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Naval History of Great Britain.
Notes to Annual Abstracts.

[For ease of reference these notes now appear as footnotes to the actual Abstracts to which the refer....PB]

Note to Abstract No. 8.

Hired vessels numbered about 96.

It will here be seen, that the Victory has quitted her degraded post at a, to resume the rank which, for the space of 33 years, she had so honourably filled. See note a* to Abstract No. 6.

Note to Abstract No. 9.

Hired vessels numbered about 104.

In consequence of the mistake of a unit in the " Tons," of class t, not discovered until after Abstract No. 9 was printed, this total exceeds by 1 the corresponding total in Abstract No. 8.

Note to Abstract No. 10.

W . The purchased ship of this class was the Cornwallis, late a teak-built Indiaman.

x*. A very ancient class revived. " Advice boats so called officially, are said to have been employed, for the first time, in 1692, before the battle off Cape La Hogue in order to gain intelligence of what was passing at Brest. " See Derrick, p. 113, note *.

* As the hired vessels had begun to be discharged, they now numbered only about 62. This Abstract, having been put to press along with the one which precedes it, contains the same deficiency of a unit in the"' Tons," that is remarked upon in the single note of Abstract No. 9.

Owing to an inadvertency on our part, two 74s, one of the N, the other of the O class, that were, late in the year 1801, ordered to be built, have been left out of the " ordered" column. The addition of them will make the line numerical grand total 191, and the general numerical grand total 783.

Note to Abstract No. 11.

a WITH the view to render the remaining Abstracts more perspicuous and useful a partial alteration has been made in the manner of heading them. Instead of being confined to " Cruisers," this compartment now extends to every ship fitted or about to be fitted for sea-service ; and lines are drawn to Show the totals, as well of the former, as well of the former, as of the less material portion of the Navy.

b This head has also been slightly altered ; and in particular the " &c." has a different signification from that assigned to it in note to No. 1 Abstract. See vol. i., p. 398. It signifies that all the ships and vessels of this, as we shall call it, the second compartment which are not commissioned for harbour-service, remain in ordinary until sold or taken to pieces, a period which is sometimes extended to several years.

c The term " Built " has been substituted for " Launched, " as being more explicit, and contrasting better with " Purchased. " In the preceding Abstracts every ship down this pair of columns formed part of the " Total of Increase, " and having, in the generality of cases, been included among the " Ordered to be built " of an antecedent year, became reckoned twice over. To obviate this, a double line now excludes the built ships from the increase ; and the increase-total without any other deduction than the decrease-total may require, proves the grand total. For instance, the grand total of N, by the former method, must have been produced thus : 15 | 26032 (the corresponding total in No. 10 Abstract) + 3 | 5168 = 18 | 31200 - 1 | 1743 = 17 | 29457, instead of by simply adding the 2 | 3425.

d The " &c. " includes ships converted to sheer-hulks, breakwaters, and similar uses.

e The correction of a mistake of 50 tons in one ship (the Cornwallis, see note W* in the preceding page), occasions this total to exceed by that amount the corresponding total in the preceding Abstract.

f See last note.

g This division of the armées en flute into " Troop-ships " and " Storeships " tends to simplify the arrangement, but it was not adopted in the official register until a much later period. There, as elsewhere observed, the reduced ships, with few exceptions, ranked, until very recently, along with their full-armed classmates. The lower columns of the first compartment are now no longer in blank, the substituted term at the top admitting all ships fitted or about to be fitted " for sea-service. "

h The addition of the deficient unit remarked upon in notes' to Nos. 9 and 10 Abstracts, appears in the excess of this total over its corresponding one in the latter.

i This is merely a separation from various other classes of such stationary ships as are so registered in the official list, and might have been made a class from the first. In strictness, the three commissioned harbour-service ships at T, T, and W, and all others, which may appear in that column throughout the series, ought to belong to it : but, as the official list continue them in their original classes, we have done the same.

k The " Small Yachts," with the exception of the Medina, not being commanded by naval officers, this class has been reduced ; and the one next above it, now including the Medina, will henceforward be denominated " Royal Yachts ".

1 This being a year of peace, no hired vessels were attached to the navy. As to the grand total of " Tons, " see notes e, f, and h.

Note to Abstract No. 12.

a It was remarked in note to No. 2 Abstract, that " captured vessels are also purchased from the captors before they can enter service." The union of these two columns under the head of " Purchased," subject to the distinction pointed out, claims a preference therefore, over the plan adopted in the preceding Abstracts. The names of the ships in the second column will, without the exception formerly requisite, be found in the proper list in the work ; and where, among the vessels in the first column, a purchased British merchantman rates above a gun-brig, the circumstance will be adverted to in a note.

b Late the Brave, French privateer ; presented by the merchants of Barbadoes to the British government, and on that account named Barbadoes.

c These had been British merchant vessels.

d Also these.

e The Scorpion ; built from the draught of the Cruiser. See vol. ii., p. 396, note Y*. The four British-built vessels, exclusive of these, in the " Sea service " total, are the remnant of eight, built of fir in 1795, measuring about 369 tons each, and now nearly worn out. Considering the fine qualities of the Cruiser, it is rather surprising that, during six years, three vessels only should have been built from her draught. These were launched in 1798, and were not brig, but ship rigged : consequently, they belong to class S. The Osprey, Snake, and Victor, were, however, found fault with as ships ; and all others from the same draught were thenceforward constructed as brigs. As a man of war, a ship has a decided advantage, in action, over a brig. A ship will lie to more closely, and, if she loses her mizenmast or spanker, has still a trysail on the mainmast ; whereas, the moment a brig has her gaff or main boom shot away, she loses the use of her boom mainsail, and is no longer manageable. It may, however, be said on the behalf of brig-rigged vessels that many of their apparent faults arise from an improper mode of handling them.

f These, also, had been British merchant vessels.

g The hired vessels numbered about 34.

Note to Abstract No. 13.

a The Hibernia ; ordered in 1790, and intended to be of the same tonnage as the Ville-de-Paris, but afterwards lengthened eleven feet. Began building November, 1792 ; launched November 17, 1804.

b The Namur ; reduced from a 90 to a 74 gun-ship, under the direction of Mr. Robert Seppings, the master-builder at Chatham. It having occurred to the philosophic mind of this ingenious architect, that, by not removing the solid bow in the wake of the second deck, in order to substitute the usual flimsy fabric, called the beak-head, the ship would acquire additional strength. in that part of her frame, as well as afford some protection to her crew when going end-on upon an enemy, the circular bow of the Namur was allowed to remain. The advantages of this important alteration struck every one who saw the ship when finished ; and subsequently, as we shall hereafter have occasion more fully to relate, every ship in the British navy was ordered to be constructed with a solid circular bow instead of a beak-head.

c Had been Indiamen, and were built of teak.

d The same.

e The two latest-built frigates of this class were launched in 1786, the Aquilon of 724, and the Thames of 656 tons. As the ships in general were a full third smaller than those of any French frigate-class, the class was considered not worth keeping up until the year 1804, when some newly-discovered properties in the Thames at the breaking up caused seven frigates to be laid down from the draught, one of old oak and named after herself, the remainder of fir. This was at a time, too, when scarcely a single 12-pounder frigate belonged to the French or any foreign navy. Frigates carrying 18-pounders were justly preferred, and, with the French in particular, were rapidly, increasing in number.

f Had been a British merchant vessel ; and so had every one of the 13 ships next below her in the same column.

g This will exemplify the exception to the generality of cases adverted to in note c to No. 11 Abstract. According to the method adopted previously to the date of the latter, 41 built or launched gun-brigs would have been separated from the 48 at b, and the difference, 7, have become the apparent number that had been ordered to be built. No deduction would here have been requisite towards proving the grand total : at the same time the true number ordered could only be obtained by noticing that none had been left as building in the preceding Abstract. For a case in point a reference may be made to the same class in Abstracts No. 10 and 9. Now, the " Ordered " column shows, at one view, and without any operation of figures, the precise number of ships ordered to be built within the year.

h See last note.

i These vessels were a disgrace to the British navy. They were built at Bermuda, of the pencil-cedar, measured about 78 tons, mounted four 12-pounder carronades, and were manned with 20 men and boys. In point of force, three of them, united were not more than a match for a single gunboat, as usually armed. Their very appearance as " men of war " raised a laugh at the expense of the projector. Many officers refused to take the command, of them. Others gave a decided preference to some vessels built at the same yard, to be employed as water-tanks at Jamaica. Moreover, when sent forth to cruise against the enemies of England, to " burn, sink, and destroy " all they met, these " king's schooners " were found to sail wretchedly, and proved so crank and unseaworthy, that almost every one of them that escaped capture went to the bottom with the unfortunate men on board.

k Number of hired vessels about 140.

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