Torbay (74)

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Navies >> British Navy >> Torbay (74)

Origin and History

The ship was launched in 1683 under the name of Neptune. She was originally a second rate of 90 guns that was twice rebuilt. Its last rebuilt was done from 1747 to April 1749 when she was cut down to a 74-gun third rate at Chatham Dockyard. On August 23 1750, she was renamed "HMS Torbay".

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

  • from January 1755: captain Charles Colby
  • from July 1757: captain Augustus Keppel
  • from September 28 1758: captain captain Thomas Owen
  • from 1760 to 1763: captain William Brett

The ship was sold on August 17 1784.

Service during the War

In 1755, the ship was part of Boscawen's squadron who left Great Britain on April 27 and sailed to the entrance of the gulf of the Saint-Laurent, near the southern coast of Newfoundland, to intercept the French reinforcements sent to Canada. On June 7, seven isolated French vessels were spotted by Boscawen's fleet who chased them. Four of the French vessels managed to disappear in the fog. On June 8, the British fleet caught up with the 3 remaining French ships. Towards 11:00 AM, the Dunkirk (60), came abreast of the Alcide (64) to windward, within short speaking distance. The Torbay (74) of captain Charles Colby (Boscawen's flagship), displaying a red flag as a signal to engage, was not far off. At length, the Alcide was forced to strike her colours.

On July 2 1756, the ship captured the privateer storeship "Commissaire". A few days later, on July 12, she took the Arc-en-Ciel (50).

In August 1757, the ship joined the fleet assembling at Spithead under the command of sir Edward Hawke. On September 8, this fleet sailed. It escorted 45 transports carrying more then 7,000 foot for an expedition against an undisclosed French port of the Atlantic coast. The expedition was finally a raid against Rochefort. On September 23, the ship was part of those who bombarded the works on the little island of Aix at the mouth of the river leading up to Rochefort. In half an hour the position surrendered. Despite this success the raid on Rochefort failed lamentably. On October 6, the expeditionary force, returned home with no tangible results. In November, the ship captures the French privateer frigate Rostan (26).

On August 27 1758, an explosion took place in the forward magazine of the ship. In October, she was the flagship of commodore Augustus Keppel in his expedition against Gorée in Sénégal. On October 19, she sailed for Kinsale. On October 26, the fleet embarked some troops at Kinsale in Ireland and sailed off on November 11. On December 29, the squadron bombarded Gorée, soon silencing the French batteries and forcing the town to surrender. The squadron then escorted the British troops to Sénégal where they would take station and returned to Great Britain.

On November 20 1759, the ship took part in the decisive battle of Quiberon. Around 2:30 PM, she hotly engaged the French rear. At about 4:00 PM, the French Thésée (74) was tackled by the Torbay (74) and, in the contest which resulted, she capsized and foundered, chiefly owing to the fact that her captain, from motives of self-pride, persisted in fighting his lower deck guns, regardless of the stormy state of the weather. All her crew of about 800 men, except 20, were lost. The Torbay (74), owing to similar causes, was at one time in danger of a like fate but captain Keppel closed his ports in time and saved her. The victory of Quiberon eliminated any serious threat from the French navy for the rest of the war.

To do: campaigns from 1760 to 1762


Technical specifications
Guns 74
Lower gun deck 26 x 32-pdrs
Upper gun deck 28 x 18-pdrs
Quarterdeck 16 x 9-pdrs
Forecastle 4 x 9-pdrs
Crew 600 men
Length 164 ft (49.99 m.)
Width 47 ft 3 in (14.40 m.)
Depth 18 ft 10 in (5.74 m.)
Displacement 1,572 tons BM


Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 227-232, 334

Blasco, Manuel, British 3rd Rates, 3 Decks Wiki

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. 140-142

Wikipedia, "HMS Neptune (1683)"

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