Taking of the Marquese d’Antin and Louis Erasme by the Prince Frederick and Duke Privateers, 1745
This engraving represents an important event during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48). Two British privateers, the Duke (20) and Prince Frederick (28) attacked a small squadron of three French merchantmen returning to France from Lima in Peru, capturing two of them, the Marquise D’Antin and the Louis Erasme. On the left Louis Erasme and Prince Frederick are in action, the Frenchman with her distinctive white ensign in starboard-quarter view firing her port guns into the British ship, shown in starboard-bow view. The vessel on the right is either the British Duke, shattered from her battle with Marquise D’Antin or possibly the Marquise D’Antin herself, now captured and with the Union Jack raised above the Frenchman’s ensign. Accounts of the battle emphasise the dominance of the British gunfire and the poor training of the French sailors. The cargos of the two captured ships were valued at three million dollars; two million in gold and silver coin, ingots and wrought plate, and one million in cacao.
The Society has published a number of articles in the Mariner’s Mirror on this important period in the history of the Royal Navy.
‘Some Notes on Warship Building by Contract in the Eighteenth Century’ explores the problems faced at the srat of the War oft eh Austrian Succession as there had been no recent construction and the existing fleet was deaying. A period of construction using private yards under contract followed, firstly on the Thames and the using ‘country’ yards in the face of high prices on the Thames. Commercial yards took the risk under contracts and some faced bankruptcy, but the Admiralty showed flexibility over penalties to encourage the yards.
‘Privateers off the Needles 1745’ offers the other side to this story of privateer warfare in this period, and is an account of the capture of HM Sloop Mediator, Captain Lieutenant Hamilton, in May 1745 by a French privateer snow, using evidence from the Court Martial of David Coulton, Master of the Mediator in September 1745. Details are given of the encounter and there is discussion of reasons why Hamilton escaped censure while Coulton was disrated and disgraced.
‘Sea Power and the Jacobite Rising of 1745’ explores the Scottish angle to this war, and the relevance of English sea control to the outcome of the Jacobite rising of 1745 is challenged. It is argued that it did not prevent the advance to Derby, nor hamper the retreat to the Highlands. The planned French invasion from Calais and Boulogne was undermined by lack of support from the Ministers of War and Marine before being abandoned after news of the retreat. Though the supply lines of Prince Charles Edward were vulnerable, analysis shows that the majority of French ships despatched in his support got through and returned to France with mission accomplished.