HMS Vesta (1806)

HMS Vesta was an Adonis-class schooner of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War. She was built at Bermuda using Bermudan cedar and completed in 1806. She appears to have had an astonishingly uneventful decade-long career before the Admiralty sold her in 1816. She became a merchantman, sailing between the United Kingdom and Newfoundland until May 1823 when she sank after hitting an iceberg.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Vesta
Ordered: 2 April 1804
Builder: Bermuda
Launched: 1806
Commissioned: October 1806
Fate: Sold 1816
United Kingdom
Name: Sylvia
  • 1818: W. Major.
  • 1822:Harrison
Acquired: c.1816 by purchase
Fate: Sunk May 1823
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Adonis-class
Tons burthen: 110 9394, or 138[2] bm
  • 68 ft 2 in (20.8 m) (gundeck)
  • 50 ft 5 58 in (15.4 m) (keel)
Beam: 20 ft 4 in (6.2 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 3 in (3.12 m)
Sail plan: Schooner
Complement: 35
Armament: 10 x 18-pounder carronades


Vesta was commissioned in August 1806 under the command of Lieutenant George Maule for the North America station. In November 1807 Lieutenant Charles Crowdy assumed command. His replacement in June 1808 was Lieutenant George Mends.[1]

Lieutenant George Miall replaced Mends in July 1809. In 1810, Lieutenant William Bowen Mends briefly commanded Vesta before Miall returned to command.[3] Between 18 June and 5 July 1811, Vesta underwent repairs at Plymouth.[1]

Vesta then served briefly with the West Africa Squadron.

On 30 December Vesta and Sabrina captured Princessa de Beira (or Princess Beira) off Boa Vista, Cape Verde. Princessa de Beira was a United States schooner. The Vice admiralty court at Freetown condemned her, and freed the 56 slaves that she was carrying.[4][5]3698-3700.</ref> The court ruled that Princessa was in fact U.S. and that her Portuguese colours were false.[6]

Then on 13 January 1812, Vesta and Sabrina captured Pepe, a U.S.-owned slave schooner, in the River Gamabia. The court in Sierra Leone condemned her and freed the 73 slaves she was carrying.[4] The court ruled that despite her Spanish colours, Pepe was American and British property.[6] In the seizure Captain Tillard of Sabrina used dubious means to induce the local slave merchant to add 64 slaves to the nine already aboard Pepe at the time of the seizure and so make the exercise more lucrative.[7][Note 1]

In February Vesta sailed to the Rio Pongas to attempt to capture four British subjects engaging in slave trading in violation of the law for the abolition of the slave trade. Miall managed to apprehend two and bring them back to [{Freetown]].[11]

Vesta then returned to England. On 1 October 1813, Vesta recaptured the Spanish brig St. Francisco de Assis.[12]


In January 1816 the Admiralty put Vesta up for sale at Deptford.[13] She was sold for £500 on 11 January 1816.[1]


Vesta appears in the Register of Shipping for (1818) with Ford, master, and W. Major, owner.[2]

Year Master Owner Trade
1817 not published Undergoing repair
1818 Ford W. Major & Co. Portsmouth-Newfoundland
1819 Ford W. Major & Co. Portsmouth-Newfoundland
1820 Ford W. Major & Co. Portsmouth-Newfoundland
1821 Ford W. Major & Co. Portsmouth-Newfoundland
1822 Ford
W. Major & Co.
1823 Andrews Harrison Portsmouth-Newfoundland


Vesta was sailing from Poole and Waterford to Carbonear when on 20 May she struck an iceberg about 100 miles east of Cape St Francis. The crew took to her boats and she sank almost immediately. About 30 hours later Elizabeth, Hearn, master, of Harbour Grace, came by and rescued the crew. Elizabeth was on a seal hunting voyage. She landed the crew a few days later at Musquito.[14]

Notes, citations, and references


  1. A first class share of the prize money for Pepe and the bounty for slaves captured on Princess de Beira was worth £404 6sd. A sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth £6 9s 11½d. However, £401 was retained by to meet expenses arising from appeals re the case of the Princess de Beira.[8] Unfortunately, the prize agent, Henry Abbott, went bankrupt. It was not until May 1835 that a final dividend was paid from his estate.[9] The Navy List also gives the date of capture for Pepe as 13 June 1812. A first class share of the final payment for Princess de Beira was worth £41 5s 6d; a sixth-class share was worth 13s 2¼d. A first-class share of the final payment for Pepe was worth £9 18s 9d; a sixth class share was worth 3s 2¼d.[10]


  1. Winfield (2008), pp.361.
  2. Register of Shipping (1818), Seq. №V126.
  3. Mends (1899), p.350.
  4. Grindal (2016) Kindle edition location 17680.
  5. Grindal (2016) Kindle edition location 17680.
  6. Grindal (2016) Kindle edition location 3718.
  7. Grindal (2016) Kindle edition location 3703.
  8. "No. 17148". The London Gazette. 25 June 1816. p. 1223.
  9. Admiralty (1835), Navy List, pp.166-7.
  10. "No. 19255". The London Gazette. 3 April 1835. p. 644.
  11. Grindal (2016) Kindle edition location 3713.
  12. "No. 16888". The London Gazette. 23 April 1814. p. 863.
  13. "No. 17096". The London Gazette. 2 January 1816. p. 6.
  14. Lloyd's List №5810.


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