Reply To: Ex-American privateer of the War of 1812 for the Sardinian Navy

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Aldo Antonicelli

After my original post, I have located more information about the [vessel known at various time as] Sherbrooke / Zeffiro.

At the time of the war of 1812, it appears that there where at least three ships named after Sir John Sherbrooke, the then Governor of Nova Scotia; all of them where privateers. Quoting from C H J Snider’s book Under the Red Jack: privateers of the maritime provinces of Canada in the war of 1812, London 1928, they were:
‘Brig Sir John Sherbrooke of St. John, 187 tons, ten guns, thirty men. Thos. Robson master. Commissioned November 27th, 1812.
Brig Sir John Sherbrooke of Halifax, 278 tons, eighteen guns, 150 men. Commissioned February 11th, 1813.
Brig Sherbrooke of Barbados, 205 tons, eleven guns, sixteen men, commissioned at Halifax, August 27th, 1814. Owned by James Caven, Barbados, Master, Wm. Cocken. Formerly the Henry Guilder, captured privateer.’
The Henry Guilder (or ‘Gilder’ as it is called in various papers of the time) had taken only one British prize, the Young Farmer, with a valuable cargo of indigo; she was in her turn taken on 12 July 1814 by the British frigate Niemen [38], Capt. Pym, who in his despatch dated ’14th July, at sea’, reported to have captured ‘…after a chase of 14 hours, the Henry Gilder American privateer, of 12 guns and 50 men…’; this was reported in The Gentleman Magazine and Historical Chronicle, vol. 84, 2nd part, London 1814, page 474.
On August 27th, Caven, which had bought her at the prize-court auction, got a commission for his new ship and rechristened her Sherbrooke.
The Sherbrooke was confiscated because in her only commercial trip from Barbados to Halifax, she had carried a flour cargo [in contravention of the Molasses Act 1733]; as she had not yet been registered by Caven under the British flag, she was deemed to be a ‘foreign-built vessel’, and old laws (2nd Navigation Act 1660] prohibited imports or exports [from British colonies] in foreign-built ships.
After having been bought by the Sardinian Navy, the vessel was renamed Zeffiro (‘Zephyr’), and was refitted and rearmed. According to a 1821 document the ship was armed with 16 guns (type and calibre unknown); the total complement of the gun crews was 27 men in peacetime and 35 in wartime.
The Zeffiro’s first mission was to convey the Sardinian envoys to the North African States of Tripoli and Tunis, a mission which was of some importance for the Government because it was the first opportunity it had of ‘showing the flag’ after the Restoration of the Savoia dynasty.
After that, the Zeffiro went on to do a long and useful even if unglamorous and uneventful service. She was often used to transport mail and passengers (army personnel or government officers) to and from Sardinia; in 1819 she carried a large sum [of money] to Cagliari.
On 3 March, 1841 after a particularly rough passage from Cagliari, she was deemed badly in need of a thorough refit. After a detailed survey, it was found that the cost of refitting her would have been greater than that of building a new ship, so the decision was taken to break her up, after 25 years of service, more than four times the Zeffiro‘s originally expected span of life.