Origin and History
The ship was built by Joseph-Marie-Blaise Coulomb in Toulon, starting in February 1756, and launched on March 17 1757. She was first commissioned in October 1757.
On August 18 1759, the ship was captured by the British Royal Navy. On January 7 1760, she was purchased and added to the Navy under her French name.
During the Seven Years' War, the ship was under the command of:
- in the French service
- in 1759: Captain Joseph de Sabran, Comte de Grammont
- in the British service
- from April 1760 to December 1763: Captain Arthur Forrest
The ship foundered in a hurricane near the Newfoundland Banks on September 21 1782 while the escorting prizes back to Britain from Jamaica. Only 12 men survived, including her captain.
Service during the War
At the beginning of 1759, the French planned to collect as large a naval force as possible at Toulon and then to send it round to join her main fleet at Brest. These combined fleets would then escort a force of about 17,000 men, under the command of the Duc d'Aiguillon, from Vannes in Bretagne to Ireland. The ship was part of de la Clue's squadron assembled at Toulon. By mid May, the squadron was almost ready for sea when a British blockading force under the command of Boscawen appeared of Cap Sicié. At the beginning of July, Boscawen was compelled to go to Gibraltar for provisions and repairs. On August 5, M. de la Clue left Toulon. On August 17, de la Clue's fleet (10 ships of the line, 2 50-gun ships and 3 frigates) passed the straits of Gibraltar where it was sighted by the Gibraltar (20). During the night of August 17 to 18, 5 of de la Clue's ships lost sight of his flagship and steered for Cadiz. In the afternoon of August 18, the ship took part in the disastrous battle of Lagos. At about 2:30 PM, the ship, placed at the rear of the French line, was engaged by the Culloden (74). At the end of this initial engagement, each of the French vessels, except the Centaure (74), set all possible sail to get away. The Centaure (74) had been engaged by every ship as she came up and had stood the brunt of the fight. At last, her fore and main topmasts had fallen and she was so greatly damaged in every respect that she had no alternative but to strike. She had lost 200 men killed in her valiant combat. As soon as his fleet had repaired damages, Boscawen returned to Great Britain, in accordance with his instructions, taking with him a large part of his squadron. These were afterwards followed by the Edgar (60), Princess Louisa (60), and the prize Centaure (74).
On January 7 1760, the ship was purchased and added to the Navy under her French name.
On June 5 1761, the ship captured the French Sainte-Anne (64) on the Jamaica station.
|Crew||6 officers, 620 men|
|Length||175' 8" (53.34 m) in Imperial feet|
|Width||47' 5" (14.34 m)|
|Depth||20' (6.10 m)|
|Displacement||1773 tons BM|
Blasco, Manuel, 3 Decks
French Wikipedia Joseph de Sabran, comte de Grammont
Wikipedia HMS Centaur (1759)
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.