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Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 4:18 pm
by floridareef
Trying to identify a shipwreck found off Florida years ago with British naval cannon that fits in with the time frame of the HMS Wolf (Built 1731 at Deptford, and wrecked in 1741). Colledge and others say wrecked on the Florida coast, and this site says Caicos Bank. Will get the bore measurement from one of the cannon soon to help ID the wreck.

If wrecked off the Caicos Bank, then it's definitely not the Wolf. Any help appreciated as to where it actually wrecked.

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2020 2:40 pm
by Cy
If it helps the source for the Caicos Banks is WInfield's British Warships in the afe of sail 1714-1792, ... ks&f=false

Of course I have no idea what his source is.

Additionally the Maritime archaeology sites trust list of RN shipwercks ... -10-29.pdf gives the same Caicos Bank location

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:51 pm
by floridareef
Thanks for the information Cy! As the Wolf had 8- 3 pndr cannon, I think the wreck off here may not be it as the six cannon salvaged appear to be larger than 3-pounders. Will be checking the bore this coming week to verify size. They all had the George Rex crest and initials along with the "broad arrow" inscribed on them. From what I gather, that crest was common on English guns between 1714-1740 (maybe even earlier as I can't verify, but someone said the marking "7-1-1709" was also on one cannon. A casting date? A swivel gun was also salvaged and trying to find a photo of that. A lead seal from Barry Brothers of England (who also mfg. Cutty Sark whiskey) was also recovered. Company was contacted and they said that seal was discontinued in 1740. That's why the HMS Wolf came to mind as it fit the time frame of this wreck. Ships of the Royal Navy, by J.J. Colledge, says the Wolf was wrecked off the coast of Florida.

Attached photo from my book "Shipwrecks of Florida," showing the 6 cannon salvaged and the George Rex crest and broad arrow that were on all 6 cannon.

I guess the identity will remain a mystery for now.


Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:46 am
by Cy

One of our editors, Rob Boon has sent me a link to an privy council document on John Drapers reappointment as a RN Captain. He was dismissed by court martial for the loss of the Wolf. That states the sloop was "cast away on the Windward passage on the West Caicos".

Looks like you have not found the Wolf.

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:17 pm
by floridareef
Thanks Cy & Mr. Boon! Well that answers that question. We may try and check the wreck-site out again (off Broward County, Florida), and see if anything remains to help identify the wreck.
Again thanks.

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:39 am
by Navclio
Rif Winfield's sources for operations and losses were, as far as I know, Admiralty records—a sheet or card for each ship with brief statements of actions, etc. The locations could be quite far off, at least in the 1740s. Incidents listed as "in the Channel" might be well out into the Bay of Biscay or the Atlantic, and there are other cases of actions taking place far from the location listed in British Warships in the Age of Sail. Often, the British Admiralty recorded events from the last point of land seen by the ships involved, from which they were plotting their dead reckoning. That's how the "Second Battle of Finisterre" got it's name although it was fought hundreds of miles from the northwest corner of Spain.

If you're sure its a warship from the artillery, the logical place to look for candidates is David Hepper, British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail. There's a list in Wm. Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy, A History, vol. 3, p. 310. Looe, "Lost in America" in 1743 was a 44. Sloop Saltash, which would have carried swivels, was "Lost in the West Indies" in 1742. Fowey, 20, Capt. Francis William Drake, was "Wrecked in G. of Florida," in 1748. I don't know if that means the Gulf of Mexico.

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:29 pm
by floridareef
Will check out Hepper's book Navclio. I've written two books on Florida shipwrecks. These are British warships that I know wrecked off Florida & some have been found. 1) WINCHESTER, 1695, found off upper Keys. 2) TYGER or Tiger, 1742, wrecked on Tortugas. 3) LOOE, 1744, wrecked on reef now named after her. 4) FOWEY, 1744, wrecked near present day Miami & been found (Fowey Rocks named after her though she drifted off and sank elsewhere). 5) BRITTANIA, sloop, 1776, blown up on St. Mary's River. 6) AMARANTHE, 1784, south of Cape Canaveral. 7) FOX, 1799, on St. George Island. 8) FLY, 1804, on Carysfort Reef (Carysfort Reef named after HMS Carysfort that wrecked there in 1770 but got off and resumed service). 9) L'AHENAISE, 1804. This is not listed in any list of British warships I've seen. Was a captured French warship, then manned by British navy and sailed from Port Royal for England with French prisoners when wrecked off Broward County (great story & been found). 10) EPERVIER, 1814, off Cape Canaveral.

The FELICITY left Pensacola in 1780 and never heard from again so possible Florida wreck. The FLY, 1776 only listed as lost in Gulf of Florida, so who knows.

As this wreck dates 1709-1740's era, that eliminates many. The Caicos Bank is quite far from Florida, though "Gulf of Florida" could mean Bahamas, Cuba, and further in 1600's and early 1700's. Have yet to measure the bore of the wreck's cannon but from what I remember and looking at photos again, appear much bigger than the 3-pounders listed for the Wolf. Could also be a "captured" British vessel that wrecked here, so no British records of wreck.

Thanks again for all the help. Will be investigating further.

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:42 pm
by floridareef
Forgot to thank all for this great website & hope all are doing well during this difficult time.

I got a hold of Ian McLaughlan's great book : The Sloop of War 1650-1763. Along with a copy of the original plan of the Wolf, it says it had 8 4-pounders & 12 swivels, not 8 3-pounders. From a quick measurement of the bore & length of the cannon, it appears the cannon salvaged here are 4-pounders. I know she's reported as wrecked on the Caicos Bank, but now thinking that maybe she was patched up and then wrecked off Florida? So far, things are pointing to a British naval sloop-of war that's wrecked here, and the time frame obtained from things salvaged from it fit the Wolf. Will keep digging.

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Fri Mar 27, 2020 3:04 am
by Navclio
It's quite possible that the "Caicos Bank" location is simply wrong. Contemporary documents and news reports, and the histories based on them, often locate an incident—a battle, a capture of an enemy vessel or privateer, etc.—as being "off" the last landmark seen by the ship or the one from which daily noon-time positions were being plotted; it could be, literally, hundreds of miles from the location of the actual event. If you really think you have found Wolf and want to confirm that, you should get the captain's journal and the master's log for day of the wreck and at least a few days preceding. If Wolf was a sloop, the commanding officer was also the master in 1741, and the information in the two documents might be the same. Copies would be available at The National Archives in Kew, London, if the crew was saved and the commander managed to save his official papers. There would also have been a court-martial on the commander; the "proceedings" of the court-martial would include summaries of the testimony given by witnesses at the trial and copies (or perhaps originals) of deposition made concerning the matter; they are in a different ADM[iralty] document series. It is possible to hire a professional researcher in London who will find and photograph the relevant pages for a fee.

British naval officer plots used the place names on their charts, which might not have survived to the present. Sometimes, they can be found in contemporary or later piloting instructions published by the British and, in this case, American navies. Also, in 1740 "Caicos Bank" might have been the label for a different place than that name is assigned to now.

The National Archives are closed for the China (or Wuhan) coronavirus epidemic and researchers, like everyone else, are under house arrest, but presumably the national shutdown of the United Kingdom is not permanent.

If you have not previously obtained documents from TNA, I can offer some additional advice and recommend a researcher. You may contact me at navclio (at) cox (dot) com.

Re: Need information on HMS Wolf- 1731-1741

Posted: Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:21 am
by Cy
The national archives hold the following logs for the Wolf

All dates are julian calendar with January 1st as start of year,
Note she was not in commission in 1736 and 1737

Captains Log
1731/11/25-1732/07/16 ADM 51/1076
1734/12/23-1735/09/05 ADM 51/1076
1738/04/11-1741/02/18 ADM 51/1076

Muster Books
1733/03 - 1734/02 ADM 36/4640B
1734/01 - 1735/09 ADM 36/4641B
1738/05 - 1741/07 ADM 36/4642B

Pay books
1731/11/24 - 1735/09/05 ADM 33/369
1738/04/11 - 1741/03/03 ADM 33/366

There are no master's logs

Held by the Royal Museums Greenwich are

Lieutenant's Logs
1731 - 1735 ADM/L/W/155
1738 - 1744 ADM/L/W/156 clearly includes the next Wolf (1742-1745) as well