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1st Battle of Cape Finisterre

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years ago

1st Battle of Cape Finisterre

14th May 1747


The projects of the French were known in England; and a squadron, under Vice-Admiral George Anson and Rear-Admiral Peter Warren, was specially fitted out to checkmate them. The forces which were ultimately opposed one to the other are set forth in the note 1 (p. 125). The French had with them a convoy, which brought the total number of their sail up to thirty-eight. M. de St. Georges left Groix in March, but, after suffering some losses from British cruisers and from very bad weather, had to put into the road of Isle d'Aix. La Jonquiere there joined him. and the two finally sailed on April 29th. Anson and Warren had left England on April 9th and had proceeded off Cape Finisterre, where, on May 3rd, the Cape bearing S.E., distant twenty-four leagues, they sighted the French. La Jonquiere thereupon caused twelve of his best ships to shorten sail and form a line of battle ahead, while the rest stretched to the westward and crowded every possible stitch of canvas. Anson also made signal for a line of battle, believing apparently that he was in the presence of a more formidable squadron than was really before him; but, at Warren's insistance, he substituted the signal for a general chase.


The British Fleet of George Anson

Ship's NameGunsCommanderNotes

Prince George96John Bentleyflagship, not engaged

Devonshire66Temple WestFlagship of Rear-Admiral Peter Warren

Namur74Edward Boscawen
Monmouth64Henry Harrisonnot engaged

Prince Frederick64Harry Norrisnot engaged

Yarmouth64Piercy Brett
Princess Louisa58Charles Watsonnot engaged

Nottingham60Philip de Saumareznot engaged

Defiance60Thomas Grenville
Pembroke60Thomas Flincher
Windsor60Thomas Hanway
Centurion50Peter Denis
Falkland50Bloomfield Barradellnot engaged

Bristol50William Montagu
Ambuscade40John Montagunot engaged

Falcon14Richard Gwynnnot engaged

Vulcan16William Pettigrewfireship, not engaged

The French Fleet of de la Jonquière

Ship's NameGunsCommanderNotes


Philibert30Jacques Lars de LescouetEast-indiaman

Vigilant20Pierre Bourau de VaumulonEast-indiaman






Apollon30Charles Nouel des AntonsEast-indiaman


Modeste18François ThiercelinEast-indiaman


French ships with the convoy

Ship's NameGunsCommanderNotes


Dartmouth18Louis PinochetEast-indiaman


Description of the action

La Jonquiere was but ill-supported. Several of the French East India ships, especially the Vigilant and Modeste, and later the Thetis and Apollon, looked to nothing but the idea of saving themselves. It is useless to examine the tactical details of an action of this kind. Suffice to say, that, after a running fight lasting from 4 to 7 P.M., in which several of the French captains behaved with great courage and others conducted themselves with equal cowardice, all the ships which had remained in the French line struck. At 7 P.M. Anson brought to, and detached the Monmouth, Yarmouth and Nottingham in pursuit of the convoy, which then bore W. by S.W., distant about five leagues, and which had been followed and observed during the action by the Falcon. These ships captured the Vigilant, the Modeste and the Dartmouth, once a British privateer, together with six of the convoy. Night saved the rest.


The battle, considering its nature, was a costly one. The French lost about 700 killed and wounded, and the British, 520. Among the French officers killed was Captain de Saliez, and among those wounded were La Jonquiere himself and d'Aubigny, his flag captain. On the British side Captain Thomas Grenville, of the Defiance, was killed, and Captain Boscawen, of the Namur, wounded. The victors found specie to the value of 300,000 on board the prizes. For this service Anson was created a peer, and Warren, a K.B. All the men-of-war taken, and also the East Indiaman Thetis, were purchased into the Royal Navy. The name of the Serieux was changed to Intrepid, and that of the Diamant to Isis.




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