HMS Barracouta (1782)

The Royal Navy purchased HMS Barracouta on the stocks in 1782. After she had served for almost ten years patrolling against smugglers, the Navy sold her in 1792. She became the privateer Thought, which had a successful cruize, capturing several prizes including a French privateer, but then was herself captured in September 1793. She served the French Navy under the names Pensée, Montagne, Pensée, and Vedette, until the British recaptured her in 1800 and renamed her HMS Vidette. The Royal Navy sold her in 1802.

Great Britain
Name: HMS Barracouta
Acquired: June 1782 by purchase
Fate: Sold 1792
Great Britain
Name: Thought
Builder: Joshua Stewart, Sandgate[1]
Acquired: 1792 by purchase
Captured: 3 September 1793
Name: Pensée
Acquired: September 1793 by capture
Renamed: Montagne, then Pensée, then Vedette
Captured: 10 January 1800
Great Britain
Name: Vidette
Acquired: 10 January 1800 by capture
Fate: Sold 1802
General characteristics [1]
Tons burthen: 190,[2] or 197,[3] or 1971494 (bm)
  • Overall:75 ft 2 in (22.9 m)
  • Keel:54 ft 11 in (16.7 m)
Beam: 25 ft 11 34 in (7.9 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 6 in (3.2 m)
  • Royal Navy:90 (60 peacetime)
  • Privateer:100[2]
  • French Navy:60–100
  • Royal Navy:
    • Initially:14 × 6-pounder guns + 12 × ½-pounder swivel guns
  • 1783:14 × 4-pounder guns + 12 × ½-pounder swivel guns
  • Privateer:16 × 6-pounder guns[2]
  • French Navy:

Royal Navy service

The Royal Navy purchased Barracouta on the stocks. It named and registered her as a sloop on 15 June 1782. She was registered as a cutter on 13 March 1783, and Lieutenant Daniel Folliott commissioned her that month for the Western Channel.[1]

Barracouta was paid off in August 1786, but recommissioned in September by Lieutenant Robert Barlow for Rame Head and the Cornish coast.[1] He cruised with great success against smugglers until he was promoted to the rank of Commander in 1790, and soon after appointed to the brig Childers with orders to resume his former station on the coast of Cornwall.

In 1790 Barracouta was under the command of Lieutenant Alexander Douglas for the Yorkshire coast. She underwent fitting at Sheerness in 1790 and then in 1791 she was under the command of Lieutenant James Malcolm.[1]

The "Principal Officers and Commissioners of his Majesty's Navy" offered "His Majesty's Cutter Barracouta, Burthen 197 Tons, lying at Sheerness" for sale on 12 January 1792.[3] The Navy sold her at Sheerness for £260 on 19 January.[1]


Barracouta became the privateer Thought in 1793. She does not, however appear in Lloyd's Register.

On 13 May Captain Sedgefield Dale acquired a letter of marque. Then on 31 May Captain Harding Shaw acquired a letter of marque.[2]

On 19 July Lloyd's List (LL) reported that the privateer Thought, of London, had brought several vessels into Falmouth. One was the French privateer Passe Partout, of 16 guns and of Bordeaux.[Note 1] Passe Partout had on board some dollars and chests of sugar that she had taken from a Spanish ship.[5] There were two American vessels: Rawlinson which had been sailing from New York to Havredegrace with pork and flour, and Active, Blair, master, which had been sailing from Philadelphia to Nantes with sugar and coffee. Thought captured Active in company with the privateer Weymouth, of Weymouth.[5][Note 2] Thought also recaptured Neptune, which had been sailing from West Indies to Liverpool.[5]

On 3 September a French frigate captured Thought and took her into Lorient.[7]

French service

Thought became the French naval brig Pensée in January 1794. She was at Dunkirk in February. In January 1795 she was renamed Montagne. She became Pensée again in January 1796, and Vedette in July.[8]

In July 1796, she escorted a convoy from Lorient to Audierne under Ensign Gravereau. On 2 February 1797 she was off Croisic, where she captured the British privateer Loterie.[9]

HMS Triton captured Vedette on 10 February 1800.[Note 3] Triton was with a squadron off the Stevenet Rock when she captured Vedette, of 14 guns and 84 men, which was sailing from Brest to Lorient.

French records indicate that Veedette, lieutenant de vaisseau Kerdrain, was escorting a convoy from Lorient to Brest. THe capture took place at the mouth of the Iroise Sea.

The prize arrived safely in Falmouth on the 19th. Captain John Gore's report described Vedette as a national (i.e., naval) brig and the former cutter Barracouta.[10] Lloyd's List (LL) reported on 18 February that Videt, of 14 guns and 80 men, a prize to the frigate Triton, had arrived at Falmouth. She had arrived on 12 February. The news item noted that Videt was the former cutter Thought.[11]

Royal Navy service

The Royal Navy took her in as Vidette. Admiralty records indicate that Vidette served as a hired vessel between 1800 and 1801.[12] The Navy did not commission her. She was sold in 1802.[13]

Not, citations, and references


  1. Passe Partout had been commissioned at Bordeaux in June 1793. She was armed with 16 guns and had a crew of 120 men.[4]
  2. Captain John Sturmey had acquired a letter of marque for the lugger Weymouth, of 30 tons (bm), on 29 May 1793. She had a crew of 25 men and was armed with six 6-pounder guns and eight swivel guns.[6]
  3. Roche gives the date of capture as 11 February.[9] The discrepancy in dates is probably due to the Royal Navy counting the day from midday to midday, rather than midnight to midnight.


  1. Winfield (2007), p. 333.
  2. "Letter of Marque, p.89 - accessed 25 July 2017" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  3. "No. 13376". The London Gazette. 3 January 1792. p. 7.
  4. Demerliac (2004), p. 267, n°2342.
  5. LL 19 July 1793, №5226.
  6. "Letter of Marque, p.92 - accessed 25 July 2017" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  7. LL 8 October 1793, №2548.
  8. Winfield & Roberts (2014), p. 245.
  9. Roche (2005), p. 346.
  10. Naval Chronicle Vol. 3, p.318.
  11. LL 18 February 1800, №4025; also Ship arrival and departure (SAD) data.
  12. "NMM, vessel ID 378450" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol xi. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  13. Winfield (2008), p. 287.


  • Demerliac, Alain (2004). La Marine de la Révolution: Nomenclature des Navires Français de 1792 A 1799 (in French). Éditions Ancre. ISBN 2-906381-24-1.
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005). Dictionnaire des bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française de Colbert à nos jours. 1. Group Retozel-Maury Millau. ISBN 978-2-9525917-0-6. OCLC 165892922. (1671-1870)
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships in the Age of Sail 17141792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 978-1844157006.
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.
  • Winfield, Rif; Roberts, Stephen S. (2015). French Warships in the Age of Sail 1786–1861: Design Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-204-2.
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