Le Conquerant

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Kiss me hardy
Ships Boy
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Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:07 pm

Le Conquerant

Post by Kiss me hardy »

This query relates to when 'CONQUERANT' was captured at the Battle of the Nile. Whilst I appreciate a trip to Kew is certain, I wondered if anyone would know where I can obtain information about members of the boarding party and the subsequent crew. I am trying to find information about a Royal Marine who was onboard 'CONQUERANT' after the battle and got off at Gibraltar, presumably after receiving his prize money. Would there have been a shio's muster? I cannot find anything on the National Archives website. If this should be under the people category, I apologize!
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Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:40 pm

Re: Le Conquerant

Post by Navclio »

It's not clear well, to me, anyway) what you're asking. Do you know this Marine's name? Do you know what ship he was serving in before being assigned to Conquérant's prize crew? If you know those, he would be in his "home" ship's muster book. Conquérant was an old ship, condemned at Toulon but dragged back into service for Napoleon's Egypt expedition with a much reduced armament of 18-pounders (instead of 36's!), 12s (instead of 18s), and 6s (instead of 8s). Understandably, she was not commissioned by the British navy but she was "registered" on December 24, 1798 by Admiralty order, laid up at Plymouth in July 1799, and broken up there in January 1803. Since George Clark was promoted from commander (he should already have been a captain since he was the commanding officer of a rated ship, a 32-gun frigate) to captain to command Conquérant as of the date of the Admiralty order (see his entry in the personnel section of this site), I suppose there should be a separate muster book and a regular set of officers—lieutenants, master, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, etc. There is the additional administrative complication that the Marine contingents on warships were detachments from marine regiments.
I don't think anyone would have received "prize money" until the disposal of Conquérant was adjudicated after her arrival in England. For enemy warships captured, the navy paid "head money," a fixed amount multiplied by the number of crewmen; I'm not sure whether this was a substitute for the purchase price of the ship if the navy bought her or in addition to . The navy did not want the ship but might have bought stores on board, or they might have been sold to commercial brokers. Determining the head money would have required affidavits from the captain and perhaps other officers, and maybe also examination of Conquérant's own muster book or the French equivalent (French navy personnel were, like British navy personnel, paid for their service, and they pay and their victuals had to be accounted for). If you are interested in how much this marine would have received in prize money, you will need to find the records for Conquérant in the records of the High Court of Admiralty. These are indexed on-line on the National Archives Web site.
Since Conquérant was not captured by boarding, there was no "boarding party," but once she had hauled down her flag, the nearest British ship, or the one with which she was engaged at the time, would have sent a "prize crew" aboard, under command of a lieutenant. According to Brian Lavery, Nelson and the Nile, p. 234, 74 Audaciou provide the prize crew for Conquérant. Lavery says that each of the 5 captured French ships of the line had a prize crew of 112–134 men initially commanded by a lieutenant with 1 to 3 "mates" or midshipmen and "usually including 10 or 12 maries under a sergeant or corporal. (Lavery cites ADM 1/398, which is a whole volume of incoming correspondence, for this.) These ships left Aboukir Bay on August 15 under Captain James Saumarez of Orion, which accompanied the prizes and several badly damaged British ships (there were still two French ships of the line, escapees from Aboukir Bay, loose in the Mediterranean). Lavery says (p. 227) that this squadron of cripples had to put in to Augusta, Sicily, and did not reach Gibraltar until October 18. He says that Saumarez put in at Spithead on November 25 but does not say whether all of the prizes and damaged British ships were with him, so they might have proceeded later. If Clark was not appointed commanding officer of Conquérant until December 24, I suspect that the members of the prize crew continued to be borne on the books of their "home" ship, Audacious. If you can't find a muster book for Conquérant between August and December 1798, Audacious's book would be the next place to look for your marine. Since Conquérant was not commissioned after she arrived at Portsmouth, she probably had just a minimal caretaker crew of elderly seamen and three standing officers (gunner, boatswain, and carpenter) whose appointments were retirement sinecures. Clark's entry here says that he remained in command until "1799," which might have been only a month or so. He was appointed to another pize, ex-Dutch Brakel, in 1800; Brakel actually had active service in the Mediterranean, 1801–1803 (mostly peacetime, the Peace of Amiens between the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars), so Clark was able and eligible for active duty, although Cy has not found any service for him after 1803.
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