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Type: 3rd rate ; Armament 74
Displacement: 3994 tons
22 June 1794, Rear-admiral Cornwallis, in the Excellent 74, sailed from Plymouth Sound, with a fleet of 12 sail of the line (all 74s but one, a 64), to cruise in the Bay of Biscay, and escort the East India fleet clear of soundings.
21 Dec 1796 the Tagus. The Mediterranean fleet arrived.
Circa 20 Jan 1797 Sailed from the Tagus with a Portuguese convoy and was subsequently, 6 Feb., joined off Cape St.-Vincent by a squadron detached from the Channel fleet.
14 Feb 1797 Jervis's action with the Spanish off Cape St Vincent.
31 Mar 1797 sailed from Lisbon to blockade Cadiz.
6 Sep 1799, Portsmouth, sailed to join the Channel fleet.
17 Oct 1799, Plymouth, passed up the Lisbon and Oporto fleets, under convoy of the Impregnable, of 98 guns (since lost off Portsmouth,) and the Excellent, 74, Captain Stopford : the latter put into Cawsand Bay with her prize, L'Arethuse brig corvette, 18, and 160 men, which she captured on her passage, after a chase of 12 hours. She was bound to Cayenne, her second voyage. In turning up Hamoaze, L'Arethuse tailed ashore by the violence of the lee current of the two tides from Hamoaze and the Sound, in Fire-Stone Bay, but soon got off, and went into Hamoaze.
19 Oct 1799, Portsmouth, arrived late last night, and early this morning, twelve merchant ships from Lisbon, which sailed from thence under convoy of the Impregnable, 98, and Excellent, 74, the latter of which parted company a few days since, in chace of a suspected vessel.
14 Jan 1800, Plymouth, arrived the Excellent, 74, and Urania, 44, from sea, in Cawsand Bay.
19 Jan 1800, Plymouth, arrived the American brig Franklin, taken by the Alliance French privateer, and retaken by the Excellent, 74 guns.
19 Feb 1800, Plymouth, sailed to join Admiral Gardner off Brest, from Cawsand Bay, the Windsor Castle, 98, Excellent, 74, and Resolution, 74.
Excellent 24 Apr 1800 Previous to striking his flag on 24 Apr 1800 Lord Bridport promoted Lieutenant Hillier of the Excellent, Commander, and appointed him to the Niger.
24 Apr 1800, Torbay, the Channel Fleet, under the command of Sir Alan Gardner, sailed, viz. Ville de Paris, Barfleur, Glory, London, Neptune, St George, Temeraire, Windsor Castle, Ajax, Achilles, Cumberland, Canada, Captain, Centaur, Defence, Defiance, Elephant, Excellent, Hector, Impetueux, Marlborough, Ramilies, Resolution, Robust, Russel, Saturn, Superb, Terrible, Venerable, Warrior, Sheerness, Amelia, Sea Horse, Thames, and Havick.
19 Jul 1800, Plymouth, came in from off Brest, the Prince, 98, R.-Adm. Cotton ; Defence, 74, Excellent, 74.
25 Jul 1800, Plymouth, arrived the Megaera fire-ship, the Excellent, 74, and Triumph, 74, from the Channel fleet.
6 Sep 1800, Plymouth, letters from the fleet off Brest, dated Black Rocks, the 2d inst. state that R.-Adm. Sir R. Calder, Bart, is appointed to the command of the in-shore or flying squadron, consisting of the Caesar, 84, Excellent 74, Marlborough 74, Defence 74, and Elephant 74.
11 Sep 1800, Plymouth, came in the Huckamida, Groot, from Bourdeaux, with wine and brandy, detained by the Excellent, 74.
19 Sep 1800, Plymouth, Letters from the Caesar, 84, of 16th, state, that she, with the Excellent, 74 ; Marlborough, 74 ; Elephant, 74 ; and Defence, 74, composing the squadron off the Black Rocks, were all well. They had taken possession of a small island about twp miles from the coast, where there was plenty of game, rabbits, pigeons, &c. which, with fish and vegetables, affords, them many comforts.
27 Sep 1800, Plymouth, arrived from off Brest, and anchored in Cawsand Bay, owing to very heavy S. W. gales, the Temeraire, 98, Namur, 98, Prince, 98, Barfleur, 98, Royal George, 110, Neptune, 98, Juste, 84, Russel, 74, Mars, 74, Marlborough, 74, Defence, 74, Elephant, 74, Excellent, 74.
5 Oct 1800, Plymouth, sailed from Cawsand Bay to join the fleet in Torbay, the Prince, 98, Prince George, 98, Edgar, 74, Barfleur, 98, Excellent, 74, Neptune, 98, Elephant, 74, and Doris, 36.
20 Oct 1800, Abreveral, the ship's boats, under Lt Bain, cut out three brigs, hiding in a creek to the east of Abreveral, with the loss of a quarter-master, mortally wounded.
28 Oct 1800 Plymouth, came in La Belle Francoise, schooner, in ballast, cut out near L'Orient, by the Excellent.
4 Nov 1800 Plymouth, arrived a number of vessels cut out by the boats of the Excellent, 74, Montague, 74, in a bay near Brest. In trying to turn up Catwater two of them missed stays, and, it blowing hard, they tailed ashore on the Cobler's Ledge and bilged.
19 Nov 1800, Plymouth, sail to join the Channel fleet, with the Russell.
24 Nov 1800, Plymouth, arrived a French brig, with biscuit, taken by the Excellent.
24 Nov 1803, arrived off Toulon from England to join the Mediterranean squadron.
Late 1803, Of the weak and ill-provided state of several of his ships, Lord Nelson, in his letters to the admiralty, complained very bitterly, and, as it appears, not without reason. " . . . . . . . . "We have fitted the Excellent with new main and mizen rigging: it was shameful for the dock-yard (Portsmouth) to send a ship to sea with such rigging. "
12 Dec 1803, whilst the Narcissus watched Toulon the Fleet sailed for the bay of Palma and thence to the Magdalena islands for water etc.
4 Jan 1804 sailed with the Mediterranean fleet on a cruise, arriving back at Sardinia on 27th. 1 Feb cruised on the French coast, anchoring off Cabrera on the 8th ; cruised again from the 19 Feb to 25 Mar.
3 Apr 1804 cruised off the French coast apart from returning briefly to the Magdalena islands to water from 11 to 19 May.
13 Jun 1804 a small French squadron entered Toulon.
19 Jul 1804 following the receipt of supplies from England the fleet sailed for the gulf of Palma to store ship ; returned 26 Aug.
May 1805 Mediterranean
23 Jan 1806 King of Naples taken to Palermo.
21 Apr - 12 Jul 1806 operations, with the Army, along the coast of Naples, in support of the Prince of Hesse.
7-20 Nov 1808 assisting the Spanish militia defend the town of Rosas from an attack by a large French force.
21 Nov 1808 Excellent was relieved by the Fame at Rosas, which on the 23rd withdrew, with her marines from off the coast.
28 Jul 1809 ship's boats of the Excellent, with the Acorn and Bustard, cut out from the port of Duin, north-west of Trieste, six Italian gun-boats, along with 10 laden coasters.
Jul 1830 reduced to 58, at Portsmouth - to commence the role as the Navy's Gunnery Training Ship.
1834 Replaced by Boyne
17 Jan 1835 in harbour at Portsmouth
Portsmouth 11 Apr 1835 the late Excellent, now replaced by the Boyne, was taken into dock on Thursday to have her copper removed, before being sailed to the Eastward, under jury masts, to be broken up.
Portsmouth 2 May 1835 Messenger is detailed to tow the late Gunnery Training ship, HMS Excellent to the River Thames to be sold for breaking.
Portsmouth 16 May 1835 Messenger sailed Wednesday last with the late Excellent, assisted by jury sails, under tow for the river.
20 Jul 1839 Mates C. H. James and W. A. R. Lee, appointed to the Excellent. 28 Jul 1839 Portsmouth, Midshipman Richard Malone, and Mates Alfred Rose Lee, C. H. James, and J. M. Cooke, appointed to the Excellent; 17 Aug 1839 Portsmouth, We understand that the Excellent is to be fitted for trial, with a moveable platform, for the purpose of teaching seamen naval gunnery. It is the invention of Lieutenant Thomas Cooke, R. N., Professor of Fortification at Addiscombe. 17 Aug 1839 Portsmouth Lieutenant J. C. Caffin, appointed to the Excellent vice Lieutenant B. Warren, appointed to the Blenheim 7 Sep 1839 Mate Henry Chads, appointed to the Excellent. 26 Oct 1839 Mates Robert Willcox, and David W. Gordon, appointed to the Excellent." 2 Nov 1839 Mate H. Bayley, appointed to Excellent ; Clerk Henry Price (purser, half pay), appointed as additional clerk to the Excellent." 14 Dec 1839 Portsmouth In harbour. 28 Dec 1839 Mate John Berlaso, appointed to the Excellent 4 Jan 1840 Lieutenant C. B. Warren, from the Blenheim to the Excellent, vice Thomas Wilson, who exchanges. 1 Feb 1840 Mate A. P. Ryder, appointed to the Excellent 8 Feb 1840 Lieutenant Benjamin Sharpe, appointed to the Excellent vice Anslie, appointed to the Cambridge 8 Feb 1840 Surgeon John Edwards, appointed to the Excellent, vice Urquhart, appointed to the Thunderer. 14 Mar 1840 Mate Robert Hall, appointed to the Excellent ; Mate David M. Gordon, appointed from the Excellent to the Thunderer ; Mate C. H. James, of Excellent, appointed to Cambridge ; Mate Arthur Cummings, of Excellent, appointed to Cyclops. 25 Apr 1840 Mate P. W. May, appointed to the Excellent. 16 May 1840 Mate J. F. B. W Wainwright, appointed to the Excellent 6 Jun 1840 Lieutenant G. G. Otway (from the Excellent) ; Mate Charles J. Ewart, appointed to the Excellent" 4 Jul 1840 Lieutenant George R. Wilson, promoted of the Excellent, 25 Jul 1840 Mate Charles Sullivan, appointed to the Excellent. 8 Aug 1840 Commander John Neal Nott appointed to the Excellent. 16 Aug 1840 Mate A. P. Greene, of Excellent, appointed to join the Niger expedition ; 22 Aug 1840 Mates Hon. T. A. Pakenham, ; W. H. Bridge, appointed to the Excellent; 22 Aug 1840 Mate Richard Moorman, appointed to the Excellent;" 29 Aug 1840 Mate B. B. Hawke appointed to the Excellent. 3 Oct 1840, Lieutenant A. Sharpe and Mr. Beauchamp Proctor, Mates have been appointed to the Howe, from the Excellent, as gunnery officers, with 12 seamen gunners. 10 Oct 1840 Portsmouth, Mr. J. Lilley, boatswain, late of the Excellent has been superannuated on £65 per annum. 10 Oct 1840 Mates G. Herbert, and G. H. Hodgson appointed to the Excellent. 17 Oct 1840 Mates J. M Jackson, J. C. Rowles, and J. C. W. N. Taylor, appointed to the Excellent; 31 Oct 1840, Lieutenant W. Austen, appointed to the Excellent ; Mates C. J. Brickdale, Nicholas Love Lockyer ; and Mr. J. Addison and Mr. W. Witmarsh appointed to the Excellent, to qualify as naval instructor and schoolmaster. 7 Nov 1840 Lieutenant F. L. Barnard, appointed to the Excellent; 21 Nov 1840 Portsmouth Lieutenant Caffin, of the Excellent. has been ordered to Sheerness, to superintend the fitting of the gun carriages for the Camperdown, Monarch, and Vernon. 12 Dec 1840 Lieutenant Edward H. Kenny, appointed to the Excellent; 12 Dec 1840 Messrs. B. G. Rowles, and J. Claude N. Taylor, (mates of the Excellent), passed on Tuesday, for Lieutenants. 26 Dec 1840 Mate Leopold George Heath (of the Excellent) has obtained the half-yearly Lieutenant's Commission, as being senior in proficiency of mathematics, &c., prior to the Christmas vacation at the Royal Naval College. Charles C. Carter made Lieutenant. 26 Dec 1840 Lieutenant J. Sanderson ; Mate O. Borland, appointed to the Excellent. 26 Dec 1840 Mate C. J. F. Ewart, of the Excellent, appointed to the Monarch. 26 Dec 1840 Mate John Borlase, appointed to the Excellent, to take charge of the artillery duties an board that ship. 2 Jan 1841 Lieutenants Edward H. Kenny, and Hon. G. D. Keane, appointed to the Excellent; 30 Jan 1841, Mates John Borlase, Edward Hardy. Edward Lacy. and W. A. R. Lee (from the Naval College), appointed to the Excellent, for the first ships wanting gunnery mates. Mate W. Moorsom, appointed to the Excellent. 19 Feb 1841 Mate Thomas Davies, appointed from the Ganges, to the Excellent. 27 Feb 1841 Gunner's Mate W. Sparkes, of the Excellent, appointed to be acting gunner of the Victory. 27 Feb 1841 Midshipman Charles Compton, appointed to the Excellent. 6 Mar 1841 Mate Stephen F. Douglas, appointed to the Excellent. Gunner W. Sparks, of the Excellent, appointed to be Acting Gunner, and borne on the Victory. 20 Mar 1841 Mate J. P. Thompson, appointed to the Excellent ; 3 Apr 1841 Lieutenant James Fitzjames ; Mate A. D. Gordon, appointed to the Excellent. 10 Apr 1841 Lieutenants James Fitzjames (from the Excellent) appointed to the Cornwallis; 13 Apr 1841 Midshipmen J. F. Herbert, of the Excellent, passed for lieutenant 17 Apr 1841 Mate H. D. Blanckley, from the Excellent appointed to the Salamander. Mate J. A. Paynter, appointed to the Vernon, from the Excellent. 24 Apr 1841 Mate James Paynter, from the Excellent, appointed to the Vernon. Mate ----- McClintoch, from the Crocodile, appointed to the Excellent." 29 Apr 1841 Mr. W. H. M'Michael, appointed to the Excellent, to qualify for naval instructor. 8 May 1841 Lieutenant W. H. Bridge appointed to the Excellent. Mate E. Hardy, from Excellent, appointed to the Indus. 11 May 1841 Lieutenant Forbes, Royal Marines, appointed to the Excellent, for instruction in naval gunnery. Gunner E. Sawyer, appointed to the Excellent. 22 May 1841 Lieutenant E. R. Power, appointed to the Excellent ; 29 May 1841 Lieutenant J. Fitzjames, from the Excellent, appointed to the Cornwallis. Lieutenant E. H. Kenney, from the Excellent, appointed to the Dublin. 5 Jun 1841 Mate M. Burrows, appointed to the Excellent ; 12 Jun 1841 Mate John Borlase (1832), of the Excellent, promoted to Lieutenant. Mates C. J. Austen ; H. F. N. Rolfe , appointed to the Excellent ; 12 Jun 1841 appointed to the Excellent as Cadets for the Royal Marines :-Messrs. G. E. O. Jackson, Charles M'Arthur, F, W. Hall, F. A. P. Wood, T. V. Cooke, H. Cottle, and H. W. Gwyn. 19 Jun 1841 Lieutenant J. Borlase, appointed to the Excellent ; 24 Jun 1841 All gunners are is future to be borne on the books of the Excellent. 3 Jul 1841 Mate John Wilson, appointed to Excellent. 14 Aug 1841 Lieutenant F. W Saunders, appointed to the Excellent ; Purser Mr. Thomas Kerrigan, appointed to the Excellent, vice Street. 21 Aug 1841 Lieutenant W.H. Bridge (from the Excellent) appointed to the Southampton. Lieutenant Edwin W. Sanders, appointed to the Excellent. 28 Aug 1841 Clerk R. Godson, appointed to the Excellent ; 11 Sep 1841 Portsmouth, Important to Midshipmen.- The Lords of the Admiralty have issued orders for all midshipmen to pass in gunnery on board the Excellent, previous to passing at the RN College. 11 Sep 1841 Mates W. B. De Blaquiere and A. D. Gordon appointed to the Excellent. Mate H. Wardrop (from the Excellent) and C. H. Simpson, appointed to the Malabar. Midshipman F Marryat, appointed to the Excellent. Lieutenant T. H. Christian, appointed to the Excellent 18 Sep 1841 Midshipman Mr. T. B. Crawford, appointed to the Excellent. 25 Sep 1841 Mate R. W. Alcock, appointed to the Excellent. 9 Oct 1841 Lieutenant ------ Caldwell, appointed to the Excellent. 12 Oct 1841 Mate F. L. M'Clintock, Excellent, passed for Lieutenant at the Naval College. 16 Oct 1841 Mate H. G. Williams, appointed to the Excellent. 20 Nov 1841 Naval Instructors Mr. Brand, and Mr. Russell ; Clerk W. H. Henna, appointed to the Excellent. 27 Nov 1841 Midshipman G. Whale, appointed to the Excellent. 11 Dec 1841 Lieutenant G. Moorman ; Midshipman G. White appointed to the Excellent. 18 Dec 1841 Mate W. T. Lower, appointed to the Excellent. 28 Dec 1841 in Portsmouth harbour. 17 Apr 1847 Gunnery Practice in the British Navy. It is now well known to every person connected with the navy, that our seamen excel all other nations in gunnery practice as much as they have hitherto excelled them in seamanship. The perfection that has been thus attained is owing to the system pursued on board H. M. S. Excellent. at Portsmouth, where both officers and seamen are daily instructed in the practice as well as the theory of naval gunnery. When these seamen and officers are sufficiently skilled in this art, they are drafted on board the newly-commissioned ships as gunnery officers and seamen gunners, where they become the instructors of their shipmates ; and hence the crew of a British man-of-war can fire a broadside or a single gun with greater precision than any foreigner. The accuracy in firing on board the Excellent has been so frequently and satisfactorily tested, that no one who has ever witnessed it can be otherwise than surprised and gratified at its remarkable precision. The utility of this establishment has been so perfectly established that the Lords of the Admiralty are holding out inducements to both seamen and officers to join it in order that the navy may be supplied with experienced gunners skilled in the theoretical as well as the practical knowledge of naval gunnery. - London Paper. Dated 1846.
That may well have been the case at that date, if you should be happy to believe the spiel, but it would appear that gunnery of the Royal Navy was, barring some notable exceptions, never much good during the Napoleonic Wars, with the Admiralty failing to supply sufficient materials for regular practice, and some captains reputedly not wishing to dirty their ships, often meaning that Nelson's order that no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy, meaning that he can then open fire with any gun that he can bring to bear on the target and that accuracy is of little value. However, this process was soon put into perspective from about 1812 by some, but not all US captains, who were reluctant to allow the British ships to come alongside, and by using superior gunnery were often able to pick off vital parts of the British ships until they were almost unmanageable and were an easy prey to the larger and probably better armed U.S. ships. Few if any lessons were learned during the 19th Century, except perhaps that you had to build bigger ships to match the enemy, but towards the end of the Century Captain Percy Scott notes that whilst they were happy to inspect the men few if any of the inspecting admirals paid any attention to the quality of a ship's gunnery, and often made a point of not being on board when this inspection was carried out, this at a time when the range and power of guns was increasing dramatically and one would have thought would have been a priority. But Whale Island was rarely given examples of the latest equipment that was being fitted to ships so was often unable to train men using modern equipment.
Naval gunnery was being dragged screaming into the 20th Century, but even by the start of WWI certain aspects of ships' gunnery was still not resolved. Many guns were unable to fire at their maximum range, and the loss of big ships at the Battle of Jutland would suggest that basic safety was being ignored in order to feed the guns quickly. In my humble opinion the problems lie squarely with the Admiralty, in that they the failed to equip the various gunnery establishments adequately, but attempted to create an atmosphere where everyone was led to believe that British gunnery was a World beater when in fact it left an awful lot to be desired, and rather than accept that there were shortcomings the pedlars of gloom were invariably shuffled off to somewhere where their comments could no longer be heard.
20 Dec 1848 Gunnery Ship, Portsmouth
1859 Replaced by Queen Charlotte and renamed Excellent.
1 Jan 1859 Commissioned at Portsmouth.
1860 Portsmouth, gunnery ship
1864 Home Station : Stationary ship. Reports on Scarlatina, VD etc. and Small Pox omboard. Number of Cases of Disease and Injury.
1865 converted to be a Gunnery Training Ship, and joined by HMS Calcutta by a bridge as a part of the Gunnery Gunnery school at Portsmouth, then moored off Mud Island, which was later to become Whale Island. Whale Island converted from mud flat to parade ground by using soil from the new docks in the Dockyard and grew in area from 10 to 80 Acres plus various hulks attached as classrooms and accommodations ships.
1870 Portsmouth, gunnery ship
1 Apr 1876 Recommissioned at Portsmouth
1878, very badly found as regards the necessary equipment for instruction in gunnery, so much so that a lecture there on some particular weapon generally concluded with the remark - "but this is obsolete, and we have not got the new one to show you."
1879 Portsmouth, gunnery ship : tenders: Comet, Glatton, Medway.
1 Jul 1884 New books opened.
Apr 1889 Court-martial held on board on acting sub-lieutenant W. B. Cowper Coles, of the Excellent, attending the RN College, Greenwich, for absence without leave, and was sentenced to lose 9 months' seniority and to be severely reprimanded.
1890 Gunnery Ship, Portsmouth : tenders: Blazer, Bustard, Hero, Handy, Kite, Mastiff, Pike, Pincher, Skylark, Snake.
1890 The building of and the transfer from ship to shore - Whale Island.
1890 the gunboat HMS Handy renamed HMS Excellent in order to become the nominal ship for the establishment at Whale Island, as required by the Naval Discipline Act.
1891 the former Queen Charlotte broken up.
1902 some observations by an officer who spent a period under training at Whale Island.