Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
NameHMS Poictiers
Ordered1 October 1806
BuilderKing, Upnor
Laid downAugust 1807
Launched9 December 1809
FateBroken up, 1857
General characteristics [1][2]
Class and typeVengeur-class ship of the line
Tons burthen1764394 (bm)
  • Overall:176 ft 3 in (53.7 m)
  • Keel:145 ft 2+38 in (44.3 m)
Beam47 ft 9+12 in (14.6 m)
Depth of hold21 ft 1 in (6.4 m)
Sail planFull-rigged ship
  • Gundeck: 28 × 32-pounder guns
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18-pounder guns
  • QD: 4 × 12-pounder guns + 10 × 32-pounder carronades
  • Fc: 2 × 12-pounder guns + 2 × 32-pounder carronades
  • Poop deck: 6 × 18-pounder carronades

HMS Poictiers was a 74-gun Royal Navy third rate. This ship of the line was launched on 9 December 1809 at Upnor. During the War of 1812 she was part of the blockade of the United States. She was broken up in 1857.

Active service

On 28 July 1810 Poictiers shared with Seine and Shannon in the recapture of the Starling.[3] On 22 April 1811, Poictiers, Caledonia and the hired armed cutter Nimrod captured the French vessel Auguste. They removed her cargo of casks of wine and destroyed the ship.[4]

On 24 March 1812, Poictiers was in company with Tonnant, Hogue, Colossus and Bulwark when they captured Emilie.[5]

On 14 August Poictiers accompanied Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren, who was sailing to Halifax, Nova Scotia, on San Domingo, together with Sophie, Magnet, and Mackerel. Magnet disappeared during the voyage and was presumed foundered with all hands.

On 18 October 1812, Poictiers participated in an action where she rescued Frolic by capturing USS Wasp, commanded by Jacob Jones. Four hours after Wasp had captured Frolic, Captain Sir John Poer Beresford hove in sight and captured Wasp and recaptured Frolic.[6] He then brought both to Bermuda. Frolic returned to duty and Wasp became HMS Loup Cervier. In November 1818 the proceeds of the sales of ordnance stores and head-money for the men captured on board Wasp, also for ordnance stores recaptured on board Frolic was paid.[a]

Thereafter, Poictiers captured a number of merchant vessels, alone or with other ships.[8]

One of these may or may not have been a ship from Brazil carrying a cargo of hides and tallow that USS Argus had captured. Poictiers recaptured the ship off the Virginia Capes in mid-December and sent her into Bermuda.[9]

On 28 December Poictiers and Acasta captured the American letter of marque Herald, of 18 guns (10 mounted), and 50 men, as Herald was sailing from Bordeaux to Baltimore.[10] Herald, prior to herself being captured, had taken a ship, a brig, and a schooner. The cargo of the ship Friendship alone had an estimated value of US$400,000.[11] Poictiers was in company with Acasta and Maidstone.[8]

More captures followed.

Poictiers took the American schooner Highflyer, of five guns and 72 men, on 9 January 1813. She was on her return from the West Indies, where she had made several captures.[12] Under the command of Captain Jeremiah Grant, Highflyer, of Baltimore, had captured two ships, four brigs, one schooner and one sloop; three of these vessels had been armed.[11] The Royal Navy took Highflyer into service under her existing name.

In early January 1813, the warships of the squadron blockading New York, of which Poictiers was one, captured a number of vessels:[13]

The British armed Syren with one gun and gave her a crew of 40 men. She then captured American Eagle, Herlitz, master, which had been sailing from Cadiz to New York.[13]

Poictiers was part of a squadron of 12 ships that shared in the capture on 13 and 14 March of Christina and Massatoit.[19]

Poictiers fired a few ineffectual shots. The position of the channel made it necessary for Yankee to pass close to Poictiers

On 4 (or 5) July 1813 the American smack Yankee captured the brig Eagle, which was serving as a tender to Poictiers. The Americans put 40 militiamen on board Yankee and sailed her where Eagle was known to be patrolling. The militiamen concealed themselves while on Yankee's deck there were three men dressed as fishermen, and a calf, a goose, and a sheep were tethered. When Yankee encountered Eagle, Eagle fell for the bait of fresh meat and came alongside. The Americans, under Sailing-Master Percival, came out of hiding and fired their small arms. Although Eagle carried a brass 32-pounder howitzer loaded with canister, she was unable to get off a shot. The Americans then took Eagle into New York. Eagle had two men killed, including her commander Master's Mate H. Morris, and Midshipman W. Price mortally wounded. The remaining eight seamen were taken prisoner.[20][d]

Poictiers captures 'Yorktown', 1813, by Irwin John Bevan

Poictiers, with Poictiers and Maidstone in company, captured Yorktown, of 20 guns and 140 men, on 17 July. Yorktown, under Captain T. W. Story, had taken 11 prizes, including Manchester, before Maidstone captured Yorktown after a four-hour chase. The British sent Yorktown and her crew into Halifax, Nova Scotia.[22][e][f]

Poictiers in company with Maidstone and Nimrod captured several vessels.

Poictiers alone captured:

These incidents aside, Poictiers had an uneventful war, though there is a record of one humorous incident. The exhibit center of the town of Lewes, Delaware, has a framed copy of a handwritten letter from Captain Beresford to the town's chief magistrate. Dated 16 March 1813, the letter says:


As soon as you receive this, I request you will send 20 live bullocks with a proportionate quantity of vegetables and hay to the Poictiers for the use of Britannic Majesty's squadron now at this anchorage, which will be immediately paid for at the Philadelphia prices. If you refuse to comply with this request I shall be under necessity of destroying your town. I have the honor to be, sir, your very obedient servant,

J. P. Beresford

Commodore and commander of the British Squadron in the Mouth of the Delaware.

Col. Samuel Boyer Davis, commander of American troops in Lewes, refused the demand, so on 6 and 7 April Beresford shelled the town, killing a chicken and wounding a pig. There is a cannonball from Poictiers lodged in the stone foundation of Lewes's Marine Museum.[27]

In November 1813 Poictiers was at Halifax, Nova Scotia, preparing to escort a convoy of merchant vessels to England when a gale hit the city. It destroyed or damaged many vessels, though Poictiers was able to ride out the gale.


Poictiers was at Chatham in 1814.[2]

Post war and Fate

Poictiers underwent a "Large Repair" at Chatham between April 1815 September 1817. She was fitted at Sheerness as a guard ship between March 1836 and September 1837. She remained in that role at Chatham until March 1848 when she became a depot ship until 1850. In 1857 she was sold out of service and broken up, the breaking up being completed on 23 March 1857.[2]


HMS Poictiers figurehead, a sometime replacement of the original[29]

Poictier's figurehead went to the small museum in Chatham Dockyard. In the 1920s, the figurehead was moved to Sheerness and placed on display inside the dockyard but towards the 1980s, the condition of the wood was such that the figure fell apart, leaving no single piece that could reasonably be salvaged for purposes of reconstruction.

The pieces were therefore used, in conjunction with archive photographs, to carve a replica. Andy Peters was commissioned to analyse samples of the paint and to carry out the carving. He then created a sculpture that provides a record of the figure's former glory, complete with gold leaf detailing.[30] Since 2008, the replica has been on display for public viewing at the Blue Town Heritage Centre alongside the original figurehead from HMS Scylla after Peel Holdings donated the pair.


  1. ^ A first-class share was worth £64 7s; a sixth-class share, the share of an ordinary seaman, was worth 5s 9+34d.[7]
  2. ^ A cargo of molasses on Hannah resulted in an award of prize money in June 1818 that amounted to £6 7s 6d for a first-class share, and 9d for a sixth-class share;[15]
  3. ^ A first-class share of the ransom was worth £1704 9s 5d; a sixth-class share was worth £7 14s 10d.[17] For an ordinary seaman, the amount was worth about four to five months' pay. For a captain, the first-class share was worth more than four or five years' pay. This payment represented money reserved to answer Paz's claims before the Vice-Court of Admiralty at Halifax. Lieutenant Perry Dumaresque, captain of Paz, had objected to Montesquieu being ransomed rather than sold as a prize.
  4. ^ The British recaptured Eagle in September 1813 (though under what name and by whom is unclear), and renamed her HMS Chubb. She was sold in 1822.[21]
  5. ^ The Haifax Vie-admiralty records give the name of York Ton'"'s master as A. Ricker.[23]
  6. ^ The head-money and final payment of hull and stores of Herald and Highflyer amounted to £52 6s 4d for a first-class share. A sixth-class share was worth 5s 3d.[24]
  7. ^ A first-class share of the prize money was worth £129 6+14d; a sixth-class share was worth £1 7d.[26]


  1. ^ Lavery (2003), p. 188.
  2. ^ a b c Winfield (2008), p. 79.
  3. ^ "No. 16416". The London Gazette. 20 October 1810. p. 1669.
  4. ^ "No. 16853". The London Gazette. 8 February 1814. p. 311.
  5. ^ "No. 16705". The London Gazette. 20 February 1813. p. 381.
  6. ^ "No. 16684". The London Gazette. 22 December 1812. pp. 2568–2569.
  7. ^ "No. 17419". The London Gazette. 17 November 1818. p. 2051.
  8. ^ a b "No. 16713". The London Gazette. 20 March 1813. pp. 579–580.
  9. ^ "The Marine List". Lloyd's List. No. 4747. 16 February 1813. hdl:2027/hvd.32044105232912. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  10. ^ "The Marine List". Lloyd's List. No. 4745. 12 February 1813. hdl:2027/hvd.32044105232912. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  11. ^ a b Emmons (1853), p. 180.
  12. ^ "No. 16712". The London Gazette. 16 March 1813. p. 550.
  13. ^ a b "The Marine List". Lloyd's List. No. 4747. 23 February 1813. hdl:2027/hvd.32044105232912. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  14. ^ "No. 17361". The London Gazette. 19 May 1818. p. 913.
  15. ^ "No. 17369". The London Gazette. 13 June 1818. p. 1079.
  16. ^ "No. 16728". The London Gazette. 11 May 1813. p. 918.
  17. ^ "No. 16969". The London Gazette. 27 December 1814. pp. 2537–2438.
  18. ^ a b c d "No. 16771". The London Gazette. 7 September 1813. p. 1770.
  19. ^ "No. 17360". The London Gazette. 16 May 1818. p. 892.
  20. ^ Maclay (2004), pp. 469–70.
  21. ^ "NMM, vessel ID 365985" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol. i. National Maritime Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  22. ^ "No. 16787". The London Gazette. 12 October 1813. p. 2031.
  23. ^ Vice-Admiralty Court (1911), p. 165.
  24. ^ "No. 17117". The London Gazette. 9 March 1816. p. 458.
  25. ^ a b c d "No. 16837". The London Gazette. 1 January 1814. pp. 20–21.
  26. ^ "No. 17274". The London Gazette. 5 August 1817. p. 1712.
  27. ^ Strum, Charles (3 July 1998). "WEEKEND EXCURSION; Where History and Beaches Meet". The New York Times.
  28. ^ Lloyd's List No. 4833.
  29. ^ "HMS Poictiers figurehead". Maritima Woodcarving. Retrieved 8 November 2023. The figurehead was then placed as a shore exhibit at the Sheerness dockyard.
  30. ^ "Ships Figurehead & Maritime Carver | Maritima Woodcarving".


  • Emmons, George Foster (1853), The navy of the United States, from the commencement, 1775 to 1853; with a brief history of each vessel's service and fate ... Comp. by Lieut. George F. Emmons ... under the authority of the Navy Dept. To which is added a list of private armed vessels, fitted out under the American flag ... also a list of the revenue and coast survey vessels, and principal ocean steamers, belonging to citizens of the United States in 1850., Washington: Gideon & Co
  • Lavery, Brian (2003), The Ship of the Line, vol. 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850, Conway Maritime Press, ISBN 0-85177-252-8
  • Maclay, Edgar Stanton (2004) [1899]. A History of American Privateers. New York: D. Appleton.
  • Vice-Admiralty Court, Halifax (1911). American vessels captured by the British during the revolution and war of 1812. Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute. hdl:2027/mdp.39015070578847.
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-246-7.