1707-05-13 – Engagement of Beachy Head

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1707-05-13 – Engagement of Beachy Head

French victory

Prelude to the Engagement

On 11 May 1707, the Chevalier de Forbin sailed from Dunkerque with 7 warships and 6 privateers.

On 13 May, Forbin spotted a British convoy of 55 transports, escorted by 3 ships of the line and a frigate, sailing for the West Indies.


no map available

The engagement took place some 30 km west off Beachy Head on the coast of East Sussex.

Description of Events

On 13 May, seeing the French squadron approaching, Commodore Wylde integrated 5 of his largest armed merchant ships into his line and met the attack.

As soon as the French located the British convoy, the Griffon (48), the Dauphine (60) and the Blakoual (52) grappled the Hampton Court (70). After a long and furious combat, the Hampton Court (70) was taken.

Meanwhile, the Mars (54) grappled the Grafton (70). About 20 French sailors had managed to board when a cannonball broke the chain of the grappling hook. The Mars (54) drifted away and the sailors left isolated aboard the Grafton (70) were cut to pieces. The Fidèle (58) and Blakoual (52) then engaged the Grafton (70) and cannonaded it until it surrendered.

The Royal Oak (70), who had been attacked by the Mars (54) managed to escape but she had been heavily damaged and had to run ashore near Dungeness.

The French then captured 21 transport ships and 1,200 prisoners and brought them back to Dunkerque.

The engagement had lasted about three hours, the French had lost 220 men killed or wounded. The British had lost several hundred men killed, 1,200 men taken prisoners, 2 ships of the line and 21 transport ships. The commander of the Hampton Court (70) and most of his crew were killed in action.


On 14 May, the Royal Oak was carried into the Downs.

Order of Battle

British Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Commodore Baron Wylde

  • Hampton Court (70), Captain George Clements
  • Grafton (70), Captain Edward Acton
  • Royal Oak (70) flagship of Commodore Wylde
  • 1 unidentified frigate
  • 55 unidentified armed transports

French Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Admiral Chevalier Claude de Forbin

  • Blakoual (52), Captain de Tourouvre
  • Griffon (48), Captain Chevalier de Nangis
  • Dauphine (60), Captain Comte de Roquefeuil
  • Mars (54), flagship of the Chevalier de Forbin
  • Fidèle (58), Captain Baron d'Arey
  • Salisbury (50), Captain Chevalier de Vezins
  • Protée (50), Captain Comte d'Illiers
  • 6 unidentified privateers


Castex, Jean-Claude: Dictionnaire des batailles navales franco-anglaises, Les Éditions du Phare-Ouest: 2012