Off Cape Finisterre

Towards the end of the year 1746 the French ministry came to a

determination to increase their forces in Canada, and, with the

assistance of the native Indians, to extend their territories by

encroachments on the neighbouring provinces belonging to Great Britain.

At the same time they formed a design against some of our settlements in

the East Indies. For these purposes, in the beginning of the year 1747,

a considerabl
armament was prepared at Brest; the squadron destined for

America being under the command of Monsieur Jonquiere, and that for the

East Indies under that of Monsieur de St. George. For greater security

these two fleets were ordered to sail at the same time.

The British ministry, being informed of the strength and destination of

these squadrons, sent a superior fleet, commanded by Vice-admiral Anson,

to the coast of France. This fleet sailed from Plymouth on April 9th,

1747, and, cruising off Cape Finisterre, on May 3rd fell in with the

French fleet, consisting of thirty-eight sail, nine of which shortened

sail and prepared to engage, while the rest bore away with all the sail

they could make. Admiral Anson first formed his squadron in

line-of-battle; but, perceiving the enemy begin to sheer off, he made a

signal for his whole fleet to give chase and engage promiscuously. The

Centurion came up with the sternmost ship of the enemy about four in

the afternoon. She was followed by the Namur, Defiance, and

Windsor, who were soon warmly engaged with five of the French

squadron. The Centurion had her main-top mast shot away early in the

action, which obliged her to drop astern; but she was soon repaired.

The battle now became general, and the French maintained this very

unequal conflict with great spirit and gallantry till about seven in the

evening, when the whole fleet struck their colours. The Diamant was

the last French ship that submitted, after fighting the Bristol for

nearly three hours. In justice to our enemy it is necessary to remember

that the squadron, commanded by Admiral Anson, consisted of fourteen

ships of the line, a frigate, a sloop and a fire-ship, with nine hundred

and twenty-two guns, and six thousand two hundred and sixty men on

board; and that Monsieur de la Jonquiere had no more than five

line-of-battle ships and as many frigates, four hundred and forty-two

guns, and three thousand one hundred and seventy-one men. Admiral Anson

in the meantime detached the Monmouth, the Yarmouth, and the

Nottingham in pursuit of the convoy, and they returned with the

Vigilant and Modeste, both of twenty-two guns, the rest having made

their escape. But though we acknowledge the great superiority of the

British squadron, it is necessary to inform the reader that no more than

eight English ships were engaged. Captain Grenville, of the Defiance,

a very gallant officer, lost his life in this engagement. Our number of

killed and wounded amounted to five hundred and twenty; that of the

enemy to seven hundred. Captain Boscawen was wounded in the shoulder by

a musket-ball. Monsieur de la Jonquiere was also wounded in the same

part; one French captain was killed and another lost a leg.

Admiral Anson returned to England and brought the captive squadron safe

to an anchor at Spithead. He set out immediately for London, where he

was graciously received by the king, and afterwards created a peer.

Rear-admiral Warren was made Knight of the Bath. The money taken on

board of the French fleet was brought through the city of London in

twenty waggons and lodged in the Bank.

About the middle of April Captain Fox in the Kent, with the Hampton

Court, the Eagle, the Lion, the Chester, and the Hector, with

two fire-ships, sailed on a cruise, designing to intercept a fleet of

St. Domingo men under the convoy of four French men-of-war. After

cruising a month between Ushant and Cape Finisterre, Captain Fox fell

in with this French fleet of one hundred and seventy sail. They were

immediately deserted by their men-of-war, and forty-six of them were


The British ministry, having received intelligence that nine French

men-of-war of the line had sailed from Brest in order to convoy a large

fleet of merchantmen to the West Indies, ordered Rear-admiral Hawke,

with fourteen men-of-war, to sail immediately in quest of them. The

admiral, with the fleet under his command, left Plymouth on August 9th.

The French fleet, consisting of the above-mentioned men-of-war and two

hundred and fifty-two merchant vessels, sailed from the Isle of Aix on

October 6th, and on the 14th they had the misfortune to fall in with the

British squadron. As soon as the French admiral became sensible of his

situation, he made a signal for the trade to make the best of their way

with the Content and frigates, and for the rest of his squadron to

prepare for battle. Admiral Hawke first made a signal to form the line;

but finding the French begin to sheer off, he ordered his whole fleet to

give chase and engage as they came up with the enemy. The Lion and the

Louisa began the conflict about noon and were soon followed by the

Tilbury, the Eagle, the Yarmouth, the Windsor, and the

Devonshire, which ships particularly shared the danger and

consequently the glory of the day.

About four o'clock four of the French squadron struck--viz., Le

Neptune, Le Monarque, Le Fougeux, and Le Severn; at five Le

Trident followed their example and Le Terrible surrendered about

seven. Be it, however, remembered, to the credit of their several

commanders, that they maintained this unequal conflict with great spirit

and resolution, and that they did not submit until they were entirely

disabled. Their number of killed and wounded was about eight hundred,

and of prisoners three thousand three hundred men. M. Fromentierre,

who commanded Le Neptune, was among the slain, and their

commander-in-chief was wounded in the leg and in the shoulder. The

English had one hundred and fifty-four killed and five hundred and

fifty-eight wounded. Captain Saumarez, of the Nottingham, was among

the former. We lost no other officer of distinction. On the last day of

October Admiral Hawke brought these six French men-of-war to Portsmouth

in triumph, and, in reward for his services, was soon after honoured

with the Order of the Bath.

During this year the English took from the French and Spaniards six

hundred and forty-four prizes, among which were one Spanish and

seventeen French men-of-war. The English vessels, including one

man-of-war and a fire-ship, taken by the French and Spaniards, amounted

to five hundred and fifty-one. The Royal Navy of Spain was now reduced

to twenty-two ships of the line, and that of France to thirty-one;

whilst the Navy of Britain amounted to one hundred and twenty-six sail

of the line besides seventy-five frigates.