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NORTHUMBERLAND (70) 3rd rate Built in 1743, Woolwich.
Captured in 1744.

  • 1744 Capt. Thomas WATSON. She was one of the squadron ordered out to Lisbon under the command of Sir Charles HARDY.
  • On 8th. May, being in latitude 39 and 40, at 5 AM the admiral made a signal for the NORTHUMBERLAND to chase a sail to the northward. We crowded all the sail we could set, but could gain nothing on the chace, having little wind and hazy weather. At twelve the gale freshened, but we could not get within gunshot. At two the admiral made the signal for us to return to the fleet, the captain was acquainted with it but would not obey. At four, the weather clearing away, we had sight of the chace, and discovered three ships steering to the westward; two of them appearing to be large ships of equal force with us, the other a ship of about 20 guns, at about a league distance. On viewing them the master said they were strangers, that two of them were warm-sided ships, and that the other had a whole tier of guns. He persuaded the captain to tack and stand for the fleet, which he refused, saying, he was resolved to see what these fellows were made of. He ordered the men to unlash the guns and clear ship, which we had not time to do. On our bearing down on them they immediately brought to under their topsails and hoisted English colours, but on our near approach these were changed to French.
  • The two ships were the CONTENT (62), the commodore, and the MARS (64). NORTHUMBERLAND came up with CONTENT about 5 o'clock and received the whole fire from her small and great guns without doing any damage. NORTHUMBERLAND then engaged the MARS.
  • "After a fight of 3 hours with 3 French, the Mars of 64 guns was much wounded, and bore away, and we had to do with the Content of 62 guns, and all judg'd we had the best of it, but a sudden cry came from the quarter-deck "Leave firing, we have struck." This caused a great consternation, as we believed the French had struck, for they had not fired, and we were just going to give them as broadside, when there was a second call with, "Damn the rascals, leave firing and house your guns, we've struck," as 'tis believed, by the master. The captain indeed had been just then brought mortally wounded from the quarter-deck, and leaning against the mizzen mast. The master and the gunner said, "we shall all be killed, they are going to rake us fore and aft, dear captain, strike and let us cut away the masts, we shall be retaken tomorrow," which would have been done, had they not been prevented by the people. The carpenter during this came and reported that the ship was as good as ever in her hull. and that she had not made one inch of water.
  • The captain wou'd not hearken to any thing, bidding to put the ship before the wind, and to keep to their defence. He was carry'd down to the purser's cabin to have his wounds dressed, and knew not that the ship was given up till he saw the Frenchmen on board. In the action the mate [2nd lieut.] was wounded, the sails and rigging tore to pieces, about 70 men kill'd and wounded, but there was still a strong brave ship, no leaks to stop, no damage done to the hull, and men fit to fight her guns, and would have fought it out to the last, had they been permitted; add to this it was night, and the enemy did not know that the colours were struck; till called to for quarter, and to come on board with their boats by the master; and they declar'd afterwards that they did not expect we should strike to them; for their ships were so disabled in their masts, sails and rigging, that it was near three days before they could make sail, and 19 before they could reach Brest. Thus was given up to the enemy one of the best ships in the navy of England, without any necessity.
  • The captain lingered for several days, living long enough to be carried into an enemy's port. He died in France on 4th. June 1744.
  • A court martial was held on board the LENNOX in Portsmouth Harbour on 31st. January 1745 which tried the officers of the NORTHUMBERLAND on their return from captivity in France. They were honourably acquitted, and the first lieutenant had the thanks of the court for having discharged his duty in a brave and prudent manner.
  • The master was tried to having surrendered the ship unnecessarily and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in the Marshalsea Prison.

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