Somerset (64)

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Origin and History

The ship was built at Chatham and launched on July 18 1748.

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

  • in 1757: captain Geary
  • in 1758 and 1759: captain Edward Hughes

The ship was destroyed when it ran aground in a storm on November 2 1778, whilst pursuing a French squadron, on Peaked Hill Bars off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Twenty of her crew drowned while many were rescued by locals.

Service during the War

In 1757, the ship was sent to America to reinforce admiral Holbourne's squadron which was planning an expedition against Louisbourg. The ship joined Holbourne in mid August by which time the enterprise had been abandoned. Nevertheless, the reinforced squadron cruised off Louisbourg till September 25 when it was shattered by a most terrible storm. It then returned to Great Britain in a very bad condition.

At the beginning of 1758, the ship was part of the fleet who assembled at Portsmouth under the command of admiral Edward Boscawen for a new expedition against Louisbourg. On February 19, this fleet set sail for Halifax and finally arrived there on May 9. On May 28, the fleet sailed from Halifax and arrived in sight of Louisbourg on June 1. Throughout the siege of Louisbourg, the fleet actively supported the British army and the fortress finally surrendered on July 26. A few weeks after the capture of Louisbourg, Boscawen sailed for Great Britain with a squadron who, on his passage, became separated. On October 27, Boscawen entered the Soundings with part of his squadron, including the Somerset. His squadron met du Chaffault's squadron which was returning from Québec but after a brief cannonade, both fleet separated. On November 1, Boscawen arrived at Spithead.

In February 1759, the ship sailed from Spithead in Great Britain as part of the fleet destined for the expedition against Québec. The voyage was long and tedious. On April 21, when the fleet finally reached Louisbourg, it was to find the harbour blocked with ice, so that the fleet made for Halifax instead. The fleet finally sailed for Louisbourg in May. From June 1 to 6, the fleet gradually left the harbour of Louisbourg and sailed for Québec. On June 23, Saunders' fleet made a junction with Durell's squadron at Isles-aux-Coudres. On June 26, the whole British fleet of vice-admiral Saunders was anchored safely off the southern shore of Isle-d'Orléans, a few km below Québec without loosing a single ship. The town finally surrendered on September 18. At the end of October, vice-admiral Saunders fired his farewell salute and dropped down the Saint-Laurent river with his fleet on his way to Great Britain. In November, the ship was the flagship of vice-admiral Charles Saunders' squadron, just returning from the conquest of Québec when Saunders learnt in the chops of the Channel that the French were out and that admiral Hawke had gone in chase of them. Saunders fully realised that no addition of forces was to be despised and, on his own responsibility, he steered for Quiberon Bay with all the sail he could set. Saunders had with him but 3 ships of the line. However, Saunders' reinforcements arrived too late to take part in the decisive battle of Quiberon.

To do campaigns from 1760 to 1762


Technical specifications
Guns 70 (more often reported as a 64)
Gun deck 26 x 32-pdrs
Upper gun deck 28 x 18-pdrs
Quarter deck 12 x 9-pdrs
Forecastle 4 x 9-pdrs
Crew ???
Length 160 feet (48.77 m.)
Width 45 feet (13.72 m.)
Depth 19.33 feet (5.89 m.)
Displacement 1,436 tons (1,303 metric tons)


This article contains text from the following sources:

Other sources

Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 202-205, 233-235

Castex, Jean-Claude, Dictionnaire des batailles terrestres franco-anglaises de la Guerre de Sept Ans, Presse de l'université Laval, Québec: 2006, pp. 319-321

Phillip, Michael, Ships of the Old Navy

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