French Brest Fleet 1744

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Andrew Bamford
Petty Officer
Joined:Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:51 am
French Brest Fleet 1744

Post by Andrew Bamford » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:16 pm

I am trying to compile a list of the ships that sailed from Brest under de Roquefeuil as part of the abortive 1744 invasion of Britain which would have employed Charles Edward Stuart as a figurehead. I found a list on the Nafziger collection of orders of battle, derived in turn from Schomberg's Naval Chronicle, but some of the data doesn't quote match what is given on the 3-decks site and there is one ship that I cannot identify at all. What I have, I copy below:

As Listed Nafziger/Schomberg Assumed Actual Identity 3-decks link
Superbe 76 Superbe 74 ... ip&id=2157
Dauphin Royal 76 Dauphin Royal 74 ... ip&id=2048
Eclatant 74 Eclatant 64 ... ip&id=2254
Neptune 74 Neptune 74 ... ip&id=2111
Juste 74 Juste 74 ... ip&id=2097
Lys 70 Lys 72 ... ip&id=7667
Fleuron 64 Fleuron 64 ... ip&id=2272
Elizabeth 64 Elisabeth 64 ... ip&id=2255
St. Michel 64 Saint Michel 64 ... ip&id=2343
Constant 64 ??? ???
Mars 64 Mars 64 ... ip&id=2307
St. Louis 64 Saint Louis 64 ... ip&id=2340
Triton 56 Triton 60 ... ip&id=2368
Mercure 54 Mercure 60 ... p&id=13959
Apollon 54 Apollon 56 ... ip&id=2199
Rubis 54 Rubis 54 ... ip&id=2333
Parfaite 46 Parfaite 46 ... p&id=15455
Gloire 44 Gloire 44 ... ip&id=2281
Argonaut 44 Argonaute 46 ... p&id=11301
Venus 26 Vénus 26 ... p&id=15460
Medée 26 Medée 26 ... p&id=11105
Driade 26 Dryade 12 ... p&id=14061
Subtile 26 Subtile 20 ... p&id=11099

Can anyone clarify what the ship given as 'Constant, 64' might actually be, and whether there are any omissions from the list (or erroneous inclusions for that matter).

With many thanks, Andrew

Joined:Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:40 pm

Re: French Brest Fleet 1744

Post by Navclio » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:05 am

I compared nine lists, not including Schomberg’s. I don’t think any two of them agreed. They were all mostly correct, in that they included most of the ships in Roquefeuil’s fleet, but only most, not all, and several at least of them included ships he never had. The most accurate contemporary list was probably that published in a Dutch (published in Amsterdam, outside of French and other censorship) news monthly, Mémoires historiques pour le siècle courant, Jan. 1744, pp. 74–76. I didn’t include Schomberg’s list; it might well have been the same as Robert Beatson’s Naval and Military Memoires, III, 41-2. But it’s not worth analyzing, because after I had drawn my own conclusions about Roquefeuil’s fleet, I found confirmation in a list in an almost unknown study (how I found it, looking for something else, is a long story in itself), [Fernand René] Lamorte, Lt. de vaisseau, L’Action de la France contre les Îles Britanniques pendant la guerre de succession d’Autriche ([Paris]: École de guerre navale, [1933]). Between the world wars, students at the French naval war college apparently had to write research paper based on archival material, and this was one of them.

Roquefeuil’s fleet changed frequently as he received reinforcements in the form of ships that weren’t ready (or weren’t at Brest) when he sailed on January 26/February 6, 1744, ships that had been damaged left and then sometimes rejoined after repairs, he sent out detachments for scouting and message delivery, and, as planned, he detached a close escort for the planned invasion convoy. (As in May–June 1794, Roquefeuil’s mission was to attract the attention of the main British battle force away from a valuable convoy.) Therefore, a list of all the ships he ever had is, alone, useless for determining what he had at any particular juncture.

Here is the full story. Ships with asterisks were with Roquefeuil at Dungeness on February 21/March 3.

Ships that left Brest with Roquefeuil, Jan. 26/Feb. 6, with later movements
*Superbe, 74 (Lt.-Gen. Comte de Roquefeuil)
Dauphin Royal, 74 (Sqdn.-Cdr. Jean-André de Barrailh)—Detatched to Dunkirk to cover the invasion convoy, Feb. 19/Mar. 1
*Juste, 74—Damaged in collision, left in Bertheume Bay, Jan. 26/Feb. 6; rejoined Feb. 15/26
*Neptune, 74 (Sqdn.-Cdr. Pierre Blouet de Camilly)
*Lys, 72
*Éclatant, 64
*Élisabeth, 64
*Fleuron, 64
Mars, 64—Detached to Dunkirk with Barrailh, Feb. 19/Mar. 1
*Saint Louis, 64
*Saint Michel, 64—Departed for Brest (storm damage), Feb. 8/19
Content, 60—Detached to Dunkirk with Barrailh, Feb. 19/Mar. 1
*Mercure, 60
Triton, 60—Departed for Brest, Feb. 5/16, with sprung mainmast
*Apollon, 56
Argonaute, 46— Detached to Dunkirk with Barrailh, Feb. 19/Mar. 1
*Parfaite, 46—Separated, Feb. 3/14 to Feb. 18/29
*Gloire, 44
Vénus, 26—Arrived at Dunkirk with dispatches, Feb. 18/29
*Médée, 26—Absent, Jan. 31/Feb. 11 to Feb. 19/Mar. 1, then dismasted and made for the French coast
*Subtile, 26
Dryade, 12—Departed for Brest for repairs, Feb. 8/19
Joined at sea from Rochefort
*Rubis, 54—Joined Feb. 16/27

Any other ships on any other lists are errors. Any omissions of the above are errors. “Constant” is a mistake for Content, a 24-pounder 60 completed in 1717 and sold to the Compagnie des Indes Orientales in May 1747. British naval history writers have had a hard time believing that the French named a battleship the “Content” and have often “corrected” the name to “Constant,” a word the British navy used for warships. The French navy had a gunboat named “la Constante” (fem. gender, with a final “-e”), 1761–64, and perhaps frigates with that name at other times. The 1717–47 Content was replaced by a 64 that served from 1747 to 1770.

When I finally finish All the Seas of the World: The First Global Naval War, 1739–1748 and Andrew publishes it at Helion, you will all be able to read the first correct and comprehensive account of the February–March 1744 Channel campaign. Nobody else has integrated the movements of the two opposing fleets, either. Lamorte, who wrote after the 1920 publication of Herbert Richmond {i]The[/i] [British] Navy in the War of 1739–48 and used him as a source, has a separate section on “Les dispositions anglaises; l’escadre de l’Amiral Norris,” but doesn’t collate them with Roquefeuil’s movements. Lamorte, and other useful papers written at the École de guerre navale, are available as PDFs on the “Gallica” Web site of the Bibliothéque national française (BNF), but after the redesign a few years ago I’m not sure that I could find them again.
—Albert Parker

Admiral of the Fleet
Joined:Tue May 23, 2017 1:10 pm

Re: French Brest Fleet 1744

Post by Cy » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:52 am

Brilliant Albert. Looking forward to your book as well.

BTW the Threedecks link for Content is ... ip&id=2240
Got to keep Andrew happy, he's going to publish mine too.

OK, it was me, probably!

Andrew Bamford
Petty Officer
Joined:Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:51 am

Re: French Brest Fleet 1744

Post by Andrew Bamford » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:15 am

Thanks both, that's perfect. I'm writing primarily about the French military involvement in the '45, but the invasion plan is background and I thought it would be useful to provide a listing of Roquefeuil’s fleet since I hadn't seen one in print before. I'll leave it to Albert to tell the detailed story though.

Best Wishes, Andrew

Andrew Bamford
Petty Officer
Joined:Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:51 am

Re: French Brest Fleet 1744

Post by Andrew Bamford » Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:05 pm

Just one query, working this up, is there an error in the dating for the Content leaving? If detached on the 8/19th, she couldn't have been at Dungeness as indicated.

I'm also now confused by the dating off the encounter off Dungeness, which from the sources - granted, secondary and not naval in focus - that I've consulted is given as 28 Feb NS, not 3 March.

Joined:Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:40 pm

Re: French Brest Fleet 1744

Post by Navclio » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:39 pm

HMXMS Content was part of Chef d'escadre Barraihl's squadron that was detached from Roquefeuil's main body on February 19 in the British calendar, March 1 in the French calendar, as indicated in my original listing of Roquefeuil's fleet.

Fourteen French ships were seen off Brighton, Sussex, on February 22 in the English calendar (March 4 in the French calendar); they passed Rye at 5 p.m. (Toone, II, 598) Roquefeuil's officers reported to him that his flagship, Superbe, had a sprung main yard, so he brought his squadron to anchor in the East Road of Dungeness (to which the French refer by another name that is impossible to find in modern writing) around 8 p.m. on March 4 in the French calendar (Roquefeuil to French navy minister Maurepas, "A bord du Superbe, a pointe de Peré à la côte d'Angleterre, le 5 mars 1744," in Colin, 93.

Roquefeuil ordered frigate Subtile to carry dispatches and small arms for the expected Jacobite rising to Dunkirk the next morning, but as soon as she got out of the roads she sighted Norris' fleet coming down from the Downs, working to windward on the ebb tide. The wind failed Norris short of the East Road and he had to anchor to avoid being swept back north by the flood. Roquefeuil held a conference of his captains (and chef d'escadre Camilly), "au Bord du Superbe le 6 Mars 1744" (Archives Nationales [de France], Marine, series B4, vol. 56, folio 140, described in the printed catalogue as "Déliberation du Conseil de guerre tenu à bord du Superbe"). The French got out of the roads on the next ebb tide, around 10–11 p.m., and the gale that dispersed both fleets rose early in the morning of the next day.

Norris' approach is described by Richmond, as "on the same day" as events he had earlier said were on "the 24th." (Richmond, II, 83). Harding has an unusually detailed description of the Channel campaign, from a strategic perspective, and begins his description of Norris' encounter with Roquefeuil, "On the morning of 24 February . . ." (p. 194.
February 24, OS = March 6 NS [1744 a leap year, February has 29 days]

Colin, J[ean Lambert Alphonse]. Louis XV et les Jacobites: Le projet de débarquement en Angleterre de 1743–1744. Paris: Librairie Militarie R. Chapelot et Cie., 1901.
Harding, Richard. The Emergence of Britain’s Global Naval Supremacy: The War of 1739–1748. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2010.
Richmond, H[erbert] W. The Navy in the War of 1739–48. 3 vols. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1920.
Toone, W[illiam]. The Chronological Historian, or a Record of Public Events. 2 vols.: London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1826.

Joined:Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:40 pm

Re: French Brest Fleet 1744

Post by Navclio » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:11 pm

To complement Roquefeuil’s order of battle, here is my best information about the ships in the fleet of Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Norris at the time of his encounter with Roquefeuil off Dungeness on February 24, 1744 in Norris’ calendar and March 6, 1744, in Roquefeuil’s.

When he was asked by the cabinet to go to sea again, Norris (age ca. 74) demanded and received command of all British warships in home waters or that might arrive in the future. Therefore, lists of his command often include all such ships, not just the ships he had with him when he set out to attack Roquefeuil’s fleet.

Ships at Spithead (anchorage between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight), February 8/19, 1744
Ships with no arrival data presumably at Portsmouth/Spithead from early in 1744; it would be necessary to consult primary sources such as captains’ journals or masters’ logs to establish definitive dates for some movements
Victory, 100 (Norris)—Joined from the Nore (anchorage in mouth of River Thames; Norris went to Portsmouth overland after conferring with the cabinet in London on Feb. 2/13)
Duke, 90 (Vice-Adm. Sir Charles Hardy)
Princess Royal, 90
Sandwich, 90 (Rear-Adm. William Martin)—Ar. from the Nore, Feb. 7/18
St. George, 90—From Portsmouth
Princess Amelia, 80—From Plymouth
Captain, 70
Prince Frederick, 70
Suffolk, 70
Northumberland, 64 (WARNING! ordered as 70 and often listed as such by ignorant contemporaries or later writers who have depended on them; the armament of 70-gun ships of the 1741 establishment was changed to 64 guns while Northumberland was building; the new armament, by substituting 32-pounders and 18-pounders for 24’s and 12’s on the gun decks, at the sacrifice of half a dozen 6’s on the upper works, threw a heavier broadside than contemporary British 70s)
Dreadnought, 60—Ar. from up the Channel, Feb. 7/18
Jersey, 60—From Portsmouth
Princess Mary, 60
Preston, 50
Anglesea, 44
Kinsale, 40—Assigned as convoy escort
Dolphin, 20
Gibraltar, 20

Norris sailed from Spithead with the ships listed above on February 14 or 15 in his calendar, Feb. 25 or 26 in the French, and arrived at the Downs, the anchorage off the east coast of Kent south of the River Thames, on Feb. 17/28.

Joined in the Downs by Feb. 17/28, from the Thames and Medway
Cornwall, 80
Shrewsbury, 80
Augusta, 60
Deptford, 60
Medway, 60
Worcester, 60
Ætna, Scipio, fireships
Terror, Lightning, bombs (mortar vessels)

Expected at the Downs, Feb. 17/28
Monmouth 70, and Sutherland, 50—Expected from Plymouth, but would have required them to pass Roquefeuil; I have no positive information that these ships joined Norris before Feb. 24/March6
Phoenix, 24—Joined Feb. 18/29
Fly, sloop—Joined Feb. 18/29

From the westward (“down” the Channel), Feb. 22/March 4
Roebuck, 40

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