Isis (50)

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Origin and History

The ship was built by François Coulomb at Toulon and launched by the French Navy as the “Diamant”. She was captured by the British on May 3 1747, renamed “Isis” on October 17 1747 and converted to a 50-gun fourth-rate.

During the Seven Years' War, the ship was under the command of:

  • from July 1755 April 1 1761: Captain Edward Wheeler
  • from May 1761 to 1763: Captain Charles Medows

The ship was stricken off of the fleet and sold on July 1 1766.

Service during the War

In the latter part of May 1756, the ship was part of Commodore Broderick's squadron of 5 ships of the line which had been sent from Great Britain to the Mediterranean to reinforce Byng fleet. The squadron arrived at Gibraltar on June 15 where it joined Byng's fleet which had been defeated at the battle of Minorca on May 20. Meanwhile, the British privateer Fortunatus Wright was at Livorno in Tuscany where he had been building a small vessel: the St. George. When Wright decided to sail from Livorno, Tuscan authorities limited the force he might embark. On July 28, as soon as he got outside the port, Wright took on board more guns and men transshipped from four merchant vessels under his convoy. He then beat off a large French privateer. He then put back to Livorno pursued by two other French privateers. Wright was at once forced to bring his ship inside the mole, where she was detained on a charge of having violated the neutrality of the port. A diplomatic squabble began, and was continued until Captain Sir William Burnaby appeared on the scene. Wright had contrived to let Hawke know how matters stood; and Hawke had immediately despatched Burnaby, in the Jersey (60), together with the Isis (50), to set matters straight. The mission of Sir William was to convoy the trade from Livorno, and to see the St. George safe out of that port. To the representations of the governor and the Austrian or French sympathies of that officer, Burnaby had nothing to say; but he made it abundantly clear that he was authorized, and in a position, to repel force by force, should any resistance be offered. On September 23, the Jersey, the Isis, the St. George, and the merchantmen went out of Livorno in peace.

In 1757, the ship captured several privateers: Prince de Turenne (10) on July 2; Comte d'Hérouville (16) on July 22; Escarboucle (16) on September 5; and Été on October 17.

On June 21 1758, the ship, escorting 4 fresh transports, joined the fleet which was returning from the failed attempt against Saint-Malo. On October 24, she captured the Rhinoceros (12).

On July 2 1759, the ship was part of the squadron of Rear-Admiral George Brydges Rodney who sailed from St. Helen's to destroy the flat-bottomed boats and the supplies which had been collected at Le Havre for the projected invasion of England. In the afternoon of Tuesday July 3, Rodney arrived in the bay of Le Havre and steered his fleet into the channel of Honfleur. On July 4 at sunrise Rodney began the bombardment of Le Havre and of the flat-bottomed boats. The bombardment lasted for 52 hours until July 6 at 8:00 AM and 1,900 shells and 1,150 carcasses were fired on the town. This attack totally destroyed any French preparations in this town for the invasion of England. In the autumn, the ship was part of the British squadron in the Downs, under commodore sir Piercy Brett. Indeed, she was his flagship. In October, when the French squadron of Thurot slipped out of Dunkerque harbour through a thick fog and made to the northward, Brett's squadron was ordered to Yarmouth to protect the coast of England.

To do: campaigns from 1760 to 1762

Characteristics

Technical specifications
Guns 50 in 1755
Lower Gun deck 24 x 24-pdrs
Upper Gun deck 24 x 9-pdrs
Quarterdeck 2 x 6-pdrs
Crew 350
Length 142 ft 3 in (43.28 m.)
Width 40 ft 2 in (12.20 m.)
Depth 17 ft 2 in (5.19 m.)
Displacement 1,013 tons BM

References

Clowes, Wm. Laird, The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 146-160, 291

Harrison, Simon and Manuel Blasco, 3 Decks

Knox Laughton, John: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 63 - Wright, Fortunatus

Wikipedia

  • ”HMS Isis”

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.