Asunción – a 18th century Spanish ship-of-the-line or frigate

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Asunción – a 18th century Spanish ship-of-the-line or frigate

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    Aldo Antonicelli

    In 1763 the Kingdom of Sardinia bought in Great Britain two frigates, thanks to the services of Admiral Forbes of the Board of the Admiralty to whom the Sardinian ambassador in London addressed himself.

    From the documents I have consulted in the Italian State Archives it seem that both ships were prize taken from the Spanish or French navies in the “last war” (the Seven Years’ War).

    The name of the first one is reported as the Hermione; the name of the second one is reported as the Assomption; this last name is probably the French for “Assumption”, a Catholic feast.

    As no French frigates so named were in service with the French Navy in those times, I suppose that both ships were taken from the Spanish Navy, and that the original name of the second one may have been l’Asunción .

    At page 164 of Memoirs of the life and writing of Edward Gibbon, vol I,, 2nd edn (London 1827), speaking about the Kingdom of Sardinia, Gibbon wrote: “[the Kingdom of Sardinia Navy] is composed by one ship-of-the-line of 50 guns and by a frigate of 30. Both are ex-Spanish prizes and have been bought from the English. The frigate is the famous Hermione.”

    If this assertion is correct, the Hermione could be the Spanish treasure-ship taken on may 1762 by HMS Active and HMS Favourite.

    Unfortunately I have not been able to locate any information about a Spanish ship-of-the-line, or frigate as she is often referred to in the Archive’s documents, called Asunción which was captured by the Royal Navy in the war.

    I would be most grateful for any information about this ship which any member may provide.

    Robert Legge


    There are two Spanish vessels listed, though not a ship-of-the-line or a frigate.


    Aldo Antonicelli


    Thank you for the very useful link you have provided.
    From the time I posted the query on the Society’s forum I have made further research on the matter of the Asuncion and I have located other sources.
    Most probably the Asuncion bought by the Royal Sardinian Navy was a merchantman captured by the British Navy after the surrender of Havana on August 1762, along as many other men-of war and merchant vessels; her former owner was the Spanish Compañia de la Habana.
    In the National Archives of England and Wales I have located the Asuncion’s log which cover the voyage that the ship made as part of the large convoy bound for England under Admiral George Pocock. She was commanded by Captain James Randell and she got under way from Havana on 3 November 1762; on 3 April 1763 she moored at Gravesend.
    Both the location and date of arrival fits well the date of the purchase made by the Italian officer.
    The Three Decks website lists an Asuncion owned by the Compañia de la Habana rated as a 50 gun ship, which is exactly the number of guns recorded by the Italian officer for the ship he had purchased.
    Thank you, Aldo

    David Hepper

    This may well be the Asuncion, a Spanish Register Ship, captured at the fall of Havana in August 1762. She is mentioned in The Siege and Capture of Havana, ed. David Syrett (Navy Records Society 1970], pages 299 and 303 as being sent back to England.
    The National Archives has a log for the Assumption Prize which runs from October 1762 to April 1763 (ref: TNA ADM.51/681], presumably for her passage back to England; she evidently arrived at Spithead in February 1763 (TNA ADM.106/1129/51).


    Aldo Antonicelli

    Thank you very much; by the time I have posted my query I have done a bit of research myself on the online collections of the National Archives, which previously I did not know, and I have located the same log, which I have had printed and sent to me.
    I concur that it is the same ship purchased by the Sardinian Kingdom. She was owned by the Compañia de la Habana (Apendice a la Educacion Popular, parte primera (Madrid, 1775).
    I have also located a letter regarding the docking of the Hermione at Deptford Dockyard, after her purchase by the Sardinian envoy, ADM 354/171/141, written by a John Clevland on 21 March 1763
    Thank you again.

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