HMS FOWEY 1744-1747

Rear Admiral Policarpus Taylor

On September 6, 1744, Policarpus Taylor was promoted to Captain of the HMS Fowey, a frigate, 20-gun, 5th rate ship, recently built at Hull, England.

Final Preparations before Setting Sail - 1744

Edward Cole of the Hull Dock submitted a report of the repairs to the Fowey, June 11, 1744. During July the stores arrived for the Fowey along with ropes made by Mr. Cornwell, a ropemaker.  On July 30th Edward Cole reports that the Fowey is ready for launching and requests a tender to be attached to her. Preparations in August included  the completion of furnaces  and plastering, receipt of warrant to fit out the Fowey for service in the Channel, receipt of warrant to enter Peter Travers as purser of the Fowey, and a request submitted by William Johnson to be appointed surgeon of the Fowey.

The Eagle merchantman, Jonathan Odling (Coling), Master, collided with the Fowey on 25th August 1744. Edward Cole, Hull, submitted charges of 80 pounds for the damage done to the Fowey December 10, 1744.

Activities in September included the making of  Ballast by Mr. Cotton of Haig; the arrival of John Legg, First Lieutenant and Policarpus Taylor, Captain. Also arriving were the 3rd Lieutenant, Master Surgeon, and the Purser on September 8th. Several days later the boatswain, gunner and the cook arrived at Hull.

The Ursula tender arrived with 90 men for the Fowey on October 3rd.  The Shingle ballast, made by Mr. Cotton, and the cordage and cables completed by Samuel Spyve were delivered on board the ship November 26th.  The guns for the ship were received December 29th, 1744.

Maiden Voyage - Jamaica Station

The HMS Fowey's maiden voyage with Captain Taylor was to the Jamaica station.


Summer 1745 - First Engagement

Promotion to the next rank required participation in a successful action in battle engagement. The opportunity for engagement occurred in June of 1745. While enroute from Jamaica to Great Britain with the homeward-bound trade under his convoy, Captain Taylor captured, the Mentor, a French ship from Martinico.

The HMS Fowey was refitted to a 40-gun ship, in the summer of 1745. Captain Taylor participated in a successful action in battle against the 26 gun ship, Griffin, of St. Malo, near Cape Antiser, France. The Griffin, had 150 men aboard, of which, Captain Taylor brought less than forty men, including the captain and officers into Spithead. The remaining French crew members were presumed drowned.


Naval Battles
(May 1, 1745 - June 16, 1745)

Commodore Peter Warren, British naval officer, committed three of his battleships, stationed in the West Indies, to assist the New England colonies in regaining control of Louisbourg from the French in 1745. Louisbourg was a key trading center and fishery. France, under Louis XV had declared war on George II of Great Britain in 1744.

Warren departed from Antigua in the West Indies on March 13, 1745 with his fleet of three 60-gun ships, the Superbe, the Commodore's flagship, Mermaid, and Launceston, arriving in Cape Breton the 25th of April. Other battleships arriving at Cape Breton from England included the Canterbury, Sunderland, Chester, and Lark. General William Pepperell arrived at Louisbourg with his Colonial forces from Boston in the ships Eltham, Princess Mary, and Hector.

Captain Policarpus Taylor received orders from Commodore Peter Warren, in the spring of 1745, to report immediately to Louisbourg at Cape Breton. The HMS Fowey, as a frigate, would assist British battleships engaged at Louisbourg by conducting intelligence work, raids, and relay communications, delivering supplies and scouting the area. In addition to the HMS Fowey, other frigates ordered to Cape Breton included the Pembroke, Norwich, Hampshire, Kinsale, Dover,  Torrington, Shirley, and Albany.

Fort Louisbourg surrendered after a 46 day siege by the British naval squadron and New Englander militia consisting of four thousand men from Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The siege began on May 1, 1745 and ended June 16, 1745. The French colonists at Louisbourg were deported.

The HMS Fowey did not arrive at Louisbourg until April of 1746. (See delays in Norfolk, Virginia below)

British Forces forces worldwide in 1745 amounted to 79,572 men, distributed in Great Britain, Flanders, Ireland, Minorca, Gibraltar, the Lewards Island, Annapolis, Placentia, Georgia, Jamaica, New York, Bermuda, and Providence. The number of ships in commission in his Majesty's service in 1745, included 129 ships with 34,562 men on board. (Partial list of some of the ships in commission )


OCTOBER - 1745


The HMS Fowey arrived in the Colony of Norfolk in September 1745. Captain Policarpus Taylor published a runaway ad for three sailors in the Virginia Gazetter, Williamsburg, on October 10, 1745.

Ran away on the 25th of last Month, from on board His Majesty's
Ship, the FOWEY, Man of War, Capt. Policarpus Taylor, Commander, lying on Hampton Road, the following Men, viz:

James White, about 26 Years of Age, 5 feet 8 inches high, wears a Cap, and has a remarkable black Spot on the Crown of his Head.
Matthew M'Clean, about 24 Years of Age, 5 Feet 9 Inches high,
speaks with the Brogue on his Tongue, and wears a Cap.
John Doyle, about 30 Years of Age, black Complexion, wears a Cap, and is about 5 Feet 9 Inches high.

Whoever takes up and secures the said Runaways, so that they may be had again, shall have Forty Shillings, Stirling Reward for each.

Policarpus Taylor


Captain Taylor sent a letter to the Colonial Virginia Council on October 14, 1745, signifying that: "He is directed by the Lords of the Admiralty to careen the said Ship HMS Fowey under his Command every Six Months which Time is now elapsed that the Careening Place at Norfolk is destroyed and further that it will be impossible for him to preserve his men there having two hundred impressed men on Board and desiring the Opinion of the Board in Regard to careening at Antigua......"

The Council of Colonial Virginia, on October 29, 1745, ordered Captain Policarpus Taylor to careen the HMS Fowey in Virginia. The Council informed Captain Taylor that they could not consent to his departure.

On the 11th of December 1745, the Council of Colonial Virginia received a petition of several Masters of Merchant Ships "now riding in this Colony praying this Board to interpose in their Behalf and to prevail with Captain Gayton Commander  of HMS Mermaid to defer his Departure till the 15th of next Month."

Robert Tucker, a Norfolk, Virginia merchant, and his wife Joanna Corbin, of King & Queen County, Virginia, christened a son named, John Tucker, on December 29, 1745. The Godfathers were Captain Policarpus Taylor and Mr. John Tucker. Mrs. Mary Moseley was named as the godmother.

How Captain Taylor and Robert Tucker were acquaintances is unknown though it could be speculated that they met through the following event.

Commissioners Robert Tucker, Alexander McKenzie, and Archibald Taylor were assigned by the Council of Colonial Virginia on 6th of August, 1745, to send a supply of provisions and ammunition to the Garrison aboard the HMS Hastings at Louisbourg. The Council agreed to send the provisions upon the condition that "we expect Mr. Warren will send a Man of War for the same to prevent their falling into the Enemy's Hands."

The three Commissioners had the following Provisions purchased which were to be issued to Commodore Warren. viz: "70,000lb wt of Bread , 200 Barrels of Pork, 100 Barrels of Beef ; that L100 be laid out in Live Stock, L60 in Wine and L50 in Tobacco.




The HMS Fowey under Captain Taylor, provided support for troops at Louisbourg and protection for merchant convoys to the West Indies.

Great Britain occupied Louisbourg for four years. During the four year occupation of Louisbourg 890 soldiers died from scurvy. The Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle, signed in 1748, returned  Louisbourg to the French and in return the British were allowed to retain Madras in India.

Transporting Troops and Supplies to Louisbourg

February 25, 1745/46 the council received a letter from Captain Taylor, commander of HMS Fowey, dated February 6th  signifying his Intention of proceeding with the Forces to Louisbourg with a Copy of Admiral Warrens Orders to him to be in Louisbourg Harbour by the 10th or 15th of March.

Captain Taylor also presented a list of Negroes employed on board the Fowey between the 18th of November and the 17th of January following the charges thereof amounting to L227:16:8 which account was referred to Mr. Auditor for his examination.

By March 27, 1746, the careening of the HMS Fowey was completed and Captain Taylor applied for permission to depart.

The council replied: "Captain Taylor is denied permission to Depart at this perilous Conjuncture." He replied, "he was indispensably obliged to comply with the Orders he had received from Admiral Warren to be in Louisbourg Harbour as soon as possible." The Virginia Council members included John Robinson, John Grymes, John Custis, Lewis Burwell, William Fairfax, John Blair, William Nelson, Esquire, and the Governor.

A year later Captain Taylor arrived in Norfolk on January 12, 1747. The council received a Letter from Captain Policarpus Taylor-arrival at port and necessity of cleaning the Ship under his Command desiring the Government to furnish him with 40 Negroes for that Purpose he having 70 men on board imprest within 6 months last past whom he shall by no means be able to secure. Granted 40 Negroes for one month.

Protection of  Trade

On Orders from May 1, 1747, the council received a Letter from Captain Taylor dated April 30, 1747, with a copy of his Commodore Knowles orders to proceed immediately to Louisbourg upon consideration whereof and the Instructions to Captain Taylor from the Lords of Admiralty. It is the advice of the Board that the Governor write to Captain Taylor and acquaint him that they cannot consent to his departure at this Time and desire that he would immediately take a cruise directly for the Protection of Trade.

The  Pennsylvania Gazette carried a report from Williamsburg, dated May 14th,  that stated,  "His Majesty's Ship the Fowey, Capt. Policarpus Taylor, sailed last Week from Hampton Road for Cape Breton on: And His Majesty's Ship Folkstone, Captain, (Wittewronge?) Taylor, is returned from a Cruize.

In an extract of a Letter from Major Gid(eon) Clark, of Barbados, dated June 10, 1747, "A Sloop arrived here last Week from Cape Breton, informs us, that they sailed thence in company with Fowey Man of War, Captain Taylor, and the Shirley, Captain Rouse bound on a Cruize off these Coasts..."


Transfer to HMS WARWICK - 1747

Captain Policarpus Taylor was transferred to the HMS Warwick, on November 2, 1747, where he remained for three months until transferred by Rear Admiral Knowles to the HMS Elizabeth.

The Admiralty Board issued a letter to Captain Taylor of the Warwick, Louisbourg, and Captain Leaver, of the Comet Bomb, and others on the North America station dated April 22, 1748, "They are to put themselves under the command of Watson."

HMS Fowey Sinks off coast of Florida - ca. June 1748

.Captain Francis William Drake took over command of the HMS Fowey. In the month of June 1748, under Drakes command, the HMS Fowey struck a reef off the coast of Florida and sank.

Suggested Readings on HMS Fowey:
1)   HMS Fowey Archeological Excavation, Florida State University
2)  Submerged Resources Center (S.R.C.) National Park Service. Department of Interior
     Biscayne National Park  (Subsection under S.R.C.)
3)  Biscayne National Park Map
5)  Fowey Rocks Lighthouse
6)  Florida Division of Historical  Resources


Reference notes 1 thru 6 available upon valid request.

By Barbara Lewellen
Copyright 2003 Lewellen


<----- Back to Training | Index | Next ----> St. Iago Cuba |