • 1734 Capt. Francis DANSAYS, May.
  • 1735 Capt. George PROCTOR, he died in command at Lisbon in 1735.
  • 1735 Capt. John DURELL was promoted out of the GIBRALTAR frigate by Sir John NORRIS after the decease of Capt. PROCTOR.
  • 1737 Capt. George ANSON, coast of Africa and Carolina. In January 1740 he was commissioned to proceed with a squadron to the East Indies via Cape Horn to attack Spanish settlements in the Philippines. (The original plan devised on the outbreak of war envisaged ANSON sailing eastwards to meet a squadron under Capt. CORNWALL which had sailed round the Horn.) Although his instructions were dated 31 January, he did nor receive them until 28 June, but when he proceeded to Portsmouth to take command of his squadron he found a shortage of 300 seamen in the different ships. Sir John NORRIS was ordered to supply the required number from his fleet hospital. The regiment of foot and three independent companies in the original plan were replaced by 500 out pensioners from Chelsea Hospital, of these the more able-bodied deserted leaving only 250 of the more feeble to be embarked.
  • The squadron, consisting of CENTURION (80), SEVERN (50), GLOUCESTER (50), PEARL (40), Capt. KIDD, WAGER (20), Capt. MURRAY, a decrepit old Indiaman used as a storeship, TRIAL(TRYAL) (8) a snow and two victuallers, one of 400, the other 200 tons, dropped down to St. Helen's on 10 August. Here they could have taken advantage of the first fair wind, but instead they were ordered to wait with two fleets amounting to 145 sail. After waiting in vain the orders were changed and Commodore ANSON sailed at last on 18 September. It took 37 days to reach Madeira from whence he sailed on 3 November for Brazil. The squadron remained at St. Catharine's Island between 21 December and 18 January to replenish stores and allow his sick to recover. In neither were his expectations fulfilled.
  • On the way to Juan Fernandez the SEVERN and PEARL were obliged to turn back and WAGER was wrecked. CENTURION finally arrived at the island on 9 June, having first sighted it, but discounting it as a cloud, on 30 May. So reduced were her crew by scurvy that scarce half her original crew of 450 were still alive and barely 30 fit for duty. She was joined later by GLOUCESTER, TRIAL and the ANNA pink, victualler. THe ships were re-fitted and the health of the survivors restored. CENTURION pursued and captured a strange ship in the offing which proved to be a Spanish merchant-vessel named CARMELO with a valuable cargo. ANSON had her re-fitted her as a cruiser using ANNA's guns, the victualler having been broken up.
  • Midshipman Peter DENIS, had been promoted to be third lieutenant in November 1740 after Lieut. CHEAP was promoted to command the TRIAL sloop. On 5 November 1741 Lieut. DENIS was sent in command of 16 well armed men in a cutter in pursuit of a Spanish vessel off Baranca in the South Seas. He boarded and carried his prize and she proved to be a vessel bound from Guiaquil to Callao, with a cargo of considerable value to that country, though not to the captors. Intelligence derived from the capture led to the attack on the town of Paita a few days afterwards.
  • 1743 Capt. Piercy BRETT. BRETT, CENTURION's first lieutenant was commissioned as a captain on 30 September, (see letter below) when CENTURION was lying in the Macao River by Commodore ANSON who assumed that he was authorised to do so in his instructions. This was disputed by the Admiralty who refused to confirm Mr BRETT's rank on CENTURION's return to England. Mr ANSON retired from the navy in disgust until the Board had a change of heart. BRETT was appointed to command LION in 1745.
  • When George ANSON arrived in St. Helen's on his return from Canton he addressed the following letter to the Duke of Newcastle, one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State:-
  • On board his Majesty's ship Centurion, St. Helens, 14th. June 1744.
  • Your Grace, The South West Monsoon being set in on the Coast of China before I had re-fitted his Majesty's Ship, made it impossible for me to proceed to Europe till the Month of October. I therefore determined altho' I had not half my Complement of Men, to cruise for the King of Spain's Galleon, which was expected from Acapulco to Manila. After having finished the necessary repairs to my ship, on the 18th. of April, I made the best of my Way for Cape Spiritu Santo, being the Land to the Southward of the Straights of Manila, which Shore Ships generally fall in with; where, having cruised for 31 days, on the 20th. June I got sight of her and gave Chace, she bearing down on me before the wind: When she came within two Miles she brought to to fight me, and after an engagement of an Hour and a half, within less than Pistol Shot, the Admiral struck his flag at the Main-top-mast-head. She was called Nuestra Senora del Caba Donga, Don Geronimo Montero, Admiral; had 42 guns, 17 of which were Brass, and 28 brass Pedereroes; 330 men, 58 of which were slain, and 83 wounded; her Masts and Rigging were shot to Pieces, and 150 Shot passed through her Hull, many of which were between Wind and Water, which occasioned her to be very leaky. The greatest Damage I received was by my Fore-mast, Main-mast, and Bowsprit being wounded, and my rigging shot to Pieces, having received only 15 Shot through my Hull, which killed me two men, and 15 wounded. I was under great difficulty in navigating two such large Ships in a dangerous and unknown sea, and in guarding 492 Prisoners; and being apprehensive of losing Company, I thought proper, for the Security of the Galleon, and the great Treasure in her, which could not be moved, (the Weather being very tempestuous) to give my first Lieutenant a Commission to command her, with other proper Officers under him.
  • I got into the River Canton on the 14th. Day of July, and sent an Officer with a Letter to the Vice-King, acquainting him with the Reason for my putting into his Port, that I intended to pay him a Visit, and desired a Supply of Provisions and Stores. A Mandarine was sent on board some Days afterwards, to acquaint me, that the Vice-King would be glad to see me, with the Captain of the other Ship, and brought me a License for supplying me with Provisions from Day to Day. He mentioned to me the Payment of the Duties and Measurage, which he informed me, by the Emperor's Orders, were to be demanded from all Ships, without excepting those of War: I told him that the King of Great Britain's Ships were never treated on the Footing of trading Vessels, and that my Instructions from the King. my Master, forbid me to pay any Acknowledgement for his Ships harbouring in any Port whatsoever.
  • Finding I could not obtain the Provisions and Stores to enable me to proceed to Europe, I was under a Necessity of visiting the Vice-King, notwithstanding the Europeans were of Opinion that the Emperor's Duties would be insisted upon. Not knowing therefore what Means they might make use of when they had me in their Power, I gave Orders to Capt. Brett, who, on this Occasion, I had appointed Captain under me, if he found me detained, to destroy the Galleon (out of which I had removed all the Treasure, amounting to 1,313,843 Pieces of Eight and 35,682 Ounces of Virgin Silver and Plate) and to proceed with the Centurion without the River's Mouth, out of Gunshot of the two Forts.
  • The Vice-King received me with great Civility and Politeness, having 10,000 Soldiers drawn up, and his Council of Mandarins attending the Audience, and granted me every thing I desired; so that I had great Reason to be satisfied with the Success of my Visit.
  • I am & c.
  • The cargo which CENTURION brought home amounted to 2,600,000 Pieces of Eight, 150,000 Ounces of Plate, 10 Bars of Gold and a large quantity of Gold and Silver Dust, totalling 1,250,000 L Sterling. Commodore ANSON arrived in London on the 17th. June and on Tuesday 19th. a wagon laden with silver from CENTURION arrived at the Bank of England under a strong guard.
  • On 4th. July 32 more wagons laden with treasure from Portsmouth passed through St. James's Street, the Strand and Cheapside, in their way to the Tower. They were guarded by the ship's crew and preceded by the Officers with drawn swords. With "Music playing and Colours flying, particularly that of the Acapulco Prize."
  • On 31st. October 1744 the crew of the CENTURION received 300 L 1s each, as part of their prize money; after which about forty of them, attended by fiddlers, bag-pipers & c. with cockades in their hats, went to Stratford to regale themselves.

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