The Loss Of Hms Namur


On July 15th, 1747, Captain Boscawen was made rear admiral of the blue,

and placed at the head of a large military and naval expedition

dispatched to the East Indies. In 1749 soon after the peace of

Aix-la-Chapelle had put an end to hostilities.

The fleet was lying in the road of Fort St. David, when on the 12th of

April it began to blow most violently from the n
rth-north-west. The

following day the fleet encountered a terrible storm in which the

flag-ship the Namur, seventy-four guns, foundered; the admiral,

captain, and several of the officers being fortunately on shore. The

Pembroke, of sixty guns, was also lost in this storm.

Mr. Alms, of the Namur, gives the following account of the loss of

that ship, in a letter to Mr. Ives:--

"We were at anchor in the Namur, in Fort St. David's road, Thursday,

April 13th, 1749. In the morning it blew fresh, wind north-east. At noon

we veered away to a half cable on the small bower. From one to four

o'clock we were employed in setting up the lower rigging. Hard gales and

squally, with a very great sea. At six o'clock the ship rode very well,

but half an hour afterwards had four feet of water in her hold. We

immediately cut the small bower cable, and stood to sea under our

courses. Our mate, who cut the cable, was up to his waist in water at

the bitts.

"At half-past seven we had six feet of water in the hold, when we hauled

up our courses and heaved overboard most of our upper-deck and all the

quarter-deck guns to the leeward. By three-quarters after eight the

water was up to our orlop gratings, and there was a great quantity

between decks so that the ship was water logged; when we cut away all

the masts, by which she righted. At the same time we manned the pumps

and baled, and soon perceived that we gained upon the ship, which put us

in great spirits. A little after nine we sounded, and found ourselves in

nine fathoms of water: the master called, 'Cut away the sheet-anchor!'

which was done immediately, and we veered away to a little better than a

cable; but, before the ship came head to the sea, she parted at the

chesstree. By this time it blew a hurricane. It is easier to conceive

than to describe what a dismal, melancholy scene now presented

itself--the shrieking cries, lamentations, ravings, despair, of above

five hundred poor wretches verging on the brink of eternity!

"I had, however, presence of mind to consider that the Almighty was at

the same time all-merciful, and experienced consolation in the

reflection that I had ever put my whole trust in Him. In a short prayer

I then implored His protection, and jumped overboard. The water, at that

time, was up to the gratings of the poop, from which I leaped. The first

thing I grappled was a capstan-bar, by means of which, in company with

seven more, I got to the davit; but, in less than an hour, I had the

melancholy experience of seeing them all washed away, and finding myself

upon it alone, and almost exhausted. I had now been above two hours in

the water, when, to my unspeakable joy, I saw a large raft with a great

many men driving towards me. When it came near I quitted the davit, and

with great difficulty swam to the raft, upon which I got, with the

assistance of one of our quarter-gunners. The raft proved to be the

Namur's booms. As soon as we were able we lashed the booms close

together, fastened a plank across them, and by these means made a good


"It was by this time one o'clock in the morning; soon afterwards the

seas became so mountainous that they turned our machine upside down, but

providentially, with the loss of only one man. About four, we struck

ground with the booms, and, in a very short time, all the survivors

reached the shore. After having returned thanks to God for His almost

miraculous goodness towards us, we took each other by the hand, for it

was not yet day, and still trusting to the Divine Providence for

protection, we walked forward in search of some place to shelter

ourselves from the inclemency of the weather; for the spot where we

landed offered nothing but sand. When we had walked about for a whole

hour, but to no manner of purpose, we returned to the place where we had

left our catamaran, and to our no small uneasiness found that it was

gone. Daylight appearing, we found ourselves on a sandy bank, a little

to the southward of Porto Novo, from which we were divided by a river

that we were under the necessity of fording, soon after which we arrived

at the Dutch settlement where we were received with much hospitality.

From our first landing till our arrival at Porto Novo we lost four of

our company, two at the place where we were driven ashore, and two in

crossing the river.

"After we had sufficiently refreshed ourselves at Porto Novo, the chief

there was so obliging as to accommodate me with clothes, a horse and a

guide to carry me to Fort St. David, where I arrived about noon the

following day, and immediately waited on the admiral, who received me

very kindly indeed; but so excessive was the concern of that great and

good man for the loss of so many poor souls, that he could not find

utterance for those questions he appeared desirous of asking me

concerning the particulars of our disaster.

"Till I reached Porto Novo, you beheld me shipwrecked and naked; I must

again repeat it, that the Dutch received, refreshed, and kindly conveyed

me to my truly honourable patron, through whose kindness and humanity I

am not only well clothed and comforted, but am also made lieutenant of

the Syren, from which ship I date this letter. I am, etc.,


"P.S.--There were only twenty-three of us saved on the wreck; twenty of

whom came ashore on the booms."