A |  B |  C |  D |  E |  F |  G |  H |  I |  J |  K |  L |  M |  N |  O |  P |  Q |  R |  S |  T |  U |  V |  W |  X |  Y |  Z

Use quotes like in "Aboukir Bay" to search phrases.
Use * as a wildcard like in "Trafalg*".

ESSEX (70) 3rd rate Built in 1679, Blackwall.
Wrecked in 1759.

  • 1700 Rebuilt Rotherhithe.
  • 1740 rebuilt Woolwich with 64 guns.
  • 1741 Capt. Richard NORRIS, promoted from the KINGSTON. Early in 1742 he was ordered to the Mediterranean with a squadron of nine ships under Commodore LESTOCK to reinforce Nicholas HADDOCK. While Capt. NORRIS was cruising between Cape Rous and Villa Franca in June, his squadron was fired on by five Spanish galleys in the neutral port of St. Tropez. He ordered Capt. CALLIS of the DUKE fireship to destroy them (See the letter from Vice Adm. MATHEWS in the entry for DUKE).
  • In May 1744 he effected the destruction of a considerable part of a Spanish convoy from Majorca and Barcelona, his letter below was sent to England by Adm. MATHEWS to do justice to what he called "an act of gallantry".
  • Essex, off Toulon, May 22nd 1744.
  • Yesterday morning, at half an hour after three, we saw twenty-six sail of xebecs and settees plying to the eastward. Upon their discovering us to windward of them, and they not being able to reach Ciotat, they bore away, part for Cassi creek and part for Marseilles. As I judged them to be a Spanish embarkation, I thought it my indispensable duty to endeavour at destroying them. About ten o'clock I came to an anchor within two cables length of Cassi, and about a pistol-shot from a creek to the westward thereof, where they put in to shelter themselves. I sent in my yawl first with an officer to reconnoitre the place. He returned and informed me that he thought what I had proposed, with regard to scouring the eastern side of the creek, and landing the marines under shelter of the cannon, was very practicable, that we might drive the enemy from their vessels and send the boats to take possession of them. I accordingly landed the marines, who were attacked by a party of the Spaniards; but as soon as the officer could form them, they forced the enemy to retreat; at the same time the boats boarded a xebec and a Tartan, and warped them out to me. I immediately sent the boats in again with combustibles to set the rest of the embarkation on fire, as I found it impracticable to get them out; and I have the pleasure to acquaint you, that we had the good fortune to burn three xebecs and eight settees. The xebecs were all armed vessels to convoy the settees, and I believe in their ballast. The settees were laden with powder, cannon and other ordnance stores, and some provisions, bound for Antibes, where they were to receive further orders from the marquis de las Minas; and from what I can learn from the prisoners we have taken, they were to embark troops for Italy. I am the more confirmed in this opinion as we found slings in them for hoisting in their horses.
  • They came from Majorca and Barcelona.
  • I am & c.
  • Adm. Thomas MATHEWS, learning that the French and Spanish proposed to quit Toulon together on 30th. January 1744, hastened to join Vice Adm. LESTOCK off Hyeres, where he was subsequently reinforced by more ships. The Franco- Spanish fleet sailed on the morning of 9 February into the outer road of Toulon. By the 10th. the enemy was some 12 to 15 miles to the SW of the English fleet which was in some disorder, neither MATHEWS's or LESTOCK's divisions being in line, with LESTOCK stretching to the west and Rear Adm. ROWLEY's van division scattered astern of MATHEWS. ESSEX, with the WINCHESTER, were ordered to watch and report the movements of the enemy but did not notice the combined fleet had moved farther away as soon as the moon set.
  • Adm. MATHEWS had no complaints about Capt. NORRIS, but others did.
  • On 28th. January 1745 a court martial, Vice Admiral William Rowley, presiding, with captains Gascoigne, Osborn, Lquenceingen and Drummond, was convened on board the TORBAY in Port Mahon by order of the lords of the Admiralty, for inquiring into the conduct of Capt. Norris, late commander of the Essex, (he had already left the ship of his own volition) in consequence of a letter by him sent to their lordships, complaining of false aspersions on his character in regard to his conduct in the naval engagement off Toulon.
  • The witnesses who voluntarily appeared against him were the 1st., 3rd., and 4th. lieutenants, the master and his mate, a lieut. of marines, 7 midshipmen and a quartermaster, all belonging to the Essex.
  • The substance of the depositions was that he kept the ship out of gunshot of the enemy from the beginning of the engagement till sunset, hauling out of the line of battle to windward, by which means he brought the Dorsetshire to bear in the same manner as the enemy's ships did, so that some of his men mistook for an enemy, and fired at her; that being desir'd and incited by a general murmur among the men, to go down to the assistance of the Marlborough which had lost her masts, and was in danger of being taken or destroyed by 5 ships of the enemy coming up, or to cover the Anne Galley fireship from the said ships, and often importuned so to do, he as often reply'd, "We must not go down, if we do, we shall be sunk and torn to pieces." Thus he kept from the enemy till the admiral wore, whom he follow'd and fir'd upon the enemy as he passed by, being the only time he was near enough to do execution. The whole day the captain never endeavoured to cheer the petty officers and seamen to do their duty; but, on the contrary, appeared with a downcast dejected countenance, often crying with a sigh, "I wish it was all over." That indeed he made all the dispositions, and took all the precautions which became a good officer, but when the fleets were closing for action he was quite dispirited, never speaking but with a melancholy and dejected tone, and showing in all his actions the greatest signs of fear. There were other depositions of the same nature.
  • A letter from capt. Norris in his own defence said that he held a consultation with his officers, who agreed that if the ship bore down she would be cut off and destroyed, but that he would have bore down to assist Marlborough if the admiral had made his signal to do so. He added that the three lieutenants were piqued at him, because Adm. Mathews had obliged them to ask the captain's pardon, and that several of the others were petty officers whom he had disrated.
  • After mature consideration the court decided that since Capt. Norris is not in his Majesty's service or pay they should refer the case back to the lords commissioners of the Admiralty. The House of Commons voted that the proceedings of the court martial were partial, arbitrary and illegal.
  • 1755 Capt. Robert HARLAND.
  • 1757 Capt. John CAMBELL, who had served as a Master's Mate in CENTURION during ANSON'S circumnavigation. 1758 Capt. Richard HOWE. 1759 Capt. Lucius O'BRIAN, With the Channel fleet under Sir Edward HAWKE which encountered the French under the Marquis de Conflans in Quiberon Bay during a gale on 20th. November. While ESSEX was attempting to pursue the French flagship, SOLIEL ROYAL, which, during the night had anchored in the midst of the British fleet, she ran aground on a shoal named the Four Bank where she was totally lost. Part of the stores and the whole of the crew were rescued by the other ships, except for one boat with a lieutenant and a full load of men, which was driven ashore, where they were made prisoners. The SOLEIL ROYAL ran ashore near Le Croisic and HAWKE ordered her to be set on fire.

back  |  intro  |  home  |  contact

© 1995, 2007 Michael Phillips