HMS Thunderer (1783)

For other ships with the same name, see HMS Thunderer.
Name: HMS Thunderer
Ordered: 23 July 1781
Builder: John & William Wells, Rotherhithe
Laid down: March 1782
Launched: 13 November 1783
Commissioned: January 1793
Fate: Broken up, March 1814
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Culloden-class ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1,679 (bm)
Length: 170 ft 8 in (52.02 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 47 ft 7 in (14.50 m)
Depth of hold: 19 ft 11 in (6.07 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: about 600
  • Gundeck: 28 × 32-pounder guns
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18-pounder guns
  • Quarterdeck: 14 × 9-pounder guns
  • Forecastle: 4 × 9-pounder guns

HMS Thunderer was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at the Wells brother's shipyard in Rotherhithe and launched on 13 November 1783.[1] After completion, she was laid up until 1792, when she underwent a 'Middling Repair' to bring her into service in 1793.

In 1794 she fought at the Glorious First of June under Captain Albemarle Bertie, and from 1796 to 1801 served in the West Indies, under a succession of captains. During this period, under Captain Pierre Flasse, Thunderer fought at the Battle of Jean-Rabel in which she and HMS Valiant forced the crew of the French frigate Harmonie to scuttle their vessel to prevent her capture.

On 15 October, Melampus and Latona, and later Orion and Thalia, and later still Pomone and Concorde, chased two French frigates, the Tartu and Néréide, 50-gun frigate Forte and the brig-aviso (or corvette) Éveillé.[2] The British ships had to give up on the frigates due to the closeness of the shore. However, Pomone and Thunderer, which had joined the chase, were able to take the Eveillé, of 18 guns, and 100 men.[2][Note 1] The French force had been out for 60 days and had captured 12 West Indiamen, two of which, Kent and Albion, the British had already recaptured.[2] Pomone and her squadron had recaptured Kent on 9 October.[5] Orion recaptured Albion. Warren's squadron returned to England in December with the remnants of the expedition to Quiberon Bay.

On 10 October 1800, Thunderer rescued the crew of Diligence which had struck a reef off the north coast of Cuba. The British set fire to Diligence as they left. It turned out that she had hit an uncharted shoal near Rio Puercos.[6]

Thunderer was recommissioned in 1803, and in 1805 she fought in Admiral Calder's fleet at the Battle of Cape Finisterre. Her captain, William Lechmere, returned to England to attend a court-martial as a witness to the events of Admiral Calder's action off Cape Finisterre at the time of the battle.

Later that year she fought at the Battle of Trafalgar under the command of her First Lieutenant John Stockham,[7] The surgeon on board was Scotsman James Marr Brydone, who was the first of the main British battle fleet to sight the Franco-Spanish fleet. Thunderer signalled the Victory and three minutes later battle orders were signalled to the British fleet beginning the Battle of Trafalgar.

On 25 November, Thunderer detained the Ragusan ship Nemesis, of 350 tons (bm), four guns and 18 men, Poulovich, master. Nemesis was sailing from Isle de France to Leghorn, Italy, with a cargo of spice, indigo dye, and other goods.[8] Thunderer shared the prize money with ten other British warships.[9]

In 1807, Thunderer served in the Dardanelles Operation as part of a squadron under Admiral Sir John Duckworth and was badly damaged when the squadron withdrew from the area.[7] However, she accompanied Duckworth on the Alexandria expedition of 1807, and in May left Alexandria for Malta, where she was provisioned and repaired over a period of 30 days.[10]

She was decommissioned in November 1808 and broken up in March 1814.[11]

It is reputed that some of her timbers were re-used to build Christ Church, Totland on the Isle of Wight, whilst others were used in the construction of the lych gate at St. Nicolas' Church at North Stoneham near Eastleigh.[12]

Notes, citations, and references


  1. Éveillé had been launched at Bayonne in April 1788.[3] The Royal Navy may have taken her into service, but she was never commissioned.[4] she disappears from the records in 1796.[3]


  1. 1 2 Lavery, Ships of the Line, vol. 1, p. 180.
  2. 1 2 3 The London Gazette: no. 13824. p. 1087. 20 October 1795.
  3. 1 2 Demerliac (1996), p.84, #547.
  4. Winfield (2008), p.284.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 13883. p. 345. 12 April 1796.
  6. Hepper (1994), p. 95.
  7. 1 2 Ships of the Old Navy, Thunderer.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 15885. p. 129. 28 January 1806.
  9. The London Gazette: no. 16364. p. 617. 24 April 1810.
  10. John Lace.
  11. Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 351.
  12. Mann, John Edgar (2002). Book of the Stonehams. Tiverton: Halsgrove. p. 44. ISBN 1-84114-213-1.


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