CENTAUR 74, Built in Woolwich 1797. Broken up in 1819.
Captain Thomas Markham 1 July 1797 Plymouth.
In 1798 CENTAUR was with Commodore Duckworth’s squadron in the Mediterrenean which captured the islán of Menorca in November of the same year.
On 16 March 1799 CENTAUR and CORMORANT, drove the Spanish GUADALUPE (34), ashore near Cape Oropesa where she was totally lost.
On 20 May 1799, the squadron joined Lord St. Vincent’s 16 sail of the line at Port Mahón, from where they sailed to Toulon on the 22 May, and the command of the fleet was handed over to Lord Keith.
On 3 June CENTAUR and MONTAGU captured some settees from which they learnt the French fleet had gone to the eastward.
In 1800 CENTAUR was with the Channel fleet with Admiral Gardner.
On 19 October CENTAUR sailed into Plymouth with her foremast and bowsprit damaged following a gale. CENTAUR and Warrior sailed from. Plymouth on 28 November to join the Channel fleet but CENTAUR fell IN with Admiral Parker who ordered her to Torbay to wait for orders, probable in the North Sea.
1801 she was with the Channel fleet with Captain. Littlehales. During the night of 10 March 1801 CENTAUR and MARS ran foul of each other off the Black Rocks. CENTAUR lost her main and main-top-mast, two men were killed and four wounded when the mainmast fell. She was fitted with a new fore-mast in Cawand Bay on the 20th, on the same day MARS was towed in by Canada. MARS had very nearly run ashore near the Isle of Bas, and had lost her head, bowsprit, foremast and main-topmast.
At a court martial 29 April, Captain. Lloyd and Lieut. Burnet of MARS were acquitted, but Lieut. Davis of CENTAUR was sentenced to lose 6 months seniority and was dismissed from his ship.
Wages were paid for CENTAUR and Mars and the prize money at Plymouth on 25 March.
On the 1 March CENTAUR sailed to join the Channel fleet.
On 2 September she came arrived Plymouth from the Rochefort squadron for refitting and went up into the harbour on the 8th.
On the 4 November HERCULE saided with CENTAUR from Cawsand Bay to join the fleet in Torbay. From there they sailed to Bantry Bay, with Vice Admiral Mitchell, where they probable sent the winter near Beerhaven. CENTAUR returned with the rest of the ships of the squadron to Portsmouth from Bantry Bay on 29 December 1801. She joined the Channel fleet on 7 February 1802. CENTAUR, ACHILLE, COURAGEUX, and BELLEISLE, were paid off all standing on 17 April. All the ships crews were discharged, were but re-commissioned again immediately with the same officers and captains.
On the 17 May, a captain's party of Royal Marines, consisting of two officers and 60 privates embarked on all of the four chips, but seamen, still with money in their pockets, were reluctant in coming forward.
On 22 May Admiral Paisley, struck his flag in Belleisle and was succeeded by Rear Admiral Dacres whose flag was flying at the mizzen of CENTAUR.
On the 25 October, Lieut. Pridham held a meeting at the Crown and Anchor in the Barbican, Plymouth, to recruit seamen, notices having been posted all over Plymouth, Dock and Stonehouse, inviting seamen to attend.
On 5 November to mark the anniversary of the Gunpowder plot at parliment, the Royal Standard was hoisted on CENTAUR. At noon a royal salute was fired from the fleet and the batteries in the town and Mount Royal. Rear Admiral Dacres shifted his flag from CENTAUR to COURAGEUX on 10 November and the crew of CENTAUR, in the Hamoaze, were made busy in getting the top-gallant and royal yards across and bending sails and courses. The crews of the COURAGEUX and BELLEISLE were handed over to complete her complement. The following day she sailed into Cawsand Bay to wait for oderes fromLondon that evening.
On the 12 November the rendezvous in the Crown and Anchor was closed in favour of COURAGEUX and the seamen of CENTAUR were paid three month's wages in advance. She was due to sail on the 15th. but the wind was blowing right into the Bay and she could not work her way out. She remained at single anchor until the 18th. when she sailed to the westward. CENTAUR arrived in Barbados at the end of December. After taking in wood and water she went to Jamaica to join Vice Admiral Duckworth.
1803 Ditto, West Indies. Commodore Samuel Hood, commander-in-chief of ships and vessels in the Leeward Is. Commodore Hood arrived in Barbados on 17 June 1803, and started preparations for an attack on St. Lucia. The troops, light artillery and stores were embarked on the 20th. and he sailed with CENTAUR, Courageaux, Argo, Chichester, Hornet and Cyane. He following morning they were joined by Emerald and Osprey, anchoring IN Choc bay, IN St. Lucia . Although there was a strong breeze and a heavy pull, the first division and two field pieces landés safely and an assault launched onbut they and the supporting troops were landed safely and an assault launched Morne Fortunee, and the island surrendered. The Commodore's dispatches for the Admiralty were entrusted to Captain Littlehales.
1803 Capt. Murray Maxwell, Leeward Is.
CENTAUR and Netley detained the American ship Fame, laden with flour and corn on the 21 August.
On the 31 August CENTAUR took the Dutch ship Good Hope which was laden with wine and cordaje, and on 22 August the French privateer Vigilante of 2 guns and 37 men.
On the 26 November as they were passing Cap de Salines in Martinique, they were fired on. Admiral Hood ordered Captian Maxwell to anchor in Petite d’Arnette, where most of the marines
under Captain Crozier and 40 seamen commanded by Lieuts. Maurice and Ayscough were landed to destroy the battery. A body of national guard with a brass 2-pounder fled before them as they climbed up a steep, narrow path to take six 24-pounders. The guns were thrown over the cliff but unfortunately one seaman was killed and Lieut. Maurice, Capt. Crosier and Lieut. Walker of the marines and six men were wounded when the magazine was blown up a little too soon. A battery of two 42-pounders and a 32-pounder was discovered between the Grande and Petite Anse d'Arlette. The enemy abandoned it on the approach of CENTAUR's people and Lieut. Dommett with Lieut. M'Lauchlan of the marines threw the guns over the cliff and destroyed the barracks and the ammunition.
Lieuts. Maurice and Ayscough were each presented with a sword worth 50 by the Patriotic fund. While CENTAUR was lying at anchor in Fort Royal Bay, Martinique, on the morning of 1 December a schooner with a sloop in tow was sighted about 6 miles off making for St. Pierre's. Com. Hood ordered Capt. Maxwell to weigh and give chase. When they were discovered by the schooner she slipped the tow and the Sarah, advice boat, was sent after the sloop. After a chase of about 75 miles CENTAUR captured the schooner SOPHIE with 46 men from Guadeloupe. Her eight guns were thrown overboard in her attempt to escape. The sloop, carrying a few hogsheads of sugar, had been cut out from Couland Bay, Tobago.
On 8 January 1804 CENTAUR was anchored close to the south side of Diamond Rock, a small island 600 feet high at the S. W. end of Martinique. Lieut. Maurice managed to scramble up the side of the rock with a party of men and by the 18th. three 24-pounders had been mounted, one close to the water, one on the N. E. side and a third nearly half way up the rock. Two 18-pounders were mounted on the summit where the rock had been blasted away to form a platform. The rock was commissioned as HM Sloop Diamond Rock and Lieut. Maurice’s appointment to command her was confirmed by the Admiralty 7 May 1804.
The French corvette Curiex, armed with sixteen long French 6-pounders, was captured by 60 seamen and 40 marines in four boats from CENTAUR as she lay under Fort Edward in Port Royal Harbour, Martinique, on 4 February 1804. They were led by Lieut. Robert Carthew Reynolds assisted by Lieut. Bettesworth and Mr Tracy, Com. Hood's secretary. Although the enemy had more than 100 men on board they were driven forward where the captain, Cordier, who received two sabre wounds, escaped in a boat with some of his men. Forty of the enemy were killed or wounded.
All three British officers and six men were wounded, Lieut. Reynolds having five wounds. She was immediately commissioned into the Royal Navy under the same name.
On 25 April 1804 CENTAUR arrived off the Surinam river with Pandor, Serapis, Alligator, Hippomemes, Drake, the Unique, armed schooner and transports, having on board 2,000 troops, after a passage of 20 days from Barbados. 700 men were landed at Warapa Creek. The following night Emerald took in troops which captured a battery at Braam's Point. When the Dutch commandant rejected surrender terms, the boats under Captains. Maxwell, Ferris and Richardson took in troops on the 30th. which, with the assistance of the first two captains and 30 seamen, took the battery of Friderici. CENTAUR lost Mr Shudem, midshipman, and two seamen killed, Lieut's Smith, King and Henderson and 3 seamen were wounded. Lieut. Smith died the following day.
The Dutch surrendered on the 5 May and Capt. Conway Shipley of Hipponomes was made post into CENTAUR by Sir Samuel Hood. (One day earlier the Admiralty had promoted him into the ex-French frigate Sagesse and he later assumed command of her at Jamaica.) Captain Maxwell arrived in London with Com. Hood's dispatch on 22 June. Com. Hood next appointed Captain William Richardson of the Alligator troopship to command CENTAUR and the Admiralty confirmed his appointment on 27 September.
In July 1804 CENTAUR recaptured the English slaver ELIZABETH and took the French privateer schooner ELIZABETH and the schooner BETSEY in ballast. She recaptured the English ship Asmiral Peckenham in December. CENTAUR returned to England in the spring of 1805 then returned to the Leeward Is. 1805 Capt. Whitby.
On 29 July 1805 CENTAUR, in company with a squadron under Captain De Courcy, which had been sent from Jamaica to join Lord Nelson in his pursuit of the combined fleet, was struck by a tremendous hurricane. She had recently run on shore in the West Indies and when she was thrown on her beam ends her masts went overboard, her boats were all stove in and her rudder was carried away. The falling main-mast started a butt-end under the starboard quarter and for 16 hours the pumps were barely able to keep pace with the inrush of water. When the waves moderated a sail was got under the ship's bottom as well as hawsers to frap her frames together. Only a dozen guns remained on board. EAGLE towed in her into Halifax where, on her approach, she was assumed to be a French 74 captured by Eagle and boats came out to see the prize. The first visitor on board was Commissioner John Inglefield who had been captain of the previous CENTAUR when she foundered in the Atlantic in the hurricane September 1782 which also claimed VILLE DE PARIS, RAMILIES, GLORIEUX and HECTOR. Captain Whitby married the commissioner's youngest daughter at the end of the year. CENTAUR returned home under the command of Captain John Talbot. He was appointed to her from Leander on 5 December 1805.
1806 Captain W. H. Webley, bearing the broad pennant of Captain Sir Samuel Hood acting as Commodore of the squadron off Rochefort. An attack was made by a boat from each of the line-of-battle ships of the squadron and those of INDEFATIGABLE and IRIS on two corvettes and a convoy in the Garonne on 16 July 1806. The largest corvette, CAESAR, was carried by the division led by Lieut. Edward Reynolds Sibley, 1st. of CENTAUR who was badly wounded by pike and sabre on the side, arm and face. Samuel Woolridge, quarter master, and Thomas Gray, quarter gunner, four seamen and one marine from CENTAUR were also wounded. CAESAR was a fine brig, five years old and 88 feet long. The other enemy vessels escaped up river, and the boats from CONQUEROR, PRINCE OF WALES, POLYPHEMUS, MONARCH, INDEFATIGABLE and IRIS all suffered heavy casualties. Revenge’s boat was captured and her 16 men marched from Bordeaux to Rochefort as prisoners. In September CENTAUR with five other ships-of-the-line and a frigate were cruising off Rochefort.
On the 25th. they gave chase to a French squadron of five frigates and two brigs bound for the West Indies. The frigates were the 40-gun GLOIRE, INDEFATIGABLE, MINERVE, ARMIDE and the THEMIS 36 with the brigs LYNX and SYLPHE. MONARCH was the first to come within gunshot and engaged ARMIDE, MARS gave chase to INDEFATIGABLE. When CENTAUR came up she fired broadsides at GLOIRE and ARMIDE and the former struck 45 minutes later. INDEFATIGABLE struck to MARS which then joined CENTAUR in chasing GLOIRE which surrendered after considerable resistance. CENTAUR had much of her lower rigging shot away and lost one seaman and two marines killed. Captain Hood had his right arm shattered by a musket ball and was obliged to quit the deck leaving the ship in charge of Lieut. William Case. Three seamen were also wounded. CENTAUR sailed from Spithead on 30 November 1806 with orders to join a secret expedition at the Cape Verde Is. but found that it had sailed previous to his arrival. CENTAUR then cruised with a small squadron between Madeira and the Canaries.
In the summer of 1807 Sir Samuel was promoted Rear Admiral and placed in command of the fleet off Copenhagen where he hoisted his flag in CENTAUR on 18 October. CENTAUR’s guard-boats blockaded the harbour preventing the arrival of supplies from the Baltic side. Her cutter, commanded by Lieut. James Shea with Mr Price, midshipman, and John Walcott, master's mate, was sent to cut off a Danish dispatch boat trying to pass the island of Moen on her way to Bornholm. The enemy boat ran on shore under a high cliff where it came under the protection of a body of troops with several cannon. They opened fire on the cutter mortally wounding Mr Shea but the other two officers secured the prize and towed her off. Mr Price being wounded in the hand by a spent musket ball. Mr Walcott was soon afterwards ordered to act as signal lieutenant of CENTAUR and his commission was confirmed by the Admiralty on 25 November 1808. He continued to serve with Sir Samuel Hood as his flag-lieutenant and secretary until the later's death in Madras on 24 December 1814. When Sweden refused to bow to Russian pressure to join the anti-British camp in early 1808 Russian troops occupied an undefended Finland.
On 16 August 1808 Admiral Saumarez sent CENTAUR and IMPLACABLE to reinforce the Swedish fleet of 11 line-of-battle ships and 5 frigates at Oro and Jungfrusund to oppose the Russians which had brought out their fleet from Kronstadt on 9 July. They chased two Russian frigates on the 19th. and joined the Swedes the following day. On the 22nd the Russian fleet, consisting of 9 line-of-battle ships, 5 big frigates and 6 smaller ones, moved from Hango to threaten the Allied ships so the Swedes concentrated at Oro and, with the two British ships, sailed to meet the Russians on the 25th. Although the fleets were roughly equal the Russians retreated, chased by the Allied ships. CENTAUR and IMPLACABLE proved to be better sailors than the Swedes and by the following morning were 10 miles ahead of them. IMPLACABLE brought a Russian straggler, the VSELOVOD (74), to action but had to abandon her after she had struck when the enemy fleet bore up to rescue her. The VSELOVOD was towed to Rager Vik (Ragerswik or Rogerswick) where CENTAUR drove off the boats which were attempting to get the disabled ship into harbour. Lieut. Paul Lawless and Mr Strode, the master, and other brave men, under a very heavy fire from the enemy's musketry, managed to lash her mizzen to the Russian bowsprit and CENTAUR opened fire. Soon both ships grounded and attempts were made on both sides to board but it was not until Implacable had fired into her for 10 minutes that the Russian ship struck. Implacable hauled CENTAUR off, prisoners were removed from VSELOVOD and she was set on fire; a few hours later she blew up. CENTAUR lost one landman and two marines killed.
Lieut. Lawless was severly wounded Mr Morton, boatswain, John Robinson, yeoman of the sheets, and 24 seamen and marines were also wounded VSELOVOD, whose crew had been reinforced by 100 fresh men after losing 43 killed and 80 wounded in action with IMPLACABLE, lost 124 killed and wounded in the action with CENTAUR while 56 managed to swam ashore. Ad,. Saumarez arrived on the 29th. to find the two British ships and the Swedes blockading the Russians in the harbour. Frederick Marryat, later a celebrated author, joined CENTAUR as a midshipman in October 1809 and served under Sir Samuel Hood in the Mediterranean. While they were cruising off Toulon he jumped overboard to rescue a man named Thomas Moubray who had fallen from the main-yard.
In November 1810 Capt. John Chambers White took the Hibernia, which had been fitted for the flag of Sir Samuel Hood, to the Mediterranean and removed into CENTAUR on his arrival at Port Mahon. CENTAUR was employed with the inshore squadron off Toulon and then co-operated in the defence of Tarragona during its investment by Marshal Suchet from May 1811. Captains Codrington, White and Adam spent most nights in their gigs carrying out operations under cover of darkness to evacuate women, children and wounded.
On 21 June the French broke in and massacred several thousand men, women and children and took about 10,000 prisoners before setting fire to the city. The boats of the squadron rescued as many as they could but they only numbered five or six hundred.
On 28 June CENTAUR's launch was in action with French troops on the beach near Tarragona. Two ordinary seamen, Henry Bakrbury and David Toole, were killed and Lieut. Henry Ashworth; John Hughes quarter master, and William Lubec, OS, were wounded. 1814 Ditto, Channel fleet. CENTAUR arrived in the Gironde on the evening of the 6 April 1814 to make a joint attack with EGMONT on the French line-of-battle ship REGULUS, three brigs lying near her and the shore batteries protecting them. At midnight, before the attack could be launched, the enemy ships were seen to be on fire and they were totally burnt by morning. BELLE POULE destroyed the batteries.
1815 Capt. T. G. Caulfield, Plymouth. In the spring with Chatham off the Western Is. (Azores).
1816 Out of commission at Plymouth.
With information from Michael Philip